Coffee Roasting Guide 2022 | Light, Medium, and Dark Roast

Coffee Roasting Guide 2022 | Light, Medium, and Dark Roast

Roasting of Coffee

Through the process of roasting, green coffee beans are transformed into various flavors of coffee and other products. Variations in modes and techniques of roasting manifest in various flavors and varieties of coffee products.

While there are slight changes in essential ingredients like caffeine, acid, sugar, and proteins, the taste varies to a larger extent in different flavors and products. The process of rousting induces physical and chemical changes in the raw material, which is green coffee beans and transforms them into the desired final products.

Fostering a chemical reaction between the chemical ingredients of coffee gives the distinctive flavors of the end products. The critical chemical reaction that changes the raw coffee beans into roasted, finished products is called the Maillard reaction. It is not limited to coffee only. And instead, it encompasses the processing of a wide variety of foods, including steaks, biscuits, and bread pieces.

The bulk of the coffee in the market mainly roasts on a large scale through big machines, but small-scale roasting has also come into vogue commercially with the unique flavors served at specialty shops. There are other varieties in the process in the non-commercial, personal domain.

Heat applied is the generally applied criterion of the light, medium, and dark roast coffee. During absorption of heat, the color of the coffee darkens to yellow and different shades of brown. The coffee color also darkens over time; hence color may not be considered the only indicator of the degree of roasting.

In modern times, a combination of multiple factors, including temperature, smell, color, and sound, is employed by the roasters to check and regulate the process. During heating, the coffee beans emit different kinds of sound during the process, taken as a reliable sign of the level of heating. For example, at approximately 385 F, it will give out a cracking sound, and at 435 F, a second crack.

The way of roasting coffee is one of the main factors that influence the taste of that coffee. The process changes green beans into flavorful and aromatic coffee that refreshes in the morning. Thus, bean roasting changes the physical form and taste of the coffee. Several large manufacturers of coffee roast it in enclosed drums that can, at times, burn the beans they have.

The use of perforated drums can help protect the aroma and smooth flavor of each level of roast at a suitable temperature. The light roasts’ duration lasts until the time there is a single crack in them called their first crack. With the increase in the magnitude of roasting, the beans get heavier and thicker until they crack for the second time. It is impossible to roast coffee after the second crack as the beans tend to get thinner and taste like charcoal.

The coffee is more in its new character at lighter roasts. As more heat is applied, the natural flavors of the coffee are shadowed by the flavor’s consequence of the process of roasting. The darker hues it takes, the more it takes on the roast flavor, and the more difficult it is to discern the original flavor of the beans. The caffeine ratio is also inversely proportional to the roast level as it diminishes with the increasing roast level, unlike sugar level and density which increase during the process.

At higher temperatures, greater than 450 degrees Fahrenheit, the beans get burned, and their taste gets like that of charcoal.

Light Roast Coffee

Form 385ºF to 401ºF is taken as a Light Roast, almost promptly after the first crack. After some minutes of heating, the beans start to expand in size and crack. Very light roast is characterized by underdeveloped sweetness, with pre-dominantly roasted grain close to the original flavor and sharp acidity. It has a less pronounced roast flavor and is preferred by those who go for the original taste of the coffee. It boasts high acidity with original taste. It is popularly known as American Roast, New England Roast, and Cinnamon Roast.

Medium Roast Coffee

From 410ºF to 426ºF is termed as a Medium Roast. It is medium-light brown to medium brown in appearance with a slightly subdued acidity, improved sweetness but still dominant original taste. It is also developed through the first crack. It also embodies the signs and aroma of roasting. They are generally called City/Full City Roast.

Dark Roast Coffee

From 437ºF to 473ºF is taken to be Dark Roast with the variations of Medium Dark and Moderate Dark. It is in a variety of shades of dark brown with patches of light surface oil. Heightened sweetness and diminished acidity also include the salient features.

