My unsuccessful roasting attempts

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My unsuccessful roasting attempts

Postby bronc » Sat Feb 09, 2013 11:46 am

I'm pretty new to roasting coffee and to specialty coffee as a whole. I just got a 2nd hand Gaggia Classic from eBay and I'm waiting for a new boiler because this one is cracked (it was advertised as leaking - I hoped it was just a gasket that needed changing..).

I also got a popcorn maker and 2 bags of green beans from Rave Coffee. I got pretty hyped about this popcorn roasting thing from all of the forums and YouTube clips. Unfortunately, I discovered that apparently the fact that the voltage in Europe is 220V as opposed to the 110V in the US makes things quite difficult. I'm reaching 1C withing 1min 30sec and by the third minute the beans are already in the French roast zone if not even further. I managed to get one batch probably a bit beyond FullCity+ but that was again under 3mins. The taste even after 24hrs was bitter and.. well, that's it it was just bitter (the beans are Brazil Daterra Bourbon). I thought that the problem was in the popcorn machine so I got one more from eBay (6GBP delivered, not bad) and I'm waiting for it to arrive but I don't think there will be a big change.

Now, I know that separating the heating element and the fan will give me a big improvement but I don't have the skills to do that. This is why I decided to go with a Turbo Crazy. Being a student I can't afford an expensive coffee roasting machine such as the Hottop or the Gene. The problem is that I can't find an European alternative to the WB Stir Crazy. Any thoughts?
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Postby GreenBean » Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:14 am

Hi bronc, welcome to TMC. :D I am afraid I have never tried a popcorn popper or Turbo Crazy so can not really help you. Hopefully someone with experience of these can provide some advice.
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Postby bruceb » Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:54 am

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I also have no experience with pop corn popper roasting, but you might go back through the archives here and look. There are a lot of roaster threads. Please let us know how you get on.
Three Francesconi (CMA) espresso machines - Rossi, San Marco, LaCimbali, Faema and 2 Mazzer Major grinders- CoffeeTech Maggionlino, Hottop, Alpenröst and HW Precision roasters.
I decided I needed a bit of a change so I roasted some Monsooned Malabar. That was a change!
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Re: My unsuccessful roasting attempts

Postby simonp » Sun Feb 10, 2013 12:44 pm

bronc wrote: apparently the fact that the voltage in Europe is 220V as opposed to the 110V in the US makes things quite difficult.


If the popcorn machine is designed for 220V then it shouldn't make any difference. The greater coil will be the same power rating so will put the same heat into the beans.
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Postby bronc » Sun Feb 10, 2013 1:09 pm

That's what I thought as well but practice shows the opposite. I can only hope that the problem is in this exact popcorn maker and when I receive the other one there will be significant difference.
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Postby simonp » Sun Feb 10, 2013 7:25 pm

bronc wrote:That's what I thought as well but practice shows the opposite. I can only hope that the problem is in this exact popcorn maker and when I receive the other one there will be significant difference.


It is a long time since I did my playing with popcorn makers, but from what I remember most ar around 1200-1400W. More lilely the issue is the ammount of beans, the lower the weight, the faster they will roast. this is why the "tin can wedged in the top" mod is popular as it allows a greater volume (and so weight) of beans to fit and extends the roast time.

Depending on your technical prowess, there is an old article I wrote in teh Articles section on this site whcih may be of use. It details how to make these machines work better by being able to control the power of the heater and ideally also splitting the circuits so you can run the fan at full tilt but control the heat. This makes it a surprisingly good small batch roaster, with in fact more control than my Hottop.

I still have mine somewhere and I often think about getting it out if I want to roast a small batch of something for a blend.

Edit: Article here: http://www.toomuchcoffee.com/index.php?module=Pagesetter&func=viewpub&tid=3&pid=106

Or another article by an old member: http://www.toomuchcoffee.com/index.php?module=Pagesetter&func=viewpub&tid=3&pid=66
Profitec 700 dual boiler
Isomac Rituale
Mazzer Mini
Mahlkonig Vario
Chemex
Aeropress
2 Bodum press pots
Hottop updated to a B with Compuetr control
Imex roaster, dimmer mod on heater (under spare bed)
Rival popper, with split motor and dimmer mod on heater (retired)
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Postby motoman » Mon Feb 11, 2013 9:26 am

