We’ve seen espresso machines sized down to fit home kitchens. We’ve seen pour over cones transition from a snooty barista tool to home coffee bar essential. And now, it seems, coffee roasting is undergoing a similar adaptation.
Home coffee roasters have existed for years, with Behmor, Hottop, and Gene Cafeleading the space (behind Grandma’s repurposed popcorn popper, of course), but a new wave of home roasting gear is making waves—and raising lots of money.
Back in 2013, over 2,000 backers raised $600,000 to bring the Bonaverde Berlin—an $800 home roaster and coffee maker combo device—to life (you can read our review here).In 2015, London-based Ikawa raised just over $200,000 to bring its app-controlled roaster to prosumer homes. The device pre-sold for $650, was released in 2017, and now sells for just over $1,000 at retail.
And more recently in 2018, IA Collaborative Ventures’ Kelvin raised $400,000 to make coffee roasting even simpler and more affordable for casual coffee lovers, with devices pre-sold for just $250. A few weeks later, the Singaporean Power Roasterraised another $50,000 with roasters for $280 a pop.
For those of us in the coffee industry, this home roasting gear boom is a bit surprising. Roasting coffee is far more complex than most consumers imagine. Getting hold of high-quality unroasted beans can be a challenge. After roasting the beans, you have to wait days for the beans to release carbon dioxide before they even taste good. And when you finally get a great flavor profile you’re proud of, it’s hard to produce a second time.
Can home roasters engage casual coffee lovers enough to make the growth we’re seeing sustainable, or is this another fad that consumers will grow tired of once they’re confronted with the hidden complexities of coffee roasting?
I interviewed Alex Georgiou, Ikawa’s Head of Marketing, to discuss how he sees this niche market evolving over the next few years.