Many people now have a greater interest in purchasing high-quality coffee as a direct result of the specialty coffee industry. Coffee enthusiasts now have access to a greater variety of coffees and brewing equipment than they ever had before, making it simpler than ever before for them to experiment with new and interesting methods for preparing the beverage.
Even while the typical consumer may acquire a wide variety of beans and prepare them for consumption without leaving the convenience of their own home, a growing number of individuals are becoming curious in the roasting process and how it affects the final product.
The following is an explanation of why more and more people are interested in experimenting with home roasting for pleasure and how this trend can affect the specialty coffee market in general:
Home Roasting Defined
Before delving into the question of why more people are choosing to roast their own coffee at home, it is necessary to first distinguish between home roasting and micro roasting. The process of micro roasting entails obtaining small numbers of high-quality green beans directly from importers or dealers and then roasting a tiny quantity of those beans for use in enterprises such as coffee shops. The practise of roasting coffee beans at home is one that is done exclusively for the sake of pleasure and not with the intention of making a profit.
Roasting coffee beans at home confers a number of advantages on the hobbyist. It not only provides a feeling of personal pleasure but also has the potential to lead to a greater appreciation of speciality coffee. Experimentation is encouraged, which may lead to a better knowledge of how various roast degrees affect beans and how different types react to the roasting process. This is because it can lead to a better understanding of these things. When compared to the cost of buying beans that have already been roasted, there is the possibility of a cost savings in some situations.
Depending on the sophistication of the machine that is used, developing a roast that satisfies certain goals will help a home roaster develop certain skills that can only be obtained through experience. These skills include being able to determine the level of a roast based on the colour of the beans, as well as being able to control the amount of roasting that is taking place by judging how much smoke is being produced.
Due to the fact that many home roasting machines do not offer as much control over specific roast variables as commercial machines do, it is likely that the results will be diverse, and no two batches will be the same. This could be appealing to individuals who are interested in examining the various qualities that a particular bean possesses.
A History of Roasting & Today’s Landscape
Home coffee roasting may be traced back to Africa and the Middle East as early as the 1400s and is thought to be nearly as ancient as the discovery of coffee itself. To ensure that the beans were evenly roasted, they had to be roasted over an open flame in a narrow pan that had holes punched in it and flipped with a spoon during the process. This took a lot of time and needed constant attention. It was abandoned in favour of the cylindrical roaster in the 17th century due to the fact that it provided results that were both dirty and inconsistent. To ensure a uniform roasting, beans were placed within the cylinder, which was then held over an open flame and turned by hand. The 19th century was a time of increasing industrialization, which led to the eventual takeover of coffee roasting by commercial roasters.
Sweet Marias is a home coffee roasting business that was established in 1997 in Columbus, Ohio in the United States of America. Byron Dote is the head of Marketing at Sweet Marias. According to him, the growth of the speciality coffee market and artisanal roasting in the sixties and seventies led to a temporary interest in small-scale roasting, but it did not take off in earnest at any point during that time period.
Since then, the global market for coffee roasting has been expanding, and it is projected that this expansion will continue at an annualised pace of 6.3% over the next four years, with the majority of this growth centred in both the United States and Europe. Over a third of the world’s coffee was consumed in Europe in 2018, according to the Europe’s Centre for the Promotion of Imports. This surge in consumption has been matched by an increase in the number of speciality roasting establishments. At the moment, the country of Germany has the most advanced coffee roasting industry in all of Europe (with a production volume of 551 thousand tonnes of roast coffee), followed by the country of Italy (with a roasted coffee production volume of 414 thousand tonnes).
Kiez Rösterei is a micro-roastery that can be found in Berlin, Germany. It is owned by Stefan Bracht. He attributes this expansion to the fact that high-quality green beans are now readily available in quantities that are both more affordable and of a more manageable size, as well as to the fact that consumers have begun to place a greater emphasis on the ethical sourcing, transparency, and regional origin of their coffee. “As a consequence of the present supply of high-quality freshly roasted coffee, coffee enthusiasts have become more demanding,” claims Claus Fricke, the author of the book Home Roasting. Now, they are looking for a method to enjoy a brew that is always more fresh, with a flavour profile that is always changing, and can even be custom roasted to suit each individual’s preferences.
The Pros & Cons of Home Roasting
The current home roasting scene is ripe for development for many of the reasons listed above. Another more specific reason is that it’s never been easier to acquire quality home roasting equipment at a mid to high price range. Brands such as Gene, Hottop, and Aillio are all known for manufacturing home roasting systems that are accessible and produce a quality result.
Other established brands demonstrate that the industry has plenty to offer those interested in home roasting. US-based Roastmasters has been selling a wide range of home roasting equipment and green, unroasted coffee since 1985. Behmor was founded in 1997 and has developed their own range of home roasting machinery.
According to Byron, “While this is still a hobby market, we see growth in it, and we believe that this development goes hand in hand with the customers’ knowledge and education.” Baristas, for instance, who are seeking for a method to jumpstart their careers in coffee roasting are one of the groups that we’ve lately added to our client base, much to our surprise.
These firms, along with others such as Sweet Marias, provide clients with access to a comprehensive online knowledge and resource base, in addition to a network of support that is available after the product has been sold. This, in addition to the vast amount of knowledge on roasting that is accessible online in the form of videos, social media, and chat boards, means that information on how to learn how to roast is available to anybody who is interested in doing so.
Nevertheless, there are risks associated with this course of action. If roasting is done without proper instruction or direction, it is possible that green beans may either not realise their flavour potential or will get burned. A lack of understanding about the storage of roasted coffee may also lead to an inability to degas the coffee to an adequate degree, which prevents the coffee grounds from being properly extracted during the brewing process. Roasting, in Stefan’s words, “isn’t magic; everyone can roast at home if they choose to.” The issue that has to be answered is whether or not they have the resources (time and equipment) necessary to get consistently excellent outcomes.
Whether a person engages in home roasting simply for the enjoyment of the activity or wants the satisfaction of being able to roast and brew their own coffee, making an investment in equipment and experimenting with it is a helpful way to gain a better understanding of coffee and its origins. This is true whether a person roasts coffee at home simply for the fun of it or wants the ability to roast and brew their own coffee.
The introduction of roasters that are not only more reasonably priced but also simpler to use will be a significant step toward making home roasting more accessible. As a direct consequence of this, coffee will become less mysterious and less commodified, which will ultimately lead to a heightened appreciation for speciality coffee in general.