The Difference Between Air And Drum Coffee Roasters

When it comes to roasting your own coffee, there are vast options available.

Some prefer to use other methods they may already own, such as pots, pans, ovens or even popcorn poppers.

Meanwhile, others prefer more specified tools like air or drum roasters.

If you aren’t familiar with these kinds of roasters, there’s no time like the present to learn!

We’re going to provide some information on what separates air roasters and drum roasters.

Both devices offer their own benefits and downfalls as well as unique designs.

Read on and you’ll learn all about what each method has to offer!

Why Roast Your Own Beans?

There are several benefits that can come with roasting your own coffee beans.

These can include saving money, having more control and plenty of variety.

When compared to purchasing pre-roasted, pre-ground options, buying green coffee beans and roasting them yourself can be less costly.

In addition, you’ll be able to ensure that the beans are roasted to exactly the level you want.

Whether you prefer light, dark, medium roasts or anything in between, you’ll be able to achieve it.

That also means you’ll have the ability to make different levels of roasts so that you have everything you need whether you’re brewing espresso or French press.

Just make sure that you also have a quality grinder to aid you in the process once the roasting is complete!

Air Roasting

How It Works

At the most basic level, air roasting includes using hot air to roast the coffee beans.

It requires that the air is very hot and well-controlled to roast the beans to the perfect level.

Generally speaking, the air should be anywhere from 450 to 485 degrees for the perfect results.

Hot air envelopes the beans as much as possible, causing them to crack.

When this happens, it means the chaff is coming away from the bean.

During air roasting, this process occurs about twice before the beans are ready.

You’ll also notice that the beans expand as they roast.

Thanks to the fluid bed, the chaff will typically move away from the grounds and be blown into a separate chamber.

This can help to make for easy cleaning, unlike some other roasting options out there.

The Benefits

Air roasting isn’t the most common among commercially roasted coffees.

However, it’s one that can provide a very unique flavor.

One benefit is that the chaff often gets blown away, meaning you won’t have to put in as much work to remove it yourself.

This also keeps the beans from drawing in a burnt flavor from the chaff.

On top of that, some users find that this method is better able to provide efficient heat transference.

You’ll be able to enjoy a quicker process of the moisture being removed from the beans.

As a result, they’ll be able to roast more quickly, easily and efficiently.

The Downfalls

If you’re considering using an air roaster for your coffee beans, there are some downfalls to keep in mind.

For example, you might find that some roasters may not have a high level of control.

This might be due to few control options, so there might be a bit of a learning curve during use.

In some other cases, the air roaster may not be able to produce large batches.

As a result, it’s a better choice for those who only need to roast a small amount of coffee beans at a time.

Who Does This Method Work Best For?

Air roasting is an ideal option for those who don’t need large amounts of roasted beans.

If you don’t mind roasting more often, for fresher beans in smaller amounts, then it’s a great way to go.

Furthermore, if you’re only roasting for yourself, or perhaps two people then it can be a good choice.

Due to the smaller batches, it’s not going to be ideal for coffee shops or others who need to produce large amounts.

You can attempt finding a larger roaster, but generally speaking a drum roaster tends to be better for large amounts of roasted coffee beans.

Drum Roasting

How It Works

For those who are seeking something great for roasting larger amounts at home, drum roasting a great option.

The process of drum roasting can be a little different depending on the kind of roaster you purchase.

Essentially, the desired amount of beans rest in the drum.

During the roasting process, it may begin to spin.

This just ensures that one side of the beans doesn’t get stuck or over-roasted.

Naturally, those who want to roast their own beans want beans that are evenly prepared.

Furthermore, the process allows the beans to be roasted without contacting any heating source directly.

The Benefits

One of the great aspects of drum roasters is that they can typically roast larger amounts than air roasters.

The majority of coffee brands are roasted in this manner, though by much larger machines than what you’d use at home.

Drum roasters can often be reliable devices, though they may take a little time to perfect.

Many find that the flavor in the resulting beans is fantastic.

Among those who are large coffee fans, the majority often prefer this method to others.

While it’s not a universal preference, it’s a safe one to go with if you want a great roast.

The Downfalls

Not all aspects of drum roasters are perfect.

For example, they can take some time to learn.

As a result, you may go through a few imperfect batches before you get the hang of it.

This can really depend on the roaster you choose.

Another issue that can occur is that there often isn’t a window on these devices.

Consequently, it can be more of a guessing game to determine when the beans are fully finished.

That means you’ll need to get a roaster that you know you can rely on.

Armed with a good roaster, you can add the beans and leave it until the roasting is done.

Who Does This Method Work For?

Those who need larger amounts of roasted beans can find this method to be ideal.

Oftentimes, it’s the option used for commercial grounds.

Do keep in mind that using a drum roaster can be a little difficult at first.

You’ll want to be patient to make sure that you get a handle on the process before expecting perfect beans.

Once you have a handle on the process, the flavor can be quite wonderful.

So if you need larger amounts, want to introduce your own beans or have a coffee shop that provides its own roast, this is a fantastic option.

Which Is Best For You?

For the most part, this is going to be determined by the amount of beans you’ll need.

If it’s a smaller amount, then a compact air roaster can be the perfect at-home option.

However, if you want larger amounts then a drum roaster may be the better option.

Keep in mind that all models will differ, so get the one that caters best to the amount you want.

Options made to provide more can also take up more space, so make sure you have plenty of room for a larger device.

Make sure to look at top air roasters and drum roasters for your home as well!


There are a variety of ways to roast coffee beans.

The option you choose will be based on your needs as an individual.

Keep in mind that if you’re very casual about roasting beans, you can also look into some other methods as well, which might include appliances you already own.

Aside from that, carefully consider whether an air or drum roaster is best for you.

You’re unlikely to go wrong with either one, but it’s best to find the option that suits you perfectly.

Brian Mounts

Head blogger, editor, and owner of "Top Off My Coffee", a website that has been educating readers about coffee brewing techniques and equipment since 2012.

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