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Discussions > Coffee > Home Roast > Cost of Home...  
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javajr
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Joined: 21 Sep 2013
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Posted Sun Sep 29, 2013, 3:42pm
Subject: Cost of Home Roasting?
 

Hey, I've been looking through some of the posts in this forum and it's gotten me daydreaming about doing some roasting of my own, but I'm not sure if I can justify the cost.

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?

Thanks!
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tglodjo
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tglodjo
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Posted Sun Sep 29, 2013, 4:43pm
Subject: Re: Cost of Home Roasting?
 

I save BIG money.

First off, you can get a cheap roaster (e.g. popcorn popper is around $20-40 for the best kind).

Secondly, green coffee (I purchase from Sweet Maria's) is only half the cost of buying it fresh roasted for my espresso hobby.

I chose to purchase a Behmor 1600 (for $300, with an included 8lbs of green coffee) and it paid for itself in savings within 8 months.

I HIGHLY encourage home roasting as a cost-saving alternative.
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BonsaiDoug
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Posted Sun Sep 29, 2013, 4:55pm
Subject: Re: Cost of Home Roasting?
 

tglodjo Said:

I save BIG money.

First off, you can get a cheap roaster (e.g. popcorn popper is around $20-40 for the best kind).

Secondly, green coffee (I purchase from Sweet Maria's) is only half the cost of buying it fresh roasted for my espresso hobby.

I chose to purchase a Behmor 1600 (for $300, with an included 8lbs of green coffee) and it paid for itself in savings within 8 months.

I HIGHLY encourage home roasting as a cost-saving alternative.

Posted September 29, 2013 link

Yeah... for all the above reasons. And not only do you save by buying green beans, that cost savings allows you to try coffees like single farm, organic, fair trade, and countries/districts that many roasters just don't offer. And if they do, it's quite expensive.
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boar_d_laze
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Posted Sun Sep 29, 2013, 5:12pm
Subject: Re: Cost of Home Roasting?
 

Excluding the cost of the roaster and associated hardware, the cost of home roasting (including, beans, energy, storage, etc.,) is typically somewhere between 45% and 65% of buying the same beans roasted by a high-end, commercial roaster.  But it depends on what kind of beans you buy and from whom you buy them.  

You tend to save more proportionally doing the same greens comparing really good beans from a really good roaster than on average quality beans from a very cost-conscious roaster.

I buy a lot of my greens from Klatch; and nearly always buy from them on those occasions when buying roasted beans.  I could pay $15 for a 12oz bag of Costa Rica Helsar de Zacero-- which is $18.75/lb -- for a roasted SO from Klatch or get the same greens for around $7.50/lb (including shipping) from them, and spend another $1.50 -- give or take -- on everything else using my $1000 (when all is said and done) electric HotTop, or $3,000 electric 1Kg, Amazon; or another $1.15 on my (be-here-next week) $6,500, 1lb, USRC gas roaster.  

Let me suggest that the $0.35 I save on electricity doesn't compensate for the capital investment in the USRC compared to either electric roaster.  

When you're considering dumping a ton of money into equipment, saving money on roasted beans is a comforting thought.  But, unless you're using an inexpensive roaster, economy is not a particularly powerful reason to roast one's own.  The rewards are aesthetic, satisfying, and powerful.  

BDL
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Marshall_S
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Posted Sun Sep 29, 2013, 5:12pm
Subject: Re: Cost of Home Roasting?
 

You do save money but that is not a good reason to take it on.

If you think of it as a hobby, much like cooking, in which there is a never-ending learning curve, it may be for you.

For me, I enjoy the roasting experience almost as much as the coffee itself and the incredible variety, which is available for home roasting, is the real pay-off.
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Buckley
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Posted Sun Sep 29, 2013, 6:26pm
Subject: Re: Cost of Home Roasting?
 

Dear Javajr,

I got into home roasting because I was outraged by the increased cost of shipping coffee - sometimes coming close to doubling the price.

For background: I was living where there were no reliable local roasters and I, of course, like to drink the best coffee that I can get, within reasonable cost.  I was ordering premium roasts online until shipping costs began to bother me.  I am the only coffee drinker in the household and so a pound will last me about two weeks.  I cannot order large amounts to save shipping since freshness is, of course, important to me, as it is to everyone.  The entire issue of ordering in bulk and freezing is not satisfactory to me because I can taste the decrease in freshness in some roasts with freezing - it has to do with the quality of the roast and with the lack of quality of the freezer.

So I obtained an inexpensive hot air popper (any model with air openings on the side of the chamber near the bottom but not on the bottom seems to work well) and I have been surprised how well it performs at roasting beans and how small the learning curve was for me.  In no time I was roasting beans that always tasted better than 60% of the artisanal roasters out there, sometimes a lot better and one or two times I had to throw the roast away.  Even with a day or two for degassing, the flavors of freshness are hard to get by infusing something that had to take time to go through the mail.

I would say that if one studies the roasting advice online, keeps a record of time-temperature-duration and bean information, one will be successful with as little as a thrift-store popper and the cash outlay will be less than buying roasts.

On the other hand, if one is impetuous and characteristically learns from his or her own mistakes and does not listen to anyone else and initially buys an $800 roaster, then there will likely be a lot of wastage of beans and the successful roasts will wind up costing a lot more than just buying them outright.

Of course, there are many positions in the middle of these two extremes, but that is just my long-winded way of saying: YMMV.

