Sooner or later every home roasting enthusiast gets bitten by the espresso bug. It’s one of the most exciting and fascinating ways to brew coffee, and it can showcase flavors, aromas, and even textures in the coffee that no other brewing method can bring out. If you’re going to dive into the world of espresso, you’ll need a home roaster that can handle it. So in this article we’re going to take a look at 5 of the best home coffee roasters for espresso.
The downside to home coffee roasters for espresso is that there’s nowhere for a flaw to hide. Other brewing methods just aren’t as exacting as espresso, and you can make incredible drip or french press coffee with beans roasted in a cast iron skillet on the stove. That won’t cut it with espresso, and not every roasting device is up to the task.
Which is why we’ve taken the liberty of narrowing down your choices to the following 5 roasters.
Top 5 best home coffee roasters for espresso
- High temp drum roaster
- 250 gram (8.8 ounces) capacity
- Simple operation
- Temperature probe included
The KALDI roaster looks very much like a miniature version of a commercial coffee roaster, because that’s essentially what it is. It has a rotating drum that constantly agitates the beans for even roasting, and a fairly large capacity. For those unfamiliar with home roasters, the vast majority cannot handle half a pound of beans at a time.
The only downside is this roaster doesn’t come with a heat source included- it requires a gas burner. You can use your stove top or a stand alone burner. The advantage of that is that you can get much higher heat output than most home roasters (hence the large bean capacity), and you can get to those dark, bittersweet espresso roasts much faster.
- 4oz capacity
- 9 heat levels and fan settings
- Real-time temperature readout
- 1 year warranty
- Affordable price
Air-roasters like this are inspired by the hot-air popcorn poppers that many people have used for home coffee roasting for decades. The hot air provides rapid and very even heating, which makes it easy to pull out the bright notes in many of your favorite coffees. FreshRoast is a respected brand among home roasters, with a reputation for making high-quality roasters that produce superb coffee.
Whether you like light-roasted, single origin espresso bursting with bright acidity or your prefer something darker, with bittersweet and chocolaty notes, the FreshRoast can handle the job. A small batch size means your coffee will never go stale, and you’ll get more chances to experiment with different heat settings.
- 200-250 gram capacity
- Temperature probe included
- Easy to see the beans during the roast
- Durable, stainless steel construction
This is, more or less, the exact same machine as the KALDI home roaster, but without the top cover and hopper, which saves you about $100. It also likely improves the airflow through the drum and has the added benefit of allowing you to see the beans during the roast, which can help beginners to know when to pull them out of the roaster.
- Quartz glass drum
- 400gram (14oz) capacity
- Stainless steel construction
This offering from DYVEE is unique for it’s glass drum, which gives remarkable visibility during the roasting process. It can hold nearly a full pound of beans, too, which makes it one off the biggest roasters you can buy. That makes it an excellent choice for those who drink large quantities of coffee.
There are some drawbacks to this approach, though. The glass drum is much more delicate than a perforated steel drum, and this means that it has to be heated gently which will draw out the roasted process.
- Huge, 1.1 pound capacity
- Can also be used to roast nuts
- Affordable price
- See-through lid
This is an odd-looking roaster and at first glance you might think it’s some sort of slow-cooker. It works surprisingly well, though, and the price is hard to beat. It can technically roast just over a pound at a time, although the roast quality seems to suffer a bit at full capacity.
There are some questions about the build quality on this roaster, but nothing too serious. It would be especially good for beginners since it’s not too expensive and it’s easy to operate.
Types of home coffee roasters
Home coffee roasters tend to be somewhat expensive. Roasting coffee is hard on machinery because it requires lots of metal parts to move under high heat. That puts a lot of wear and tear on them, so a roaster that can last through hundreds of roasts and keep going has to be made with the best materials and fine craftsmanship.
Most roasters fall into two categories: air roasters and drum roasters.
Air roasters use hot air to both heat and agitate the beans. These designs are inspired by air poppers for popcorn, which are still a common tool for many home coffee roasters to use. Air roasters can’t handle large batch sizes, but they roast quickly which means you can roast multiple batches in a short time.
Air roasters tend to create a brighter flavor profile, bringing out the fruity, citrus, and wine-like notes in a coffee. This is because they roast very quickly, and the more volatile acidic compounds that create those flavors are preserved. This is even true, to an extent, in darker roasts.
Drum roasters are more similar to a commercial roaster, with a perforated steel drum that rotates over a heat source to agitate the beans. At lighter roasts, the bright flavors are still preserved, while darker roasts take on more bittersweet, chocolate-like flavors. Drum roasters can also typically handle larger batches, and usually cost a bit more than air roasters.
The high heat levels required to roast coffee limit how large a home roaster can be. It takes a lot of power to roast coffee safely, so half a pound tends to be the upper limit, although some roasters can handle a full pound. Even then, these roasters generally perform better when they aren’t filled to capacity.
What to look for in a home coffee roaster
Speed is an important factor in coffee roasting; as a rule, the faster you can roast the coffee, the brighter the flavor will be. The slower you roast it, the more muted it will be. Many people find drum roasters to be in a “sweet spot”, where the coffee roasts quickly enough to preserve its unique flavors and aromas, but not so fast as to be overly acidic.
The speed your coffee roasts at will also be heavily dependent on how much coffee you’re roasting. A 4oz batch is going to roast much faster than an 8oz batch, and a 16oz batch will take even longer.
Roasting for Espresso
Despite what many commercial roasters say on their packaging, there’s no such thing as an “espresso roast.” You can brew espresso with light roasts just as well as dark roasts. We associate espresso with dark roasts because in countries like Italy, where espresso is the most common way to consume coffee, dark roasts are the most popular.
Many home roasting enthusiasts are finding, though, that bright, fruity light roasts make an incredible espresso. So there’s no specific roast level you should be looking for. Instead, you want to focus on getting a consistent, even roast. Every roaster listed here can handle that.
Some other key features to look out for in a roaster
- Batch size
- User experience (i.e. read the reviews)
- Price – given the expense of many coffee roasters price may become the most important factor.
Small batch sizes are better for brighter flavors, larger sizes are better for more bitter or bittersweet flavors. A roaster with a larger capacity will also allow you to roast small batches at a time, so they’re a bit more versatile than smaller roasters.
The KALDI Home Coffee Roaster is the best premium choice for a home espresso roaster. The large drum capacity lets it handle both big and small batches of coffee, depending on your preferences. The stainless steel construction makes it very durable, with most customers reporting getting years of use out of theirs without any problems.
The rotating drum promotes an even roast and the ability to use a gas burner as a heat source will give you plenty off hear to get to a dark roast if that’s your preference. It’s an excellent machine that’s built to last, and it won’t disappoint.
It is, however, very expensive. For a much more affordable, but still very good, roaster, buy the FreshRoast. It’s a much smaller roaster, but it’s also much cheaper and it’s an excellent choice for someone who wants to begin roasting coffee, but isn’t ready to invest a lot of money in this hobby just yet. Frankly, it’s also a great choice for experienced roasters who just want a reliable machine at an affordable price.