Generally speaking a coffee roasting machine will cost you $25,000 - $30,000 USD. For drum based commercial coffee roasters the smallest size drum capacity would be about 6 lbs (or 2.72kg). That drum capacity would allow you to roast 6 lbs of coffee every 20 minutes.
For larger capacity roasting the cost of the equipment can be significantly higher. Some commercial grade coffee roasting machines would sell for $50,000 - $100,000.
For instance you a 60 KG / 132 lb Coffee Roaster can sell for $130,000.
Having said that, the details can vary depending on the type of coffee roasting machine you need, so we'll elaborated on the factors that can influence the costs next.
First - Why Are Roasting Machines So Expensive?
In case the $25,000 - $30,000 price tag suprised you, let's explain provide some context on why the price is so high.
Like so many industrial / commercial products, Coffee Roasting Machines are not typically mass produced, so they don't benefit from economies of scale like other consumer market products.
Many coffee roasting machines are hand built, with little automation involved in the process.
Moreover, the market for commercial grade roasters is relatively small, which may be inhibiting advances that would reduce the costs. There's a variety of ways to sell coffee without actually having to purchase your own equipment, not to mention the continued popularity of coffee capsules and K-Cups shifting the market.
Also consider that, as a business, the margins on roasted coffee are still very good. Even with the cost of the equipment, the cost to buy beans and labor involved in roasting them is low in comparison to the price they sell for, which also drives the cost of equipment higher.
This is the most straight forward factor impacting cost.
Basically the higher the capacity of the coffee roasting equipment the more costly it will be.
Capacity, in this sense, refers to the volume of coffee beans that can be roasted in one batch. Each roast takes roughly 15 - 20 minutes (including some preparation and setup). So the higher the capacity, the more coffee beans you can roast in a single batch and the more demand you can meet.
Drum vs Fluid-Bed
When it comes to coffee equipment, a Drum Machine refers to coffee roasting machines that built with rotating drums that turn and "tumble" the green beans while heating them up. The heat is usually applied indirectly under the drum although some direct fire roasters are made so the flame actually makes contact with the beans.
Fluid Bed Roasting
In contrast, some coffee roasting machines make use of a Fluid Bed that forces heated air underneath the coffee beans. That heated air actually lifts the beans up and causes them to float. The coffee beans move around, hopefully at a quick pace, to ensure none of them get stuck too low and they are roasted evenly.
Generally speaking, Drum Machines will cost more than their Fluid Bed counterparts. In terms of which are superior, the answer is very subjective. Some maintain that fluid bed provides a smoother roast, while others argue that's not the case and prefer the level of control offerred by the Drum Machine roasting equipment.
Gas and Electric
Gas Powered Coffee Roasters
Another option you have in purchase coffee roasting equipment is choosing between gas powered or electric coffee roasters.
Typically roasting equipment that uses a gas burner will be less expensive as compared to electric.
The qualifier is that the learning curve for gas powered coffee roasters is steeper than for electric. In a gas roaster, achieving a balanced and gradual change in temporature is more difficult.
Electric Coffee Roasters
Electric coffee roasters operating with heating "elements". While more expensive, these roasters tend to make it easier to more evenly heat the coffee beans and the temperature is more easily adjusted.
All told there's no getting around that fact that coffee roasting machines are expensive.
They aren't intended to meet high demand or mass produced, they are intended to be purchases by those looking at them as an investment. Their value is in in the volume you can achieve when looking to sell roasted coffee beans.
Additionally, other avenues for purchasing are typically available. For instance you can also find suppliers who will sell coffee roasters that have been pre-owned or used. Further, many places that sell coffee roasting machines will offer you the option to lease them. Finally, you will also find places (usually operated by other cofee roasters) that allow you to rent their coffee roasting equipment.