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tonini
Senior Member


Joined: 22 Jan 2013
Posts: 33
Location: GTA, Ontario, Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Silvia V3
Grinder: HG One
Posted Sun Feb 10, 2013, 9:13am
Subject: First Roaster Advice
 

I officially have had my espresso machine and grinder for a short while now. I do not regret this purchase by any means but roasting is catching my interest. I understand you can roast coffee with certain hot air popcorn poppers. I have not been able to find this poppers near me and when I go to purchase online from the United States the shipping is just too much to want to do so. I have looked at different roasters online like the Behmor 1600, Fresh Roast RS 500 I think it's called and Nesco. Which is my best option for starting out? I just would love to make an informed purchase. I don't quite understand everything about roasters. I try to read about them everyday but I just don't quite feel like I understand enough about them to decide which is the best route. Thanks for your help everyone, I love this forum. Prior to really wanting to get in to espresso, I have joined a variety of forums for cars. Not one forum was near as enjoyable as this forum or helpful. The coffee community is incredible!
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beerANDmathematics
Senior Member
beerANDmathematics
Joined: 18 Mar 2012
Posts: 153
Location: NYC
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Sama Export, La Peppina,...
Grinder: OE Pharos+VDD, Lido2,...
Vac Pot: Cona B + CoffeeBoS Brew...
Drip: hario woodneck, kalita wave...
Roaster: popcorn popper but rather...
Posted Mon Feb 18, 2013, 11:22pm
Subject: Re: First Roaster Advice
 

I recommend buying a cheap Hot Air gun from a hardware store (cheap means around 20$), get a dog bowl (google Hot Gun/Dog Bowl). This is a cheap way to start especially if you can't find an air popper. I roast with an Air popper but bought am tired of the small batches (need to do 6 batches on Sundays to last me a week) so will be buying a Hot Air Gun soon.
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Madurodave
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Feb 2012
Posts: 141
Location: NH
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso Preciso
Vac Pot: Yama 5 cup
Drip: Mr Coffee, perculator
Roaster: HotTop B, West Bend Air...
Posted Wed Feb 20, 2013, 9:50am
Subject: Re: First Roaster Advice
 

As far as a popcorn popper, I started out with aWest Bend Air Crazy popper, about $20 or so in the U.S.

If you want to jump right into a machine, perhaps starting with something like the Behmor would be good. I do not know about pricing there, but it is reasonably priced in the U.S. with very happy users for the most part.

I personally use a HotTop, but that comes in around 2.5x the price of a Behmor so it would be a sizable investment.

Good luck!

 
Dave
Harley rider, Espresso drinker, Primo XL grill
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hollyan
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Feb 2013
Posts: 19
Location: Grand Rapids
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Feb 21, 2013, 6:41am
Subject: Re: First Roaster Advice
 

I started out with an air popper, but as I got more into roasting, I found that I was really limited by the bean capacity. I upgraded to the Behmor (1lb capacity), and I've been very happy with it. It depends on your level of commitment. The money's worth it if you know you're going to love it, or if you drink a lot of coffee. But obviously, air poppers are a far more cost-effective option.
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feistygoatcoffee
Senior Member
feistygoatcoffee
Joined: 25 Feb 2013
Posts: 6
Location: Interwebs
Expertise: Pro Roaster

Posted Mon Feb 25, 2013, 2:49pm
Subject: Re: First Roaster Advice
 

I went the Behmor route after roasting with a popcorn popper for a few years. It was an amazing upgrade, and I got a decent laser thermometer and I can verify that the heating elements are still working after 200lbs of coffee and almost 5 years. Plus, if you get the Beemer from Sweet Marias then you get 5# or so of coffee with which to season/ practice on your machine.
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Brewking
Senior Member


Joined: 26 Jan 2010
Posts: 14
Location: London, Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso
Drip: Clever Coffee Dripper
Roaster: Behmor
Posted Thu Feb 28, 2013, 7:42am
Subject: Re: First Roaster Advice
 

Wow, where to begin?  There are so many factors to consider when choosing a roaster, sorting it all out can be a challenge in the beginning.  I will share my experience with you and hopefully the information contained within the story will be of benefit to you.  Full Disclosure: I have been roasting for only about 4 years now, and I am still developing as a home roaster.

My introduction to home roasting of coffee beans came via a friend who had started roasting with a hot air popper.  I had heard of the concept earlier, but I thought one had to have a special roaster and green beans that had to be mail ordered from suppliers etc.  He described how he was using a popcorn popper and roasting beans that he obtained from a local pro roaster.  Literally,  that night when I got home from the winetasting, I went down stairs and dug out the popcorn popper that I hadnít used in 10 years and brought it upstairs for a cleaning.  The next day I stopped by the local roaster and picked up a few pounds of greens and I was off.   The experience was well worth it.  I was hooked.

Two major limitations of a popcorn popper soon became apparent.  
  1. Limited batch size
  2. Under developed flavour profile.

