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I want some info on coffee roasting

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Kevin Dean

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The homebrew spirit is that of "do it yourself", pride in craftsmanship and a desire to be self-reliant. I figure the same thing runs in the veins of coffee roasters too (and computer people - the number of GNU/Linux users on this forum is unusually high all things considered).

Firstly, I'm interested in coffee roasting but I've got a small apartment. Are there small roasters I can use in this environment? I've seen some that are huge and produce lots of smoke - neither things are good. Anyone have recommendations?

Do you roasters see "much benefit" in roasting your own? Why is that? IS it like homebrew, where it's cheaper to make 5 gallons of "Beer X" than buy the same amount? Is the "freshest" coffee really "that good"?

And finally - once your coffee is roasted what do you brew it in? Is one method better than another or is a cheapola Wally World coffee maker good enough.

Thanks in advance. :) :mug:
 

ScubaSteve

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Crazy. I didn't know being a coffee roaster is such a big deal. I read that Peet's makes it's roasters sign a 10 year contract, where there's a whole apprentice to master program.
 

jds

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I'm a home roaster. Yes, there is a huge benefit, in both price and quality.

Green coffee beans retail for about half the price of commercial coffee. Freshness is the absolute key in making good coffee. Mediocre beans 24 hours out of the roaster will make MUCH better coffee than $11.00 a pound Starbuck's beans from the grocery store.

There are as many ways to roast as there are ways to brew. Personally, I like the HGDB (That's heat gun - dog bowl) method, where you roast using nothing more high-tech than that. Frankly, if you're a brewer, you already have more than the skill you need to roast your own coffee.

As for brewing coffee, I'm partial to a french press.

Sweet Maria's http://www.sweetmarias.com is a great source for beans, knowledge, equipment, and all things coffee.
 
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Kevin Dean

Kevin Dean

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jds said:
Green coffee beans retail for about half the price of commercial coffee. Freshness is the absolute key in making good coffee. Mediocre beans 24 hours out of the roaster will make MUCH better coffee than $11.00 a pound Starbuck's beans from the grocery store.
I consider Starbucks the BMC of coffee (worse, I can still stomach a BMC) - worse even than Folgers. I wonder, seriously if Starbucks was a hole-in-the-wall shack (not the trendy, west-coast yuppie place it is, or was) would anybody ever buy a second cup of the stuff.

I've been drinking stuff that comes from the roaster that supplies my favorite coffee shop (which is about 600 miles from me) - http://www.coffeeexpressco.com/about/index.shtml

I figure roasting my own would be even better than that still. :)

jds said:
Personally, I like the HGDB (That's heat gun - dog bowl) method, where you roast using nothing more high-tech than that.
I wouldn't have found that had you not thrown it out. It appears as if this method won't work well for me but it's a GREAT indicator that it can be very simple indeed. :) I checked out the air-popper method and this looks best, since I don't own a heatgun (or dogbowl... Cats eat from plastic) buying a new popper is actually cheaper than a heatgun. :) But again, thanks for the assurance that it can be a very simple process.

jds said:
As for brewing coffee, I'm partial to a french press.
The irony? As I was posting the first post on this thread, my wife was buying a french press.
 

Soulive

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ScubaSteve said:
Crazy. I didn't know being a coffee roaster is such a big deal. I read that Peet's makes it's roasters sign a 10 year contract, where there's a whole apprentice to master program.
I guess its similar to Maltsters...
 

SuperiorBrew

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This is the HBT of the coffee world.

