I must confess a couple of things before I talk about my experience with the Nesco Professional Home Roaster. My first confession is that I drink coffee roasted by a coffee giant who shall remain unnamed and when I actually look at their roasted beans – they look pretty dark! I know many people say that these beans are over-roasted and bitter and they may be right BUT it’s what I know.
My other confession is that I was not all that familiar with home-roasted coffee…that is until two weeks ago. I tried my first roasting session with my mom using a stovetop popcorn popper with mixed results. Because we both had only a vague idea of what we were doing, the beans turned out too dark in one roasting session and brown-ish in two other sessions (probably okay to use but I haven’t tried them yet!).
The long and the short of it is that stovetop roasting can be inconsistent if you have no idea what you are doing. I’m sure home roasting experts would tell my Mom and me that “practice makes perfect” and that we should experiment some more with temperature and time for the stovetop roasting but in this busy world, who has time to “get it right?”
The Nesco Coffee Roaster
The Nesco Coffee Bean Roaster
Why the preamble? Well, if there is anyone out there who wants freshly roasted coffee beans but doesn’t have the guts to roast on the stovetop or who doesn’t have the time to experiment, this Nesco Home Roaster may be the small appliance they need. It takes the guesswork out of roasting the beans and it takes a maximum of 30-35 minutes for the whole process to occur. This includes the 5-minute cooldown cycle.
I will share my experience with this roaster so you can decide for yourself if this machine is right for you. Ask yourself the question: Are you adventurous or are you just wanting your roasted beans now? Oh, and by the way, it’s a nice-looking appliance so it can sit on top of the countertop – maybe even beside your espresso/latte machine. Read on…
The first thing worth noting with the easy-to-follow instructions is that you have to clean the glass component with soapy water to prevent the “new smell” from invading the roasted beans. That wasn’t bad except when it came to drying the inside of the glass. The rotor took up space so it was hard to get a cloth in there to get all of the water out. However, I grabbed a chopstick and a paper towel and stuck them far enough in to soak up any droplets of water remaining. No problem! I would suggest that if you are using the machine for the first time, wash and leave to dry the parts way ahead of time for a natural drying process.
The one thing that I was struck by with this machine is that it didn’t hold a lot of green beans. There is a maximum fill line and a lower line for dark roasts. You get enough in there for one pot of coffee and then some (depending on how strong you like it and how many cups of coffee you drink a day) but at least it’s freshly roasted. With a little planning ahead, you can stockpile roasted beans so running out isn’t an issue.
The “dark roast” fill line allows about 115 grams (1/4 lb) of green beans, just enough for a pot of coffee. The “fill line” allows for 141 grams of green beans. Roasting coffee will reduce the weight of the beans by 15-20%, so account for that as well.
Nesco recommends the following roast times:
- Light Roast: 20-22 minutes
- Medium Roast: 23-26 minutes
- Dark Roast: 27-30+ minutes
They further advise:
Roast times may vary due to ambient room temperature, power/voltage, bean variety or amounts used in each batch. Adjust time settings accordingly.
Add Green Coffee Beans to Coffee Roaster
The rest of the process was pretty easy. Just input your time and press start. The machine does the rest while you sit there and watch the beans change colour.
Input roast time in minutes and press start.
The coffee beans will darken as the roast progresses.
Ending the Roast
As the roast progresses, you have the option to add or reduce roasting time. The Nesco roaster is a bit on the loud side so hearing the coffee enter first or second crack might be difficult. This means you will primarily use the color of the beans to determine how long the roast lasts.
At any time you wish to end the roast, you can press the COOL button. This will instantly initiate the 5-minute cooling cycle.
At the end of the 5-minute cooling cycle, the roaster will still be warm to the touch. Nesco recommends letting it sit for an additional 10 minutes before retrieving the roasted coffee. When you remove the coffee, you’ll also be emptying the chaff tray which sits above the coffee. I poured the beans onto a cookie tray to accelerate the cooling. After the beans reach room temperature, you can store them in a jar.
Emptying the roasted coffee from the Nesco.
This is the chaff collector after a roast. Wipe it clean before starting the next batch of coffee.
Noise and Smoke
Two things I worried about (based on my experience with the stovetop popper two weeks earlier) were the noise factor and the smoke factor. Both can be unpleasant if you let it get the best of you or if you don’t have a powerful hood fan or a big gust of wind to take the smoke and smell away.
I was pleasantly surprised that the Nesco wasn’t too loud and it didn’t have the smoke issues that I experienced when I roasted with the stovetop popcorn popper. The Nesco machine has a catalytic converter that takes most of the smoke of roasted beans away. It didn’t take ALL of it away but it sure was better than stovetop roasting. Because I didn’t have the hood fan on when I roasted on the stovetop, the smoke was overpowering and I could barely see my Mom at the other end of the kitchen (we were making a video so we couldn’t have the fan going)! We also had no idea what we were doing so we had the stove set too high.
The dog enjoys watching the coffee roast.
The next morning I tried the beans that I roasted and was pleasantly surprised. The beans weren’t as dark as I’m used to but the taste was nutty and very good. Because they were lighter, I can let them rest a few days longer to see how the flavor develops. My one tip to share is that I would extend the roasting process to the maximum allowable time which is 35 minutes. The extra 5 minutes would have darkened them to the colour that I’m used to, even though many roasters would probably tell me my taste buds are shot!
Overall, my experience was positive. This machine is perfect for someone wanting freshly roasted coffee daily. Stockpiling the coffee for the week would be my suggestion since it doesn’t hold a ton of beans. If you want to roast a higher volume of coffee at once, you might consider seeking out another roasting method. You could use the stovetop popcorn popper or a drum roaster such as the Behmor or Hottop.
If you want to play it safe, or if you don’t really know what you are doing but know you want fresh roasts, use the Nesco. The smell in the house is kept to a minimum and I woke up in the morning not even smelling the roast. Sometimes dinner smells linger more than coffee.
I think the average consumer needs to think differently about roasted coffee. There is a certain mystery we all have about the roasting of coffee and these machines take the mystery away and allow the “Average Joe” to be creative and roast their own beans/blends in the comfort of their own kitchen! We have to start thinking about roasting at home like we are cooking a meal….everyone can do it with a little bit of experimentation and experience.
U-Roast-It Coffee – Nesco Coffee Roast product page (CANADA).
Nesco Coffee Bean Roaster (PDF) – Use/Care Guide CR 1000 Series.
Roasting Coffee in a Popcorn Popper – This article uses a popcorn popper, but it covers the roasting process in general as well.
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