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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    2,768
    If you're grinding for French press or drip, you don't need a high end grinder
    The real benefit of home roasting is that you can source higher quality beans than most mass market toasters can buy as you don't have to make the profit margin that they do. Also like anything else, there is a learning curve.
    "No plan survives contact with the 82nd Airborne Division."
    "Zen? Meh! Who needs it? All that effort to achieve nothingness and what do you got? Bupkis!"

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    538
    Quote Originally Posted by jesselp View Post
    I've experimented with home roasting using an popcorn air-popper, which admittedly was sub-optimal. I didn't find that my results came out better than what I could get from a neighborhood roaster who sells good, fresh-roasted beans. Would upgrading to a better roaster make a difference, or am I missing something entirely?
    If you use a popcorn air-popper, you have to remove the thermostat from the circuit to get hot enough for coffee roasting. Itís a simple circuit; look for the thermocouple mated to the side of the roast chamber, bypass it, and watch your temperature with an IR temp gun for instance. Plenty of how-toís online if you need help on the roast profile. I hacked mine with a switch for the heat coils to let me turn them on and off to maintain correct temperature.

    Even with a better home roaster it will take a while to get dialed in, and if your local roaster is a true artist you may never best them. What you can do is get at least equivalent quality beans for half price or better. I use a Gene Cafe roaster if that helps.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Exiled in Texas
    Posts
    7,076
    Quote Originally Posted by jesselp View Post
    I've experimented with home roasting using an popcorn air-popper, which admittedly was sub-optimal. I didn't find that my results came out better than what I could get from a neighborhood roaster who sells good, fresh-roasted beans. Would upgrading to a better roaster make a difference, or am I missing something entirely?
    What you're missing is probably technique. You can use an air popper to get good results, but you need to know what you are watching and listening for, and you need to have full control of the unit. If you just "follow the recipe," you'll get mediocre results. Fortunately, the solution is easy: you need attentive practice. Green coffee is pretty cheap. Roast small batches and listen closely to the popping. Do everything on a timer, so that you learn how long you really need to roast. You also have to learn to plan ahead, because the lag time with heat is significant. It's like a jet engine spooling down--it doesn't just stop.

    You can get good results with an old stovetop pot-style popcorn popper, over uneven electric heat. But it takes a lot more attention. You have to constantly stir the beans; move the pot around; stir more; stir more; listen; stir more; and on and on. It's much easier to get good results with better equipment.

    I started with a Fresh Roast air popper, which at the time was $80 and came with a sample pack of several pounds of coffee. When I said above that you could get started for $100, I apparently forgot to factor in twenty years of inflation. So double that estimate. The Fresh Roast today is $210, but still comes with a bundle of coffee samples.

    The Behmor 1600 is twice as much money, but allows you to roast four times as much coffee in a cycle. But I can only recommend the Behmor with some reservation. While it works for me, I dislike the built in safety features. It has a maximum roast time, which limits your control over the roast. It is because of that maximum roast time that I have to reduce my batch size to 13-14 oz, rather than roasting a full pound. If I put a full pound in the hopper, I might not reach the full roast before my time runs out. The Behmor's selling points are its (relatively) low price and the smoke suppression.

    I've roasted on a friend's Hottop, which is an altogether superior machine, but it costs well over a grand. For me, I just didn't see a reason to spend that much more, when I can accomplish what I need to with a Behmor.

    The really interesting roaster today is the Bullet. It is much pricier--close to three grand. But it is something new in the home roaster world, because it will allow continuous cycling. With all of the other roasters I mentioned, you need to let them cool between cycles. So you may only roast for 15 minutes, but you'll have to wait an hour or two if you want to roast a second batch. The Bullet allows you to do constant, back-to-back roasts. So you could run it as a mini commercial roaster and crank out a pound of coffee every twenty minutes or so. The big commercial roasters that you see in coffeeshops often only roast five pounds at a time. So a one-pound roaster with a continuous cycle is really pretty significant. I've thought about getting one of these and using it for a sort of 'group coffee buy,' selling fresh coffee to friends kind of like a subscription. The Behmor wouldn't be able to handle that.

    So the low-end buy-in is really over $200, which is more than I remembered. But if you are spending $3/day, 5x/week for coffee at Starbucks, you'll spend that much in three months.
    Virtute et Armis

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    The Big Northeastern NPE
    Posts
    377
    Quote Originally Posted by LawDog View Post
    What you're missing is probably technique. You can use an air popper to get good results, but you need to know what you are watching and listening for, and you need to have full control of the unit.
    I'm sure you're correct. I tried roasting because I came home from a trip to Nicaragua with 10KG of green coffee from a plantation I spent a few days at, and needed to figure out a way to turn the green beans into drinkable coffee. I'd say 8KG of the beans are still sitting in plastic bags in my cupboard. I live close to multiple roasters and have too many responsibilities and hobbies making claims on my very limited spare time. I'd rather spend the time in the gym and buy beans done by a pro. But I 100% see the appeal of doing it yourself!

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    579
    Whelp I was hauled to IJEA , more or less one of the upper levels of hell , but in the middle of the torture there was a display of moka pots for less than 20 bucks. On the way home I got some Supreme Bustello - preground but it was maybe 5 bucks - not the best but I suspect it's ground more or less the proper constancy

    at home i decided to give it a dry run sans coffee - this thing is going to need a little 'touch' to get the flame on the stove just so

    that said loaded with coffee my first try was pretty good - not espresso from the cafe at work but for less than $30 all in not bad at all - oh and such a great coffee smell while brewing

    thanks you're all obviously scholars and gentlemen of refined tastes - now to brew some 8 o clock bean and get my ass to work

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