Inside this guide
- Types of commercial coffee roasters
- Main things to consider when choosing a commercial coffee roaster
- Best commercial coffee roasters in Canada
- Used commercial coffee roasters — worth considering?
- Warranty and insurance
- Questions to ask when shopping for a commercial coffee roaster
- Coffee roaster FAQs
- Coffee roaster terminology
- How to maintain your coffee roaster
- How often should a coffee roaster be serviced
- Save your cash, use ours!
Coffee is serious business and we Canadians are passionate about our coffee.
By roasting coffee beans in-house, cafés can exercise more control over the flavour profile of their coffee and offer a variety of blends and customisation options.
This can help them attract more patrons.
According to Statista Market Forecast, the roast coffee segment in Canada is expected to grow at an annual compound growth rate (CAGR) of 5.14% from 2023 to 2025.
If you’re in the market for a commercial coffee roaster, our buyer’s guide can help you zero in on a machine suitable for your business.
Types of commercial coffee roaster
There are two ways to categorise commercial coffee roasters: by their configuration and/or their capacity (the weight of the beans they can roast in each batch).
Classic drum roasters
These roaster feature a drum rotating over a gas flame — a classic design usually found in small-capacity coffee roasters.
A fan is used to pull hot air from the burner, through the drum, and out of the roaster.
While they’re generally reliable, they can be prone to generating too much heat.
This is especially the case in machines with a single-wall drum, which is thinner and hence heats up more, or with inadequate separation between the burner and drum.
Classic drum roasters offer better thermal stability compared to others, however their response to gas changes is relatively slow.
For the reasons outlined above, you should consider ordering a double-walled drum with a burner with the appropriate energy ratings (BTU/ hr or kJ/ hr).
Best for: A great option for a café wanting to start roasting in-house or a roaster looking to upgrade.
In these machines, hot air from the burner chamber is passed through the drum.
Since the flames are not in direct contact with the drum, its surface remains cooler.
However, compared to classic drum roasters, these roasters are difficult to control and need skilful management of airflow for optimal results.
Best for: Similar to classic drum roaster, indirectly heated ones are great for first-time coffee roasters and/ or a café.
As their name suggests, some of the warm roasting air in these machines is recirculated back into the roasting chamber via the burner.
Recirculation roasters are known to be energy efficient. However, because of their design they can theoretically impart smoky or polluted flavours to the beans.
To avoid this, the recirculated air is heated to high temperatures — similar to those in the afterburner unit — and then passed back into circulation.
Best for: Established roasters looking for an upgrade or café’s after a mid-size machine.
In these machines, a bed of hot air keeps the coffee beans aloft and circulates them for an even roast. It eliminates any risk of damage due to conductive heat.
Fluid-bed roasters are generally known to develop the beans better in a shorter time.
Among the criticisms of fluid-bed roasters is that they are too simple to achieve a roast’s full potential.
Despite this, the popularity of fluid-bed roasters is on the rise.
Best for: Cafés with space constraints (the unit takes up less space than a drum roaster).
Sample roaster (50g to 500g)
These machines allow users to roast small samples of different coffee beans before deciding whether to buy larger volumes.
Small-batch roaster (1kg to 3kg)
Popular among micro-roasters, these machines are a good option for small cafes who want to roast their own beans.
Be aware, however, that the smaller the machine, the more the consistency of the roasts tends to decline as more batches are roasted.
If you were to roast 200 batches in a 1kg machine, for example, the margin for error would be a lot smaller than if you were roasting, say, 100 batches in a 2kg machine.
Best for: Small cafés beginning to roast their own coffee beans (though they may have to upgrade to a larger roaster as demand increases).
Small commercial roaster (5kg to 15kg)
These machines are generally capable and versatile.
They can roast small batches of beans and can even be used for profiling batches of beans to understand their behaviour when roasting.
While they can be pushed to roast greater volumes, maintenance costs increase as well.
If you upgrade, it's advisable for you to hold onto your smaller roaster as a backup in case the bigger one malfunctions.
Medium commercial roaster (15kg to 30kg)
These machines are commonly the choice of roasters looking to expand their existing setup.
If you upgrade, it’s advisable for you to hold onto your smaller roaster as a backup in case the bigger one malfunctions.
Large commercial roaster (30kg to 70kg)
These roasters are used in large-scale commercial operations.
They require a lot of space and access to a compatible gas or electricity supply, all of which need to be assessed before you order the machine.