The bittersweet flavors and pungent/dominant aromas of roast prevail. Generally referred to as French Roast, Vienna Roast, Italian Roast. And Full City Roast. The coffee manufacturers hide the dark beans of coffee with dark roasting. Still, other manufacturers focus on enhancing the aroma, intense, and bold flavors characteristic of a dark roast.

Increase in the Variety of Coffee Beans

The trend of consuming dark roast coffee had been more during the past few years. The dark roast coffee had a strong taste, and it symbolizes a hardened, seasoned palette. The taste of light roast coffee was considered weak.

Now, light roast coffee is a popular choice. The reason for strong variation in the tastes of light and dark coffees is the increase in the diversity and variety of coffee beans used in them, because of which the beans of coffee with the best tastes are a lot easier to find.

Now, the light roast coffee has more complex flavors. This also means that coffee is getting better day by day. Dark roast coffee has more caffeine and a stronger flavor. It sometimes has a tinge of the flavor of toasted pine of chocolate.

Taste of Light Roast Coffee

The citrus in the light roast beans of coffee can be pleasing for your taste buds. Consider a report by the National Coffee Association in the USA, which mentions that Medium roast coffee is a preference for several drinkers of coffee in the USA. The reason is that the medium coffee is a bit sweeter than the light coffee, and it offers a balanced acidity and flavor.

Level of Caffeine

The level of caffeine is greater in light roast coffee. Their beans are denser than those of dark roast coffee. The density of dark roast beans of coffee is slightly less. Thus there is less caffeine in each of those dark roast beans.

Quality and Taste of Coffee

The quality of coffees has notably improved from that in the past. And for that reason, the dark roast is not the most preferred flavor for coffee. To avoid low-quality coffee, the coffee manufacturers roasted away the less pleasing flavors of coffee to find more approachable, uniform, and desirable tastes.

Presently, roasting aims not to crush the bad flavors but to get darker, pleasant, and deeper flavors if this is required in any of the coffees.

Even more concerning is that many coffee brands contain many pesticides, toxins, and mold in their beans, which affects their quality. The mycotoxins and molds can stay in the intestine lining, which triggers oxidative stress and inflammation. Moreover, long-term exposure to them can cause chronic fatigue, cancer, and even respiratory problems. So, it is important to be careful about the quality of coffee while buying it to avoid any harm to health.

Caffeine in Coffee

With the increase in the level of the beans, their caffeine content continues to decrease. This means that the light roast coffee preserves more of the caffeine from the initial green bean of coffee at a lower temperature.

The medium roast coffee has a slightly thicker bean than the light roast coffee. However, it loses some of its taste. So, it lacks in the bright floral flavors, which are a characteristic of light roast coffee. The amount of caffeine in these coffees is medium. To get this type of coffee, the bean is roasted till the second crack. Dark roast coffee comes in several names, which can be confusing for consumers.

As dark coffee beans are roasted more so, they lose much of their original taste, and they tend to gain flavor from the process.

Health Benefits of Coffee

The light roast coffee also has a higher content of antioxidants. The medium roasted coffee still has the highest number of antioxidants in it that are useful for health. Dark roast coffee increases the level of an antioxidant called glutathione.

The medium and light roasts contain a high amount of a potent antioxidant called polyphenol chlorogenic acid (CGA), which is beneficial for health. CGA repairs the damaged cells, decreases inflammation, and lowers the cholesterol level that improves complexion. It also makes a person more active by increasing the levels of immunity and energy.

The amount of CGAs is far less in the darker roasts. Glutathione is also called a master antioxidant; thus, it can increase vitamin E that heals the skin. This antioxidant serves the function of restoring the red blood cells (RBCs).

Now the coffees come in a greater variety of flavors, so you can choose any of those coffees that benefit your health and appeal to your taste too. If you want a high level of caffeine in your coffee, you should take light roast coffee.

How to Roast Coffee Beans at Home

For many people, the idea of roasting their coffee themselves seems like too much work – which is true. But the benefits you enjoy from drinking a fresh brew done to your authentic tasting and flavor are worth the stress.

