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Topic: Air Popper Profiling (16 msgs / 536 lines)
1) From: Rick Copple
OK, now I've actually created a detailed log in Excel to keep track of 
profiles. I figure I won't be able to do this all the time, sometimes I 
just want to make coffee I know will be good and move on, but on 
Saturday mornings and such when I have more time, I'll experiment and 
find out what works and record down the results.
So I decided to try two of Ed's modifications. I found a can of kidney 
beans, standard size, that fit into the popper just right size to sit on 
the ridge. The 8oz tomato can seemed too small and slipped all the way 
down, others seemed just a tad too wide...but this one was just right. 
Opened it up, emptied the contents, washed it out, cut the other end 
open and it created a nice chimney to fit onto the popper in place of 
the normal hood.
The other modification was to lean the popper approx. 30 degrees by 
placing a stick under it, and we have plenty of those in our back yard.
I selected some Brazilian Cerrado Lot 143 to roast. The scale I used 
last night to weigh the beans I found was a little inconsistent. I 
weighed out what it said was about 70 grams. Then I put that in the hood 
cup of the popper just to see what it looked like in there. It wouldn't 
all fit. Then I dumped what did fit back onto the scale and it read 90 
grams. Go figure. Well, it was a cheap scale. So I went and grabbed my 
scale for weighing mail, a 1 pound scale, put the bowl on it which 
weighted 3.5 oz. It doesn't have grams on it, just oz. I noticed on the 
other scale that 70 grams should be around 2.5 oz., so I added enough 
beans to get to 6 oz, or 2.5 oz. of beans. I put that in the hopper cup, 
which it looked fairly normal, just not over the lip at all but almost 
even. Then for fun I dumped that back on the other scale which read 90 
grams. It's worthless. I trusted the mail scale more than that cheap 
thing, so I won't be using it again.
Knowing I had the right amount of beans for a normal popper roast I 
hauled everything outside. The temperature read 66 deg. Nice day here in 
Central Texas. Luckily I have an outlet on my porch, so I plugged 
everything in, leaned the popper and fired it up.
Just for comparison, what I have experienced with this popper in the 
past is hitting first crack at 2.5 minutes, end of 1st crack at 3.5 
minutes, beginning of 2nd crack at 3.75 minutes and usually I dump it 
shortly after that, around 4 minutes to get a full city+
With these modifications in place, here is what I got to get to full 
city+ this time.
First crack hit at 3:15 and ended at 4:30. Second crack began at 5:15 
and I dumped at 5:30 for a full city plus. That added a total of 1:30 
minutes to the total roast time to get to the same roast level and 
streched the time between first and second crack from 10-15 seconds (if 
that) to whole 1.25 minutes.
Of course, having just done this, I haven't tasted it yet. I'll probably 
do that tomorrow. One thing I did notice was that the color of the beans 
initially looked darker. Upon closer examination it wasn't so much 
darker but a deeper full city plus color. It seemed to lighten a bit 
once I got inside (may just be the difference of outside light to inside 
light as I've always roasted inside). The color says "rich" to me, not 
really darker, just a richer and deeper color than what I normally get. 
So I'll be interested to try this out tomorrow and see the difference in 
I think for my next experiment, which I might get a chance to do today 
later, I'll add an extension cord to the popper, especially since it 
seems while this profile is better, a longer one would be even better 
and it seems my popper runs hotter than most. So an extension cord might 
be just the thing to slow things down to "normal". Or maybe the voltage 
is just high in our city. In either event, sounds like the extension 
cord should slow things down some more and maybe I'll get to an 6-8 
minute roast time to full city plus. I'll keep you informed. If that 
works, then I'll consider widening the slots a bit so that I can roast 
more at one time.
Until later!
Rick Copple
Marble Falls, TX