Extra-large commercial roaster (70kg and up)
Extra-large commercial roasters are used for roasting large masses of coffee beans.
Imposing in size and structure, they require a dedicated team to operate the machine.
They weigh well over two tonnes and require 50–60 square meters of floor space for installation.
Main things to consider before ordering a commercial coffee roaster
Green bean sources
Where you source your green beans is critical.
Make sure you test various sources before settling on the one that suits your required flavour profile.
You must have a clear idea about the flavour profile that you wish to achieve when roasting your beans. Different machines are suitable for different profiles.
Achieving the desired flavour profile is a lengthy process. A lot of batches will be wasted during the early stages, which will involve much trial and error.
Before long, good machines operated by skilled hands will yield the desired result.
Type of roaster
As mentioned previously, commercial coffee roasting machines are distinguished by the configurations and capacity.
For more information, please see the relevant section above.
Find out what’s involved in installing the roaster you have your eye on.
Some manufacturers suggest you prepare for the installation three months in advance!
Here are some of the factors to consider as part of the installation process:
Even if want a sample roster, you’ll need to ensure you have enough space allocated for it.
Moreover, that space will need to be somewhere that facilitates efficient workflow.
Coffee roasters run hot. Consequently, you’ll need to think about how it can be installed as safely as possible within your venue.
Gas, electricity and water connections
Most roasters rely on gas to work, while others are electric.
Depending on which type you order, you’ll need to ensure you’ll have no problem setting up the gas and ventilation connection and can receive all applicable permits; or that you have a suitable electricity connection and the required permits.
Some roasters use water to cool the drums and so will need to be plumbed into the mains water supply.
Classic drum roasters use a lot of energy compared to modern machines, like the energy-efficient recirculation roasters.
Roasting coffee on a commercial scale is an energy-intensive process.
Classic drum roasters use a lot of energy compared to modern machines, like the energy-efficient recirculation roasters.
Make sure to factor energy efficiency into your decision-making, as it have a big impact on your gas or electricity bill.
Constant exposure to high heat, green beans (which have been known to cause respiratory issues) and volatile emissions (like CO, CO2, VOCs, etc.) make coffee roasting a potentially hazardous business.
You can mitigate these hazards by choosing a machine with lots of safety features, using it in a well-ventilated space, wearing the recommended safety gear, monitoring dust, and properly treating and venting emissions.
Regular safety drills, clearly marked emergency exits, fire extinguishers and a first-aid kit will provide added assurance.
Ease of cleaning
Roasting produces many unwanted by-products, such as coffee oils, sludge and chaff.
These build up on the inside and outside of the machine, necessitating regular basic cleaning and periodic deep cleaning.
Among the components that need to be cleaned are cooling fans and afterburners.
The level of your customers’ demand for roasted coffee beans will determine the size of the machine you’ll need and the budget required for it.
Coffee roasters range in price from around $3,000 for a 1.3kg machine to $30,000 or more for industrial roasters.
You’ll also need to budget for incidental equipment costs such as chimney ductwork and other installation costs, QC equipment, and a PC or laptop for data monitoring.
Running costs you’ll need to account for include gas or electricity, and maintenance and servicing.
Given the roaster will spend around 20–40 hours per week staring into one, a well-designed, intuitive user interface is a critical.
Having a unit that displays all the parameters on an easy-to-read screen makes the process less stressful for you and your team.
Reliability and aesthetics
Machines with fewer parts, less tech and a heavier build are generally considered to be more reliable and durable.
Older, simpler roasters such as PROBAT’s UB series have stood the test of time.
However, more modern, tech-laden machines make the roasting process easier, and give consistent results.
If you intend for the roaster to be visible to customers, its aesthetic appeal will be important.
A vintage-looking commercial coffee roaster, for instance, will add rustic charm to your cafe.
Best commercial coffee roasters in Canada
A German manufacturer founded in 1868, PROBAT is a widely recognized and respected brand worldwide.
Its legendary UG series, built until 1958, helped establish the company’s reputation for making reliable machines.
PROBAT’s cutting-edge technology in its latest series of roasters has enhanced its reputation.
Sample PROBAT BRZ 2/4/6 barrel roaster
This is a battery sample roaster with two, four or six drum options.The capacity of each drum is 8–100 grams.
Each drum has a separate air temperature display, allowing the temperature in each of them to be adjusted.
The machine’s chaff suction fan sits on a stand, and it has a flexible hose and a chaff-collector container at the bottom of the cyclone.