As you can imagine, the volume of coffee that can be roasted in a popcorn popper is extremely limited.  If I recall my batch size was about half a cup of green beans.  This amounts to about 3 ounces of green coffee or about 90 grams.  After roasting, the result is even less due to moisture loss during the roast.
 
The other major drawback is the quality of the roast.  While it is true that roast times vary from machine to machine,  the beans roast extremely fast on a popcorn popper.  When I started out, I was roasting the half cup in under 6 minutes.  The roasts looked awesome.  Beautiful colour, a little oil.  I was impressed.  But  in the cup the coffee did not taste that great.  Some of it tasted pretty bad in fact.  I couldnít understand why this was.  I then read up on the subject, both on this website and others and realized that among other things, I was only roasting the outside of the bean and not the whole thing.  Using a 100 foot light gauge extension cord, I was able to stretch the roast out to about 8 minutes.  This was a major improvement.  The coffee tasted pretty good compared to what I had started with.  Eventually I came to realize that there was little difference between the different varieties of beans I was roasting.  It all  tasted the same.  Slight differences maybe, but not like what I was reading people with more elaborate setups were experiencing.  The small batch size was also a major drawback.  I had hit the wall so to speak. It was time for an upgrade.

I did a fair bit of research.  I thought the Gene Cafe had all the features I wanted:  adjustable temperature control,  exhaust that can be vented to the outside.   I was all set to order one but both Sweet Mariaís and The Green Beanery in Toronto were back ordered.  Just my luck I thought.  Well, as it turns out, maybe.  

While waiting for more stock to arrive  I plodded on with my little popper.  When picking up beans from my supplier the local pro roaster, I noticed a Behmor sitting up on a shelf.  Whatís that doing there I ask.  I am informed it was going to be for test batches but the results werenít transferring from Behmor to 30 lb Diedrich very well.  Now they used it to roast half pounds of Kopi Luwak from time to time.  Can I take it for a spin?  Sure.  As a side note to those who think that things arenít like the olden days, not only did the owner not take a deposit, he didnít even take my name or number. LOL.  I had been buying beans for about 6 months and had had some nice conversations with him but still I was surprisesd.

I enjoyed roasting with it.  I developed a roast profile  I liked.  I started to reconsider my  Gene Cafe decision.   Just when I was to make my final decision, friends of mine who I had introduced to coffee roasting purchased a Gene.  They offered to leave it with me for a week while they went out of town for a marathon.  There they lay, side by side for a roaster show down.  In the end I decided to purchase a Behmor and I do not regret it one bit.   I like to roast by sound and itís a lot easier to hear first and second crack with a Behmor.  The Gene puts out quite a bit of noise.  You can still hear the cracks but you have to really pay attention.  I did not find it easy to do on the Gene.  I also struggled with over-roasting.  I was not seeing far enough ahead is what I understand was happening.  The cooling cycle takes some time to transition.  It does on the Behmor too, but opening the door really helps.   Iím sure with time, I would have figured out the Gene too, but as it turned out that was not to be.  Please note: this is simply my experience.  My friends are quite happy with their Gene Cafe.

As far as batch size, Iíve settled in on 10 ounces as my standard batch size because I know that with a 1 minute 45 second preheat without the beans in the chamber,  but with the chaff collector in place, I can hit 1st crack about 12 minutes into the roast and complete a roast in 16 to 17 minutes.  I think those are good numbers for a roast cycle.   Note:  I can actually get a full pound to second crack with a 2 minute preheat with the beans in the chamber, but Iím not so fond of the results as I am with my 10 ounce charge.  

Iíve actually been stopping the roast a little earlier lately because I find the flavour profile to be better when I end the roast before 2nd crack.  That has taken me some time to grasp, even though this concept is well documented in many places on the web.  Thatís not to say all the folks who like a darker roast are wrong.   My palate has been evolving I guess.

I roast in my garage and have a shop vac handy for easy cleanup.  Smoke is not a problem for me.  I have roasted inside from time to time and the house smells like coffee roasting for about a day but I did not set off my smoke alarm.  I roasted in my Behmor on my Ceran stovetop and had my venthood on maximum.  

One reason I decided to respond to your post is that I see that you live in Toronto, Ontario. I live in London, Ontario.  I decided to get mine from Sweet Marias and have it shipped to the UPS Store in Port Huron, which is at the border at Sarnia, Ontario  Itís a one hour drive to Sarnia, and then some time to cross the bridge and what not.  I paid $300 no tax for the roaster and it came with 6 pounds of coffee to get me started (Value: $35) .  I ended up ordering a bunch more coffee as well.  The cost at The Green Beanery right near you was $400 at the time plus HST (13%) and shipping with no beans.  You have a 3 hour drive to the border, so itís not as easy a decision as it was for me.  Youíll have it for years though, so you might take the day and do it.   While youíre at it, you can order 20 pounds of great quality green beans for way less than it would cost at the GB.   Otherwise buy the roaster by itself locally, itís still worth it.  I can give you some leads where to get great beans for a good price too .  