One of the main advantages of roasting your coffee yourself is the storage method. When you buy coffee ground, it might be fresh for a couple of days and begin to lose its taste and flavor after a while; the same applies to your coffee beans.

The green coffee beans can last up to a year before losing their taste and flavor; this means you will appropriately utilize the money spent. You can roast a little of your green beans every other week or month until it finishes or until the year ends (whichever happens first).

Why roast at home?

Roasting your coffee at home gives you a great deal of control over your coffee choice. Do you love Kenyans? Awesome, roast it yourself. You wish you didn’t have to drive so far to get my favorite hazelnut coffee? Roast it yourself.

As much as roasting your coffee yourself grants you flexibility in your coffee taste, it is not the only advantage you stand to gain.

As I mentioned above, freshness is vital for enjoying a cup of coffee; the fresher the coffee, the better the taste. You can only enjoy fresh coffee for so long when you purchase green beans. Moreso, green beans are a lot cheaper than roasted beans.

In the long run, after you have perfected your roasting skills and gotten all the necessary equipment needed , you will realize you are saving a lot more by roasting at home. Also, roasting your beans yourself will broaden your knowledge about coffee.

You would know what to do to achieve a specific taste or aroma; with practice, your palate will improve – who knows? You might become a connoisseur.

What happens while roasting?

The first stage to converting your beans into the brew you know is roasting. the is done to allow you to grind the beans, which is impossible when it’s still green. The green beans retain a lot of water and have a grassy flavor, making it impossible to be brewed without roasting.

the process triggers various chemical reactions responsible for the aroma and flavor of the coffee. When the beans begin to roast, moisture is forced out of the beans, leaving the beans dry and expanded. This is the first stage of the process, and it is referred to as the drying stage. Shortly after, the beans begin to turn yellow – the yellowing stage.

The essential chemical reaction happens when the beans begin to darken – the browning stage. Reactions like Maillard, Caramelisation, Strecker degradation all occur during the browsing stage. These reactions create the flavor and aroma you know, and it’s also responsible for the sweetness and fruity acidity in your coffee.

The sound of the first crack ends the browning stage. The pressure inside the coffee beans causes the crack; this sound you will recognize by so many popping noises. The beans will attain their second crack when all the water inside has evaporated. The coffee beans continue to get darker and release aromas that smell like carbon.

Most of the sugar in the beans breaks down at this stage; the longer you roast, the more bittersweet the beverage will taste – and the lesser the acidity. If you aim for light to medium roast, you should stop roasting sometime between the first and the second crack. If you prefer the dark roast, you should attain that stage after the second crack.

Ten stages of coffee roasting

If you are a first-time roaster, it will help to know what stage you are at every point during the process; this way, you do not roast beyond the level you want to attain. Here is everything to expect and what each stage means.

  • Green: The green is the color of the beans; it will retain this color for a bit after the begins.
  • Yellow: The bean’s color will turn yellowish after a while, and you will be able to smell a grassy odor.
  • Steam: You will notice stem coming out of the beans; it’s the water inside the beans evaporating.
  • First crack (cinnamon roast): The first crack signifies the beginning of the actual roasting process. The sugar inside the beans caramelizes, and you will be able to hear a cracking sound – similar to that of popcorn popping.
  • City Roast: The first crack’s sound is the minimum roast level acceptable for grinding and brewing. After the first crack, roasters say the beans have reached city roast.
  • City plus roast: After the first crack, the next level is called city plus roast. This level increases caramelization of sugar and production of oils, with the beans increasing in size.
  • Full city roast: The stage just before the second crack is called full city roast; the coffee beans are darker than the city plus roast.Second crack (full city plus roast): At the second crack, the beans will contain more flavor with layers of intensity, undergoing more violent cracking and entering full city plus.
  • Dark Roast (French Roast): After the second crack, the smoke will become stronger. The beans’ structure will break down, and the sugars will burn more without ruining the taste. If you still want to get a good flavor from roasting your beans, this is the limit you should go.
  • Burn: If you are still roasting at this point, the roast’s smell will go from intense to terrible, and you will end up with burnt beans.

