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  1. #1
    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    KT1000 Coffee Roaster

    As some of you may know, I've recently decided to take the 1st step in the coffee roasting arena...or as I like to say, "the next step in my coffee evolution".

    I bought a hot air (popcorn) popper. This is the entry level way of roasting coffee (e.g. not getting the $400 home coffee roaster). I read a lot of tutorials to make sure I got the right type of popper (only a certain kind work correctly for roasting coffee).

    Ok, here is how it all went down.


    First, I had bought an 8 lb. sampler box of green (unroasted) coffee beans from Sweet Marias (suggested place to start by Mill Creek). I picked one of them to start with (Kenya AB).

    I had decided to roast on Thursday because I don't drink much coffee at home on weekdays as I'm up and off to work quickly, and you have to let the coffee rest (dissipate CO2) for about 12-24 hours after roasting before using. So Thursday was the perfect night to roast just enough coffee for the weekend (as the whole idea is to always have very freshly roasted beans).


    So I grab the first bag to start. I start the first batch (can hold about 1/2 cup). The tutorial I was going by said you would hear the first crack at around 3 minutes and the second crack at around 4 minutes. First crack would be about 'light city" roast and 2nd crack would be about "full city" roast. Longer than that and you get the dark roasts.

    I like my coffee around 'full city', so I planned on 4 minutes for the 2nd crack. The problem? I heard a few cracks around 1:30. Not having roasted before, I thought maybe it was a 'false crack' because it was waaaay too early.

    Any way, to make a long story short, this popper is apparently hotter/faster than the one they used in their tutorial. That first batch was over roasted. They were so dark they looked like Starbucks beans (bleh!).

    So I started the second batch and learned another quick lesson. You need to let the popper cool down between batches because the first beans that go in (ones in bottom) get roasted very fast because of the heat already there (hot metal reservoir). The second batch looked very "salt and pepper" with some really dark over roasted beans and some light. Chucked that batch.

    By this time I thought I kinda of had the mechanics down and it was only getting the timing right. Third batch came out good. First crack was at about 1:30, second crack is around 2:45. I found the level I like my roast was good at about 3:30-4:00. (Tutorial was estimating 5-7 minutes).

    Now, armed with the formula I roasted the rest of that bag. When all was done, I got about 1/2 lb of roasted beans (from the 1lb bag). I lost about 1/2 lb due to those two bad batches and spilling some a few times while cooling in a colander.

    You aren't supposed to use them for at least about 12 hours, so tonight will be the actual tasting. If interested, I may take a picture of the roasted beans to show you.

    BTW, it's a pretty messy process. The beans release their chafe as they roast and it goes everywhere. It doesn't just come neatly out of the popper chute and into the bowl/sink like you want. It ends up going all over the area where you are roasting.
    Quote Originally Posted by coffeecake View Post
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  2. #2
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Sounds like too much work for a cup of coffee, but I used to make a mess of my whole kitchen while brewing up a batch of beer.
    I guess if it's for something you like, and it's better than what you can find in your average shop, then it's worth the effort. I'm interested to hear how it turns out.
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  3. #3
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    Your roasting times are a bit fast. A good and easy way to slow down the roast times somewhat is to plug the popper into a heavy-gauge extension cord. Please post some pictures of the coffee so we can take a gander.
    Regards, MillCreek
    Snohomish County, Washington USA

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    Regards, MillCreek
    Snohomish County, Washington USA

  5. #5
    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    The coffee geek link (2nd one) is the one I was mostly going by.
    Quote Originally Posted by coffeecake View Post
    - it's pretty well established that Hitler was an *******.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    Sounds like too much work for a cup of coffee, but I used to make a mess of my whole kitchen while brewing up a batch of beer.
    I guess if it's for something you like, and it's better than what you can find in your average shop, then it's worth the effort. I'm interested to hear how it turns out.
    As both a homebrewer and coffee roaster, it is hard to go back to the commercial marketplace after you have made your own. Because Ms. MillCreek and I are more into red wine these days, I have stopped homebrewing, since she does not drink beer and I could not finish a 5 gallon batch before things went bad.

    But since we both drink a lot of coffee (espresso, drip and French press), the cost savings, freshness, quality and ease of preparation will keep me roasting my own for a very long time.
    Regards, MillCreek
    Snohomish County, Washington USA

  7. #7
    GATC
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingTermite View Post
    I had decided to roast on Thursday because I don't drink much coffee at home on weekdays as I'm up and off to work quickly, and you have to let the coffee rest (dissipate CO2) for about 12-24 hours after roasting before using.
    Really? So those 19th C literary allusions to roasting beans on the campfire and then brewing away are... steering toward the suboptimal? live and learn...