I can walk you through your first roast too if you would like me to.  We can skype or call on the phone.  Private PM can be used to set this up.

Good Luck with your decision.  

Bill
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dspear99ca
Senior Member


Joined: 17 Jan 2013
Posts: 93
Location: BC, Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Coffee
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Thu Feb 28, 2013, 10:18am
Subject: Re: First Roaster Advice
 

Brewking Said:

One reason I decided to respond to your post is that I see that you live in Toronto, Ontario. I live in London, Ontario.  I decided to get mine from Sweet Marias and have it shipped to the UPS Store in Port Huron, which is at the border at Sarnia, Ontario  Itís a one hour drive to Sarnia, and then some time to cross the bridge and what not.  I paid $300 no tax for the roaster and it came with 6 pounds of coffee to get me started (Value: $35) .  I ended up ordering a bunch more coffee as well.  The cost at The Green Beanery right near you was $400 at the time plus HST (13%) and shipping with no beans.  You have a 3 hour drive to the border, so itís not as easy a decision as it was for me.  Youíll have it for years though, so you might take the day and do it.   While youíre at it, you can order 20 pounds of great quality green beans for way less than it would cost at the GB.   Otherwise buy the roaster by itself locally, itís still worth it.  I can give you some leads where to get great beans for a good price too .  

Posted February 28, 2013 link

It sure would be nice if the actual prices of items in Canada reflected the fact that the US-Canada exchange rate has been right around par for the past 5 years.  Just yesterday I noticed an item (a coffee mug, as luck would have it) for sale for $13Cdn or $11USD.  Wazzup?

I just ordered 10# of coffee from Sweet Maria's, and I'll drive to the border (45 min each way) to get it as it cost me $8.90 to ship to Washington State but $46 to ship 40 miles further into Canada, nearly doubling my cost.  SM would ship it NEXT DAY AIR to WA for $19, or to Canada for $80.  The Green Beanery would have cost me even more.  I can't see that it costs significantly more to ship beans from Kenya to Canada than from Kenya to the U.S., but they cost a helluva' lot more in Canada, why is that?  The most expensive Kenyan coffee at Sweet Maria's is $8.05/lb (AB).  The same AB grade at The Green Beanery is $13.10/lb.  I'm going to lose at least 15% due to water when I roast, that pushes my price per pound to $15.42.  Plus shipping.  Isn't green coffee supposed to be cheaper or, at least on par, with roasted coffee?  I've heard it said that generations of Canadians who grew up with a dollar worth only $0.80US (such as myself) are easy to overcharge as, well, that's the way it's always been for us...
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samsom_tw
Senior Member


Joined: 29 Jan 2013
Posts: 32
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Thu Feb 28, 2013, 8:28pm
Subject: Re: First Roaster Advice
 

dspear99ca Said:

It sure would be nice if the actual prices of items in Canada reflected the fact that the US-Canada exchange rate has been right around par for the past 5 years.  Just yesterday I noticed an item (a coffee mug, as luck would have it) for sale for $13Cdn or $11USD.  Wazzup?

I just ordered 10# of coffee from Sweet Maria's, and I'll drive to the border (45 min each way) to get it as it cost me $8.90 to ship to Washington State but $46 to ship 40 miles further into Canada, nearly doubling my cost.  SM would ship it NEXT DAY AIR to WA for $19, or to Canada for $80.  The Green Beanery would have cost me even more.  I can't see that it costs significantly more to ship beans from Kenya to Canada than from Kenya to the U.S., but they cost a helluva' lot more in Canada, why is that?  The most expensive Kenyan coffee at Sweet Maria's is $8.05/lb (AB).  The same AB grade at The Green Beanery is $13.10/lb.  I'm going to lose at least 15% due to water when I roast, that pushes my price per pound to $15.42.  Plus shipping.  Isn't green coffee supposed to be cheaper or, at least on par, with roasted coffee?  I've heard it said that generations of Canadians who grew up with a dollar worth only $0.80US (such as myself) are easy to overcharge as, well, that's the way it's always been for us...

Posted February 28, 2013 link

I spent half of 2012 in Vancouver and was amazed at how much it cost to ship things across the border. Canada's various import taxes + the cost of having a broker walk it through customs made everything way too expensive. Not sure why they make it so difficult and I'm not sure who to blame.
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CoffeeLoversMag
Senior Member
CoffeeLoversMag
Joined: 10 Jan 2013
Posts: 218
Location: Seattle
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Mar 1, 2013, 12:58am
Subject: Re: First Roaster Advice
 

If you want much cheaper roaster since it is still your first time, then try Nesco home coffee roaster. However, this is only best for lighter roasting. If you want dark roasts, then directly go with Behmor 1600. Yes, the price is almost times 2 with the Nesco, but more useful and effective.

 
Did you know...? Dark roast coffees actually have less caffeine than lighter roasts due to the fact that the process of roasting burns off caffeine.
www.coffeeloversmag.com/theMagazine
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