Each of the wood-mounted roaster units is powered by either gas or electricity.
This is a good option for assessing a bean’s behaviour for multiple types of roasts simultaneously.
The defining feature of this roaster — a modern take on a classic design — is the ease with which you can adjust the flow of hot air to create different flavour profiles.
This feature-loaded gas burner ekes out 7–15kg per batch. With a roasting time of 10–20 mins, can produce 30–65 kilos of roasted beans per hour.
A great option for a first-timer.
Boasting the looks of Probat’s classic UG series and the technical features of its G series, the G45 is a superb mid-size coffee roaster.
It has a flexible drum volume of between 20 and 55 kilograms.
Pneumatically controlled opening flaps on the bean container, roasting drum and cooling seive outlet make the machine easy to operate.
Considered the standard for innovation, efficiency and sustainability, Bühler began as a family business in 1860.
It enjoys worldwide recognition as a bankable brand for commercial coffee roasters.
20kg Variable Profile Roaster from Buhler
Among other things, this medium-sized roaster has an intuitive PLC system, two-step burner, and helicoidal blades with variable-drum-speed drives for optimal heat exchange.
With a temperature range of 20,000 BTU to 130,000 BTU, this roaster offers excellent heat control.
Buhler RoastMaster — 60kg
The RoastMaster offers maximum flexibility during the roasting process and is fully automated with recipe management.
Its 12.5-inch touchscreen operating panel is user-friendly and comes with a Siemens PLC and Windows panel PC.
Heat generation is via an LPG or two-step diesel burner.
It can accommodate batch sizes of 30–60kg and has an hourly output of up to 240kg.
It gives you the option of air circulation or non-circulating open systems. You can also sync it up with the ethernet.
Giesen’s commercial coffee roasters are manufactured in the picturesque town of Ulft in the Netherlands.
They come in a wide range of sizes, from humble 50–200g sample roasters to those delivering up to 140kg per batch.
Giesen base their designs on the traditional approach of German roaster manufacturers: Strength and durability are the main focus, including the use of high-grade materials.
With tech-laden features added to the mix, Giesen has what it takes to deliver impressively.
Giesen WPG/E1 sample roaster
Giesen has not held back on the technology for the WPG/E1.
Retrieving data, comparing roasts and creating roast profiles are a breeze with the machine’s chic UI.
You can choose between gas (WPG1) and electric (WPE1) and batch sizes of 50–200 grams (an output of 800 grams per hour).
Geisen’s WI1 series includes a gas (W1A) and electric (W1E) variant.
The machine features drum-speed control, airflow-control power regulation, and digital control panels.
It has a batch size of 1.5kg and an output of 6kg per hour.
Giesen W6 Pro
The pro edition of Geisen’s top-selling W6 series of electric roasters boasts a completely automated process.
It has large touchscreen controls, airflow and drum-speed controls, and a cooling time of two minutes.
It has a batch size of 0.5kg to 7kg and an output of over 25kg per hour.
Founded more than 60 years ago, Joper handcrafts roasters made of high-quality materials such as cast iron and carbon steel.
Their machines incorporate advanced technology.
This cast-iron commercial coffee roaster is known for its consistency and repeatability.
BRIGUS Roasting Profile System (software developed in-house by Joper) controls the air and flame flow to follow the bean curve of the defined profile, resulting in an even and homogenous roast, batch on batch.
It’s a great choice for cafés looking for their first roaster.
The BPR-15 is a part of Joper’s semi-automatic Base Profile Roaster (BPR) series.
The machine’s propriatery BRIGUS roasting software means roastmasters can exercise better control.
The unit has a batch size of 15kg and an output of 60kg per hour.
This is Joper’s entry-level large commercial roaster.
The CRM series features an indirect airflow system, rapid cooling, and multiple thermocouples, among other things.
The unit has a batch size of 30kg and an hourly output of 120kg.
Used commercial coffee roasters — worth considering?
Spending thousands of dollars on a new commercial coffee roaster can put a strain your budget and cash flow.
If you’d prefer not to invest a lot of money in a commercial roaster, a cheaper, pre-owned machine might be the solution you’re looking for.
SilverChef’s range of ‘Certified Used’ commercial equipment is mostly ex-rental equipment sourced from businesses we know and trust.
The equipment is typically less than two-and-a-half years old, has been fully refurbished by us, and is backed by a three-month parts-and-labour warranty.