  8. #8
    GATC
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    ps-> so what is the price of green beans?

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    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MillCreek View Post
    But since we both drink a lot of coffee (espresso, drip and French press), the cost savings, freshness, quality and ease of preparation will keep me roasting my own for a very long time.
    And considering the "roaster" investment was only $13....overall, it should save some decent money when I get get "good coffee beans" in the $5/lb range.
    Quote Originally Posted by coffeecake View Post
    - it's pretty well established that Hitler was an *******.

  10. #10
    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg View Post
    ps-> so what is the price of green beans?
    Here is a product list from Sweet Marias, where I bought mine.
    http://www.sweetmarias.com/prod.greencoffee.mvc.php

    Overall, you can get good beans for roughly $4-6/lb. The beans that would probably cost you twice that (or more) to buy roasted and a month old.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg View Post
    Really? So those 19th C literary allusions to roasting beans on the campfire and then brewing away are... steering toward the suboptimal? live and learn...

    Yes. Generally speaking, fresh roasted coffee tastes best if allowed to rest for 24-48 hours after roasting. As a general rule of thumb, green coffee beans cost approximately half the cost of the same beans roasted. For the type of green coffee buying that I do, through a co-op, I am generally paying about $ 3-4 per pound delivered, but I am buying beans by the 10-15 pound batch. Most of the commercial green coffee vendors are somewhat more than this.
    Regards, MillCreek
    Snohomish County, Washington USA

  12. #12
    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    Sounds like too much work for a cup of coffee, but I used to make a mess of my whole kitchen while brewing up a batch of beer.
    I guess if it's for something you like, and it's better than what you can find in your average shop, then it's worth the effort. I'm interested to hear how it turns out.
    To each their own. You've been around me enough to know how little (never) I drink beer and how crazy I am about my coffee.
    Quote Originally Posted by coffeecake View Post
    - it's pretty well established that Hitler was an *******.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingTermite View Post
    Here is a product list from Sweet Marias, where I bought mine.
    http://www.sweetmarias.com/prod.greencoffee.mvc.php

    Overall, you can get good beans for roughly $4-6/lb. The beans that would probably cost you twice that (or more) to buy roasted and a month old.
    Hmm... Yemen ~$6-8, Ethiopia ~$6, that is about half. And Yemen is only patchily available at the place I hit here.

    Definitely something to think about.

    I wonder if you can get Haitian coffee green. Can't get it roasted, really, either, but when I could get it, it was my fave. Been a lot of years now.

  14. #14
    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg View Post
    Hmm... Yemen ~$6-8, Ethiopia ~$6, that is about half. And Yemen is only patchily available at the place I hit here.

    Definitely something to think about.

    I wonder if you can get Haitian coffee green. Can't get it roasted, really, either, but when I could get it, it was my fave. Been a lot of years now.
    I remember you talking about the Haitian one before. If you come across it, link me to it so I can try it too.
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  15. #15
    superArti artifice's Avatar
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    KT, sounds like you are well on your way to some delicious coffee! Plus, roasting lightly, and drinking the coffee shortly after roasting (couple days) is the best way to maximize the caffeine output of the bean

    I am curious, though if it matters if the bean is roasted quickly (at a high temp) or not, so long as you harvest it from the roaster at the desired pop. I've only used a pro-grade roaster, which took quite awhile.
    Last edited by artifice; 04-17-09 at 12:55 PM.
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    The Haitian Bleu coffee is very hard to come by right now due to hurricane damage to the very small growing region. Last time I checked, only a few vendors in the US had it, and I think all of them are either sold out or do not know if they can get any of the 2009 crop. I once tried some pre-roasted: it seemed a fairly typical Caribbean coffee, and as such we were not especially fond of it. We tend to like the fuller-bodied coffees.
    Last edited by MillCreek; 04-17-09 at 01:10 PM.
    Regards, MillCreek
    Snohomish County, Washington USA

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    Quote Originally Posted by artifice View Post
    KT, sounds like you are well on your way to some delicious coffee! Plus, roasting lightly, and drinking the coffee shortly after roasting (couple days) is the best way to maximize the caffeine output of the bean

    I am curious, though if it matters if the bean is roasted quickly (at a high temp) or not, so long as you harvest it from the roaster at the desired pop. I've only used a pro-grade roaster, which took quite awhile.
    Time does matter depending on your tastes. A very fast roast even to first crack can lead to a bright flavor, which some people like. There is also the risk that the outside can be roasted, but the inside is not.

