What Equipment Do I Need to Roast Coffee?

Quick Reference Checklist

Whether you’re looking to launch your own coffee business or simply want to enjoy the most delicious and flavorful cup of coffee at home, learning how to roast your own coffee is a must. Feeling intimidated? DIY coffee roasting is a lot easier than you might think—but you’ll need to start with the right equipment.

Coffee Roaster

First and foremost, you’ll need a coffee-roasting drum and a heat source. Drum sizes range from two to twelve pounds, so you’ll need to begin by figuring out what size will be best for your needs. If you’ll be roasting coffee to enjoy at home, then a two or four pound drum should suffice. If you’ll be selling your own coffee after you’ve roasted it, however, you’ll want to explore larger options.

In addition to the roasting drum itself, you’ll need all the components that hold and rotate the drum for even roasting. 

This includes a rotisserie rod, motor, plates, and the like. RK Drums makes choosing the right accessories easier by offering three different “levels” of equipment, including:

Grill or Heat Source

image of a grill and a RK drum and components
In addition to the drum and its components, you’ll also need a reliable heat source to roast your coffee. Typically, a gas or propane grill is the best choice here, as these will provide the precise temperature control needed to roast coffee quickly and easily. And while some “coffee snobs” might tell you otherwise, you absolutely can use the same grill you use for meat. Just keep in mind that not all grills will work for all drums—so you’ll want to check out the sizing requirements on our website before you buy.

Cooler
(Or Cooling Method)

Once your coffee is roasted to your desired level, you’ll need a method for cooling it down. Otherwise, it will continue to roast and you may end up with a different flavor than you intended. There are plenty of cooling options to consider, ranging from the use of a simple box fan to more advanced equipment, such as:

If you're really into DIY projects, you can also consider building your own wooden cooler. However, our coolers are effective, easy to use, and will save you a lot of time.

Accessories

On top of your roasting drum, heat source, and cooler, there are a few accessories you’ll also want to consider having as you get started with roasting your own coffee. For starters, make sure you have an accurate thermometer to pinpoint and maintain proper temperatures while roasting. It is not recommended that you use the thermometer built into your grill.

A few other must-haves include:

  • a timer
  • a high-temperature oven/grill mitt for handling the drum
  • a scale for weighing your green coffee
  • a spoon for stirring the coffee in the cooler
  • an extension cord for plugging in the motor and cooler
green coffee beans

Green Coffee

Last but certainly not least, you’ll also need your green coffee beans (raw coffee beans that have not been roasted). RK Drums is happy to offer our own green coffee that’s ideal for hobby roasters and beginning microroasters; these bags are pre-measured and packaged to match our specific roast profiles, which can save you the time and hassle of measuring.

For larger quantities, it may make more sense to purchase green coffee in 100-pound (or more) bags. Check out a list of wholesale green coffee suppliers on our website for more information.

Now that you have a better idea of the equipment you need to start roasting coffee, there may be a few items you’ll want to purchase before you get started. With a quality roasting drum, a reliable heat source, the right cooling method, you’ll be well on your way to DIY-roasted coffee in no time!

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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