So you want to try roasting your own coffee, but it seems complicated and expensive, right?
WRONG. For those of you who are curious about home roasting, and would like to check it out without laying out much money, I offer the El Cheapo Best Coffee You Ever Had starter kit.
To roast coffee at home, and enjoy the finest java you've probably ever tasted, you need two things: green coffee beans and a roasting device.
Green beans are available from any number of sources, and generally cost half what good roasted beans go for. Here are the 2 best sources I've used:
Coffee bean corral
Both have great selection, and are as fanatical about bean quality as you soon will be . Typical green coffees go for $4-$7 per pound, with cost increasing to as much as $16-17 for super premium coffees (notably Jamaican Blue Mountain and Kona). I recommend a simple sampler to start with, and do yourself a favor and skip the really expensive stuff until you get more comfortable with the process.
Next: the roaster.
There are numerous roasting devices and methods, but probably the simplest in terms of bang-for-the-buck is the use of a simple popcorn popper. Here is a great tip sheet from Sweet Marias on roasting with a hot air popper.
There are great guidelines for finding a suitable roaster, but if you want it simple, just drop a cool $10 (plus shipping) or so on a West Bend Poppery II on ebay
Now, you got a popper, you got a sample pack of kick-butt green coffees, and you got a well ventilated area. Dump in a half-cup of green coffee, turn that puppy on, and start watching, smelling, listening, and learning the art of roasting the finest stimulant yet known to man.
West Bend Poppery II from Ebay: about $15 (with shipping)
4-pound, 8-coffee sample pack from SM: $25 (with shipping)
Complete coffee nirvana in the privacy of your own home: priceless.