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Based on some common sense and on (not very numerous) articles online, I could think of the following advantages of roasting at home:

  • you get the freshest possible coffee as you need it
  • green beans are significantly cheaper than roasted ones, and keep longer
  • you get finer control over the result (?) than just guided by labels on coffee bags

But there are also downsides:

  • there's smoke during the roasting that you need to handle (see also Home roasting and ventilation)
  • you need some specialized (and more or less expensive) equipment, or else invent tricks with a popcorn popper or a cast iron pan (which may not be too bad in fact)
  • in order to obtain the finer control over the result you need to know what you're doing (which probably means you may not get a better-than-shop result in a number of initial trials) (e.g., this question)

All of that is my armchair coffee science though, and I hope that the practitioners here can say what of that is real and what is fictional, and what other reasons there are pro and contra homeroasting.

  • If you are an espresso drinker, freshness is not necessarily a good thing. I try to never use any beans before a 48 hour rest so they can out gas. Some coffees need an even longer rest. – Curt Dec 22 '15 at 22:11
  • 1
    The main reason I started roasting was to experience the wonderful variety of flavors in properly roasted coffee. I think of "fresh coffee" as something that has been roasted within the last 14 days. In the Atlanta GA area, virtually all the coffee from local roasters that is sold in supermarkets is much older than that. Even worse, most bags of coffee don't show the date it was roasted - instead they have the "best used by" date. – Rick G Dec 23 '15 at 0:16
16

You have already listed most of the main points and hit them correctly, but I'll add some additional.

Pros: You can get things not available commercially, and generally a much wider variety of coffee. For instance, almost all Sumatran coffee is traditionally dark roasted by companies. However, light roasted Sumatran coffee has a truly unique set of flavors that is fairly distinct from anything else, without light roasting some yourself, you'd be hard pressed (or French pressed if you are into that) to ever find it fresh. Tastes are remarkably individual and it's highly likely that you like may really like some random type of coffee that either isn't a big seller and available, or isn't traditionally roasted how you prefer.

Cons: Time. Roasting takes some amount of your time. It takes far more when you start (I can now roast a pound of coffee in roughly 5 minutes of my time, because the machine does most of the work and I have a system). Depending on your equipment and learning curve, this can vary widely. With the equipment I started with and my initial knowledge, a pound of coffee would have taken me a full hour to roast.

Snobbery. You will likely get to the point were most other coffee that's commercially produced will be unthinkable to you. I can't drink coffee at any restaurant without cream (I normally drink it black). I have a few friends who roast and their coffee is the exception. But, more or less, home roasting may ruin "other" coffee for you. Along these lines, you may get to the point where you don't enjoy roasting as much anymore, you just want the coffee. If your time curve is fine, then it works out. If it's not you might be left with the terrible choice between doing something you don't love or buying less good coffee.

  • I like that your answer comes from copious experience. How do you judge your own roasts vs. specialty roasters? For example, have you compared with Coava, Verve, Intelligentsia, Supersonic, Klatch, La Colombe, or others? – thekingoftruth Dec 22 '15 at 21:32
  • I second @Chris_in_AK in that you can roast to you personal preference. All the highly rated coffee shops I've been to roast their espresso too light for my tastes. I also roast my blend components separately to get an optimal roast. In my experience with production roasting, the beans were blended and roasted. – Curt Dec 22 '15 at 22:08
  • I see! A much more dangerous path than I thought :-) Nice answer, thanks! – Ivan Kapitonov Dec 23 '15 at 0:50
  • It's cost prohibitive to compare to any of those roasters, plus likely that their coffee would not arrive in optimal condition. It costs me $6-$8 dollars/pound for green beans shipped. Their coffee is $14/pound plus shipping, which I would pay more frequently if I wanted fresh coffee. Additionally, six to seven months a year, their roasted coffee would freeze, which is far worse for roasted coffee than it is for green beans. – Suspended User Dec 23 '15 at 4:21
4

I've been home roasting for about a year now and you've pretty much got it right. The bottom line is that home roasting allows much more control over the roasting variables. But home roasting takes time too, about an hour per pound for my SR500. It's not high volume by any means but I've found a system that allows me to get consistently really good coffee. It took awhile but I'm enjoying really fresh quality coffee that exceeds anything I could buy, even "fresh" roasted beans. My former non-coffee drinking wife has also become a recent convert, forcing me to double my roasting output.

I expect that if I went with a larger roaster, I would have to go through a whole new learning curve though. I probably ruined a pound of beans before I started getting drinkable coffee, and another pound after that before I hit the sweet spot. It all really depends on how much you value really top quality taste.

2

been roasting for at least 5months now,,and I'd say the reasons in roasting your own coffee is that you get to experiment which and what kind of roast that specific bean is, you'd be able to go deep and understand what coffee is,what the beans go through , and also for what i consider the best part besides smelling those aromas while beans are in that roaster is the chills hearing that :first crack!

1

The only reason for me is flavor. I was never that big a coffee fan until I got turned onto home roasting. I know it's not just vanity, because all the hardcore coffee drinkers I know go absolutely crazy for the stuff.

0

One reason to roast coffee yourself that I didn't see mentioned is to be able to drink it without cream and sugar. Neither are good for your health. (Whether or not coffee is good for your health changes from year to year, unfortunately.) Only now that I roast my own coffee do I enjoy my coffee black!

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