Dec 302016
 

Portable Coffee Roaster

When you need coffee on the go, a great Portable Coffee Roaster is a must.

In this article we talk about why some might need a portable coffee roaster, and We review the best portable coffee roasters for functionality, cost, and opinions of users around the world.

Do You Want the BEST Portable Coffee Roaster?

YES - GET IT NOW

In this article we will cover the following aspects of portable coffee roasters:

  • What to look for in a portable coffee roaster
  • The different roasting methods
  • Why roasting your own is significantly better
  • The pitfalls of roasting your own beans

What Makes a Portable Coffee Roaster Portable

Heavy Lifting (can he add a portable coffee roaster to his load?)

“Heavy Lifting” by Mariam Shahab, via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

First of all, why would you want to lug around a portable coffee roaster?

Well, there are a couple of reasons.  We’ll delve into them now.

Fresh, Fresh, Fresh

You can try to keep your beans fresh as you travel.  But, there just isn’t anything like freshly brewed coffee from freshly roasted beans.

Although, you likely don’t want to roast right before you brew.  Roasting starts the process of the beans releasing gasses.

Many report their beans to well after as short as 12 to 24 hours.  With optimal wait times being anywhere from 1 to 3 days.  Others claim a minimum of 4 days.  Some even go as far as saying 7 to 14 days with some beans needing 21 days.

The consensus seems to be that the amount of time is very subjective.  And, that it can vary between different varieties of coffee beans.

Those that report longer times seems to think that the coffee beans give off a more metallic flavor if the gasses are not allowed to leave the roasted beans.

Everyone seems to agree that ground coffee loses its flavor very fast.  So, if you aren’t going to bring your portable coffee roaster with you on vacation, at the very least bring your whole coffee beans and your portable coffee grinder.

Let us know in the comments what amount of time after roasting you think works best for you.

Experimenting With Various Coffee Beans

P1030668 - chatting about the price of honey

“P1030668 – chatting about the price of honey” by Ambernectar 13, via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

If you are traveling on a long vacation or to a place away from home for a while, you may want to try some of the local coffee favorites.

If you haven’t brought your portable coffee roaster, then you will have to rely on the local roasting and hope that they provide the type of roast you prefer.

After all, the coffee beans you find might be boasted about by all of the locals.  But, if you just don’t like how dark the local roast is, then you probably won’t be able to enjoy it as much.

Experimenting With Different Roasting Methods

There is a variety of methods that can be used to roast coffee beans.  Some that come to mind are skillet, popcorn popper, and equipment specifically designed to roast coffee beans.

Each of these methods can be modified to change the things that truly affect the roasting profile.  The things that affect a roasting profile the most are:

  • External air temperature
  • Speed of roast
  • Temperature at each stage of roasting
  • Movement of coffee beans during roasting

Changes to each of these can truly affect the flavor, aroma, and body of the resulting coffee.

Saving Money

Lack of money is the root of all evil - George Bernard Shaw

“Lack of money is the root of all evil – George Bernard Shaw” by Miran Rijavec, via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The frugal shopper can save anywhere from 25% to 50% off by buying green coffee beans over roasted coffee beans.

This can be a real help if you are wanting to apply most of your vacation or away from home money to the trip instead of the coffee.

So, in addition to being able to control your own roasting profile, you can apply some of your savings to an upgrade on dinner.  Or, maybe a little after meal desert!

Different Methods of Roasting

We talked about some of the different methods of roasting earlier.  In this section we’ll go into a little more detail about each of them.  Here are the methods we will talk about in more detail:

  • DIY Methods
  • Commercial options

DIY Coffee Roasting Methods

We talked about using a skillet earlier.  While this is a possibility, it is probably the least consistent method for coffee roasting.

Coffee Cooler - 03

“Coffee Cooler – 03” by Windell Oskay, via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The skillet provides a much less even heat.  Different stove tops or fires (if you’re trying this while camping) will not provide consistent heat.

And, the external air temperature can also affect the process.

A possibly better substitute for a skillet would be a cast iron skillet.

Another DIY method is the popcorn popper.  The type of popcorn popper we have tried has the advantage of having a lid over the top.  This can help to limit the external air factor.

However, most popcorn poppers only have the single temperature.  While this might be perfect for you, chances are it isn’t.  And, even if it is, chances are your tastes might changes as your taste buds progress and become more discriminant.

Just to see how different roasts should be cooked, see this Wikipedia page that describes how each different level of roasting should be performed at different temperatures.

Commercial Options

The different commercial options will always perform better because they are designed to control the factors that affect the roasting.

They control the temperature at each stage of the roasting.  They shield external air.