You want a french press or a coffee maker that get the water hot enough, I think 200º is what you are after. We have a Kitchen Aid Pro coffee maker and you will want some sort of a burr grinder we use a Kitchen Aid. We have been using that setup for over a year, just buying fresh roasted beans. A few months ago we started roasting our own with the Behmor 1600 (It rocks)

Dont let the Kitchen Aid prices scare you , I got the Grinder for $93 delivered but it was red, it cost me a case of Bud Light to have the body shop match it to the coffee maker. THe coffee maker we got for less than $200 with two caraffes and a hot plate.
 

jds

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Kevin Dean said:
I consider Starbucks the BMC of coffee (worse, I can still stomach a BMC) - worse even than Folgers. I wonder, seriously if Starbucks was a hole-in-the-wall shack (not the trendy, west-coast yuppie place it is, or was) would anybody ever buy a second cup of the stuff.
Yeah, but a lot of people still think *$ is the pinnacle of coffee. I like it better than Folgers, but only just.

I've been drinking stuff that comes from the roaster that supplies my favorite coffee shop (which is about 600 miles from me) - http://www.coffeeexpressco.com/about/index.shtml

I figure roasting my own would be even better than that still. :)
Yup. Second-best thing to home roasted. Actually, just as good, if yo go directly to the roaster and drink within about a week of roasting. When I don't have time to roast, I buy beans from a local roaster that dates each bag. Anything over a week old, I don't generally buy.

I wouldn't have found that had you not thrown it out. It appears as if this method won't work well for me but it's a GREAT indicator that it can be very simple indeed. :) I checked out the air-popper method and this looks best, since I don't own a heatgun (or dogbowl... Cats eat from plastic) buying a new popper is actually cheaper than a heatgun. :) But again, thanks for the assurance that it can be a very simple process.
I started with an air popper. It works well, but can only roast a little bit at a time. The HGDB method can roast more beans in a batch, but heats up a little slower.

The irony? As I was posting the first post on this thread, my wife was buying a french press.
Awesome. After SWMBO got me a press for Christmas a few years ago, I gave my drip machine to Goodwill. Huge, huge difference in quality. You won't be disappointed.

It's funny how similar the hobbies are. Some people will drop thousands on espresso machines, high-tech automated roasters, and vacuum brewing systems, and others will approach the hobby with a propane torch, a pot of water, and ten bucks in their pockets....

I'm somewhere in between the two.
 

Silviakitty

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+1 on Sweet Maria's. They're a wonderful company with a great product. Tom picks his coffees well. ;)

I've got the Freshroast 8, and it does well enough for me. I've thought about getting a bigger roaster, but it's not high on the priority list right now.

It's a hobby easily as addictive as homebrewing. You'll quickly become a coffee snob.

jds: every try the Aeropress?
 

malkore

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Even $93 for a burr grinder...yeotch!

is it that terrible to use a cheap bladed grinder? does it ruin the fact you're roasting your own, or only take it down a little?

I wanna get a little countertop roaster too but SWMBO doesn't want any more crap cluttering her counter tops.

+1 to starbucks coffee sucking. the only thing I can get at starbucks is a mocha because their chocolate syrup masks the heinous flavor of their house roast.
 

SuperiorBrew

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malkore said:
Even $93 for a burr grinder...yeotch!
It's the last one I will have to buy, not made of all plastic w/nylon bushings:)

You can get decent burr grinders for $29.99 at sams, I picked this Hearthware Burr Grinder for my folks at Christmas.
The burr grinders are always what is recomended and they really do a much better job.
I also bought my roaster and get my beans from Burman Coffee Traders Order it one day and it's here the next. Great service.

 

jds

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Silviakitty said:
jds: every try the Aeropress?
Nope. Haven't tried it yet. I've heard some good things. Lately, I've been trolling Craigslist looking for a good grinder and espresso machine. Wifey likes the lattes at *$, and I'd really like to be able to make her something better at home.

Malkore: I'm still using a whirly-blade grinder. For a french press, it's OK, as long as you don;t mind a little sludge at the bottom of the cup. Burr grinders are more consistent. Think of it as the difference between a Corona mill and a roller mill. Most people will agree that the roller mill is "better", but a lot of people are making perfectly good beer with corona mills.
 