Things needed to roast

Before beginning your roast, you need a few items to perform the process.

Green coffee

Getting green beans might prove to be the most challenging item to purchase for your roasting process – depending on where you live. Check your local coffee shops around you or ask around for roasters in the area you can buy unroasted coffee beans from.


There are various roasters available on the market; a popcorn machine will do a fine job for you. When you want to buy your roaster, you should consider a few things, as the use will determine the type to purchase.


You need a place to store your beans that will keep them fresh for as long as possible. Airtight containers are better as they prevent air from getting into your beans. Bear in mind that irrespective of how airtight the container might be, your beans will begin to lose flavor in about a week – don’t blame the container; it’s natural.

A step-by-step guide

Now, you know what to expect, and you have also gotten the items needed to roast, let’s begin the.

Sourcing green beans

If you are new to roasting your beans at home, you might not be familiar with which beans to buy to attain the brew you love, especially if your coffee taste is limited to the house blend at the café you frequent.

Experiment with little quantity of beans until you are certain of your choices. If you can purchase sample packs, that will be better as they contain beans from various regions. Aside from buying from your local grocery store, another place to check for green coffee is online.

Find out as much information as you can about the coffee before purchasing; there might be a significant difference even among coffees of the same origin. There might also be different processing methods and many other differences you need to know before purchasing.

After purchasing your green coffee, store them in a dry, cool place (preferably room temperature), far from direct sunlight. Doing this will ensure your green beans retains their freshness and quality for a long time.

Your roasting method

There are many ways to roast your coffee at home; each method has its advantages and disadvantages. To make the best choice, consider how much money you want to invest, the quantity of coffee you want to roast, and the level of control you want to have over your roasting variables.

Oven and skillet: These are pretty affordable options, considering you most likely own the equipment. The disadvantage with this type of roasting method is that it is not suitable for beginners as it requires high-level skill to attain an even roast.

Moreso, airflow control is essential while roasting; you might find it difficult when using this method.

Popcorn machine: This is another roasting method if you intend to roast in small quantities and it produces an even roast. The drawback is that you will reduce your popcorn machine’s life expectancy as it wasn’t created for coffee beans roasting. Also, note that you cannot use a popcorn machine with a mesh screen at the bottom, as this can lead to a fire outbreak.

If you realize that you need to roast more coffee or you will prefer to have more control over the coffee roasting process, you will need to invest in a home coffee roaster.

Deciding on the best brand to purchase will come down to your preference; how much quantity of coffee you want to roast, the level of control you want to have over the roast, or the pre-set and roast profile you want to be programmed on the machine.

All these and more are what should determine your choice.

Setting up your roasting space

While setting up for roasting, ensure the place you plan to roast is well ventilated, not just for the coffee beans but also for yourself. If you must roast indoor, open up windows, or use extractor fans.

The best place to roast is outdoors or an open garage. If you do not have the luxury of roasting outdoor. The reason for roasting outdoor is to ensure smoke from the beans escapes quickly.

It would help if you also had equipment like scales handy to measure the roast quantity per batch. If you are using a popcorn machine to roast, you should get a thermometer. Other equipment like silicon gloves for handling hot materials, a sieve for cooling your beans, and a small fan will come in handy.

Roast your coffee

If you have a roasting machine, you can use the manual to walk your way through the process; you can use pre-sets if you are a beginner until you get familiar with how it works. If you are using a popcorn machine, ensure you do not overfill the machine and be certain there is somewhere for the chaff to escape.

It is essential you constantly move the machine to gain an even roast. Your popcorn machine and the home roaster should do this automatically, but you will need to stir yourself when using the skillet cooker.

Popcorn machines and air roasters should finish in about 8-12 minutes. The drum roaster will take longer – 14-20 minutes because it uses a lower temperature.