Considering the effective, or useful, life of commercial coffee roasters is about 15 to 20 years, you can be sure our Certified Used roasters have plenty of life left in them.
You can either buy or finance the ‘Certified Used’ (and clearance) equipment on our website.
We’re one of the few financiers, if not the only one, in Canada, that funds second-hand commercial kitchen equipment.
Read more about 'Certified Used' equipment
Warranty and insurance
Most equipment manufacturers provide warranties ranging from one to five years, depending on the type of equipment.
If the equipment develops a covered fault within that time, the manufacturer is obliged to repair or replace the equipment or give you a full refund.
Carefully study the warranty to understand exactly what is and isn't covered.
SilverChef offers a three-month parts-and-labor warranty on all our ‘Certified Used’ and clearance equipment.
Business insurance covers loss or damage to your commercial kitchen equipment and other property.
This cover typically includes fire, accident, and theft. Some insurers also offer equipment-breakdown cover.
Contact your insurer to confirm whether the equipment you’re getting is automatically covered by your policy or will need to be added to it.
If your insurer doesn’t provide flood cover as standard, you may wish to consider requesting it.
Questions to ask when shopping for a commercial coffee roaster
Questions to ask the manufacturer/dealer
- How much do your commercial coffee roasters cost?
- When can I expect the delivery of my industrial coffee roaster? Are delays likely?
- How long is the warranty period and what does it include and exclude?
- What after-sales service do you provide?
Questions to ask your peers
- Where can I find good and reliable coffee bean suppliers?
- How good are used commercial coffee roasters?
- What are the best commercial coffee roaster brands?
- What licences or permits do you need to run a coffee-roasting operation?
- What do you like and dislike about the roaster you’re currently using?
Coffee roaster FAQs
How does coffee roasting work?
Coffee roasting involves exposing raw, or green, coffee beans to heat under heavily controlled conditions.
The green beans exhibit various stages of roasting at specific temperatures.
These different temperatures yield light-roast, medium-roast and dark-roast varieties of coffee beans.
Roasting coffee involves numerous of steps, parameters, equipment and dedicated personnel with expertise in roasting.
How much do commercial coffee roasters cost?
The cost of commercial coffee roasters range from about $3,000 to $150,000.
When preparing a budget, you’ll also need to consider the incidental costs, such as installation and maintenance and servicing.
What is the shelf life of roasted coffee?
Generally, once they’re vacuum-sealed in packets, roasted coffee beans can last up to six months.
Beyond this point, their flavour changes noticeably (it actually starts to change slightly after two weeks).
Ideally, the beans should be consumed as soon as possible.
Ground coffee loses its flavour much quickly.
What are some of the best-known commercial coffee roaster brands?
The best-known brands include the ones mentioned in this guide as well as Diedrich, Loring, Toper, and US Roaster Corp.
Coffee roaster terminology
A thermometer that helps monitor the temperature of the beans in real-time.
It sits amidst the beans and gives constant feedback on the bean temperature throughout the roasting process.
Green beans usually have a significant amount of a paper-like substance attached to them.
During roasting, this undesireable skin is removed; it either ruptures or is burnt away.
The bits of this dried-out, silvery skin that remain are known as chaff and are carried away by the roast air.
Most commercial coffee bean roasters remove the chaff from the roaster exhaust using a cyclone separator.
The chaff is then deposited in a metal bin for disposal.
A step in the roasting process that involves preheating the roasting machine before the green coffee beans are put into it.
The final stage of the roasting process, during which the beans are transferred to the cooling tray and blasted with cool air.
The tray is also spun to speed up the cooling process.
The beans drop from about 200 degrees Celsius to room temperature in mere minutes.
A cyclone separator is used in the roaster exhaust to separate unwanted particles like chaff.
These particles and other exhaust pollutants are usually sent through an incinerator to burn them off.
Roasters with a thermal oxidizer (incinerator) and cyclone separator normally have emissions free of smoke and particles.
In most industrial roasters, freshly roasted coffee is left alone for up to 24 hours so it can de-gas.
Freshly roasted beans release carbon dioxide rapidly. It’s a natural process.
In most industrial coffee roasters, freshly roasted coffee is left alone for up to 24 hours so it can de-gas.
Once it’s been degassed, its quality can be assessed.
Sometimes, undesirable foreign objects find their way into the bags of green coffee beans. These can be stones, glass, metal objects, etc.