    Over the years I have learned that our tastes tend more towards the slower roasted coffees. This means that I use a drum roaster, heatgun/dogbowl or stovetop roasting. I can tell a perceptible taste difference between a fast and slow roast coffee.
    Last edited by MillCreek; 04-17-09 at 01:02 PM.
    Regards, MillCreek
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  18. #18
    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MillCreek View Post
    Time does matter depending on your tastes. A very fast roast even to first crack can lead to a bright flavor, which some people like. There is also the risk that the outside can be roasted, but the inside is not.

    Over the years I have learned that our tastes tend more towards the slower roasted coffees. This means that I use a drum roaster, heatgun/dogbowl or stovetop roasting. I can tell a perceptible taste difference between a fast and slow roast coffee.
    My gut feeling when I was roasting that a slow roast would be better. It was my fear that it may not be fully roasted on the inside.
    Quote Originally Posted by coffeecake View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingTermite View Post
    My gut feeling when I was roasting that a slow roast would be better. It was my fear that it may not be fully roasted on the inside.
    Crack a few beans in half and eyeball the interior. In my experience, under-roasting most frequently occurs in stovetop pan roasting, when people are mistakenly trying to sear the beans or are not stirring them enough. In this scenario, you can easily end up with a scorched exterior and an almost raw interior. I suspect that your beans have roasted all the way through.
    Regards, MillCreek
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  20. #20
    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MillCreek View Post
    Crack a few beans in half and eyeball the interior. In my experience, under-roasting most frequently occurs in stovetop pan roasting, when people are mistakenly trying to sear the beans or are not stirring them enough. In this scenario, you can easily end up with a scorched exterior and an almost raw interior. I suspect that your beans have roasted all the way through.
    That's a good idea. I figured I'd know by the color after I grind them, but cutting one or two through middle would be a much better way to determine.
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  21. #21
    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    So I did the taste test today and it was pretty damn good. It definitely had a better 'crema' then usual. There may have been some of that 'bright' flavor, but overall it was very good. I was definitely impressed with the flavor.

    OK...here are pics. Let me know what you think of the roast quality MillCreek.



    Here is one bean cut in half to see the inside (looks roasted through to me).
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  22. #22
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    That looks pretty darn good. A Full City plus roast, by appearance. There may be some uneveness in the roast or it may just be a function of the lighting. You might want to think about using a long slender tool to stir the beans a bit during the initial stages of roasting if indeed the roast here looks uneven to you. Until the beans start to heat up and expand, the popper fan may not be evenly swirling the beans around.

    From the cracked bean, you obviously achieved roasting all the way through. I suspect the flavor will continue to improve over the next couple of days. This looks like an excellent first attempt to me.
    Regards, MillCreek
    Snohomish County, Washington USA

  23. #23
    fishologist cohophysh's Avatar
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    I hate you guys, now I want a good cup of coffee to end the evening.....
    We cannot solve problems with the same level of consciousness that created them. A.E.

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  24. #24
    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    Thanks for the compliment. Full City is what I was aiming for. It looks a tad uneven, but not too bad. I did use a chopstick to help stir them in beginning. It seemed obvious as they weren't turning much in the beginning.

    As I said, I was quite happy with the taste, so hopefully I'm on the right track. I was just a bit worried about that short roasting time compared to every tutorial I read.

    It's nice to have confirmation that it looks good.

    Quote Originally Posted by MillCreek View Post
    That looks pretty darn good. A Full City plus roast, by appearance. There may be some uneveness in the roast or it may just be a function of the lighting. You might want to think about using a long slender tool to stir the beans a bit during the initial stages of roasting if indeed the roast here looks uneven to you. Until the beans start to heat up and expand, the popper fan may not be evenly swirling the beans around.

    From the cracked bean, you obviously achieved roasting all the way through. I suspect the flavor will continue to improve over the next couple of days. This looks like an excellent first attempt to me.
    Quote Originally Posted by coffeecake View Post
    - it's pretty well established that Hitler was an *******.

  25. #25
    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cohophysh View Post
    I hate you guys, now I want a good cup of coffee to end the evening.....
    It was so good I made two pots (french press pots = 2 mugs). Hope (wife) had one mug and I had three.
    Quote Originally Posted by coffeecake View Post
    - it's pretty well established that Hitler was an *******.

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