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Discussions > Coffee > Home Roast > The Economics of...  
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qualin
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qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 653
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

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Posted Sun Oct 21, 2012, 11:58pm
Subject: The Economics of Roasting Coffee
 

Hello Everyone.

Currently, I spend about $16 for a 1 lb bag of espresso blend from a very well known roaster here in town. They do an amazing job. Another roaster here sells 1 Kilogram bags (2.2 lbs) for about $35 each, they're coffee is pretty good as well, but they're very secretive about the blend they use.

Now I absolutely love the smell of roasting coffee.

So, I'm lightly contemplating the idea of buying a Behmor 1600, since it'll roast a pound of coffee at a time and they're somewhat inexpensive, at least compared to a Hot Top.
Considering that the Behmor roaster sells for about $350 here, I kind of wonder how much cheaper it would be to roast my own coffee instead of buying it pre-roasted?

Realistically I only go through about a kilogram of coffee about once a month, so a 30 lb bag from Costco would take me just over a year to plow through. (That still complies with the law of 15's!)

Has anyone done the math to figure out how cost effective it is? How long would it take for a Behmor to pay for itself?

I only have about two drinks a day usually with the occasional amount of company over, so I'm wondering if it is even worth it to consider this.

The only other thing, my garage isn't heated, but it is insulated. I wonder how well a Behmor would take to being left in a cold garage when it is -35 C (-31 F) outside? I'm guessing it could also double as a space heater!
I wouldn't even dare think about leaving the coffee in the garage, only because frozen coffee beans probably don't roast very well. :)

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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NobbyR
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NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
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Location: Germany
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Posted Mon Oct 22, 2012, 2:40am
Subject: Re: The Economics of Roasting Coffee
 

I guess the math on this matter is pretty complicated, because you'll have to take into consideration a lot of different factors, that might even differ from region to region: the initial cost of the Behmor, the price of green beans, energy costs etc. In Germany, for example, there's a special tax on roasted beans that you save when you roast at home. Also, it'll probably take a while and you'll waste quite some coffee before your roasting results match your expectations.

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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JKalpin
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JKalpin
Joined: 28 Dec 2008
Posts: 791
Location: Thornhill, Ontario Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Aerobie Aeropress
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Vac Pot: Yama 5-Cup
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Roaster: Freshroast+8, Behmor 1600
Posted Mon Oct 22, 2012, 5:01am
Subject: Re: The Economics of Roasting Coffee
 

I roast Sweet Maria's (espresso) Monkey Blend for my son.

I pay $63.76 for 12 lbs from Sweet Maria's (to fill a small USPS carton) and the shipping costs come out to be around $30 to Thornhill, Ontario.  There is no HST.  It arrives quickly via Canada Post XpressPost.  So far, the cost per lb is $7.81.  However, I lose around 17% in the roasting (moisture, etc) and that increases the cost to $9.41/lb.

I do not roast a pound at at a time.  The Behmor will do it but the roast time is too long and I feel I don't get the best out of the bean.  I do 10 oz roasts that nets out to a bit more than 1/2 lb as roasted.

For coffee I roast for myself, as a single user in my household, 1/2 lb lasts around 2 weeks.  I let it rest for 3 days and consume it over the next 2 weeks.  I roast again when I have 3 or 4 days left  (to allow for the resting time).

Here at my local supermarket, premium Illy sells for around $15 for 8.2 oz and pound of (say) Bay Street Dark from Java Joe's is around $25.  I feel that my costs are a lot cheaper, even paying the high shipping costs from Sweet Maria's.

Nevertheless, you must consider that there will be 'experimental' costs with different greens and, above the cost of the Behmor, you should invest in a Kill-A-Watt meter ($20) and a high quality scale ($50) and if you have an iPhone or iPad the wonderful App 'Roastmaster' to help you with record-keeping.

I hope this helps.

 
Jerry
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Netphilosopher
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Joined: 14 Jan 2011
Posts: 1,602
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Mon Oct 22, 2012, 5:02am
Subject: .
 