Silviakitty

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A good espresso machine is unbeatable, but I'm on a lower budget. ;) The Aeropress is amazing. I use it either to make a pseudo-espresso, or add hot water for an Americano. I've also used it for tea.

I'm planning on making a 'coffee concentrate' with it to use in my next batch of stout. ;) Now I just have to decide what type of coffee to use.
 

Guardian42

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Hey, one of the places I would recommend to check out for info and product is more coffee. They are part of the home brew online store of more beer. This is their web site
http://morecoffee.com/ The best tasting coffee is truly fresh roasted, because after a week the acids start to leak out of the roasted beans, and the flavor changes. I use the Zach and Danis roaster, which is now Nesco I think, but it roasts about a 1/4 pound each time, and each roast is however dark or light you set it for. It is just like home brewing in the aspect of you choose exactly what you want and experiment to get what you want with different green beans. The beans are available at many home brew stores nowadays, and if you look at the more coffee site, it gives many suggestions for styles and blends. The roaster I mentioned is about the size of a coffee maker, and does put out a little smell whilst roasting, but not too bad. Plus, it is very economical besides being a space saver. You will find it is very cheap to roast your own, and oh so satisfying. Here is the website to the Zach and Danis roaster http://www.coffeeroasting.com/ Enjoy and Have a Great time with it, it is just as much fun as brewing your own beer, just one more hobby to get hooked on.
 

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Hey Kev,

I've been considering roasting my own for some time. This past week I found a West Bend Poppery II hot air popper on ebay for $8.99. I ordered up some green coffee beans from a local roaster.

Last night I popped my cherry. Man! That was soooooooooo EASY! I put 4 oz of green beans in the popcorn popper and placed a big steel bowl 1/4 full of water in front of it. I set the kitchen timer for 6.5 minutes. I plugged it in. In 3 minutes there was smoke coming off the beans and chaff flying into the bowl. The beans were turning a nice brown color. At the end of the 6.5 minutes, I unplugged, poured the beans onto a baking sheet, and set them outside for a minute to cool down.

I poured them into a steel canister and left them to degas all night (they bleed CO2.) This morning I stuck my nose in the canister and let me tell you the smell was amazing. I brewed them up using my burr grinder and french press and the coffee was absolutely superb! Total investment $16.00 for popper and $5 a lb. for green beans and 10 minutes for roasting and clean up. Return is priceless!

:mug:
 

SuperiorBrew

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You full time roasters should check out the Green Coffee Buying Club
I just bought 3 pounds of:
Honduras Cup of Excellence "La Mora" Ranked the #12 coffee in the country by an international panel of judges. This coffee is pure comfort food: creamy, sweet & chocolaty with rich, heavy body.

Farm: La Mora
Farmer: Serbando Galo Rodriguez Lote 1
Rank: 12
City: Santiago De Puringla
Region: La Paz
Country: Honduras
Farm Size: 50.00 Hectares
Coffee growing area: 25.00 Hectares
Altitude: 1751 masl
Certification: None

Variety: Catuai
Processing System: Wet processing
Lot Size: 21 bags
International Jury Score: 86.09
Cupping Number #: 701

Jury Descriptions: rich body (14), creamy (11), sweet chocolate (10), watermelon (6), sweet peach (4), apple (2), body, consistent, balanced, subtle

I paid $4.84 a pound, the going price is 7.99 to 9.99 a pound + shipping (a little over $8 net with shipping)

I am going to go roast a pound now, maybe I'll snap a few pics
 

SuperiorBrew

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Pics of the roast

What I was roasting:

Guatemalan Vista Hermosa

Origin: Huehuetenago
Lot #: 0163
Arrival Date : 05/22/07
Comments:
Winner of the Guatemalan 2007 Cup of Excellence and The Guatemalan 2004 Exceptional Cup Award.

Rich, clean and balanced! A full bodied cup, with a very smooth chocolate bottom with delicate fruity overtones. Consistently one of the best coffees out of Guatemala and now used for the sample coffee at Ana Cafe from the Huehue region.

