Monday, July 15, 2013

Coffee roasting By special request!

The first batch I roasted, I used this covered pot on the gas stove. When the smoke and flying chaff got too bad, my wife kicked me out of the house. The first batch was under roasted and the caffeine content on a trail cup had me climbing the walls. After this, I did it outside on the barbecue grill. This worked pretty well, but required a more or less constant shaking of the pan to get as even a roast a possible. Because it was somewhat uneven, the first crack was hard to distinguish from the second and left me a bit uncertain when to stop. Nonetheless, it made for a good cup of coffee. It wasn't stale like just about all the coffee sold in the stores. Some people use a type of popcorn popper to roast coffee, but that kind of lacks the snob appeal that a real coffee roaster aims for.

Because this was a lot of work to do every week especially when it was windy, my wife picked out the perfect birthday gift. A Behmor 1600.  A bit expensive, but buying the best coffee grown for about $6.00/lb and always having fresh roasted coffee is making it a great deal. This has several programmable settings for different roasts, and is (semi) smokeless. It is necessary to weigh the exact amount of coffee for the program you use, as even one ounce over or under will change the results. There are two stages at the end of the roasting process that tell you when it is done. The first is aptly named the first crack. The roasting coffee will at this point start to make a leisurely popping sound. Roughly 60 to 90 seconds later the sound will change and increase in intensity which is the fabled "second crack". This is when you stop and cool down the beans. Too long after the second crack will result in either (A). a fire, or (B) burned beans similar to "Char"bucks.
I buy my green beans from a local  place that imports it by the ton. Luckily for me, they will also sell retail.
I bought my roaster from them.
 The container the coffee goes into is like a squirrel cage  that rotates and has fins that keep the beans stirred up.
 It is like a convection oven inside, with quartz heaters in the back and a fan that circulates the air.

 Below is a clever trap for the chaff which helps keep the whole thing from catching fire and burning the house down. I say helps, because there are repeated warnings in the manual not to let it out of your sight when roasting. About a 20 minute process.

 Green unroasted beans.
 Above, you can see the little timer that I use in order to walk away from the roaster and return before the critical "almost ready to catch fire", second crack.
The flea market find coffee grinder I've had for 30 years or more.


  1. I see you are right into the science of coffee. I am far too lazy and am satisfied with a spoon full of instant coffee in a cup of boiling water. But yours sounds more interesting.

  2. Very interesting. I think I will skip the flying chaff and smoke burn the house down roast and start with the covered pan on the grill.

    1. Maybe use a light pan as it needs to be agitated a lot. Mine was heavy. It got old. You'll still have the smoke & chaff. Some beans will be over roasted, some under as it will be hard to stir them up enough to get an even roast. I was happy with the flavor, just got tired of the routine.

  3. Will try the light pan, maybe pick up a used one at SallyAnn to keep domestic peace. Wonder about those old stove top popcorn poppers where you turned the handle to keep the load agitated. Won't get to it til weekend, keeping long hours.

    1. Also: They should sit for a day after roasting & will outgas CO2. That's why the bags they sell roasted coffee in (like Eight O' Clock coffee)have a little one way valve on them.

  4. Info on poppers:
    They used to make stove top coffee roasters that had a crank on top. They show up on ebay sometimes, but are costly & snapped up by the purists for whom price is no object.
    Cool beans asap when done as they will continue to cook while hot.