GreatScot Senior Member Joined: 17 Oct 2009 Posts: 12 Location: Montreal, Canada Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: Rancilio Silvia Grinder: KyM knee from OE
Posted Thu Dec 24, 2009, 12:35pm Subject: Re: Roasting coffee with a popcorn popper
After roasting with a hot air popper for about a month and a half, here's my take:
Sub zero environmental temperatures are no barrier to hot-air popping outside... I've roasted out on the front porch during a blinding blizzard (sheltered from the snow) and in -20 degree Celsius (-4 deg F) weather.
I'd even say that the cold weather is a boon to hot-air popper roasters, since you can control the temperature of your roasting much more when using the "cardboard box" method. Appropriately, my Rancilio Silvia box is exactly the right size to house the popper. Close down a couple of the top flaps and the temps shoot up, open them out completely and they rise much more slowly or even stabilize.
I don't bother even attempting to collect the chaff, I just make sure that there's a net covering the intakes of the popper's base. What I had lying around and seems to work well is a wad of extra fine steel wool.
The only mod I've done is the hole drilled in the butter tray for the thermometer. It's melting downwards, but in any case it's only for ballpark measuring anyway... the only dial thermometer I could find locally only goes up to 400F. First crack starts just about the 400 degree mark, and then it's usually about done once the dial is even with the "F" at the bottom of the dial face. This gives me a medium dark roast.
The coffees I've tried are great, and sometimes produce so much crema that it doesn't pour from the porta filter spouts, it pretty well shoots out under pressure. I'm not sure if that's a good thing... but it's impressive, nonetheless.
It took a little over half an hour last night to roast about 1/2 a pound (225g) roasted... I can see where upgrading to a much larger capacity would be seductive. Shelling out $400 US for a Behmor isn't an option right now, and I can't see myself upgrading to anything less. From everything I've read the fluid-bed roasters generally don't have much larger capacity than hot-air poppers or phenomenally better smoke handling abilities.
I'd like to extend my thanks to coffeegeek.com and home-barista.com for putting the idea in my head that this might be a feasible option for fresh roasted coffee. I spend a few extra pennies on electricity and save $$$'s by not driving downtown on a weekly basis to buy coffee... a couple of kilos of green will keep me going for a long, long time.
chef_t Senior Member Joined: 28 Aug 2010 Posts: 1 Location: Wisconsin Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Sat Aug 28, 2010, 7:15am Subject: Re: Roasting coffee with a popcorn popper
Just roasted my first batch of beans ever and your instructions worked perfectly! Thank you so much, I feel like a real first-time pro. The fresh roasted beans tasteso intriguing so I can't wait to brew a cup. Looking forward to many new green bean discoveries. Thanks again!
Crow Senior Member Joined: 18 Dec 2008 Posts: 50 Location: Reno, Nevada Expertise: Just starting
Grinder: Zass Havanna Vac Pot: Cona Old no. 2 Roaster: Poppery II
Posted Wed Sep 22, 2010, 5:32pm Subject: Re: Roasting coffee with a popcorn popper
There is one statement which seems strange in the original review: "Oh and chaff. It's going to get everywhere! :) ".
I have been roasting 2 years with a Poppery II. When I roast (indoors) not a single solitary peice of chaff will fly around the room, it all stays in the pan beneath the chute. Because that pan is half full of water. Chaff hits the water, grabbed and held by adhesion, and isn't going anywhere after that. No dedicated coffee roaster handles the chaff problem anywhere near as well.
For 100% effectiveness I use a really large pan, namely the kitchen sink! Afterwards just pull the drainplug, pick up the faucet sprayer nozzle and drive the chaffy mess down the disposal. This is exactly the method described by the "Sweet Marias" website owner in their section on how they first began roasting with a popper, by exhausting directly into the kitchen sink.
Safety: I have the popper velcroed onto a large board (1 foot by 3 foot), so there is zero danger of it falling into the sink: which is a deadly electrocution situation. Others may sacrifice some efficiency and just use a pan of water instead of the sink. Pan size being selected to that the popper is too big to fall inside it, and also the pan elevated so gravity prevents the popper falling in. That method probably will not grab 100% of the chaff, but there is no long board to store away. But it will certainly be neater than exausting into a dry pan or no pan.
I don't have problem with beans coming out, the fan is on a rheostat to slow it slightly. I don't have a smoke problem: as someone wrote above, smoking starts half a minute after the 2nd crack. By using lighter roasts there is no smoke.
Indoors always, why go outside?
EDIT: The velcroe is the industrial strength stuff and it completely covers the popper bottom. It takes half of all the strength I have to pull the popper off the board. An earthquake couldn't tipple the popper into the sink.
CapnJimbo Junior Member Joined: 30 Mar 2013 Posts: 1 Location: South Florida Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Sat Mar 30, 2013, 9:54am Subject: Re: Roasting coffee with a popcorn popper
A couple of thoughts...
First, this should be a very inexpensive purchase. A used popper is great (as long as it use slots on the side to direct the air), and is over 1000 watts. You can find these at garage sale, and/or thrift stores for $3 or $4.
Second, forget the thermometor, especially as mounted through the cup as shown. The beans need to rotate and keep moving, and the thermometer as shown is counterproductive, inhibits rotation, can cause burning of non-moving beans.
Third, as far as the overheating problem goes (a thermostat will stop the roast), this is easily corrected as there are two things you need to do at some point:
A couple of screws and you can easy take the popper apart. Hint: the switch will pry out with a screwdriver, the cord clamp can be squeezed with a pliers and pullled out. Easier done than described. Now you can pull out the assembly and remove the cup - use a flat bladed screwdriver from the outside of the cup to pry the slots just a bit more open - doesn't have to be much, this will allow better air flow into the cup.
Second you will find a thermostat - mine was a little "puck" strapped to the side of the cup - simply remove the strap, clip the wires (and reattach with a wire nut), push the wires down so they won't touch the hot cup when it's running. The other type of thermostat looks like a strip of metal with a contact inside. In either case the thermostat has two wires connected to it - just remove, clip and reattach them to remove the thermostat from the circuit.
Now you have good airflow and no thermostat to stop the roast - perfect! BTW, you really don't need the cover unless you are roasting inside - not recommended as the air popper blows a lot of air and some chaff will be blown around the room. Not to mention the cheepo plastic cover will - I repeat - will deform from the heat. You don't need a cover - just roast outside with an extension cord - no worries.
Last piece of advice: lots of the videos tell you to add coffee until it barely rorates. This will limit you to maybe 1/3 cup. Trust me, you can probably get a full half cup in - just start the popper and add the beans pass the point of rotation, but still with a little "tumbling". Forget the cover. For the first 20 seconds, just use the handle of the cup measure to occasionally give a single stir to the beans every 5 seconds or so. Within 20 seconds or less the beans will lose water weight and begin rotating on their own.
Believe me you will get a better, more predictable roast this way, with first crack around 4 minutes, second around 6 or 7, and a full half cup to boot. BTW my cheepo but very effective popper was $3.99 at the thrift store. Please, please don't waste your money on a new one, or heaven forbid on the vaunted West Bend Poppery!
johnnewby Junior Member Joined: 27 Apr 2013 Posts: 1 Location: oregon Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Sat Apr 27, 2013, 9:03pm Subject: Re: Roasting coffee with a popcorn popper
I can't wait to try out home roasting. I have seen a few different videos about this method, and I am extremely intrigued. The ability to roast my own coffee with an air popper would be a lot of fun. I know that some people who did home roasting had issues with the heat generated. Is there an easy way to avoid these issues? Obviously, the thermostat would help, but I am curious about any other methods.
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