We roast this one a little darker to get a smooth rich chocolate taste, a little lighter will bring more acidity and fruit.

We are buying Vista Hermosa green coffee beans directly from the plantation to support their excellent work.

Finca Vista Hermosa is ecologically sound and healthy, a model for shade grown and organic plantations. One of the best places to work in the region.
 

malkore

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this thread ended up sucking me in. I've been roasting a week now. burned up a cheap hot air popper but have a Fresh Roast Plus now, and 8 bags of different coffee (sweet maria's sampler pack).

gotta say, fresh roasted coffee is a whole different world of flavor than foldgers or starbucks (which I hated anyway).

I have to resist putting a Behmor on layaway now....
 
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Kevin Dean

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Orpheus said:
This past week I found a West Bend Poppery II hot air popper on ebay for $8.99. I ordered up some green coffee beans from a local roaster.
Excellent! SWMBO checked Goodwill today and didn't find a used popcorn popper and the one they had at Bed Bath and Beyond wasn't the right kind so I hit eBay. I've got a few popperies on my watchlist.

I also just ordered a sampler from Sweet Maria's so we'll see how it goes this week when I get my stuff. :rockin:
 

scottthorn

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I went to college across the street from the original Dunn Bros. coffee location. They roast every day and the wonderful smell would blanket the neighborhood!

I don't drink coffee as voraciously as I used to. My espresso maker died and I never bothered to replace it. I lost my toddy cold brew equipment along the way. I rarely use the french press anymore except when camping. I'm the only coffee drinker in the house so I keep it simple with a drip maker and blade grind my beans just prior to brewing. Currently rocking a light roast, organic Ethiopian which is really tasty!

The Aeropress has definitely caught my eye. I may have to pick one of those up someday.

Thanks for the roasting pics. It's cool to see the process.
 

Guardian42

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I see the Behmor roaster, it is a nice one, but it says that it doesn't do dark roasts, and it is a bit of a big thing to use and store, plus a bit pricey for most people (299). I like my Zach and Danis in the aspect that I can roast dark or light, and it is about 150. The main set back with it is that the exposed base can get extremely hot, so little fingers need to be watched while in use. There are other roasters that are small out there too that I saw at the sweet marias site. Air poppers are great, but burn out too fast. Check out the more coffee site http://morecoffee.com/ and the sweet maries site http://www.sweetmarias.com/ to see what works best for you. They give excellent reviews, and tips for roasting. I still like the Ethiopian beans the best for my taste, but they can be hard to find and expensive in off seasons. Cheers
 

malkore

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FYI, try a Walgreens for a hot air popper. Kitchen Gourmet is the brand name and it should be $10.

warning though, they are weak on quality control. some people say they get 200 roasts out of one...others (like me) toasted it out in a few uses.

but for $10 its a cheap way to try roasting. I have a Fresh Roast plus that'll do about 14 cups worth in one roasting. So far I've only done some Zambia beans (local roaster had these, I think they are inferior and that's why they sold them to my wife who ran the errand for "Some African beans". I was hoping for kenyan or ethiopian)

I also did some colombian...and wow I never liked that kind of coffee until now. I roasted some peaberry too and will brew that up tomorrow morning.

coffee roasting is a lot like home brewing. once you try it, you can't stomach anything else.
 

HenryHill

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-choke-

I was being drawn in by apparent relative ease of roasting, minimal equipment, and proud testimonials.

Then on Sweetmarias, I found my personal favorite - I really only ever like Kona- and now I gotta let it grow on me some more....:mad:
 

Beeropolis

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My SWMBO used to roast coffee for a coffee shop that had high profile clients. She roasted for Aerosmith, STP, Bowie, etc. She had some pretty killer blends too. My favorite non blend is Puerto Rico Yauco Selecto. Super smooth and buttery, awesome.
 