Cooling and storage

After your beans attain your preferred roast level, remove them from the heat and leave to cool. Bear in mind that the beans will continue to roast until they are thoroughly cooled – you must act quickly. You should also remove chaff that might be in the beans.

If your climate is cold, allow the beans to cool naturally; if not, use a small sieve and a fan to blow through the beans. Once your beans cool to room temperature, you can store them.

The best way to store your beans is by putting them into a sealed, foiled-lined bag. If you do not own foiled-lined bags, you can put your coffee in airtight containers and keep it in a cool and dark place.

Avoid heat, light, and air from getting into your roasted coffee as those will fast-track your beans to lose taste.

After roasting, do not brew yourself a cup of coffee immediately, as you will need to allow your roasted coffee degas. You can begin to brew a day after for a dark roast, but no later than ten days. For medium or light roast, you can hold off brewing for about two weeks after roasting, but not more than a month.

Factors that might affect your roasting

It will seem like home roasting is easy, but there are certain things, if not avoided, that can lead to disaster for you and your beans.

Do not get used to a particular roast time as certain conditions might need you to adjust your roast time. An example is roasting outside as against do it indoors. Your machine might not heat up as soon as it should. If you do not factor this into your timing, you will end up with underdeveloped beans or under roasted beans.

The size of the batch can also affect your roasting process. If the batch is too much, the heat might not be evenly distributed. Also, if you are roasting too fast, your beans might not achieve the level of browning you desire.

If you begin roasting at the highest temperature to reduce roasting time, you will end up with scorched beans. While roasting, pay attention to both your reading, the color and aroma of the beans, and the first and second crack.

How to Roast Coffee Beans at Home? (Video)

In conclusion, home roasting is not as intimidating as you might think. You can have fun while roasting your beans and creating your own flavor.

How to Start a Coffee Roasting Business

Unroasted coffee beans are usually green, squishy, and un-brewable; this is why roasting is a very important part of a coffee’s journey from seed to cup.

Roasting the coffee beans transforms the physical and chemical properties of the green coffee beans into roasted edible products.

Even though green coffee beans naturally contain similar if not higher levels of sugars, acids, protein, and caffeine as those that have been roasted, they taste terrible. There is also a predominant grassy flavor that renders it inedible. the of the beans unlocks all the delightful flavors sealed within those grassy notes and possibly enhances the taste to give it that toasty flavor many people love when taking their regular cup of Joe.

Coffee is currently one of the most transported goods in the world, in fact, it is exceeded only by oil. What this means is that, all over the world, there is a high demand for this beverage. Many people depend on their daily cup of coffee to get their day started.

As a result of the high demand, a vast majority of coffee is roasted commercially on a large scale. However, small-scale commercial roasting is becoming more popular by the day because they cater to a taste that tends towards single-origin coffee. Some coffee aficionados even roast coffee beans at home to ensure the freshest coffee experience possible and also to experiment with the unique flavors of the coffee origins.

Coffee roasting isn’t time intensive but needs proper skills and keen attention to details otherwise you would get results you were not hoping for, or worse, a burnt, inedible product. However, it is satisfying work especially when your customers get to access, feel and taste fresh coffee from different parts of the world.

Sourcing for the perfect coffee beans

Before you start a coffee roasting business, one important factor you cannot scrimp on is sourcing for the perfect coffee beans. It means that you have to get various coffee beans from different locations around the world.

Generally, there are two major species of coffee beans, Coffee Robusta andCoffea Arabica.

Coffee Robusta originated from Congo in 1898 and has its unique taste which is more acidic than its counterparts. It is also less expensive.

Coffee Arabica which originated from Ethiopia in 1753 is the more popular one. Over 70% of coffee consumed in the world today, is made from this coffee species.

It is important to note that coffee roasting is not what gives the coffee the flavor people enjoy. The flavors, sugars, aromas, acids, or other unique tasting elements of a coffee seed are formed from the farm. The soil structure, humidity, soil bacteria, etc., all contribute to all the characteristics the coffee has, including the flavor. Then, farmers manipulate these flavors during the processing stage to achieve a set result. No two farms produce the same coffee flavor.

