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Cost of Home Roasting?
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Senior Member

Joined: 30 Jan 2013
Posts: 67
Location: Saskatchewan, Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Grinder: Barratza Encore
Drip: Behmor Brazen
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Wed Oct 2, 2013, 1:28pm
Subject: Re: Cost of Home Roasting?

I think that justifying home roasting with a cost savings is only comforting to a point. That's how I justify it to my wife, since she doesn't drink coffee. I averaged 2-3 lbs per month, which depending on what I got and from where, would cost me $30-$50 per month. As Oldgearhead put, you can get ~15lbs green for $82USD (I'm in Canada, so it's a bit higher for me, but I digress) which would last 4-5 months depending on consumtpion.

The coffee is unquestionably better than what I was drinking previously, I actually enjoy the act of roasting, I am able to have far more variety in what I drink and I have far more interesting coffee on hand then I ever had from either mail order or local roaster. The thing I don't tell my wife is that my consumption has increased tremendously. Before I'd have maybe 4-5 pots of coffee a week. Now that I'm drinking some of the best coffee in recent memory I'm up to a pot every day and 2 per day on weekends. They're only 8 cup pots, but still drinking way more coffee. Add ontop of that the purchase of a Behmor 1600 and there goes any savings I may have gained on home roating.

Do it for the coffee and the self satisfaction, don't do it to save money.
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Senior Member
Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 396
Location: Online
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Wed Nov 13, 2013, 8:31pm
Subject: Re: Cost of Home Roasting?

javajr Said:

...That said, do you folks find that you save money by roasting yourself or does it end up costing about the same as buying from a roaster?


Posted September 29, 2013 link

Save money? Absolutely.  It costs me about TEN cents per espresso shot and that factors in the money spent or should I say, DID NOT SPEND on a consumer roasting unit.  You do not need an expensive machine to roast coffee at home. You can pick up a Poplite II or Whirly-Pop popcorn poppers for about $25.   You can even pan/pot roast your coffee if you don't want to use a machine period.  Hand-roasting coffee produces superior to any other method, IMO, although it does take skill and elbow grease.

The cost difference is huge.

For a single shot of espresso you'll pay:
2-3 dollars at a coffee house (not including tip!)
25-35 cents if we buy coffee from them and pull our own shots at home ($17-$22 for a 12oz bag).
10 cents if you roast your own coffee at home using stove top methods

...if you decide to buy an electric roasting unit, you will have to do you own per-shot calculation and decide for yourself how long you'll be roasting your own coffee to break even to offset the cost of the machine.  It may not be worth your trouble if you only drink coffee on a casual basis.
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Senior Member

Joined: 13 Nov 2012
Posts: 236
Location: Atlanta
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Breville BES920xl
Grinder: HG-One, Baratza Preciso +...
Vac Pot: Yuma
Drip: Pour over: Melita Ceramic
Roaster: Hot Top 2K P
Posted Wed Nov 13, 2013, 8:48pm
Subject: Re: Cost of Home Roasting?

I like home roasting because the results are different from much of what I can buy prepackaged.
I like doing home roasting because it's an interesting set of variables to manage while I'm totally engaged in the process.
I like green beans because they tell me more about what coffee is than someone else's preroast.
I can't say there is a real cost saving, unless I discount my time and the investment of money for the tools.  But just based upon the coffee green to preroast? Sure, why not.
And, yet, remember, there may come days in a row you won't roast and you'll be drinking Illy or Lavazza or a boutique roast...
Just think though; 25 minutes from then you'll have done something unique and interesting, and some short time thereafter, get to taste something "new" all over again!
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Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,683
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Thu Nov 14, 2013, 10:46am
Subject: Re: Cost of Home Roasting?

The cost of equivalent (unroasted) greens is about 50% of (roasted) browns.  There are other costs associated with even the least expensive methods of roasting.  

Artfully roasted, freshly roasted and dated, best-bean, whole bean coffee, is available online for $10 - $20/lb.  Some of the price is labor, waste, and other roasting costs, but a lot is the cost of greens.  No matter how good a roaster you are can't make good coffee from crap beans -- and good beans aren't cheap, not even green. Furthermore, small amounts (less than 50lb) subject the buyer to proportionally higher, per-unit, net costs.  

Unless you drink a WHOLE LOT of coffee, are VERY cheap, or VERY broke -- even if you save money -- it probably won't be enough to justify the time and trouble roasting; let alone learning to roast.  

I think the best reasons to do your own roasting are choice, control and satisfaction.  That is, you can roast the beans you want when you want, how you want, and blend them (if you like) in whatever proportions suit your fancy.  There is a lot of satisfaction to be had, in the accomplishment, in the cup, and in the mastery.

Which class of roaster works best for any given person is a very personal thing.  There are lots of considerations.  You certainly can roast using simple, and inexpensive equipment.  Whether or not something very basic will meet YOUR needs and/or desires isn't up to someone else to say.  

Over the years, I've roasted with a skillet; a Whirley Pop; an air popcorn machine; three different electric drum roasters -- Behmor ($300), HotTop both P and B (~$900 with mods), and a 1kg Dalian Amazon ($2400) -- and finally with an LP gas fired drum, a USRC Sample Roaster.  

As a rule, the more money you spend the more you get in the way of control and consistency.   And that's certainly been true of every step in my journey.   By way of a nearly ultimate example, the Sample Roaster, at around $6K, was hardly inexpensive, but it is well worth every frikkin' nickle.   Not only am I not recommending you start there, I'm not even recommending you end there.  It's not common for a home roaster to buy professional equipment.  

For a home roaster, the "sweet spot" electrically powered machines representing the most capability for the least money with suitable capacity are the Gene Cafe, HotTop B (modded) and Quest M3; about $600, $900 and $1300 respectively.  

Know that roasters of that level are more often an end point than a beginning.  An air roaster in the ~$150 range, like a Fresh Roast or Nesco is a good starting point, if mostly what you want to do is find out if you like the process.   At $300, the Behmor, an electric drum roaster with significant strengths and weaknesses, is also a pretty good starting point.  

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