The temperature can be dialed up and the machines will tell you when the exact temperature you need is available.

We’ll talk about other advantages and disadvantages below for each of the best portable coffee roaster machines we found.

Why Roasting Your Own is Significantly Better

We’ve touched on many of these points earlier in this article.  But, if you are not the roaster of your own coffee, then you are held hostage to factors like:

  • Roasting level variability
  • Freshness questions
  • Bean quality selection

Roasting Level Variability

Home roasted coffee

“Home roasted coffee” by Kristian Mollenborg, via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

While reviewing coffee bean products for The Coffee Bean Menu web site, one of the biggest complaints we see is that the roasting was messed up.

If you are in control of the roasting, then you are the only one to blame when roasting.  And, if you are roasting, then you can roast in small batches.  Then, if there is a mistake, it only affects a partial bag.

Although, once you get the hang of roasting, most report that you get really good at it and mistakes are few and far between.

Freshness Questions

Another problem we see in negative reviews for coffee bean products (not ones we feature) is that the coffee beans showed up and looked and smelled like they had been lying around for six months.

Green beans can last for long periods of time in storage.  So, once you find a variety of coffee beans that you like, it’s not a problem to buy a five or ten pound bag and store it for as long as one to three years.

If you are the roaster, those questions immediately go away.  You are now in control of when you roast.  And, you can now plan ahead for trips, or parties, or just ahead of time for yourself.

Bean Quality Selection

Green coffee beans

“Green coffee beans” by Jessica Spengler, via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

When you purchase already roasted beans, you are paying as much as 25% to 50% more for the honor of receiving poor quality roasted coffee beans.

Of course, you can visually inspect and remove the already roasted coffee beans before you grind them.  But, you will be paying that much more for beans that will be thrown out.

When you buy green beans, you can visually remove the lower quality coffee beans before you roast.  Since you paid less for them, you are then throwing away a less expensive bean.

Yes, this is probably not a critical number of beans being thrown out.  And therefore, not huge savings.  But, it just feels better knowing you are tossing the cheaper beans when you see them and have to toss them.

Portable Coffee Roaster Pitfalls

There are several pitfalls that go with roasting your own coffee beans.  We’ll try to cover the pitfalls associated with portable roasters.

Durability

Be careful to read the lowest reviews when selecting a portable coffee roaster.  Several of the products we decided to not feature had issues with plastic parts failing due to high temperatures melting the plastic.

Their experiences were that they could after a lot of effort get a replacement product.  But, the replacement product had the same design flaw and eventually also failed.

All products can have problems.  But, the ones to avoid are the ones where the product either consistently fails a specific part.

Or, the product has a defective design that causes a specific part to fail in this case using plastic that doesn’t have a melting point below the temperature it will see while doing its normal job.

Limited Roasting Controls

We’ve talked about the various things that can affect coffee bean roasting.  When purchasing a portable coffee roaster, you should make sure controls for these factors exist.

We’ll discuss each of those factors in our list of featured portable coffee bean products.

The Best Portable Coffee Roasters

Here are the best portable coffee roaster products we found.  We have eliminated several products that we feel provide a quality portable coffee roaster experience.

FreshRoast SR500 Automatic Coffee Bean Roaster

Fresh Roast Systems has been around since early 2000’s working to perfect coffee roasting (among other projects).

Fresh Roast has several models of coffee roasters.  However, the FreshRoast SR500 Automatic Coffee Bean Roaster is by far the most popular.

From a portability standpoint, this might not be the best portable coffee roaster.  The plastic is apparently very brittle and easy to break if the unit is dropped, or even knocked over.

On the bright side, you can get replacement parts from Home Roasting Supplies fairly easy according to several owners.

If packing for travel, the dimensions of this roaster are about 13″H X 8.5″D X 6.75″ W.  So, keep the box and add another one inch or so if you are looking for how much space it might take in a suitcase or car.

The machine has three heat settings and a variable speed fan to control the temperature.  The system doesn’t include the current temperature, but some have mentioned that a probe temperature sensor would be easy to insert to monitor the actual temperature.

Some features of the SR500 are:

  • Chaff collector (which gets rave reviews)
  • Heat selection
  • Fan speed control
  • Count down timer

So, if you’re looking for a coffee roaster that you can travel with, be sure to pack carefully.  Don’t put it into situations where it might jostle while travelling or you might be making frequent trips to the replacement parts store.

But, if you are careful in packing or are looking for a coffee roaster that doesn’t need to move too far, this is a very popular brand that gives the user a lot of control over the roasting process.

