Home coffee roasting – First Steps

Like any hobby, there is a natural progression that takes place.  We gather information, read articles, watch videos and learn more about our hobby.  Over the past few years, I have been learning about home coffee roasting, including coffee varieties and roasting methods.  Along this progressive path, I began to roast my own coffee beans at home.

Home Coffee Roasting First Steps

First I tried the hot air popcorn popper method.  I went to my local Walgreens and picked up my hot air popper.  Then I purchased green coffee beans from sweetmarias.com.  Then I put about 4 tablespoons of green beans into the popper and turn it on.  The hot air popper was a great way to start out because I could visually see the entire roasting process right before my eyes.  But, I quickly realized the problems associated with this method (see below) and began to search for my next step in home coffee roasting.

After a few months of hot air roasting, I purchased the Behmore 1600 (see my review here) and eventually upgraded it to the “Plus” version with the advanced control panel. Not only could I roast more coffee (8 ounces per roast), but I also had more control of temperature, drum speed and more.   After 2 years of enjoyable roasting with the Behmore 1600, and many hours of testing, and researching all about the home coffee roasting process, I found I needed more flexibility and features to produce a “better” cup.  My next step in roasting is a commercial “Lab” coffee roaster.

So, what brought me to this decision?  Ultimately I realized that I needed at least 4 features in a coffee roaster that the popcorn popper and Behmore could not supply.

  1. Controllable Energy
  2. Visual Inspection
  3. Air Flow
  4. Adjustable drum speed

I’ve listed the limitations of both the popper and Behmore:

hot air popper roasting coffee

Popcorn Popper

  • No real temperature control – Instant on and you are at the mercy of the popper
  • Roasting volume is very limited – 30 grams of coffee is the max you can roast.
  • No ability to produce a consistent roast – There is no way to reproduce the roast profile because there are no controls
  • No ability to influence airflow – It uses hot air to roast.  You can’t increase or lower the level of air or heat.
  • Messy – Chaff blows everywhere, even with the bowl method.

 

Behmor-1600-Coffee-RoasterBehmore 1600

  • Messy – Requires clean up after every roast
  • No ability to cool/stop roast process quickly – At the end of your roast, the cooling method can take several minutes, allowing your roast to continue.
  • Not enough (energy) heat produced – The quartz rods can make things hot but an electric fan kicks in, slowing the ability to heat up to optimal temps.
  • Roasting capacity is limited to 1 pound – More realistically 7 ounces or else the roast will be uneven.
  • Viewing coffee color is difficult – Yellow inside light doesn’t really help.  There is no “trier” to view and smell coffee.
  • Temperature probe’s not accurate – First crack is taking place at 280 degrees?  That is what the roaster indicates.
  • Difficult to clean – Thorough cleaning of roaster unit involves partial dis-assemble of roaster.

As a result, the next step is to find the best “Lab” roaster for my specific needs.  I will be looking for features that will allow me to roast using profiles, make airflow and temperature changes, inspect the coffee and be a good quality product.   Since there are many options and my choice will most likely be expensive, study & research will continue.  Because I am sharing my journey, links to resources will be included.

Share your thoughts or tell me what your roasting coffee with.

Stay tuned!

2017-07-24T15:03:00+00:00