Many of us started out with a popcorn roaster, mine was passed around the forum as we upgraded. Yes the quality was very rough but it tasted far better than some of the expensive trendy rubbish on sale everywhere. Well... not that much better but it put us on the road to better things. On student income you won't do much better, once you get hooked on roasting your future roasters will give you a lifetime of pleasure.
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Postby bronc » Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:06 am

I hope I'll be able to get some decent taste out of my green beans. I really don't have much of a choice because 1) there are only 1-2 specialty coffee roasters in Bulgaria and their markups are very high 2) ordering roasted coffee from the UK means that I have to order at least twice a month because otherwise it will go stale. This is why I decided to roast my own coffee beans - I can buy 2-3 kilos of green beans once every couple of months and roast them at my disposal. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get there.. yet.

@simonp - from what I've read it's actually the opposite - less beans, less heat retention, longer roasting time. I tried with 100g and with 60g but the difference was insignificant. I know that modding the popcorn maker will solve my issue but I don't have the technical knowledge and experience. Furthermore, my current popcorn maker has a circuit board with some diodes on it and I have no idea how to modify it. Hopefully, the one I'm waiting for will be more straightforward..
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Postby simonp » Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:43 am

bronc wrote:@simonp - from what I've read it's actually the opposite - less beans, less heat retention, longer roasting time. I tried with 100g and with 60g but the difference was insignificant.


Well, I roasted a LOT with a popcorn maker and I found what I said to be true. More beans equals more thermal mass which means it takes longer to heat up. I've only be roasting for 9 years though, so what do I know? :wink:
Profitec 700 dual boiler
Isomac Rituale
Mazzer Mini
Mahlkonig Vario
Chemex
Aeropress
2 Bodum press pots
Hottop updated to a B with Compuetr control
Imex roaster, dimmer mod on heater (under spare bed)
Rival popper, with split motor and dimmer mod on heater (retired)
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Postby bronc » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:19 am

Sorry, I didn't want to sound disrespectful towards your experience but I just noted what most people are saying. I'll try with a bigger batch next time. Thanks!
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Postby simonp » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:32 am

bronc wrote:Sorry, I didn't want to sound disrespectful towards your experience but I just noted what most people are saying. I'll try with a bigger batch next time. Thanks!


No Probs.
The time difference will be small but at the speed you are getting it will all help. The other thing you can do is help agitate the beans with a wooden spoon which will let more of the hot air through. The tin can trick is good, but you do have to manually move the benas early on until they get lighter.
Profitec 700 dual boiler
Isomac Rituale
Mazzer Mini
Mahlkonig Vario
Chemex
Aeropress
2 Bodum press pots
Hottop updated to a B with Compuetr control
Imex roaster, dimmer mod on heater (under spare bed)
Rival popper, with split motor and dimmer mod on heater (retired)
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Postby lsjms » Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:15 pm

A friend of mine has a roasting duck, I thought it looked a bit out of control and the batch size too small for a coffee addiction like mine! In the early days I used the heat gun/bowl (stainless 10litre dustbin in my case) method.
With a probe in the bin and a gun with variable heat output ( you use the distance from the greens to control heat as well) and a good stirring tool/ good right arm endurance, you can get really good results, as good as any roasting machine IMO as the profile is so flexible.
Some people mount the heat gun into an old bread machine to use the knead function as a stirrer .
As Simon says, whoever wrote 'more beans= faster roast' is from another universe... in my roasting world, anyway.
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Postby boldham » Fri Feb 15, 2013 12:52 am

If you're unable or unwilling to modify popper, I'd suggest the heat gun method. It is cheap, effective, and hands-on, which will help to develop your roasting skills.
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Postby motoman » Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:24 am

Could your problem be cooling? If you cannot lower the heat fast enough you will get baked beans, how do you cool them down after the roast?

I found that my roast from the popper looked very uneven but fast waterfall cooling or even a fine spray produced acceptable results. I even tried roasting in a cast iron pan and had drinkable coffee and burned hands until I wrapped the pan handle.
La Valentina Levetta
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Huky 500T
Bodum s/s Press Pot(Covered in dust)
Mokka, Vietnamese Press and other pots(unseen since I fell in love with La Valentina)
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Postby bronc » Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:45 am

The problem is not the cooling process. 3 mins in the roast the beans are already almost charcoal color and there is smoke everywhere.

@boldham - I know that the heat gun method is very good but unfortunately I can't roast outside all of the times.
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