Behmor 1600 Plus Customizable Drum Coffee Roaster

Behmor Inc. was started by Joe Behm as a sort of one man pursuit.  Joe has managed to put together this product after 8 years of coffee industry study.

The result is the Behmor 1600 Plus Customizable Drum Coffee Roaster.  This product has several features that you would look for to control the roasting process.

From a portable coffee roaster standpoint, the system is built like a toaster oven.  Box dimensions are 25x15x15.

For travel, this might be a little bulky.  But, from a durability standpoint, this is very portable at approximately 25 pounds and small enough to carry easily.

From a features standpoint it has the following:

  • Rotating drum that can hold 1 pound of coffee beans
  • Smoke suppression technology (works best for lighter roasts)
  • Quartz roasting element that is controlled by thrmostat
  • Variable speed rotation for the drum (provides a more even roast)
  • Interior light and window to view the roast
  • Removable chaff tray for easy cleanup
  • Multiple roasting profiles
  • Manual “expert” mode for fine tuning a roast
  • Built in safety shutoff features

We talk about smoke suppression in the feature list.  But, that doesn’t mean you can use this product indoors.  Many users mention that if you are trying to roast past 2nd crack, that this machine will emit a LOT of smoke.

This is a very powerful machine.  So, if you do decide to purchase it, even though it does have automatic shutoff, it can get VERY hot and can cause fire if left unattended near anything flammable.  The original 1600 (without the Plus) had to be modified to add in safety features because it was too powerful to be left unattended.

Nuvo Eco Ceramic Handy Coffee Bean Roaster

If portability is your number one criteria, then the Nuvo Eco Ceramic Handy Coffee Bean Roaster might be the best choice for you.

At 243mm (length) x 132mm (Diameter) x 33mm(Inlet) and 340 grams, this will fit nicely in a suitcase or slide nicely into an empty slot in your car.

This is basically a skillet with a built in lid with a hole in the top.  It has a nice looking leather handle for holding.  But, the leather doesn’t really do that great of a job keeping the heat off of your hands.

So, plan to have an oven mitt or towel to help insulate your hand from the heat.

As a skillet, this product doesn’t come with any timers or temperature control.  Also, you will be providing any coffee bean movement to keep the beans from roasting too much on only one side.

The built in lid does allow the roaster to swirl the beans around without spilling them.  This is a big plus over just using an open faces skillet.

The pan is fairly small.  So, roasting about 50 grams of coffee beans at a time is about the limit.

When you are done roasting, this “skillet” does have an open handle that allows the beans to be poured into a cold container for cooling.  Another pretty nice feature you won’t find in a regular skillet.

This tool does take a little getting used to.  So, prepare to have a learning curve before you get it right.  But, if you do choose this method, there seems to be a lot of personal satisfaction involved with users of this product.  They just feel more involved in the entire coffee experience after using this little roaster!

Some Extras For the New Roaster

While doing our research, we found a couple of nice products for someone getting started or trying to perfect the roasting process.

The Roast Your Own Coffee Kit Gift Box

As a gift or if you are just getting into coffee bean roasting, we found this nice The Roast Your Own Coffee Kit Gift Box.

This is a very nice companion gift if you are giving someone roasting equipment.

The kit comes with:

  • A bag to store your roasted coffee beans
  • A quick start guide
  • A full instruction guide
  • Three pounds of coffee beans

This just seems like the perfect gift for someone with a little roasting fever.  Users report that the gift is very straight forward.

And, they the gift receiver can go from opening to roasted in about 20 minutes (depending on your roasting preferences).

Home Coffee Roasting Book

Another great gift idea for the potential roaster is a book about roasting.

This Home Coffee Roasting Book gets great reviews.  In fact, with almost one hundred reviews, not one person has given this a One Star (out of five) review.

There is almost always one grump in the crowd whose job it is to dump all over everything they touch.  But, so far this book is either keeping away the grumps, or is pleasing them enough to make them move on to something else to dump on.

Featured in this book are:

  • A guide for how to look for great green beans
  • A guide to great home roasting equipment
  • Tips for how to store green beans
  • Tricks and tips for getting your roast perfect
  • Tips for blending coffee beans
  • Lots of illustrations

Kenneth Davids has a charm to his writing that readers are finding truly enjoyable.

Summing Up Portable Coffee Roasters

Doing your own roasting requires a little research about learning how to control the factors that affect the coffee bean roasting process.

A good portable coffee roaster can help if properly designed to control all of those roasting factors.

Do You Want the BEST Portable Coffee Roaster?

YES - GET IT NOW

We hope you found our Portable Coffee Roaster article informative and useful.  We learned a lot about roasting on the run while researching.


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