Netphilosopher Senior Member Joined: 14 Jan 2011 Posts: 1,602 Location: USA Expertise: Just starting
Posted Thu Mar 29, 2012, 4:40am Subject: Home Coffee Roasting Safety
Public service announcement worth repeating:
1) Get a fire extinguisher. Even if you never roasted coffee, a fire extinguisher is the best insurance you can buy for less than 20 bucks. If youíre a coffee roaster, it may just be your best friend. Choose a fire extinguisher intended for kitchen or garage useÖ more specifically, a dry chemical model thatís rated for oil, electrical and wood fires.
2) Mount that extinguisher near your roaster. Note that I donít say *above* your roaster, but *near* it. Youíll want to be able to grab that extinguisher without having to reach over a burning roaster. Better still, get two, and place one near, and one on the other side of the room. (While Iím not exactly paranoid, I have three extinguishers strategically located in my garage where I do most of my roasting.)
3) Never leave your coffee roasting unattended. Never ó ever! ó walk away with a roast in progress. Iíll admit itÖ I used to have a laissez faire attitude toward roasting. Iíd start a roast and wander off to do other things for 10 or 15 minutes while the roast progressed. I got an attitude adjustment one day when roasting a batch of Yemen coffee ó a batch that had some odd-sized and curiously-shaped beans ó some of which wedged between the seams and completely jammed up the drum in my roaster. I was lucky. I was just the other side of the garage when I heard the jam occur. If I hadnít been on the scene it may have been only a matter of moments before those beans ó no longer happily tumbling ó burst into flame.
4) A clean roaster is a happy roaster. Not only does a clean coffee roaster do itís job more efficiently, itís also far, far safer. No matter what kind of roaster you have, regularly clean-up the chaff ó the papery skin thatís released by roasting coffee beans. I clean chaff from my roaster between each and every roast. Bonus tip: Donít vacuum chaff out of a hot roaster! Smoldering bits of chaff that would probably be of no consequence at all left in your roaster until it cools could ignite in dramatic fashion should you fuel them with a lot of wind. While your roaster can probably take the heat, chances are your shop-vac wonít.
5) Donít disable your home smoke-alarm just because your coffee roasting sets it off. Get better ventilation, roast outdoors, or just learn to enjoy the occasional test of your smoke alarm. That way you can rest assured itíll be there if you need it.
Posted Thu Mar 29, 2012, 9:40am Subject: Re: Home Coffee Roasting Safety
Good post. Being a firefighter AND a home coffee roaster has led me to take a cautious approach. These tips are essential, and you will thank Net if you ever have a roast burst into flames. Especially those (including me) who use a popper should pay close attention to these tips. A modified popcorn popper reaches coffee roasting temps quickly, and can over heat and cause a fire very easily. Do yourself and your family a favor, roast outdoors!
Posted Thu Mar 29, 2012, 10:08am Subject: Re: Home Coffee Roasting Safety
Tip #2: It should be added that the fire extinguisher should be located near the exit (of the room or of the structure). You always want to be fighting a fire with yourself located between the fire and the exit so that an escape route is readily available.
FIRE ----------------- YOU ----------------------- Fire extinguisher -- EXIT
Many local fire departments have classes or are glad to give instruction on proper use of a fire extinguisher.
Posted Thu Mar 29, 2012, 10:35am Subject: Re: Home Coffee Roasting Safety
Great topic, and tyhanks for posting this. In additoin to being a career engineer, I'm also an industrial safety trainer. Safety is very important to me.
So, I roast at the front of the garage, just inside the door line, with the door open. There is a huge exit path all around me and a fire extinguisher very close at hand if required. The fire extinguisher gets checked regularly, and I look at the tag every weekend to make double dog sure.
In addition to the fire safty, one should be aware of hazards for your eyes (flying chaff, sometimes hot). I usually wear glasses for dumping and cooling the roast. And of course please always remember that roasters have HOT surfaces that will burn you if you touch them.
Box of baking soda works ell from about two or three feet. A fire extinguisher works from ten or fifteen feet. You choose.
The wet towel can work, but you have a burning electrical appliance and you have a wet towel in your hands... Hmmm...
If a person hasn't been trained and isn't experienced in fighting fires, it is quite astounding how panic takes over and bad decisions are made. Even firefighters make bad decisions, but when on scene they are properly protected by gear designed for such eventualities.
The stories I could tell about people doing stupid things with gasoline.. including one trained firefighter! (No, it wasn't me). ;-)
Snaxx Senior Member Joined: 11 Dec 2008 Posts: 174 Location: Northeast Michigan, LP Expertise: I love coffee
Grinder: Capresso Infinity burr Drip: Technivorm Moccamaster Roaster: I Roast2
Posted Thu Mar 29, 2012, 9:54pm Subject: Re: Home Coffee Roasting Safety
Get some Baking Soda and or Wet Bath Towels and Smoother it
Beware of wet towels, water sprayers, wet hands, any form of water molecules contacting hot glass as the thermal shock will do a number on it.
Also, beware of opening the door of a roaster such as the Bemor, to dump baking soda in it, as a large amount of air entering the roaster could cause a flash fire in the roaster and the heat and flames could exit the roaster and engulf your hand, singing your hairs off your hand and stink up your house with a hair fire.
I use a woodstove with glass doors that loads from the top. If I've just recently added wood and it is just smoldering, and I open it up to add more wood, I'll sometimes get an immediate ignition of the gases built up in there which exits the stove quite violently. If I don't have a glove on for hand protection, I'll have one of those hand hair fires. Luckily, gravity shuts that door right away, so it doesn't continue outside the woodstove.
Of course to put out a roaster fire you need to remember to eliminate either heat, fuel or oxygen. Even if you turn off the roaster to stop that heat, there will be heat produced by the burning chaff or beans, and that will become your fuel source for heat. So then you'll need to either quickly get the beans out so your fuel is removed, or cover the roaster with a dry fireproof welding blanket or other suitable cover to starve the fire of oxygen. Perhaps a square galvanized washtub would be a good size and could serve to cover the roaster and eliminate the oxygen leg of the fire triangle.
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