SuperiorBrew

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Guardian42 said:
I see the Behmor roaster, it is a nice one, but it says that it doesn't do dark roasts, and it is a bit of a big thing to use and store, plus a bit pricey for most people (299). I like my Zach and Danis in the aspect that I can roast dark or light, and it is about 150. The main set back with it is that the exposed base can get extremely hot, so little fingers need to be watched while in use. There are other roasters that are small out there too that I saw at the sweet marias site. Air poppers are great, but burn out too fast. Check out the more coffee site http://morecoffee.com/ and the sweet maries site http://www.sweetmarias.com/ to see what works best for you. They give excellent reviews, and tips for roasting. I still like the Ethiopian beans the best for my taste, but they can be hard to find and expensive in off seasons. Cheers
It will do dark roasts but only 3/4 lb or less, you have to use 3/4 and tell it you are doing 1lb.
 

Rick_R

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Yeah, reading this stupid thread ended up with me placing an order last Monday; due in from Sweetmarias this Monday. The heat gun and burr mill already arrived. Looking forward to it.

Rick
 

RLinNH

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I Haven't read this entire thread, and I don't have tie to right now. But I have to chime in of Roasting.

There is a HUGE Difference in the taste of freshly roasted coffee. The freshness and the roast is the difference. I have been roasting now for over 8 years, and my wife and I only drink my Home Roasted Coffee. It's hard to stomach anything else. Yup. I am a Beer, Cigar, and Coffee Snob. :D

If you are looking for a site or anything about Home Coffee roasting, feel free to PM me.
 

Silviakitty

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This is awesome. :)

One, when I start asking what kind of coffee will complement a particular brew I want to add it to, I'll get a bigger variety of responses (other than 'folgers!').

Two, Sweet Maria's gets a whole bunch of business out of the deal. They're great guys.
 

Rick_R

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Roasted my second batch tonight; I ordered the 8 x 1/2lb sampler from sweetmarias.com. Freshly roasted and ground tastes much better to me, and roasting with the heat gun is very easy.

Rick
 

flyangler18

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I've been intrigued by roasting my own coffee for a while, though I limit my coffee drinking to a single cup as part of my morning routine.

Time to do some more research! I think home roasting coffee would be an EXCELLENT complement to homebrewing. :D
 

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Hi All, Couldn't agree more about sweetmarias.com!! Tom is always spot on with his reviews and goes out of his way to provide outstanding products and service! I have been home roasting for about 4 years now, started out with the West Bend popper and now have a hard time drinking any coffee that my wife and I don't roast. Starbucks??? UGH! Bilge water! Anyway, coffee roasting is like home brewing, you can get into it with very little investment and the rewards are great. Then upgrade as you go, I can recommend the Hearthware iRoast 2 roaster, ours is almost 3 years old and perfectly roasts 8 oz at a time. You have to get a good grinder, makes all the difference in the world. Stick with a good conical burr, I bought the Solis Maestro...great grinder. Tons of info online, just like with brewing. You have to check out some of the DIY coffee roasters out there. Cheers!

Terry
 

Bopper

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This thread is about to cause me to place an order with sweetmarias!

Question though...what is the best way to store green coffee beans and how long do they stay fresh?
 

malkore

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green beans keep a long, long time. 12 months easily as long as you keep them at room temp, and dry. humidity and such are bad...they promote mold and screw with the moisture levels of the beans.

a lot of people just use a pillowcase and a drawstring for big bags of beans...or a smaller bag if you only buy 5 pounds or so. burlap, cotton...something that is breathable.

Sweetmarias is the bomb. I have a Fresh Roast 8+ and a Behmor 1600.
 

Saccharomyces

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I have a friend who roasts his own beans. I've always thought about doing it myself but haven't tried it. I should give it a try with the air popper method. I have a conical burr grinder already and manual drip coffee maker. All that is missing is the fresh roast. Hmmm.
 
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