Roasting at Home: Fresh Roast Q&A

December 2, 2022

Fresh Roast Q&A

Basics & Specs

What is it?

  • Automatic fluid-bed coffee roaster
  • Automatic meaning no mechanism relies on manual operation to rotate the coffee (i.e. turning a lever to rotate the beans)
  • Fluid-bed: uses hot air to roast the coffee (convection heat rather than conduction or induction)
  • Gentler: hot air transfers the heat to the beans rather than relying on the heated metal drum to transfer the heat, less potential for chipping. 
  • More even (assuming that you're operating it properly): the temperature of the air is more homogenous, the design inherently has less potential for generating hot spots or hot zones that can compromise the evenness of the roast
  • Constant rotation: there is significantly less potential for beans to get caught and get stuck and therefore roast improperly. Although, it can occasionally happen, especially if there isn't enough airflow moving through the chamber.

  • SR540 capacity: 6-7 cups (assuming a 15-16 g coffee/250ml cup; about 5 20g cups, i.e. 20g/300ml, which is my recipe)
  • SR800 capacity: 10-12 cups (7-8 20g cups)
  • Controls: temperature (10 gradations), fan speed (10 gradations)
  • Inlet temperature readout during roasting (can give you an idea of your input in terms of heat; not an accurate environment measure or a bean temp measure but a quantifiable metric that you can use to monitor your roast progression)
  • Safety: 
  • Timer- automatic shutoff and cool cycle initiation. Once the timer runs out, there is no chance of burning the beans or starting a grease fire.
  • Chaff evacuation: Because of the roaster's design, the chaff gets blown up into the lidded basket, where it settles along the side rim and can no longer fall into the chamber or into the roaster itself and potentially start a fire. When you turn the roaster on, I've noticed a slight delay between the fan starting and the heat starts, which helps the fan evacuate any particles that may have fallen into the chamber.
  • Intuitive sensory roasting: the roasting chamber is glass which means you can see the entire roast process unfold. You can make adjustments and see problems arise (like beans that get stuck, tipped, or scorched). There is no definitive need for temperature probes. They are an asset if you want to use open-source software like artisan to map your roast profile, but the sensory stages are evident and are sufficient for generating good-quality roasts


  • Why roast at home? Why not buy roasted beans?
  • Freshness: not generally a problem at eco because we have a freshness standard, but there is no universal freshness standard in the industry. Some roasters may let their coffee sit for months before it is sold and consumed. Fresh coffee (meaning max. 10-14 days from date of roast; depends on coffee and environment conditions in storage) is much more flavourful; of higher quality. Flavour degradation due to denaturing and staling = loss of quality over time
  • Savings: roasting is a value-added service in the industry. If you are worried about price hikes in specialty coffee (like the ones triggered by the COVID -19 supply chain disruptions), buying green beans is the best way to get around that. They are often significantly cheaper, in some cases less than 50% the price of roasted coffee. 
  • Argument: but when you buy roasted coffee, you're paying for expertise and consistency. Yes, you are, but that doesn't mean that you're paying for perfection. The roaster has made decisions about how to roast the coffee; you may disagree with those decisions and prefer to do something different. Having the ability to roast coffee at home isn't for everyone, but it does build capacity.
  • Security: if you find yourself chasing origins and you're constantly in the position of having your local roaster or your distributor run out of the beans that you like or alter their blend recipes, buying green beans and roasting them yourself is the way to go. Green beans are shelf-stable; they're a dried food product much like a bean or a lentil, so, with proper storage, they have the potential to last a long time (industry recommendation is to use the beans within 2 years of harvest). Of course, buying green does not need to be coupled with home-roasting, but it is the logical next step as not many roasters will agree to roast externally-sourced coffees. 
  • Variety: buying green means you have access to many different origins. Even your local roaster is likely not selling some of their stock as roasted coffee because it doesn't sell at the price point they need to set for it when it's roasted to make it viable for the business. Green price is much lower, and green beans are shelf-stable, so they likely have a variety of origins available in green that they don't offer roasted.
  • Customization & creativity: roasting is both an art and a science. The software and equipment are aids, helping the roaster achieve some pre-determined roast degree for the coffee. The decision (about the goal) is entirely up to the roaster and, therefore, at least a little subjective. We believe that there is no one perfect roast for a coffee; a range of different roasts (roast levels, durations, temperature curves) can bring out the "best" in a coffee. The decision about "best" will vary from person to person. Coffee roasting at scale needs to be reproducible because we have customers who rely on us to keep a certain standard for each product we define. At home, there is no such pressure. You can change roasts on the fly and try new things while determining how different variables impact the outcome. Again, it's not for everyone but for those interested; it's an exciting prospect. 
  • Bonus perk: the smell. The smell of roasting coffee is, at least in my books, second only to the smell of the coffee being ground. It is just so good. Having that in your house is… heaven. Some people obviously won't like the smell, and others might be sensitive to smells in general, but for those of us who love the smell of roasting coffee, this is one of the biggest perks


  • small-scale drum roasters 
  • often not built well, short life but depends on the roaster you can get pretty good ones; air roasting at the same price point is typically more even and gentler on the beans, also more control because you can adjust both the heat input and the fan speed though has challenges with measuring temp readouts because of the air
  • manual stove-top roaster like the hive 
  • manual process meaning there is a lot more potential for human error
  • air fryers 
  • can be useful but challenges with evenness; more even and controlled than oven-roasting
  • popcorn machines 
  • challenges with evenness, less control
  • oven-roasting method on cast iron or cookie sheet 
  • no insight, much less control
  • more expensive, specialized roasters like the IKAWA or the Huky 
  • expensive, not easy to justify for beginners, not necessary for beginners. Suppose you find yourself needing more control over roasts, or you want more insight and better integration with software. In that case, you can upgrade, but it's hard to justify spending $1000 on a hobby without having any foundation in it. $300 is much more reasonable, and after the 1-year workmanship warranty is up, you can hack it and put the temperature probes in without feeling bad