The Skinny on Coffee Roasting Machines


Three  caveats:

1. I'm not here to sell you a roaster. 

2. I don't have a single bit of allegiance to any maker of machines nor do I romanticize then or even want to. 

3. It's very similar to buying a car. Car salesman and all.


Time spent on Machines - things Manufacturers don’t want you to know. 


  • it might seem like i’m throwing daggers. It’s almost impossible to not make a comparison that sounds “bad” or even have bias and some company will be like NO YOURE WRONG IN ALL CAPS.  This is just a run through as best as possible with as much info as possible for a person who doesn’t maybe know what to look for or understand the depth of machines available.
  • Starting out: popcorn popper, behmor, Hottop,  There’s a video sweet marias put out. I suggest watching.Just start there.
  • Behmor - my experience. What it is,what I’m seeing people do with it.
  • Huky or Hottop? It’s made by Kuhano. This is a great sample roaster. I would go huky.
  • Grill rotissere/ebay stuff: great volume for cheap but it’s a grill. Churn and burn. But..hell it’s volume. Starting out, this is literally the cheapest most effective start.
  • Sonofresco - not a fan but you could probably skirt some venting things. It’s a large glass roaster. I’d prefer not to use glass long term and you basically can’t stick with them and scale up. It’s you buy this and then roast until you don’t which forces you into another machine.
  • MIll city - this is the new ambex but better imo. The new machines have some nice bells and whistles. They’re a good value machine wherein you can push some volume and churn out some nice coffee. They do have great customer service in my experience and that goes far.
  • Ambex - i’ve never had a good coffee from this but that’s probably not due to the machine and more attributed to the roaster. I reached out to them numerous times and never heard back. Their website was kinda janky years ago. However there are lots on the used market so you could get going on the cheap. My thoughts are basically buy good green, don’t be a jerk on the roaster, and you’ll probably do ok on this one.
  • Diedrich - great machines. . usa made. They’re kind of like a cadillac. Solid and good machines that are workhorses however turning them tends to be an art not everyone unlocks. I’ve run into mega fans obviously we all know about the one guy who roasts and posts pictures endlessly about it so obviously someone is making it happen on extreme quality levels. They have a smaller footprint because of the chaff cyclong being interal or a small external one and if you’re space limited then it’s the go-to. My general opinion is it’s a great buy if you have the money. I didn’t and had the room. If I didn't have the room I would have bought one.
  • SF-6. A lot of people have made this roaster their cafe machine and turn out excellent coffees. They are a bit pricey for the entry level so once you get it you’re kind of stuck into this machine. Not a problem but it could be limiting. They almost fall in line with D in that if you got the money go for it.
  • What size to buy? Saving the hardest part for last. The rule of thumb is can the roaster you buy produce everything you do in a half day. The other half of your day is growth and you have an entire second day for “a lot of growth”.  My mill city could roast 100 12oz bags in a day and was under what I made in a day because I was an idiot at the start. I was hovering about 150. Having a gigantic city and a large wholesale account to grow meant what I bought was too small I should have aimed more for the 3kilo option that can do 250 bags. Knowing what I know now - it really screwed me. 
  • Understand where you are. What you’ve done in the past. Example deeply the future you’re aiming for. What is reasonable. How many more accounts? How big are they. Double whatever you come up with for “holiday” volume. 
  • And with that you will know all that I know spoken to from every angle when it comes to building your own roasting operation.