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What modifications should I be looking to make to an air popper.
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MikeSD
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Joined: 10 Jan 2013
Posts: 53
Location: Florida
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: De'Longhi EC155
Grinder: Hario Skerton, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Yama Stovetop 8 Cup
Drip: Hario Pourover
Roaster: Homemade SC/CO
Posted Wed Jan 16, 2013, 3:45pm
Subject: What modifications should I be looking to make to an air popper.
 

Okay so I just ordered the sampler pack from Sweet Maria's.  I am going to pick up a (hopefully used) air popper this weekend.  I figure for a while I will use as is and try to learn, but from what I understand I will want to mod it at some point.  The following are some that I've heard of and would like opinions on which you guys thing are the best:

1) An on/off switch on the heater.  This way you can turn the heat off while the fan is going so the beans can cool.  This also can be used to extend first crack from what I understand.

2) Dimmer type device on the heater which obviously gives more control than a switch.  I'm not exactly sure why I might want to turn the temp down but not off.  Please let me know.

3) A chimney looking thing.  I assume this is to keep the heat (and beans) in while allowing you to see the beans.

Also, I was wondering if anyone had found a way to do this elegantly.  Usually I see a popper with a rather clunky looking switch box.  I'm wondering if there isn't a way to put the switched on the casing itself so it would all be one unit.

Any suggests would be much appreciated.  Thanks in advance.
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Prof
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Prof
Joined: 10 Sep 2004
Posts: 715
Location: Seattle
Expertise: Pro Roaster

Espresso: PV Lusso
Grinder: Pharos 696
Drip: Aeropress
Roaster: Behmor 1600+
Posted Wed Jan 16, 2013, 7:58pm
Subject: Re: What modifications should I be looking to make to an air popper.
 

MikeSD Said:

Okay so I just ordered the sampler pack from Sweet Maria's.  I am going to pick up a (hopefully used) air popper this weekend.  I figure for a while I will use as is and try to learn, but from what I understand I will want to mod it at some point.  The following are some that I've heard of and would like opinions on which you guys thing are the best:

1) An on/off switch on the heater.  This way you can turn the heat off while the fan is going so the beans can cool.  This also can be used to extend first crack from what I understand.

2) Dimmer type device on the heater which obviously gives more control than a switch.  I'm not exactly sure why I might want to turn the temp down but not off.  Please let me know.

3) A chimney looking thing.  I assume this is to keep the heat (and beans) in while allowing you to see the beans.

Also, I was wondering if anyone had found a way to do this elegantly.  Usually I see a popper with a rather clunky looking switch box.  I'm wondering if there isn't a way to put the switched on the casing itself so it would all be one unit.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated.  Thanks in advance.

Posted January 16, 2013 link

1) I never did a switch mod.  
2) Variacs do a nice job of controlling things.  I didn't alter any wires, so lower voltage meant lower temperature and fan.  That worked fine for me.
3) I cut the end off of a soup can, and partially cut the other side to act like a lid if needed.  Pinch the can with tin snips and push it over the chamber.  Since the poppers are usually but steps in the home roasting game, most people learn about roasting and then jump to a TO/SC, Gene, Behmor, Hottop, etc.

Frequent the thrift stores in your area on a 2 times a week basis until you find the popper that you need.  Heck, you might find a turbo oven for your "next" roaster.  :)

 
LMWDP # 010
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dyqik
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Joined: 7 Oct 2011
Posts: 383
Location: Cambridge, MA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera BZ07 PM
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Vac Pot: Cona D
Drip: Bona-Vita, CCD, Aeropress.
Roaster: Gene Cafe, Modded Poppers
Posted Thu Jan 17, 2013, 10:47am
Subject: Re: What modifications should I be looking to make to an air popper.
 

A dimmer lets you control the rate of temperature rise so you can profile the roast - extending the drying time as the beans yellow and the time between first crack and second.   You can achieve the same thing by rapidly switching the heater on and off (PWM) with a switch, but it's a much more hands-on and hit and miss affair. By operating just on the heater you can also switch off the heater to cool rapidly in the popper.  Cooling fast is an important factor in getting a good roast.

A chimney is only required if your popper doesn't get hot enough by itself.
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Lee_M
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Lee_M
Joined: 2 Dec 2012
Posts: 51
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I live coffee

Grinder: Baratza Encore
Drip: V60
Roaster: Popper
Posted Thu Jan 17, 2013, 9:25pm
Subject: Re: What modifications should I be looking to make to an air popper.
 

If you have the same model I do (West Bend Air Crazy), the first mod you'll want to make is to bypass the thermostat, which tends to turn the heater off before you want it to. If you're going to do that, you might as well re-route the switch to the heater, since it's not any more effort. To do this, disconnect the wires that are attached to the thermostat and plug them into the switch, then splice together the wires that were plugged into the switch originally (heat shrink tubing works well for this purpose; don't use solder). This way the fan will turn on when you plug the popper in, and the switch controls the heater.