At first, the seeds and seedlings are kept in a nursery bed that is well shaded.

Yes, coffee starts as a seed planted into the ground, it didn’t just come from a coffee-making factory as many believe. The seeds are nurtured in moist areas, perhaps this is why most plantings are done during the rainy season. Once they are big enough, the plants are moved out of the shaded area to open larger beds where they can grow into mature coffee trees. Till today, the Kona Coffee from Hawaii is the most popular coffee plant because of the near-perfect conditions it has. The right amount of sun and rain, the perfect soil structure that is found on the slopes of two volcanic mountains, and the simple dedication of the farmers that have been passed down from many generations. It’s also one of the most expensive coffee in the world.

When the coffee trees start spotting bright red cherries, the harvest can begin. Many coffee planters especially in tropics like Hawaii, depend on hand-picking to harvest ripe coffee cherries. After several months of carefully pruning the trees, weeding, and nourishing the plants, the coffee is finally ready to be harvested. Some farms use harvesting machines to shave off all the ripe fruits, while some employ farm laborers to handpick only the most ripened cherries at a time to maintain the coffee quality.

Next, they de-pulp the cherry by removing the skin of the cherry with a pulping machine. Some farmers like to leave the sticky, sweet mucilage (inner flesh of the cherry) to caramelize over the coffee seeds before fermentation; this is known as the honey method. Fermentation is then carried out to rid the coffee of mucilage. Once done, the coffee seeds are dried, sorted, and graded according to their unique features such as weight, color, and size.

As a coffee roaster, you need to make adequate research on where to get the best-tasting coffee beans, so that your customers can keep coming back for more.

Coffee Roasting Fundamentals

The next stage in the coffee’s journey from seed to cup is the process. As we already established earlier, coffee in its raw form can not be brewed. It has to go through the process before it can be edible, this proves that roasting is a very crucial aspect of making coffee.

Roasting coffee is an art and a science. Professional roasters rely on their well-developed senses to measure and improve the flavors inherent in the coffee.

Coffee roasting does not give the coffee its taste, it merely unlocks or enhances the flavor already in it. Some roasters, unfortunately, do not unlock these flavors correctly and they end up producing bad-tasting coffee no one would want.

Since a lot can go wrong during the process, ensure you are skilled enough to venture into the business of roasting coffee. A few degrees of heat or a few seconds more in the roaster can make a huge difference between sweet coffee, perfect coffee, juicy, bland, or terrible coffee.

Many factors affect the coffee and make a difference in how it tastes while in the roaster. Airflow, temperature, humidity, and time are major elements that can affect the coffee during the process.

So, it’s important as a coffee roaster to find the perfect balance of all the variables so that you can successfully unlock the tasty, delicious flavors sealed within the beans. It’s challenging but rewarding work as every coffee roasts differently, hence, you have a chance to experiment with different single-origin for what works best.

Stages of Coffee Roasting

Usually, large quantities of coffee are roasted in huge drum-like machines that consistently rotate while they heat up the coffee beans. the takes about 12 minutes tops, but during the process, a lot of chemical reactions are taking place, and every stage of the marks the end of any coffee variant you want to achieve.

A coffee roaster will roast raw green coffee beans to various roast levels to later be ground and then brewed into a cup of steaming coffee.

There are 3 major levels of coffee roasts: light roast(half city), a medium roast(full city), and dark roast (full city+). Each of them has various shades and variants, some of which are not readily familiar. The roaster has to work carefully with the unique flavor of the coffee beans, their moisture content, and their density to achieve the perfect blend.

Six main chemical reactions happen during coffee roasting, they signify the beginning or end of the different stages.

1st stage: Yellowing.

