Commercial coffee roasters are a major investment, but given the fact that roaster‑retailers are nearly 20% more profitable
than cafes that source coffee from a wholesaler, the potential payoff makes it worth it for most coffee businesses. But when some of the top models on the market start at $150,000, it’s not always feasible to buy new.
Good news: A used roaster is a cost‑effective option for cafe owners and new roasting startups looking to get started without taking out a giant loan on a brand new roaster.
In this article, we tell you:
- How much you can save with a used coffee roaster
- 5 places to find used commercial roasters for sale
- Everything you should know before you buy
By the end of this post, you’ll be a second‑hand coffee roaster connoisseur.
Should You Buy a Used Coffee Roaster?
One of the biggest expenses when starting your coffee business is a commercial roaster. Depending on your volume and size requirements, they can run from $20,000 to $150,000—not exactly pocket change (and then you have to add on costs for the facility, afterburner, and accessories).
But if you buy a used commercial coffee roaster, you can benefit from:
- A cheaper price — Exactly how much cheaper will depend on the make, model, and condition of the coffee roaster. But you’re looking at savings of 30% to 70% here. Buying a used commercial coffee roaster also means you can access some of the top brands at a fraction of the price.
- Less lead time — Often when you buy a brand‑new commercial coffee roaster, the lead time (how long it takes to get the roaster into your shop and set up) is measured in months. But with a used commercial coffee roaster, that time is measured in weeks. That’s because new roasters have to factor in production and shipping time, along with any installation requirements. But used roasters are already in existence and ready to go.
- Faster setup — With a shortened lead time, you can set up and start roasting that much faster — meaning you can start earning back on your investment and turn a profit in less time.
There are downsides to buying used, of course. You’re less likely to qualify for support or warranty protection from the original manufacturer, and not everyone keeps up with their maintenance schedule. You’ll want to weigh these cons against the benefits for your unique context and needs and make sure to carefully evaluate the status and care each used roaster you consider.
Next Up: The best places to actually find a used commercial coffee roaster.
5 Places to Find Good Used Commercial Coffee Roasters
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you start searching for used commercial coffee roasters. The internet is a big place, and the best commercial equipment for sale is often tucked away in small, private forums that are hard to find with a simple Google search.
Here’s where new coffee roasting businesses often go to find deals on used roasters:
Some manufacturers, like Mill City
, sell used or refurbished stock.
Existing roasters — Reach out to established roasters and ask if they know of any for sale. If they or their friends ever upgrade, they might want to sell you their old one for a fair price.
The marketplaces —
You never know what’s going to turn up on eBay
When Buying Used Isn’t the Best Investment
Buying used isn’t always the smartest use of your cash.
You’ll still need to install ventilation, attach an afterburner that complies with your local regulations, purchase packing equipment, manage warehouse space, and so on. These expenses quickly add an extra several thousand dollars to your bill.
But there is another option — a Bellwether Roaster.
Our roasters are electric and plug straight into a standard outlet. That means no gas line, ventilation, or afterburner is required. You can plug it in and start roasting on day one.
It also doesn’t take months to learn how to use. Our Green Coffee Marketplace
has roast profiles for each of our beans, designed by our in‑house team of coffee experts. Just tap a button and start roasting fantastic coffee right away. This means you can start earning back your investment as soon as your roaster’s installed, instead of months down the line.
“I've seen other roasters, and it doesn't interest me whatsoever. Roasting coffee is a dirty job when it’s done the traditional way, and it's full of permits and full of regulations and full of a lot of things that can be harmful for your health.” — Daniel Levy, Latitude Coffee (Bellwether Partner)
But if you’ve found a used commercial roaster you like, what’s next?
How to Evaluate a Used Commercial Coffee Roaster
You’ve found a used commercial coffee roaster that’s perfect for you. But before you sign that check, make sure to give it a thorough look over and ensure it’s up to snuff.
Here’s what you need to remember:
✅ Look for signs of wear and tear, such as rust, cracks, or damaged parts.
✅ Ask the seller about the roaster's history and maintenance. Just like buying a used car, you want to make sure it doesn’t have a checkered past.
✅ What are the size and dimensions? You need to make sure it’ll fit your setup, align with your gas and ventilation hookups, and not take up too much space.
✅ Is it gas, electric, or propane? This will affect your monthly bills and require additional setup (gas line, afterburners, permits, etc.).
✅ Can you examine previous roast profiles and make sure it roasts consistently? If not, are there online reviews that dive into the roast profiles this coffee roaster produces?
✅ Compare the price to that of a new version. You should aim to save between 30% and 50%. Remember, the seller is likely motivated to sell and may be willing to negotiate. Don't be afraid to make an offer lower than the asking price, but do so respectfully and with an understanding of the roaster's value.
Bellwether Roasters vs. Used Coffee Roasters
A used commercial coffee roaster is a great option for a lot of businesses. It can save you a significant amount of money, which is especially important for business owners opening their first cafe.
But they are still gas‑powered roasters that take a long time to master—and an even longer time to earn back your initial investment. Plus, every roast you use to hone your skills is part of your profit margin going down the drain.
In contrast, Bellwether Roasters
are easy to use, energy‑efficient, and consistently produce high‑quality results. Our electric roasters create perfect roasts every time that will keep your customers coming back again and again.
"The best thing you can do for your business is to control your product on the coffee side, period. You're not going to do any better going with anything else." —Daniel Levy, Latitude Coffee (Bellwether Partner)
Investing in a Bellwether Roaster means you can start roasting and selling your own coffee immediately—without the steep learning curve and maintenance issues that come with traditional commercial roasters.
Bellwether Roasters are so fast and affordable that our average customer saves 30% to 50% on coffee costs right away, and multiplies their sales by 3‑5 times. Curious? Find out for yourself, and try a Bellwether Roaster today.