At this point, I'm considering adding a dimmer to the heater in order to gain more control over my roast profile, but I haven't done it yet.
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SteveFreides
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Joined: 9 Jun 2012
Posts: 21
Location: Ridgewood, NJ
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Syncrony
Drip: No Drip - French Press
Roaster: Poppery II
Posted Tue Jan 22, 2013, 2:55am
Subject: Re: What modifications should I be looking to make to an air popper.
 

I keep reading about a "chimney" - could someone please explain further as to what and why?  I've been roasting with a Poppery II for a while now (six months?) and am very happy with the results.  No modifications to the device at all.

I did recently order a Variac because I noticed a big difference in my roasting times and think it's due to line voltage, but in general, when the voltage is high, we get a fairly quick roast, usually about 7 or 8 minutes, and I confess to being a bit overwhelmed with things like turning off the roaster and stirring after the first crack starts - just letting the thing run has been fine for us.  We just stop our roasts when the coffee looks about the right degree of doneness which, for us, is usually after the first few beans have become oily on the outside and the roast is somewhere in the second crack overall.

The Variac hasn't arrived yet.

We roast two kinds of coffee here, both usually purchased from CoffeeBeanDirect - their Six Bean Espresso and their Sumatra Mandheling.  We roast separately and combine to get our preferred blend which we drink as French Press and as espresso.

Advice about the chimney thing and also more information about what difference we might expect in our coffee if we pay as much attention to the roasting details as some folks here do - I tend to just start the thing and walk away, and come back around the time I expect it to be done, and the coffee is fantastic.  

Thanks.

-S-
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MikeSD
Senior Member


Joined: 10 Jan 2013
Posts: 53
Location: Florida
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: De'Longhi EC155
Grinder: Hario Skerton, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Yama Stovetop 8 Cup
Drip: Hario Pourover
Roaster: Homemade SC/CO
Posted Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:39am
Subject: Re: What modifications should I be looking to make to an air popper.
 

SteveFreides Said:

I keep reading about a "chimney" - could someone please explain further as to what and why?  I've been roasting with a Poppery II for a while now (six months?) and am very happy with the results.  No modifications to the device at all.

I did recently order a Variac because I noticed a big difference in my roasting times and think it's due to line voltage, but in general, when the voltage is high, we get a fairly quick roast, usually about 7 or 8 minutes, and I confess to being a bit overwhelmed with things like turning off the roaster and stirring after the first crack starts - just letting the thing run has been fine for us.  We just stop our roasts when the coffee looks about the right degree of doneness which, for us, is usually after the first few beans have become oily on the outside and the roast is somewhere in the second crack overall.

The Variac hasn't arrived yet.

We roast two kinds of coffee here, both usually purchased from CoffeeBeanDirect - their Six Bean Espresso and their Sumatra Mandheling.  We roast separately and combine to get our preferred blend which we drink as French Press and as espresso.

Advice about the chimney thing and also more information about what difference we might expect in our coffee if we pay as much attention to the roasting details as some folks here do - I tend to just start the thing and walk away, and come back around the time I expect it to be done, and the coffee is fantastic.  

Thanks.

-S-

Posted January 22, 2013 link

I've not yet begun to roast beans so (my first batch is coming tomorrow), but from what I understand the chimney is used for two things.  1) heat retention. I guess a lot of heat is lost out of the top and so to maintain the temp you can use a chimney.  2) To keep your beans in.  Depending on the amount you're roasting as they expand apparently the beans can jump out of the popper.  I'd say if you're satisfied with the results just keep doing what you're doing.  If it ain't broke don't fix it.

On another note, I modded my Air Crazy so that the switch turns the heater on and off.  It was extremely easy. I detached the wires going to the switch and connected them together using electrical tape, then detached the wires going to the the thermostat and connected them to the switch.  It was so easy, it is like the manufacturer knows people are going to do it.  I wonder if coffee roasting has had a noticable effect on air popper sales.
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CapnJimbo
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Mar 2013
Posts: 20
Location: South Florida
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Dec 27, 2013, 10:07am
Subject: Re: What modifications should I be looking to make to an air popper.
 

The following is just a personal opinion.   Yours may be different, and probably right, lol...



It's good that you're thinking ahead, but until you have a goodly amount of experience with an ordinary popper - side slots, thermostat disabled - it is way too soon to spend serious money trying to mod.    A $3 garage style popper (like mine) has produced a couple hundred, good and tasty roasts.   Until you can run an ordinary popper consistently to your desired roast levels, you are not ready.  You need to develop your own senses and to learn the abilities and limitations of an ordinary popper before you start changing things.

You need a baseline of experience.

Once you have say a hundred consistent roasts under your belt, with many different kinds of beans, THEN is the time to do mod's to the poppers that are made for it:  the Poppery/Pumpers.   These are powerful, fast HOT roasting machines that actually must be modified so that they don't over roast.  

First you must pay your dues, and honestly - once you can run a simple and ordinary popper conisistently and well, you may decide why bother spending $150, when your $3 special already makes great coffee to your satisfaction.   Now go buy a 5 lb. bag of Columbian and have at it.   Roast to all levels, try em all.   Burn a few batches on purpose.  Experiment.   Learn to alter loads and times.  And remember you can buy 50 used poppers for the price of one used and modded P1.
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