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Old 11-20-2009, 04:39 PM   #1
Beerrific
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Default Home coffee roasters, a question...

I am trying to put together my Christmas list for my MIL and I need some relatively low cost items. I have been wanting to get into coffee roasting for a while and have seen a lot of people have success with the air popcorn poppers. I was hoping to get some advice from those in the know...

What specific brand/model numbers are known to work well? I have seen a lot of people have good luck with the West Bend Poppery and Poppery II. Seems that these are older, discontinued models. That leads to my next question....

Can poppers that were used for popcorn be used for coffee without noticeable flavors? MIL is big on e-bay, so getting one of these used Poppery poppers would work well.

Thanks.


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Old 11-20-2009, 05:28 PM   #2
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I am very intrigued to do this as well, here is a link from a popular coffee forum since I can offer no personal experience:

http://coffeegeek.com/guides/popperroasting

Also, James did a BBR episode about a year ago on this very subject if you are interested in watching it (it was video IIRC)

http://www.basicbrewing.com/index.ph...oasting-coffee



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Old 11-20-2009, 07:25 PM   #3
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I buy my green coffee from Sweet Maria's...

http://www.sweetmarias.com/

They have a lot of information and tips for different methods.

The naysayer's tell you the Popcorn popper can't have the screen in the bottom...the chaff will drop down inside and catch fire.

Hum Bug.... I've been using one for almost a year now. If it's going to catch fire...it's going to happen because the chaff flew out...settled near the intake at the bottom of the air popper and was sucked in from that end. And that can happen to any of them. It's not going to magically by gravity fall down through a 25 mph breeze to get to the heating element.

Anyway. I use a Poplite...like:

http://www.walmart.com/catalog/produ...uct_id=5969519

Remove the yellow plastic top...but retain the measuring cup. Go to LOWE's or Home Depot...and pickup a 3" Glass Chimney and a peice of hardwood dowel. Go to the kitchen department store and get two mesh strainers with handles...and a hot glove.

You're in business.

GO OUTSIDE!!

Have an extension cord handy to plug the popper into. And all the other peices mentioned above.

Measure your coffee beans with the little yellow meaureing cup. It's about 1/4 of a lb I think. Pour them into the popper.

Place the glass chimney ontop of the popper. ( this keeps the beans from flying out while they're roasting...and if you keep the glass clean...it will allow you to watch the roasting.)

Stick the dowel down inside the chimney ( this is to stir the beans)

Plug your popper in...and quickly devote your time to stiring the beans with the dowel ( Make sure you're wearing a hot glove or the hot air will burn your hand)

As the beans begin to dry they get lighter...and really start dancing around in there. At that point you can remove the dowel...and then just hold the popper with two hands and gently gimbal it around to make sure all the beans get roasted evenly. Careful not to knock the glass chimney out while you do this.

The beans will start blowing off chaff (paper like outer covering) unless you've got decaf beans which have much less chaff. This stuff blows everywhere so you don't want to be inside.

Next the beans will start to darken and they'll reach "first crack" as the cellulose bonds break...it sounds like little snap noises. You'll hear it slow down for a little while or even stop for a while and then there will be a "Second" crack...which is a little shorter snapping sound at a noticibly different pitch. That's where I stop. It's in the range of Vienna roast. But you can go on to Italian roast or French Roast if you so please.

You'll get a hang for it after a while.

At the point you want to stop roasting...Quickly unplug the popper, remove the chimney with your hot glove hand, Pour the roasted beans into one of the strainers. Then transfer the beans back and forth between the two strainers.. This will allow them to cool rapidly and stop further roasting, it releases any smoke, and helps dislodge remaining chaff from the beans. WHen you're happy that they're not cooking anymore...put them on a paper plate to cool for a bit...and then into a valve bag to protect them from oxidation and to allow them to off gas a bit. Most coffee needs to off gas for 24 -48 hrs before you grind and brew with them.

Enjoy!

And always prepare for the unexpected...just in case the naysayers eventually prove to be right...roast in an area that IF the popper does catch fire...you can unplug and walk away..and it won't destroy property or allow the fire to spread.

If you do a few batches in quick sucession...the thermostat inside the popper may trip. Unplug it and let it sit for 10 -15 minutes to cool...and it will reset itself.
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Old 11-20-2009, 07:27 PM   #4
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A used popper will be fine but it must be the recirculating kind. If you look in the bottom there will be vents arranged around the bottom of the roasting cylinder that blow the kernels/beans around in a circle.

The other sort of model has a mesh at the bottom and the air blows straight up, causing the kernels to jump around. This is OK for popcorn but for coffee it can cause it to scorch (if I remember correctly) due to not necessarily being in constant movement (this is also a fire hazard).

After my recirculating model burnt out I wasn't able to find another one out there at any local stores so I bought an iRoast 2 (which is great).

Edit: Ha I see chuggs beat me to it. Well, grain of salt and all that.
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Old 11-20-2009, 07:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuggs View Post
The naysayer's tell you the Popcorn popper can't have the screen in the bottom...the chaff will drop down inside and catch fire.
I always thought it was because green coffee has quite a bit of moisture content, and as such is rather heavy and doesn't start moving around until said moisture gets burned off. At least in recirculating models the beans that are receiving direct heat from the vents can spin a bit while the beans on the inside of the cylinder don't really move.

Whereas in the bottom-blower models the beans on the bottom getting the heat cannot move as much with all the other beans on top of them.

But this is all wild speculation and I know lots of people roast just fine with bottom blowers, so who knows.

Also, another vote for Sweet Marias. Tom is awesome.
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Old 11-20-2009, 08:02 PM   #6
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I use a Fresh Roast Coffee Roaster, it sells for $89. You can get it from Sweet Marias and they have a deal where you can buy it with green beans and get a discount. It's a good entry level roaster. I roast in an apartment and have no problems with the coffee smell. I love the smell!
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Old 11-22-2009, 05:05 PM   #7
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Thing is, there's a new Fresh Roast model coming out real soon. I have the FR 8+ and a Behmor 1600 (but the behmor is $300). Maybe ask for a gift cert for Sweet Maria's and hold off til the new model is out.
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Old 11-22-2009, 05:15 PM   #8
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I use a thrift store used popper ($2.95) unmodified. It leaves some to be desired, but I only go a little past the first crack for a really fruity light roast, so it works for me. I do like the sound of Chuggs' method though for darker roasting. No reason a $3 used one won't work though, and then if you torch it you won't feel too guilty, and SWMBO won't be mad at a lost investment...
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Old 11-22-2009, 05:20 PM   #9
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I have the Fresh Roast 8+

It is okay, I am on my second one since the first one burnt itself up after 6 mo.

Customer service at Fresh Beans Inc. is pretty deplorable, took 3 months to squeeze a replacement from them.

I get beans from Sweet Marias

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Old 11-22-2009, 07:44 PM   #10
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There's kind of a balance to strike between cost and DIY. You can get a dog bowl and a hot air gun and do everything by hand. You can get a popcorn popper and still do most everything yourself. Or, you can get one of any number of increasingly complex and expensive roasters. Personally, I like this one so far:

http://www.sweetmarias.com/prod.hearthwareiRoast2.php

Doesn't give a huge amount of control, but you can set some temperature curves and watch the beans roast. Pretty good for starting out, IMO, since it's pretty hard to ruin batches of beans with the thing and the capacity is about right (for me) to roast two or three 10 cup drip pots of coffee.


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