Once the beans start absorbing the heat in the roaster, a strong grass-like aroma wafts out of them and they take on a yellow tinge. This is the first chemical reaction and it’s known as the yellowing stage. At this point, you can’t stop the process as you wouldn’t want to serve your customers with grassy-smelling coffee, would you?

2nd stage: Steaming.

Raw coffee has a large percentage of water retention which makes it un-brewable, that’s why roasting the beans is ideal. the is merely drying up the excess water in the seeds and releasing the aromatic flavor locked within them. At this stage, the moisture inside the beans starts to evaporate and form steam due to the constant heat. The beans can lose up to 15% of their weight here as the water steams.

3rd Stage: 1st Crack.

This signals the end of the for light roasts. This first audible indicator of the process is a chemical reaction that happens when the beans break. While roasting, the remaining moisture in the beans dries up and the sugars start caramelizing. Once this happens, the natural oils in the beans are then released as the beans break with a distinctive crack or pop. At this point, that heady coffee aroma begins to come out and the beans start changing their colors to chocolate brown.

4th stage: Development stage.

Stopping the at any point during this stage can yield diverse variations of the roast.

Here, the sugars in the beans start caramelizing and the coffee is getting darker as the natural oils migrate. Most coffee roasters stop roasting at this point because this marks the beginning of the medium roast.

5th stage: Second crack.

This final audible chemical reaction indicates that the cellular matrix of the coffee beans is completely broken down under intense heat. The sugars are further weakened and the oils spread out more on the surface of the beans. The roast flavors become more apparent than the origin flavors. Here the notes tend towards darker-medium roast.

6th stage: Darkening.

If the process continues after the second crack, the sugars in the beans will start to burn, giving the beans a darker brown or even black color. The original aroma of the beans is fully subdued by the roast flavors and the natural oils have completely migrated to the surface, making the coffee look dark, oily, and shiny. It is important that you know when to stop the process at this stage because roasting the beans past this level will lead to a completely burnt product.

Before you start your coffee roasting business, arm yourself with adequate knowledge of the art and science of coffee roasting so you can consistently churn out valued products.

Equipment Needed to Start a Roastery

Setting up a roastery is usually very easy, however, the regulatory requirements can be quite strident especially air quality regulations. Coffee roasting is highly regulated because it causes air pollution through the emission of volatile organic compounds and acids which might be dangerous to human health. To guarantee quality breathing space for humans, government bodies ensure that such enterprises adhere to their various regulations.

It would be best if you check with the appropriate authorities in your locality about the relevant licenses, and permits before you set up your small coffee roasting business. This could also give you an idea of the facilities that should be in place to eradicate harmful emissions from your coffee roasting shop.

When it comes to the tools of the trade, it all depends on how you want to do the business. It’s either you want to provide pre-packaged roasted coffee beans to grocery stores or you want to open a coffee roasting cafe.

A coffee roasting cafe gives you more opportunities to relate to your customers on a more personal level. Through their feedback, you can tweak your roasting recipe to give them the best coffee ever. Some roasters who can not afford to get all the equipment needed to start a proper cafe would partner with a barista or an already existing coffee shop. This way, their customers can get to see, smell, and feel the different kinds of coffee beans from various sources and watch them being prepared to their specifications.

These are some important equipment that would make a huge difference in your coffee roasting cafe:

  • Coffee roasting machine
  • Measuring scales
  • Storage containers
  • Coffee grinder
  • Gas
  • Brewing machine
  • Branded take-out bags with the company logo
  • POS
  • Ventilation pipes.
  • Cup holders
  • Napkins
  • Refrigerator
  • Brewing machines
  • Espresso machines
  • Business phone
  • Computer and internet access.

As a coffee roaster, you can decide to sell your finished products directly to consumers(retail), or through retailers, coffee shops, or grocers(wholesale). However you plan to do it, make sure you have carried out an in-depth analysis on what will give you the most profit at the end of the day.

