Three Tips for a New Roaster

There are many true artisans and roast masters out there that have spent years perfecting the roast profiles they use with each individual coffee. And, in truth, roasting coffee is one of those arts that you can truly immerse yourself in. But, that doesn’t mean that roasting coffee is inaccessible to the beginner.

If you have the time to become a top-notch expert on roasting, then I am truly envious of your skill and dedication and sincerely, we need people like you to teach the rest of us how to roast better and to perfect the art and tradition of excellence in coffee roasting. Personally, however, I find that just about no matter how I roast, or for that matter, what coffee I roast, I can produce coffee that people are just flat out obsessed with.

man inspecting coffee beans
man inspecting coffee beans

There are many true artisans and roast masters out there that have spent years perfecting the roast profiles they use with each individual coffee. And, in truth, roasting coffee is one of those arts that you can truly immerse yourself in. But, that doesn’t mean that roasting coffee is inaccessible to the beginner.

If you have the time to become a top-notch expert on roasting, then I am truly envious of your skill and dedication and sincerely, we need people like you to teach the rest of us how to roast better and to perfect the art and tradition of excellence in coffee roasting. Personally, however, I find that just about no matter how I roast, or for that matter, what coffee I roast, I can produce coffee that people are just flat out obsessed with.

young man inspecting the quality of the coffee beans
I suppose that is a testament to the excellence of the original drum design that Ron Kyle developed. It just works very well on any coffee, and roasts as well, or better, than the really expensive commercial roasters. The reason that I tell you this, is that particularly if you are new to coffee roasting, then you simply don’t need to be afraid of roasting, or producing bad coffee. The system is very forgiving and in my opinion, you actually have to work at it to make bad coffee.
In my experience, the vast majority of Americans are simply accustomed to drinking Folgers and other low quality brands. They drink it because it is cheap. Even the national brand that you see hocking $4 cups of coffee on every street corner in every major city nationwide is peddling terrible dark sludge in a cup that supposedly is the public standard for good coffee. Quite simply, most Americans have no concept of what fresh roasted coffee is. Even to the point of people saying “I don’t like coffee, it’s too bitter.”
young man inspecting the quality of the coffee beans
I suppose that is a testament to the excellence of the original drum design that Ron Kyle developed. It just works very well on any coffee, and roasts as well, or better, than the really expensive commercial roasters. The reason that I tell you this, is that particularly if you are new to coffee roasting, then you simply don’t need to be afraid of roasting, or producing bad coffee. The system is very forgiving and in my opinion, you actually have to work at it to make bad coffee.
In my experience, the vast majority of Americans are simply accustomed to drinking Folgers and other low quality brands. They drink it because it is cheap. Even the national brand that you see hocking $4 cups of coffee on every street corner in every major city nationwide is peddling terrible dark sludge in a cup that supposedly is the public standard for good coffee. Quite simply, most Americans have no concept of what fresh roasted coffee is. Even to the point of people saying “I don’t like coffee, it’s too bitter.”

People don’t know that good coffee simply isn’t bitter!

So for that reason my tips to the new roaster would be:

# 1

Don’t spend a whole lot of money on a Ultra High Quality coffee. When you are starting out, your technique won’t be perfected for some time, so start out with a cheap green coffee bean. If you are roasting for yourself, a fresh roasted coffee from bottom-rung green coffee will blow anything else that you’ve been drinking out of the water. If you’re roasting for profit, it will beat your competition, keep them coming back for more, and you will maintain a good profit margin.

# 2
Don’t obsess about perfection and micromanagement of your roasts- You will find that very small fluctuations in roast temperature and time really won’t make that much of a difference in the end result. You’ll end up with a excellent coffee if you follow some basic guidelines. It’s not hard to beat the old, stale coffee that is widely available.
# 3
Unless you’ve spent time learning how to cup coffee, neither you nor your average customer will never be able to tell the difference between a Nutty-Chocolaty Guatemalan and a Citrusy Colombian, but both of you will know a good coffee when you taste it.
When you get the general hang of it, you can start learning more and take your skills to perfection.
Curious about learning to roast? Interested in our coffee roasting drums for home use or for microroasters? Looking for more articles about roasting basics?

Author: Shane Lewis

Shane is the founder of the green coffee exporter Old Spanish Main, Ltda. in Bogotá, Colombia, having practiced under the renowned grader & cupper Lelly Espitia. He is a cultivator of a #14 Colombian Cup of Excellence coffee. Shane currently designs & manufactures coffee, cacao & grain roasters with RK Drums.

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