Full Disclosure: I was sent a review copy of the Stronghold edition of Coffee Roaster, but I had already owned the original Japanese edition for several years.
What is this game about?
Coffee Roaster is exactly what it sounds like—a game about trying to roast coffee beans and brew that perfect cup of coffee. This is a bag builder in which you pull out coffee beans, try to get their roast values to the right level, remove bad beans whenever possible, and use flavor tokens to manipulate the contents of your bag and to get special powers. You're allowed to take the number of turns you think you need, but be careful. Your beans roast more with each turn, and it's your judgment that will prevent you from overdoing it and spoiling the roast! At the end of the game, you'll perform a "cup test," where you pull tokens from your bag and use them to calculate your score. Because there are several different types of bean in the game, you will have new and challenging parameters to work with every time you play.
How does it play solo?
Coffee Roaster is for solo players only. Woohoo!
Coffee Roaster is a game that I've had a lot of fun with over the years. It's quick and easy to play multiple times in a row, which makes it a perfect light work night or chill afternoon sort of game. The variety among the beans gives you a good range of different experiences, and the challenge of keeping mental notes about what is still in your bag is a satisfying one.
However, Coffee Roaster is not perfect. On some turns, if you pull all beans and no flavor tokens, all you do is change the value of the beans and put them back in the bag—no decisions involved. Or, if you pull a flavor token you don't need or can't use, it feels like a wasted pull. While staying aware of what's in your bag overall can be great fun, Coffee Roaster also has a lot of turns that feel repetitive or like you didn't get to do enough. Fortunately, the game is lightning fast and still a ton of fun. I'd just enjoy the chance to make a few more decisions turn to turn.
I also think the newly reprinted edition of Coffee Roaster, while gorgeous, is a little overpriced at $44.99. I personally feel that Coffee Roaster is more of a $25-30 game.
Do I recommend it?
Yes, Coffee Roaster is a fun game. Just don't pay full price for it.
Overall rating: 3.5 stars
5 stars — I love it!
4 stars .— I really like it.
3 stars — I like it.
2 stars — It's okay.
1 star — Meh.