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First Roast with Presto Poplite - Success!
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Senior Member

Joined: 5 Feb 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Mississippi
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Feb 16, 2013, 12:47pm
Subject: First Roast with Presto Poplite - Success!

So I picked up a poplite from the thrift store for five dollars on impulse. When I got home, I read about it being unsuited to roasting because of the excessive heat (and the bottom-vent design being dangerous which I pretty much dismiss). I decided to try and cool it down while I waited for my beans to come in the mail. I removed all of the plastic assembly, leaving only the metal sleeve which I then drilled holes through and screwed into the metal base (to avoid spilling beans everywhere if the sleeve was to fall off). I added a kerosene lamp chimney to keep the beans in. I used a 50 ft extension cord + another 15 ft and a power strip with an on/off switch so I could feather it to slow the roast after first crack.

The beans came in two days ago (Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Kochere and Kenyan Nyeri AB Gatomboya), and I roasted the entire pound of ethiopian and about half of the kenyan yesterday morning/afternoon. I used the popper, agitating most of the time with a wooden spoon, and I roasted 1/4-1/3 cup at a time. I reached first crack pretty consistently around 5 minutes 45 seconds, then let the roast continue until about 1 minute 30 seconds after the last of first crack was heard. All of my roasts finished at 8-10 minutes (it was about 40 degrees F outside, so I think this helped me stretch out the roast a bit). To cool, I dumped the beans into a mesh drum and shook it around in front of a large turbine fan. I later discovered that letting the beans settle in the bottom of the drum and then placing the drum over the intake of the turbine allowed me to cool with suction, and the beans were cool to the touch within 5-8 seconds. I got somewhere between city + and full city, and one thing to note is the roasts came out VERY consistently considering 1) I'm using a popper, and 2) I'm filling a single jar with 5-6 separate roasts. All of the roasts are surprisingly uniform.

I know it's a bit early, but I brewed some of each this morning, and both coffees were completely incredible. Actually the kenyan was the best coffee I've ever had (barring MAYBE a kenyan I had at intelligentsia). One thing I noticed is that the kenyan greens were darker before roasting; also, the kenyan BEANS looked darker than the ethiopians, but after GRINDING, the ethiopian grounds were visibly a good bit darker, so I think the ethiopian was a bit of a darker roast. The flavor was still very fruity, moreso as it cooled down, but it had lots of nice cacoa and caramel undertones (roasty flavors?) no matter the temperature. The kenyan was absolutely bright and fruity, absolutely no bitter flavor, no sourness, no grassiness. What I would consider my ideal cup of coffee. Lots of dark fruits and appley flavors come out more as it cools. I can't wait to see how these coffees to develop over the next few days.

Anyway, I just wanted to share my success and let everyone know that the poplite is a completely viable roaster if light mods are done. I'm saving up for a turbo oven to go with my presto stirring popper so I can do up to 1 lb batches, but in the meantime, the poplite is great for small batches.

Click Here (s1325.beta.photobucket.com)  (sorry about the link, the photos are much too large to attach)
1) the modified poplite
2) kenyan
3) ethiopian
4) very first ethiopian roast in the cooling drum
5) jarred coffees
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Senior Member

Joined: 26 Apr 2009
Posts: 759
Location: Eatonville, Wa
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Wega Lyra, Europiccola(still...
Grinder: Macap M7D, Pharos, Vario W,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam CoffeeMaster
Drip: Melita BCM-4
Roaster: FR SR500,B-1600, SC/TO
Posted Sun Feb 17, 2013, 2:51pm
Subject: Re: First Roast with Presto Poplite - Success!

Congrats on your success! I find it very satisfying to enjoy a really good cup of coffee that I roasted myself. The money saved is a nice plus to :)
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