2) From: Edward Spiegel
Hi Rick,
Here are a few notes that you might find helpful. It sounds like you are on the right track.
At 12:05 PM -0500 4/9/05, Rick Copple wrote:
For most beans 70-75 grams is slightly less than 1/2 cup. So, I suspect that what you thought was 70 grams before was -- as you discovered more like 90 -- which would explain the variance from my results. At this stage, as you get calibrated, use volume rather than weight since you don't have an accurate scale. Volume will be perfectly fine -- just take notes about how much you add and if things go too fast, add a bit less the next time.
At 12:05 PM -0500 4/9/05, Rick Copple wrote:
Color can only be compared when using the same light. (Something that we learned when we painted our bathroom recently -- the color of the paint was dramatically different at home than in the store where we bought it.)
At 12:05 PM -0500 4/9/05, Rick Copple wrote:
The extension cord is a worthwhile experiment, but keep in mind that longer is not always better. Let your tastebuds decide. And do a few roasts with each over time before making up your mind.
No matter which method you use, you can further stretch a little by stirring/lifting every 10 to 15 seconds before first.
Now that we know more about how the bean weight was being measured, I suspect that your popper doesn't necessarily run hotter than most -- I am guessing that you probably have more beans in the popper than you suspect.
At 11:08 PM -0500 4/8/05, Rick Copple wrote:
I roast in the garage and the chaff shoots up into the air. I use a soup or bean can as a chimney to keep the beans in. An even better chimney (but I keep breaking 'em because I am a klutz) are hurricane lamp chimneys. They are $2 at Orchard Supply. The great thing about the lamp chimneys is that you can really see the beans well. Take your popper with you to the store to find the one that fits best.
At 11:08 PM -0500 4/8/05, Rick Copple wrote:
Absolutely. I recommend getting a few pounds of a coffee you enjoy that way you will see how the variations influence flavor. If you add different varieties into the mix, you never know when it is the profile/technique or the variety that is responsible for the differences you encounter.
At 11:08 PM -0500 4/8/05, Rick Copple wrote:
I completely forget that not everyone roasts in their garage or back porch.
At 11:08 PM -0500 4/8/05, Rick Copple wrote:
If you widen the slots, just be aware that you may not be able to roast small amounts after the mod (for most folks that isn't a problem). For that reason, I waited until I had a backup -- I scored big time one afternoon and found two wearever pumpers of the same ilk at the salvation army.
Keep us posted. And if you come up with any tips (I am sure you will), please add them to my visitor tips page.http://www.edwardspiegel.org/coffeeBest,

3) From: Dan Martin
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
I also did some experimenting and was able to produce a 10min full city+ =
out of some Columbian Supremo.  I did everything you did plus, I only =
used 50g's and I did use an extension cord.  I think tomorrow I'm going =
to try to get a 5 or 6min City roast with some PNG Kimel.  I am excited!!

