What are Coffee Roasters?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Coffee roasters can be defined in two ways. Each definition refers to the process of taking ripe green coffee beans and turning them into the brown or black coffee beans, which are then ground and used to make coffee. The first definition of coffee roasters is that these are professionals who obtain beans in large quantities and devise roast times to achieve certain types of tastes. The second can refer to a number of different machines, or sometimes the people who use them, that can be employed in the home to create coffee roasts in much smaller batches.

Ground coffee.
Ground coffee.

Roasting done on a large scale is considered an art form by many coffee roasters. Roasters must first obtain a supply of good quality beans, and they then use large roasting machines to create what are known as different “roasts.” These are packaged and sold on site, or they may be shipped to a number of companies where they are either directly sold to customers in bean form, or brewed into delicious coffee drinks.

Whole roasted coffee beans.
Whole roasted coffee beans.

Some coffee roasters work in the background, and location of facilities isn’t widely known. Others like Starbucks® have perfected processes that are so popular, the exact styles they make might be roasted to specific specification in every plant the company uses, before the coffee is shipped out to Starbucks® and other locations. The level of fame coffee roasters experience is variable, but when these people or companies feature specific popular roasts, it may be a major selling point of the coffee.

Green coffee beans are used in a coffee roaster.
Green coffee beans are used in a coffee roaster.

The other type of coffee roasters, since many people would like to try this art at home, are simple or complex machines, available in a variety of price ranges. Theoretically it’s possible to roast coffee at home in a pan, preferably cast-iron, on the stovetop, or in the oven on a few cookie sheets. Typically a convection oven is recommended since it tends to circulate air and cook beans more evenly. Home roasting was once the standard when it came to making coffee, so this is actually a return to the more classic coffee preparation.

It is theoretically possible to roast coffee in a cast-iron pan at home.
It is theoretically possible to roast coffee in a cast-iron pan at home.

The comparison to days gone by may end with many of the modern coffee roasters available. Some of the fancier ones cost well over a couple hundred US Dollars (USD) and slightly resemble rotisserie or toaster ovens. Others are made with circulating drums that keep the beans moving as heat as applied. Undoubtedly the least “advanced” of these machines, which usually costs about $30 USD, is a stove top model, that greatly resembles a popcorn popper for the stove. People crank a handle to turn the beans as they cook on the flames, ensuring an even distribution of heat to each bean.

Coffee beans are naturally green.
Coffee beans are naturally green.

Any of the coffee roaster models available can roast about a half pound to pound of coffee at one time, and each type may require greater or lesser surveillance. Stovetop models usually need constant supervision and action, while some of the drum types simply call for setting a button to the desired roast. Some experimentation is required to get the most favorable roast, and coffee roasters of the professional type remind their amateur companions that good roast coffee can only come from good beans. Thus people should do some shopping to find the highest quality fresh coffee beans for sale.

It's only after they're roasted that coffee beans turn brown and become usable for brewing.
It's only after they're roasted that coffee beans turn brown and become usable for brewing.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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