For anyone who wants to get into roasting their own coffee beans, I would say that the FrenchRoast SR500 Automatic Coffee Bean Roaster is a good place to start, and I will explain why shortly.
I’d always been under the impression that roasting your own coffee beans was a process reserved for commercial establishments, because I’d seen a few roasting machines in my travels and they were always very large and expensive-looking. In fact, the local café where I live has a huge roaster, and I just assumed they were all like that one – the size of an industrial size drill.
So for years that’s where my mind left it. Sure, I could grind my beans at home using my somewhat expensive Rancilio burr grinder, and then brew espresso using my rather expensive Gaggia Classic espresso machine. But roast my own beans as well? No way, I’ll leave that to the pros, thanks.
That is, until one day I ran into a friend of mine who was using a simple West Bend popcorn popper to roast their beans at home, and I was almost insulted. Especially since they’d brag about how much better their coffee tasted than everyone else’s.
In talking to this friend of mine, she mentioned that of course there were home roasters available for regular coffee-loving consumers, but she said she was happy with her popcorn popper / coffee bean roaster. That got me thinking that if she could use a popcorn popper, I should be able to one up my friend by checking into some of these supposedly good home coffee bean roasters.
Sure enough, it wasn’t long before I came across the FrenchRoast SR500, and, after watching this video I’m going to share with you, I realized that this thing might be just what I needed to add to my ultimate home espresso brewing set-up.
FrenchRoast SR500 Review
Here’s what I like about this coffee roaster, after a few trial runs. First of all, its fairly easy to use. I’m not saying its easy to master the art of roasting, but just in terms of usability, the FrenchRoast SR500 is pretty darn simple.
You just take your unroasted green coffee beans, and add them to the roaster so they don’t pass that silver ring. I will admit, things can definitely go awry if you don’t keep your eye on the prize. Its like abandoning a toaster-oven. You simply can’t turn your back on it, especially with the sensitive task of coffee bean roasting.
Anyway, if you add the right amount of beans that you’ll be needing, you will have ample roasted beans for many cups of coffee, but you’ll want to keep them fresh using an airtight coffee vault if you have extra.
I will say that once the beans are roasted, you’ll want to wait a day or so for them to “off-gas”, as they call it (C02 is leaving the bean), where the newly roasted beans will increase in flavor and aroma.
The way I do it, I actually use a little fan to cool them off for a short time (60 minutes after the roasting is complete), then I use a bowl of some sort (not plastic – usually wood or metal) to store them in, with a light cloth over it. After a day or so (off-gassing depending on the type of bean), I then use my trusty Rocky grinder to grind my beans, which I then brew immediately.
It might sound like a lot of steps, but once I got into the routine of doing all this, I found it yielded the best results for me.
Adjustable Home Coffee Bean Roaster
The best part of the French Roast SR500, I must say, is its how adjustable it is. It has controls for the fan speed, the timer, and the temperature. You can adjust them all while the beans are roasting too, which puts this home roaster over the top in my books for being a great buy.
Now, some people may not like the fact that this home roaster requires your complete attention while roasting. This isn’t exactly a set-and-forget machine. You need to have about 10 minutes or thereabouts to devote to keeping an eye on your beans.
To be fair to your coffee, I don’t think roasting coffee beans should be like microwaving a pizza, and so I don’t mind having to keep an eye on things. This way, I can roast those beans to my preference.
On top of that, every bean is going to be somewhat different in terms of how your roast them. I personally like a darker roast myself. Furthermore, everyone has their own different tastes anyway, so I think its actually in our collective best interest that this roaster is flexible in that way, don’t you? That said, I’m sure there’s other roasters out there which don’t require your full attention, but I’d say this one does, so take it or leave it. (Sorry, haven’t had my coffee today!)
Anything Else To Say?
Hm, what else can I say about the FrenchRoast SR500? I’ve heard a lot of talk where people seem to have some fairly strict rules about how to roast coffee beans. I’ve heard there are two types of pro roasters: technical roasters, and craft roasters. Technical roasters follow a lot of rules when it comes to their bean-roasting routine. Craft roasters gain a lot of knowledge over time through personal experience and try to feel the process out. Although I’m just a humble home brewer, I consider myself a “craft roaster” because I like to play around with things a little bit. I don’t like too much structure.
This is what I suggest to you, if you’ve never roasted before. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your roaster!
The FrenchRoast SR500 I think is the perfect roaster to do that with, because its very flexible and you can change your variables each time you roast, and nothing too drastic is going to happen. You can change little things until you find the perfect way of roasting – that’s what I did. I’ve read all sorts of crazy stuff that people do to experiment with their roast, and I don’t think its a bad thing.
Personally, I decided to pick up a book (pictured right) to learn a thing or two about the whole process, and yes, I did learn a few things. Now I actually feel like I’ve got a grasp of the process, which I can expand on in the years to come.
Another thing I did when I was getting started was buy some relatively inexpensive un-roasted coffee beans, to give myself time to experiment before I started buying more expensive stuff.
I used the Costa Rica Dota Estate for that, and I allowed myself to try out some different things, without spending a whole lot of money.
These beans are only about $10 or thereabouts and they’re not a bad type of bean to start out with.
All in all, although I’ve only been using the FrenchRoast SR500 Automatic Coffee Bean roaster for a few months, it has been a worthwhile purchase for me thus far, and I’ve had no issues with it.
From what I’ve read, as long as I keep it clean, it should serve me well for a long time. Happy roasting!