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Old 01-08-2021, 09:27 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Coffee roasting

I've been unable to find a coffee roaster I like in Vermont. I drink only unleaded on a daily basis, which further limits my choices, and with prices ay $10-20 per pound to get fresh beans (that haven't been sitting on a shelf for weeks or months), I was getting fed up.

As a "happy solstice" gift to myself, I decided to try Sweet Maria's popcorn popper coffee roasting starter kit:

https://www.sweetmarias.com/nostalgi...rn-popper.html

$20 for their recommended popcorn popper, which is known to roast effectively and evenly, already seemed pretty reasonable, but it also came with 4lbs of green coffee. Hard to say "no" at that price. They even gave me four different blends!




I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the included printout and pamphlet, which had decent instructions and pictures with which to compare roasted beans to determine the roast level.

From what I read online and in the pamphlet, I was expecting a lot of smoke and a big mess, so I set up under my stove vent hood (vented outside) and cleared the countertops nearby.

One website recommended 3oz (weight) of green beans as roasting the most evenly, so I measured them out, dumped them into the popper cold, flipped the "on" switch, started a timer, and started gently stirring with the end of a wooden spoon.

After maybe 45 seconds the popper's heat and air pressure were moving the beans around enough that I put the chute/lid on top and watched, trying to decide when the roast was done.

My reading suggested a roast can take anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes start to finish, depending on the heat the machine produces. The general idea is that the beans start darkening immediately, and at a certain temperature they go through what is called the "first crack". This is supposed to sound like popcorn popping. At that point, they're at what's called a "city roast" or light roast, where (I think?) they've gone through the Maillard reaction, the same as when you bake bread or brown other foods. This gives coffee it's roasted taste.

From there, a French roast may only be 2-3 minutes away. This is described as the "second crack" and indicates the sugars have caramelized and the beans start to develop a burned and ashy taste. The character differences between different beans generally disappears at this point.

On my first attempt, I decided I'd let the roast run until I heard the first crack, then give it another minute or minute and a half, and take it off. Unfortunately, after 14 minutes and 30 seconds I still hadn't heard anything distinct, so I removed the beans, cooled them in a colander, and compared them to the chart.




Chart says I made something between a Full City+ (dark) and a "light" French roast!

Most sources say roasted beans should rest for 8-12 hours for best taste, and may be fresh for 7-14 days (depending on how picky you are), but I didn't care to wait until the morning, so ground them and brewed them in my 1-serving French press.

Subjectively? I don't normally even like French roasts, but this was good. As in, some of the best coffee I'd had in years good.

I went ahead and roasted another 3 ounces, trying to judge visually when to take it off. At 6 minutes I cooled the beans and checked the chart, and judged they had landed somewhere between a City+ and a Full City, a solid medium roast. This also produced an excellent cup of joe. Subjectively, while it looked like a medium roast, the flavor was a little lighter than the color suggested, and it was fairly acidic. I think I might have read somewhere that this is typical of water processed decaf.

~

Anyhow, I'd be thrilled if someone joined me in exploring coffee roasting.

Anyone else roast their own coffee?


Last edited by Ecky; 01-08-2021 at 10:03 PM..
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Old 01-09-2021, 01:04 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Not I. The last coffee I bought is called Hazelnut. Do you know how that is done?

Have you tried popcorn?
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Old 01-09-2021, 09:35 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freebeard View Post
Not I. The last coffee I bought is called Hazelnut. Do you know how that is done?

Have you tried popcorn?
No idea how hazelnut is put into the beans, but I know you can buy a flavor to put in once it's brewed.

My wife asked about popcorn. I told her I figured the popcorn might taste like coffee, and she pointed out that might not be a bad thing.
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Old 01-09-2021, 11:44 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Comments: since I fried my 20 year old popper, how do you like the sweet marias version? You realize the samples are leftovers? My first was a Guatemalan dry process that was heavenly. Sadly it's gone now, but I have about 20 pounds of other samples.

Some of the beans I have throw off huge amounts of chaff, typically Guatemalan and Ethiopian. Wife banned me from roasting in the house. You either got a Sumatran or a very understanding wife.

$9 for a digital walmart barbeque instant read thermometer that actually goes to 475 degrees inserted into the center of the bean mass gives you decent control of roast. I like 415 degrees indicated +FC roast, medium at 435. I make the roast I like for about $7.00 a pound instead of that burnt expensive junk at the store overflavored with sugar and creamer for $15.

Hazelnut is an oil based extract which has to be soaked into the beans after roasting otherwise you bake it out. Store bought cooking extracts for the vanilla, hazelnut whatever (yuuch) flavor. I prefer mine bare naked.

Popcorn doesn't taste like coffee, but depending on roast could taste burnt. Not good.

Since I fried the popper, I am considering a flour shifter as shown on makerspace as the heat source is cheap replaceable. I am NOT going computer controlled since I think this is an art form.

Last edited by Piotrsko; 01-09-2021 at 11:55 AM..
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Old 01-09-2021, 11:50 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Two things- 1. That is awesome! and 2. I've got too much going on to even think of going that way.
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Old 01-09-2021, 12:25 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Two things- 1. That is awesome! and 2. I've got too much going on to even think of going that way.
The way I see it is: life is too short for something you don't want in the first place. You cook your own food. Why?.
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Old 01-09-2021, 12:30 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The way I see it is: life is too short for something you don't want in the first place. You cook your own food. Why?.
In my case it's because I hope to retire someday and my studetnt debt is a constant double-mortgage-sized threat hanging over my head. Most of my frugality is necessity, or nearly so.
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Old 01-09-2021, 01:00 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I get a lot of enjoyment (and savings) from cooking my own food, and a lot of times my wife and I get to cook together. But for much the same reason that I haven't brewed in years, the coffee offerings in the stores are good enough and at a low enough price point that I'm not willing to sink the time, mental energy or kitchen counter/storage space that it would take to improve my coffee in this way. But it is an awesome setup.
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Old 01-09-2021, 01:18 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Homebrew beer? I do that too and for the same reason plus I am allergic to something in American commercial beer.

If I understand you correctly, the cost/ time benefit out weighs any other advantages.
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Old 01-09-2021, 01:19 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
I make the roast I like for about $7.00 a pound instead of that burnt expensive junk at the store overflavored with sugar and creamer for $15.
That's what I pay for a ground pound; to pay $15 I'd have to go to the gun shop for Black Rifle.

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