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oldgearhead
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oldgearhead
Joined: 25 Jan 2010
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Posted Mon Oct 22, 2012, 6:32am
Subject: Re: The Economics of Roasting Coffee
 

I buy 10 pounds at a time. Ten pounds will easily fit in a USPS, medium, flat-rate box. At $15.00 The flat-rate box is a big part of the expense. I buy from Gary Burman, GBBC, and direct from a Thai importer. I usually pay $40.00/10 pounds  for Thai Huey Hawn, and up-to $65.00/10 pounds for some of the CoE's.

Last year my average expense for beans + shipping was $68.00/10 pounds. The average yield was 8.4 pounds. So $68/8.4 =  $8.10/pound. Fifteen months ago I built a 500 gram, fluid-bed, coffee roaster. My cost was (not including my labor) $520.00. The roaster has 'cooked' 150 pounds of beans. So $520/150 = $3.47.

Summary - Average cost to roast one pound of beans has been $11.57/pound. Not exactly a huge savings over the $16.00/pound I can buy them for, but its fun, and the results are very good...

oldgearhead: DSC_9153.jpg
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Woody
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Woody
Joined: 26 Jan 2004
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Posted Mon Oct 22, 2012, 9:31am
Subject: Re: The Economics of Roasting Coffee
 

Your question was about economics, and in the long run roasting your own will save money.  I think for most of us the issue is the ability to have fresh roasted coffee when we want it.  In other words, sometimes roasting your own is more convienient than mail order.  And of course as geeks there is the "do it yourself" factor.

Jon
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strfish7
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Joined: 7 Aug 2009
Posts: 178
Location: San Antonio
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Posted Mon Oct 22, 2012, 11:03am
Subject: Re: The Economics of Roasting Coffee
 

I have a slightly different situation, and here's how it shakes out:  I live down the street from a local roaster, whose beans are $11.00-16.00/lb. (yes, that's a pound, not 10 or 12 ounces).  I've been paying about $4.00-6.00/lb for Costco 30 lb boxes of various single origins, whose quality I am completely satisfied with. So, for me, the difference is probably close to $6.00-10.00/lb.  YMMV.
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johnboddie
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Joined: 28 Nov 2008
Posts: 205
Location: Virginia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: MCAL, Brasilia Mini Classic,...
Grinder: Rossi RR45a,Rocky,...
Drip: Cuisinart (non-grinding)
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Mon Oct 22, 2012, 7:48pm
Subject: Re: The Economics of Roasting Coffee
 

If it was just a question of economics, very few of us would roast our own beans.

Mind you, the economics isn't bad. I figure I'll amortize my Behmor at about 600 roasts (only a couple of hundred to go).

The value of working with green beans and finding a roast that is really yours (Mine is a Sidamo about 2.5 minutes after first crack on a Behomr 1600) provides a reward that is difficult to put in direct $ and cents terms.

JB
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JKalpin
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JKalpin
Joined: 28 Dec 2008
Posts: 791
Location: Thornhill, Ontario Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Aerobie Aeropress
Grinder: Baratza Maestro Plus
Vac Pot: Yama 5-Cup
Drip: Krups Moka Brew, BraZen
Roaster: Freshroast+8, Behmor 1600
Posted Mon Oct 22, 2012, 8:31pm
Subject: Re: The Economics of Roasting Coffee
 

John, you have added important points to this thread:

When I roast my own I have the opportunity to find the kinds of beans that suit me best, learn to roast them to the capability of my roaster (and skill) and to keep myself supplied with beans in the preferred range of 3 to 14 days from roasting.  

Then it becomes a different beverage.  Not only do I get the flavour, I also get a deep penetrating aroma that seems to be everywhere in your head as I sip it.  

It took me a YEAR of failed attempts, roasting small batches and brewing them up.  Then, one day, by accident, I hit the sweet-spot ...with that aroma.  

Now, with the Behmor, I can usually find it within 3 roasts and repeat it time after time (with that specific bean).  

It is not just a question of economics.

 
Jerry
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Dooglas
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Dooglas
Joined: 12 Mar 2005
Posts: 705
Location: Portland, OR
Expertise: I love coffee

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Posted Sat Oct 27, 2012, 5:34pm
Subject: Re: The Economics of Roasting Coffee
 

Now, about using a Behmor in an unheated garage in a northern clime in the winter. You will find that the Behmor has a low temperature cut off so that it will not come on at below about 40 degrees. You will need to warm your garage up a bit for roasting on some chilly winter days.
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