“My roasting plant is running 2 shifts per day, and my salesman has just landed a club store account. I need a new roasting machine fast. I wonder if John Doe at ABC Coffee would sell me his old, surplus roaster?“  You can find significant savings when purchasing used equipment however, there are some pitfalls to be aware of when buying used coffee roasting equipment.

Every year, customers who have purchased used BURNS 23Rs to increase their capacity come to us to get their roasters up and running. Often, the machine is not in usable condition, and we are asked to supply spare parts to get it to a functional state.

Following a slew of communication exchanges with pictures, videos, or even on-site inspections, we must deliver the tough news: The roaster they have purchased is obsolete, non-compliant, fatally flawed, or incomplete.

If you are thinking of purchasing a used BURNS roaster, here are a few things to consider before making a decision.

  • Are you purchasing an obsolete used coffee roaster?

BURNS has been building roasters for 150+ years. For the past 100 years, we have fabricated perforated drum (100% convective / “hot-air”) roasters that function much like our current machines. However, the design of these machines has evolved over time.

Many of the older BURNS roaster models are obsolete for various reasons, and we no longer manufacture replacement parts for these older machines. If the used coffee roaster you are considering is a BURNS Jubilee, 23RS, 14R, or 24R roaster, please contact the BURNS spare parts team before you purchase the machine to understand what parts we can provide for these.

  • Is your used coffee roaster non-compliant?

Many old BURNS roaster models were retired because they were no longer compliant. An example of this evolution is the BURNS 23RS. This machine was designed to recirculate all roasting gases through the burner before exhausting a portion out of a stack. The S at the end of the name signifies, “Smokeless”. While the RS design eliminates some smoke, the burner is not hot enough and the system does not have sufficient residence time to eliminate enough smoke to be compliant with the Clean Air Act (1973) and the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (1990). Operating these machines without an afterburner is a violation of these Federal Laws.

We built the last 23RS in the 1980s, and we no longer provide parts for these roasters. We can, however, replace the RS-style ductwork and burner with the newest R-style ductwork and afterburner to ensure the 23RS roaster meets current EPA requirements.

Other non-compliant designs that should be updated include (but are not limited to):

  • Obsolete burners and gas trains that can be replaced with current, FM compliant systems.
  • Old control panels that can be updated to current, UL508 compliant designs.
  • Old motors and drives that can be updated to new NEC, OSHA compliant drive systems.
  • Is the used coffee roaster you are purchasing fatally flawed?

We would all agree that a 20-year-old car with a cracked engine block and bent frame should be taken to the junkyard. The same is true for an old roaster with extensive damage. BURNS roasters last a long time, but sometimes, they should just be retired. We were recently asked to rebuild a roaster that, after inspection, was determined to have irreparably cracked castings.

Given the age of the roaster and the number of other obsolete components on the machine (more than 75% of it had to be replaced), it was clear the rebuild cost was almost the price of a new one.

  • Are you getting an incomplete machine when you purchase a used coffee roaster?

This is perhaps the easiest flaw from which a used roaster can be returned to service. If your roaster is current but lacks a control panel, afterburner, or destoner, BURNS can supply these to make your roaster complete and compliant.

Before purchasing a used roaster, you should thoroughly inspect and list the components that will be supplied. It can be quite a surprise if your roaster is delivered, and you find the machine is missing components.

Buying a used BURNS roaster? We are here to help!

A used BURNS roaster is often not the best economic nor compliant choice. If you do not know what model you are buying or the state of the machine, then the cost to rebuild and install this roaster safely and legally could be hundreds of thousands of dollars more than anticipated.


When considering a used roaster, an expert BURNS service technician can help you with a pre-inspection. Our technicians will inspect the machine and provide a comprehensive written report with pictures and a list of parts that would be required to rebuild the roaster.

Sometimes, we can complete this service through a video conference. A pre-inspection can be well worth the time and cost if it saves you hundreds of thousands in unanticipated rebuild costs.

Rebuild services:

BURNS can rebuild most 23R style machines, even if this means converting the ductwork design from an RS to an R style. Rebuilds can be done in our shop or on-site depending upon the extent of the rebuild.

When BURNS rebuilds a roaster, we provide a warranty and a functional guarantee for the machine. We can also support installation and commissioning. If you do hire someone else to rebuild your machine, make sure they will stand behind their work!

Please contact BURNS Sales sales@burnsroasters.com, Parts spareparts@burnsroasters.com, or Service service@burnsroasters.com to consult on your used roaster purchase or rebuild. We are happy to provide cost estimates, professional guidance, and support.




  • Roger Pepin says:

    If I give you the serial number of the roaster 23R, can you provide me with the parts available for repair.

    • sstouffer says:

      Hi Roger, Yes we can provide spare parts for your 23R. Please contact Charlie Hegar with the information about your machine. His contact information is on our website!

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