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How To Roast Coffee Beans In An Apartment Without Bothering The Neighbors

I was corresponding with a friend on the Internet in E posed a very interesting question, “How to roast coffee beans and apartment without bothering the neighbors?”

He had recently downsized and moved from a small house to a living situation where he had neighbors on either side above and below.

I thought it was a good question. Having my own little piece of property and no nearby neighbors that never came into question for me, nor did it for him in the past. But now it is an issue.

Why would roasting coffee in your apartment bother the neighbors?

Well, it didn’t take more than a couple minutes to come up with the few different ideas. It was simply a matter of putting yourself in the neighbor’s shoes. From that point of view, we both came up with several ideas that we identified as problems. The solutions to those problems were a little bit trickier and maybe not as black-and-white as we would’ve liked.

Undaunted, we will go right ahead and show you some problems we came up with and possible solutions.

The Problems: Why Roasting Coffee Could Bother The Neighbors.

The first thing that popped into our head were the two most obvious side effects of the process of roasting coffee:

• Smell – while I happen to enjoy the smell of roasting coffee, I can see where a cat loving, T totaling neighbor might not appreciate the sweet aroma of roasting coffee. Perhaps it is an acquired taste.
• Smoke – I use an SR 500 air roaster that has a smoke and chaff baffle which does a great job at keeping smoke commissions to a minimum and collecting all the chaff. Smoke isn’t that much of an issue. However, there are some methods of roasting coffee beans were smoke is definitely an issue. If you’re using a frying pan, wok, or oven roasting you in the neighbors may have a problem.

I started off this section by saying those are the two most obvious problems. Let’s do an exercise in creative thinking. What could those problems lead to?

Under the broad category of smells, we have to deal with the smell of the coffee being roasted at the time of the roast. But we also have to think of cumulative residual odors. In the same way that landlords could get very finicky about smoking cigarettes or cigars and apartment, I imagine they would not be too pleased if the residual coffee roast smoke had saturated the curtains and rugs.

Another factor to consider is how the ventilation, air-conditioning, and heating in your apartment are set up. If you are sharing ducts with neighbors you may be metaphorically and literally blowing smoke right into their home.

A normal scenario in roasting coffee, if you are going to do it inside, is to take your coffee roaster and roasted under the stove hood while it’s on.I have a friend who can tell what his neighbor is cooking each and every night not because the smoke is penetrating the walls but because they share ductwork on the stove exhaust fan. You would just have to check that out.

Under the category of smoke, one of the first things we came up with in our brainstorming session was the previously mentioned residual smoke odor in your home. It would not be too much of a stretch of the imagination to have the possibility of secondhand smoke permeating neighbors apartments also.

One very real possibility that completely escaped me and would annoy the heck out of me if I living in an apartment building in the neighbors smoke alarm kept going off.

Not only is it a nuisance, but it could be a panic inducer. Given a situation where the smoke alarm is buzzing, I would definitely have to check it out and if I found a neighbor whose apartment was not on fire but was happily roasting is coffee beans I might be a little ticked off.

What about the noise? If you’re using an air roaster or popcorn popper you know there is noise involved. I have used both in the noise is roughly equivalent to running a handheld hairdryer on high. I would hope that an apartment would be built well enough that that noise would not bother the neighbors. But, you never know.

I thought the noise factor was worth mentioning but it’s not like a teenager practicing drums next-door. And for all the noise a coffee roaster makes I would hope the neighbors would be tolerant enough to let that one pretty much slide.

The Solution: How To Roast Coffee In Your Apartment And Not Have The Neighbors Hate You

Okay, we have identified a couple major problems that will certainly have to be resolved; smoke and smells. So let’s get down to it.

To prevent both problems at the same time smoke and smell in your apartment, roast your coffee outside. Roasting on a porch or balcony would certainly reduce potential hassle from your neighbors. That may be a possible solution but it might be a Dodge to the question, and a little too obvious.

After all, the question is how to roast coffee beans IN your apartment, it doesn’t say OUTSIDE your apartment. Maybe get a long extension cord. But sometimes the obvious is worth mentioning.

One way to handle both problems in one fell swoop is to upgrade your roasting method. There are hot air roasters (not poppers), and drum roasters that have pretty good smoke suppression systems. So if you’re using a frying pan or naked popcorn Popper it might be time to upgrade.I know that switching a roasting method is not the most palatable solution to most people but it’s a possibility.

In handling the smoke and smell, it really does come down to a question of ventilation. The trick is you want superior ventilation, not just an open window or flipping on the bathroom or kitchen hood exhaust fan. Those fans might simply suck the fumes into a neighbor’s apartment.

The best solution that we could come up with was to buy a designated blower fan. These are commonly available on Amazon, at Home Depot, even Walmart had one. Yes, they will cost you some money perhaps $50-$100 but they will definitely solve the smoke and ventilation issue.

The trick to using them successfully for home coffee roasting ventilation would be to place the exhaust of the fan in such a way that it’s blowing outside. You would also need to have the fan close enough to your roasting station so it’s sucking the smells directly out.

Don’t what the size of these little fans for you they are very powerful and will do the job. If placement is going to be an issue you might have to be creative and mount them to a piece of plywood or 2 x 4 so they can be placed in position.

 Lasko Pro Performance Blower Fan, 4900

You might be able to use expandable accordion-like tubes that could be attached to the fan and run out the window. Something like an extended dryer vent.

If you’re going to consider a blower fan as a solution, check on you to for some the videos to hear them in action. Some of them sound like 747 jets taking off in a hurricane and others are very quiet. You will not the industrial models the less expensive ones will work perfectly for our purposes.

The one we selected above is small – 14.5 x 11.2 x 14.6 inches. The video below will give you an idea of the noise level. Listen for noise when he does not have the microphone directly in front of the blower.


We hope this post provided some pointers to help you along with the process of being able to roast coffee beans in your apartment without bothering the neighbors. There is one solution that we have not mentioned yet decided to save it for the conclusion this might be the best one yet.

Instead of an engineering solution such as purchasing the blower fan this is a human engineering solution.

Helpful Tip: Show up on your neighbor’s doorstep with a sample bag of fresh coffee for them once in a while. Be genuine, kind ,and neighborly and I bet that’ll go a long way toward easing any concerns they may have. You may even find you have a new coffee buddy.


Wishing you the best in all your coffee endeavors

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