These objects need to be removed to avoid damaging the roaster drum and coffee grinders. A
destoner is a pneumatic machine that separates these objects from the beans using a sieve.
Direct flame heater
A roaster heating system that uses natural gas with a burner (direct flame) to heat the drum.
In this type of roaster, beans are shaken and stirred in a large drum, to evenly distribute the beans for an even roast.
These roasters are considered to be the standard.
Fluid bed roaster/ air roaster
In this type of roaster, hot air is forced through and around the beans.
These roasters are used for small-scale roasting and can also be found in homes.
Some roasters use infrared waves instead of electric coils or a flame to roast the beans.
A roaster heating system that uses infrared waves instead of electric coils or a flame.
A device that helps roastermasters measure the moisture levels of green beans.
This helps them avoid spoiling or under-roasting the beans.
At 220 degrees Celsius, carbon dioxide is released from the bean due to chemical changes that occur at that temperature.
During this phenomenon (known as pyrolysis), the green beans change to a medium brown and lose up to 13% of their weight.
A process whereby the roastmaster records the temperatures and duration of various roast stages while monitoring many other variables.
This is done to document various patterns, tests and results.
RoR (rate of rising)
The number of degrees per minute the temperature of the beans increases at any point during a roast.
This data is constantly monitored and plotted on a graph to achieve what is known as a ‘roast curve’.
A roastmaster will monitor the RoR to achieve a predetermined roast curve to deliver a batch of roasted beans with the required profile.
How to maintain your commercial coffee roaster
Over time, many parts of a roaster will need to be replaced due to wear and tear.
Roasters can also get clogged due to a buildup of the various by-products of roasting.
Follow these cleaning and maintenance tips from Urnex to ensure the consistency of your batches and help your roaster last longer:
- Regardless of the type, all commercial coffee bean roasters experience buildup of coffee oils. The place where it happens, the frequency and so on varies from model to model. You’ll need to take time to understand these and proactively clean them periodically — either weekly or monthly, depending on the rate of the buildup.
- All commercial coffee roasters have a chaff collection unit. This unit is usually kept a safe distance away from flames and heat sources as chaff is an extremely flammable substance. Make it a habit to empty the chaff collection unit every day, after the roaster has been switched off for the day and has cooled down.
- Proper maintenance of your equipment goes a long way in extending its life and ensuring optimal roasts. For example, cooling fans, which help control roast temperatues, experiences a lot of buildup. If they’re not maintained (or replaced) and their efficiency drops, it will be harder for you to achieve your desired profile.
- A powdery substance, from the beans, is often found sticking to the insides of the machine, in various places. Cleaning with a soft brush such as a toilet brush or even a large paintbrush will do. Make sure to vacuum the area afterwards. This helps prevent thicker oils from taking hold.
- Cleaning the cooling tray is important. The top might look clean, but underneath the story might be completely different. The underside must be regularly cleaned to remove coffee oils and buildup.
- Make sure to use a roller brush to keep the grate holes clean. Clogged holes affect airflow which can negatively affect the roasted beans’ flavour.
- Use specialised roaster-cleaner solutions to remove thick, caked-on oil and residue buildups. Simply clear the buildup with a soft brush, spray on the cleaner solution, wait for about a minute (check cleaner instructions) and wipe off the gunk. Spray the area again with clean water and wipe it dry.
- Cleaning the outside of your roaster at the end of a roast day is equally important. Dust, chaff, residue —any number of flammable substances can settle on the outer surface. Wiping it down with a clean, dry or damp, non-abrasive cloth helps in keeping your roaster nice and shiny.
- Changing replaceable parts in time will help prevent other, more expensive and potentially irreplaceable components and systems from malfunctioning.
How often should a commercial coffee roaster be serviced?
As each make and model of roaster has its own service schedule, you should consult the manufacturer’s user manual for advice.
Save your cash. Use ours!
Hospitality equipment can be expensive and paying for it outright can put pressure on your business’s cash flow.
Our finance solutions allow you to get the equipment you want now and to pay for it in small, regular amounts out of the revenue it generates for you.
Rent–Try–Buy® not only helps you maintain your cash flow, it gives you unrivalled flexibility to adapt your equipment to the changing needs of your business.
You can upgrade or buy the equipment at any time or, after 12 months, return or continue renting it.
If you decide to buy the equipment, we’ll give you back 60% of the net rent you paid in the first year and 20% of any rental payments thereafter — to put toward the purchase price.
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