What are the cheapest ways to get into home roasting? I have some favorite methods that I have never tried, but have always been fascinated by. Most of them have some risk and probably should not be attempted in some sense because of that. Make sure you know how to make them safe if you try them at home.
As I’ve mentioned before, even if the gear is free I don’t think of home roasting as a way to save money or to get better coffee than you get at places like Roaste.com (I have never produced coffee as good as I can get here), but instead as a very interesting way to learn about coffee and have fun. When it comes to roasting though, some home roasters really have the touch and can get amazing results.
The first is the classic dog bowl method.
You quite literally just use a heat gun and a (metal) dog bowl to roast the coffee. Remember you need constant agitation. Or you get a very uneven roast. I think it probably works fine, but not great, but it sure is fun to think about doing it. I am also sure there are all kinds of health risks for using the wrong kind of dog bowl that has the wrong kinds of metals that weren't meant to be heated to extreme temps. Here is info from people who not only think it is a funny idea, but actually do it.
The second method is the modified bread machine. People bust out the window of the bread machine and modify it so they can use the agitation of the bread machine to keep the beans moving and they put a heat gun into the machine through the broken window to heat the coffee.
A few important things to note include the fact that some bread machines have plastic parts inside the bread chamber and the heat gun would melt these, so you must pick a bread machine that does not have this flaw.
Some, like the one I had years ago have Teflon. Again this would be a bad idea. Teflon off-gasses poisonous gasses when heated too hot (for example they now say you should not use a Teflon pan for cooking without something in it when heating it up as it could be dangerous, so add butter or some form of fat from the start).
You adjust the distance of the gun from the beans to get the beans to hit first crack at about the right time – eight to ten minutes.
Amazingly you can roast over a pound at a time. This is rare in most home coffee roasters.
Note that the roasting will produce lots of smoke. Every home roaster I have ever seen and certainly all the commercial ones I have seen produce lots of smoke, so you either need amazing ventilation, or an outdoor spot to do this in.