On a scale of one to caffeine, how much do you love coffee? It’s a simple question, and one easily answered by the amount of gadgets and gizmos cluttering up your house; the sheer number of macchiato-making machines, milk frothers and stove-top espresso makers percolating about your kitchen.
Here at Gentleman’s Journal, the smooth-running of our days depend on the stuff. In the past, we’ve rounded up everything from the finest bean grinders to the best cafetieres to buy. But real coffee enthusiasts wind things back even further — and have a handle on the particulars of their coffee-making process from the very start. And that means roasting your own beans.
That’s right. Before your latte art, before your steam wand skills, and even before the ‘burr vs. blade’ grinding debate, you need roasted beans. And why should this key part of the coffeemaking process be any less personal or customised than the rest? Here, we’ve picked the three most piping, red-hot reasons to invest in an at-home roaster — and discovered the best machines to buy…
With an at-home roaster, you can tailor-blend your brew
As any coffee aficionado will tell you, control is everything. Whether you’re minutely altering the grind of your drip-over grounds or heating your milk to a very specific degree celsius, the subjectively perfect cup depends on many very specific, very frothy factors. And, by controlling how deeply and richly you roast your beans, you can introduce another parameter into perfecting your ideal morning cup.
And, while there are plenty of bean-roasting brands that cater to this level of customisation, none have the variables and options of IKAWA. Founded in 2013 by engineer Andrew Stordy, the brand was born from a childhood growing up in coffee growing countries including Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Burundi.
This respect and reverence for the raw ingredients can be seen wired into the brand’s flagship home machine; the IKAWA Home Roasting System. As simple as it is state-of-the-art, it takes just 10 minutes to roast your chosen beans — but it took 10 years to design the machine’s pioneering, even-roasting, chaff-separating system.
The best feature commands control over the roasting process; pairing with a mobile app that intelligently monitors your roast and manages your library of coffees and roast recipes. From dynamically displaying expected flavour characteristics and roast stage graphs to offering up to 30 different combinations of roasting settings, it’s a professional-grade bit of blend-tweaking kit.
IKAWA Home Roasting System
If you roast your beans at home, your coffee will be fresher
There’s a reason real coffee enthusiasts avoid the endless aisles of pre-packaged beans in supermarkets. Coffee remains at its most flavourful for a relatively short period of time after roasting — around a week or so — and this means that time is of the essence if you’re looking for a cortado, cappuccino or con panna that packs a punch.
And what better way to cut down on your coffee’s age than buying an at-home roaster? This won’t just ensure your coffee is prepared within the same week, but probably on the same worktop — with your roaster, grinder and coffee machine occupying the same corner of your kitchen. And Sandbox, a company created by coffee aficionados for coffee aficionados, has the perfect first-time, at-home roaster to fire up; the R1.
WIth 20 sets of parameter settings (including drum speed and temperature adjustment), it’s slightly less customisable than the IKAWA above — but with more than enough variables to experiment with. Plus, with a small window on its front, you can keep track of your beans from the moment you load them to the minute they begin to crack.
And, like the IKAWA roaster above, the Sandbox Smart R1 also comes with app assistance, and pre-loaded profiles which’ll prepare your beans in less than 15 minutes. It’ll roast 100 grams of beans at one time, ensuring the smallest, freshest batches for you to brew. And, one of the main benefits of roasting at home is that these raw green beans can cost up to 75% cheaper than the ready-roasted, less-fresh alternatives.
Sandbox Smart R1 Coffee Roaster
When you roast beans at home, the flavours are intensified
If you buy your beans in bulk, or even pick them up small-batch from a local roastery, they’ll never be tailored specifically to your tastes. We’ve spoken about the various variables most of these at-home roasting machines offer — from temperature to airflow, crack rate to drum RPM — but you can also create unique combinations and creations by incorporating and roasting different varieties of green beans together.
This will add deeper dimensions and character to your coffee, and give you almost infinite possibilities when it comes to creating your morning cup. And there are few better tools for the job than this ‘Sample Roaster’ from Oslo-based ROEST — a sufficiently Scandinavian-looking piece of kitchen kit that uses a combination of the two most used bean-baking technologies; small hot air roaster and conventional open drums.
With six temperature sensors, an AI interface, a dual fan system and capacity of up to 120 grams, this sleek system combines all that’s great about at-home roasters. You’ve got the chance to experiment with different parameters, the ability to create small batches of beans — and a new, minimalist kitchen appliance to boot.
Of course, there’s a significant price jump between the ROEST machine and our two previous suggestions. But, as any self-respecting caffeine enthusiast will tell you; you can’t ever put a price on a good cup of coffee.
Want more caffeinated tips? Try these four alternative ways to brew your morning coffee…
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