Business Plan for your coffee roasting café

The business aspect of roasting coffee is perhaps more important than the itself, as it ensures that your finished product always has buyers. It wouldn’t do to work so hard, experiment with different coffee bean origins, various roasts, and come up with a perfect blend only to have your roasts sit on the countertop for months because people don’t know your business exists!

So you need to research your location and the kind of consumers there. What kind of beans they appreciate the most and how they love their coffee brewed. Your understanding of their taste and creating a plan to ensure they keep coming will give you an edge over your competitors.

Here are some ideas you can explore to begin your coffee-roasting venture.

1.Know your grower.

It’s good to start out creating blends that are fun and original, however, it is also vital to know everything you can about your product. Know what the best beans are, their history, origin, and planting methods. Remember no two coffee planted in different farms taste the same, coffees have different profiles and flavors and it sometimes depends on the species. Some roasters buy directly from the farmers rather than the market because they want to be able to trust the beans they are getting so they can consistently roast the perfect recipe.

2. Know Your Coffee Beans

Many beginning roasters start by creating blends that taste original and fun. While passion and creativity are vital to any new business, your venture will inevitably falter without learning about your product.

Coffee beans come from select regions of the world and are categorized by different origins and varietals. Coffees have different tastes and profiles depending, in part, on which varieties of plants they come from.

You can take courses or get trained in the art of coffee bean sourcing, this will help you to know how the various bean profiles react to roasting. It will also teach you all the necessary vocabulary to maneuver through the industry. Watch coffee-related news to glean vital information as to what is trending and what is becoming obsolete practice.

3. Know Your Coffee Roasters.

There are different varieties and sizes of roasters. Getting a small new roaster might be budget-friendly at first, but as your little business grows you might find it difficult to keep up with the demand for roasted coffee beans. As your business expands, consider getting larger roasters with innovative features. Some sophisticated machines record temperature curves, moisture losses, and analyze coffee color so you can save them for future use. You can own a coffee roaster anywhere from $3000 to $60,000, it all depends on what you can afford. Some high-quality roasters limit the coffee beans from touching the drums during roasting to prevent uneven roasts. For a start, you can get something small that would fit on a countertop and is easy to clean.

4. Know Your Customers

Now that you have decided to start a coffee business, you should understand that you are no longer brewing for yourself but people with diverse tastes. So, knowing your customers, where they are, and how they love their coffee is a step in the right direction. In fact with the advent of digital marketing, you can get all this information and more online. You could even get a few contracts before beginning just by marketing yourself online. Give your branding an extra oomph so it can stand out and draw attention. Watch what your competitors are doing, use their lapses to draw the crowd. Give your customers something your competitors are not providing. For instance, if your competitors are mainly giving light roasts, let yours tend towards something rich and deep. Once you start having regular customers, you can now consider creating blends to suit their individual tastes.

5. Create a Business Plan

It is expected that you draw up a plan from start to finish on how you want your business to grow. From sourcing materials to launching the business in the approved location, you have to plan every detail especially the financial implications.

Even if you don’t have much money to get all the necessary equipment a startup roaster should have, you can partner with already established roasters and barristers as a contract roast. A contract roast pays a well-established business an agreed rental fee to use their facilities and tools. Although the roasted product will be sold under the renter’s brand, still it is a good opportunity for startup roasters to get more experience and not have to worry about getting a grinder, coffee roaster, or any other important machine.

You need to do a swot analysis of the cost of ongoing expenses, how the business plans to make money, who your target market is, how much they will pay for your services, profit margin, and how to make your business more profitable. You also need to plan how people see your business, what will you name it, what will the logo look like, what are the marketing strategies you’d use, etc.

Planning your business is not easy work but it will help you in the long run.


Running a successful coffee roasting business is as detailed and vital as the coffee it sells. With adequate knowledge of the coffee beans, tools of the trade, and innovative marketing strategy, a startup coffee roaster can earn a part in this multi-billion dollar industry.

Providing roasted coffee on hand allows your customers to drink fresh coffee instead of the ready-made cups they experience every day. So hit the right spot and you will remain relevant always.