Monday, January 4, 2010
Someone asked about the equipment I use for roasting coffee. There are two methods that I use, hot air popcorn popper, and a drum. The drum, purchased on ebay for $50, can easily roast 1lb. It simply attaches to a rotisserie that you would use with your gas grill. It has fins inside that stirs the beans. This method works really well but you need to be careful, the drum gets very hot and you need heat proof gloves to handle it. It takes less than 30 minutes to roast a pound of green coffee beans. Sometime I just want to roast a little at a time so I use the popcorn popper. It works very well and you can do it without worrying about the high heat. I was using a Chefmate popcorn popper that I bought at Target. I say "was" because I tried to add a switch to it that would turn off the heating element. While it did turn off the heat, doing so removed needed resistance and caused the fan motor to run at "ludicrous" speed burning it out. The local Target's don't stock this popper anymore, I found a hot air popper at Walmart but it was the wrong type, the hot air came up through a screen in the bottom. You want the hot air to come in through vents in the side that will spin the beans around. I lucked up this weekend an found someone selling a "Westbend Poppery I" on craigslist.com for $10. These are considered the grand-daddies of hot air coffee roasting, they typically go for $60+ on ebay. I did a quick test roast and it worked great. You can find a ton of modifications for this popper on the internet. This popper is from the late 70's and has a cast aluminum heating chamber and is rated at 1500 watts, perfect to roasting coffee. The device I use to measure the temperature is an ExTech multimeter with a thermocouple that I picked up at Fry's for $29. Regardless of which method is used, the beans need to be cooled down fast. Normally I would just pour the beans between two strainers in front of a fan, this cools them down and blows off the chaff. Recently I saw a gadget someone built that will do both, cool and blow off the chaff. It seemed easy enough so I made one for myself. Check out the video.
I've ordered some new coffee varieties and can't wait to roast using these additions.