I do not know where In Mass you live but if I had access to some of the Boston roasters I would be happy to put away my popper and buy from them.  They would be worth it to me as long as I did not have to kick in shipping costs.

Good Luck.

Buckley
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dana_leighton
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Posted Sun Sep 29, 2013, 7:39pm
Subject: Re: Cost of Home Roasting?
 

I think it's useful to consider the value of your time - if this is a purely economic decision and not one of pleasure gained. In my small batch roasting, a pound of coffee takes me about an hour to complete, sometimes more if I am fiddling around with roasting parameters, etc.

So if I pay $6.59 per pound at Sweet Maria's (including shipping, my most recent order for 12 pounds of green), I will yield about 13.6 ounces of roasted coffee. So that's $.49/oz or $7.84 per pound.  If I order a roasted pound from Redbird (Costa Rica La Pastora, my most recent order) it is $17.85 shipped. The cost goes down dramatically if I buy in 5 pound bags.

Is my time worth more than $10/hour? HELLZ YEAH!

But, it is not an economic decision for me. I have fun doing it, so the cost of labor is worth it to me.

 
Dana Leighton - Espresso hack and CoffeeGeek moderator
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frcn
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frcn
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Posted Tue Oct 1, 2013, 10:57am
Subject: Re: Cost of Home Roasting?
 

If your goal is to save money by home roasting, maybe it is time to rethink that paradigm. There are two types of statistics- lies, and damn lies. The cost savings can be easily proven statistically.. or disproven. But what about the quality of the coffee? How much coffee will you waste learning, and even than, will the coffee be better than you can purchase either locally or by mail? Roasted coffee is, after all, just a matter of applying heat to processed coffee seeds.

You can just use a cast iron frying pan or get a Whirley pop popper. Using that your return on equipment cost will be achieved in just a few roasts with a raw product selling at around $4-7, roasting the first ten pounds saves you what? $50? $70? More? Again, we are back to statistics and not coffee.

Next step is one of the small air roasters. Whether just a popcorn popper or one of the commercial offerings, these can do OK, but as they come, without modification, tend to roast too fast and have small capacity. Depending on how much you drink, they may not last long either. Once again, we are back at "quality" vs. "savings."

If you already have a BBQ, the best cost vs. quality of roast is to use a BBQ drum to roast, whether homemade or commercially purchased. There is a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it you can produce larger amounts of coffee and possibly even sell some to friends to offset costs.

Best bet is either a Behmor roaster or a Genecafe in terms of minimal investment, ease of use, and the quality of the coffee produced. Neither offer much in the way of user control, so just follow directions and the roasts will be successful. The Behmor offers better customer service as well as larger capacity. Lots os users as well in terms of getting assistance.

The Hottop is probably out of your price range, but it offers the best control over the roast. It has the capability of creating a roast that compares very favorably to commercial roasters' product (their are many in use as commercial sample roasters). [DISCLAIMER: Hottop is a client of my graphic arts business and thus I have a business relationship with them, but do not profit from sales and I do not sell them.]

And so, not meaning to be rude or insulting, if the quality of the coffee is not paramount, why are you here on CG?

 
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farmroast
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Posted Tue Oct 1, 2013, 5:17pm
Subject: Re: Cost of Home Roasting?
 

It's possible to save some money but is unlikely you'll continue to do it unless you really enjoy roasting.

 
Ed Bourgeois... LMWDP #167
please visit my blog
http://coffee-roasting.blogspot.com/
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oldgearhead
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Posted Wed Oct 2, 2013, 6:17am
Subject: Re: Cost of Home Roasting?
 

javajr Said:

Hey, I've been looking through some of the posts in this forum and it's gotten me daydreaming about doing some roasting of my own, but I'm not sure if I can justify the cost.

<snip<

Thanks!

Posted September 29, 2013 link

The cost of quality, high-grown, greens will not be too much of a problem (depends on where you live). In the USA fifteen pounds of great, green, coffee beans,
delivered via USPS Priority to you door will cost you about 82 USD. This fifteen pounds will yield 12.75 pounds of roasted beans. So that's about $6.50/pound, plus your labor. No the real question is the cost of the roasting equipment.

In early 2011, after teaching myself how to roast coffee using a couple of highly-modified Zach & Dani's hot air roasters, I sat down and started calculating;
1) How much do we consume? Answer = 72 grams/day,  SHG and 28 grams/day SWP decaf. That works out to a simple 100 grams/day.
2) How long to 'rest' the fresh-roasted beans? We prefer beans that have been rested right around 5 days.
3) Type of roaster? I'm partial to fluid-bed roasters because: a) I've read about every word Sivetz has written, b) Low moving part count.
Therefore, I need to roast 480 grams of greens every four days. So a capacity of 500 grams would be my target.

Do I keep using the Z&D's? (note: multiple units are required because of rather poor reliability)? No, not big enough.
1) Popper? - Way too small.
2) Gas grill? I roast in my unheated garage. I don't want to roast outside.
3) Behmor or some other modified toaster oven? Still too small.
4) Hottop? The warning about back-to-back roasts, high cost vs.capacity, and the still-to-small batch size bothered me a lot.
Conclusion -  I built a one-pound, 120V, heat - reclaiming, fluid-bed roaster. The roaster is 26 months old and it cost me $512. So the roaster cost has been $20/month, so far.
Click Here (www.homeroasters.org)

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