4) From: Rick Copple
Edward Spiegel wrote:
Yes, I think I am. This post might be a bit long as I'm going to respond 
to some of what you say, and report my second experiment as well as how 
the first one tasted.
First, I went ahead, having roasted that first batch this morning and 
did a one cup pour over through my Swiss Gold one cup drip. I used 1.5 
scoops of the coffee, the scoop that Sweet Marias sends.
The result taste wise on that first roast of 5:30 minutes: You are 
correct, a much more complex cup, with strong notes of chocolate, much 
more pronounced than I've had with this bean to this point. It was there 
before, but now it is richer. I rate it a great cup and definitely up 
there. With that, I can hardly wait to try out my Tanzanian Songea, my 
favorite so far to see how much more dutch chocolate flavor will come 
through. The flavor was deeper and richer than before.
So, report number one is that the extension of the roast time to 5:30 
produced a really great cup of coffee from that #1 award winning lot of 
Brazilian. I bought 5# of this, so I have a little I can use to test 
these roast with.
Thanks for suggesting that I try out some of these simple modifications. 
This one has produced some great results taste wise.
Well, the only thing that read 90 grams each time, no matter how many 
beans I had, was the bad scale. I wouldn't count on that 90 grams being 
at all accurate. Even when I weighted what was about 70 grams on a 1# 
mail scale, which I know is fairly accurate, it has to be, it registered 
90 on that other scale. It is a cheap plastic thing that I picked up at 
Wal-Mart. A neat concept, but the scale itself is obviously not very 
exact, not when it measures a larger amount of beans at 70 and a smaller 
amount at 90.
I felt that it confirmed I am generally in the neighborhood of 70-80 
grams. It could be that at times I would load it up a bit more, and I 
might have reached 90 then. However, I usually have gone by volume, what 
would fit into that cup on the hood where you dump the pop corn in. 2.5 
oz. of beans comes to about level with that. I haven't thrown it into a 
measuring cup to see what it registers volume wise, however, though I 
would guess it would be around 1/2 cup if 70 grams comes to that.
On that note, when I did my second experiment in profiling tonight, I 
measured on the mail scale the same way I did this morning to get 2.5 
oz. After roasting, however, it looked like, just eye balling it, that 
this batch didn't have as much volume as this morning's batch did. I 
don't know if I goofed and didn't really get the same amount of beans or 
if for some reason the extended time caused the beans to not expand as much.
Not for me for sure. I've been wanting to roast larger batches, so 
widening the slots sounds like a good deal, as long as I don't break 
something in the process. I just finished watching and episode of Mr. 
Bean doing a remodel on his apartment and the results...so I hope I 
don't do a Mr. Bean on my popper!
I probably need to do that. This is one that we've had for a long time. 
When I first decided to try roasting and was reading up on it, I said to 
my wife, "Hey, whatever happened to that old air pop corn popper we 
had?" We couldn't find it, and my wife even bought me one for Christmas, 
but it was the wrong kind. Might have worked, but I didn't want to burn 
the house down. Then, one of us came upon it. I thought maybe it had 
been sold at some garage sale we had, but it was just buried in stuff. 
So I've not gone looking for back ups, but I need to.
But thanks for the warning on that, though as you said, I do want to 
roast bigger batches, so even before I find another I may very well try 
this out.
OK, here is the results of my second experiment. I set up everything as 
I did this morning. Same coffee, same can chimney, same lean on the 
popper with the stick under it, out on the back porch, even the 
temperature was at 70 deg. Just 4 degrees higher than this morning's 
roast. The only difference was it was night instead of day. Nice breeze 
blowing through, but not windy by any stretch of the imagination.
The only thing I did different was to add on an extension cord. I didn't 
measure it, but I would say it is around 15'-25'. Here are the time results:
First crack hit about 5:40. That is almost 2.5 minutes longer to first 
crack than this morning's roast, and over 3 minutes longer than what 
I've usually done in the past. However, one major difference was that 
first crack was not real pronounced. The first pop of first crack 
happened right around the 5 minute mark. An occasional pop or two would 
happen from 5:00 to the 5:40 where it seemed to pick up enough to say it 
was into it. Yet, even then it was not as vigorous as it has been in 
times past, almost like it was stretched out. First crack ended around 
6:50-7:00. Second crack began in earnest at about 8:45 into the roast, 
and I shut it down just before 9:00 minutes to hit a full city plus 
roast. So, the total roast time went from 5:15 this morning to 8:57 this 
evening with the only additional modification being the addition of the 
extension cord.
The color was almost identical to what I roasted this morning, but as I 
said the volume looked smaller and it seemed that perhaps the beans 
didn't expand as much as this morning's roast did. Any idea what would 
have caused that?
So they are sitting in the degassing bag, awaiting my taste test 
tomorrow afternoon. Meanwhile, I'll probably take a thermos of vac pot 
brewed Brazilian that I roasted this morning to church with me. With a 
bit more rest, it can only get better!
It will be interesting to see what, if any differences there are between 
this roast and the one I did tonight, if my palate is discerning enough 
to taste the difference.
Thanks again Ed for pushing me to try this, I think it is producing a 
better cup of coffee, and that is a good thing!
Rick Copple
Marble Falls, TX

5) From: Rick Copple
Dan Martin wrote:
Cool! My experiment with an extension cord produced similar results, 
taking into consideration you used less beans, which is probably why 
yours went a minute longer than mine. Tomorrow night I'll probably have 
a taste report between the two roast as to which one produced the better 
cup, in my taste preferences, of course!
Rick Copple
Marble Falls, TX

6) From: AlChemist John
Sometime around 10:05 4/9/2005, Rick Copple typed:
The general profile I ended up really liking for my WBI was 1st at about 8 
minutes and 2nd at 11-12.
Don't forget, if you add more beans, you will trap more heat, and shorten 
your roasting time.  It is all a balancing act (BTW, this "balance" issue 
is what I mean by Zen, the roasting by intuition is the "Gestalt" portion)
John Nanci 
AlChemist at large
Zen Roasting , Blending & Espresso pulling by Gestalthttp://www.dreamsandbones.net/blog/http://www.chocolatealchemy.com/

7) From: AlChemist John
Congratulations!  It's nice when a few minor modifications can make such a 
huge difference.  Do keep an eye out for a West Bend Poppery 1.  It handles 
all of those basic modifications, but you can do triple the amount usually 
(I could actually do 200 g)
Sometime around 16:19 4/9/2005, Dan Martin typed:
John Nanci 
AlChemist at large
Zen Roasting , Blending & Espresso pulling by Gestalthttp://www.dreamsandbones.net/blog/http://www.chocolatealchemy.com/

8) From: Edward Spiegel
At 6:40 AM -0700 4/10/05, AlChemist John wrote:
Hi John,
As an fyi, on my Pumper widening the slots (only 
a tiny bit because that is all that is possible 
without breaking the fins) required using more 
coffee. In my slot-widened pumper 75 grams of 
coffee will bake not roast now (it used to to 
roast in about 6 to 8 minutes). Now, I have to 
use well over 100 grams to roast (a good thing). 
Now a 160 gram load roasts in the 9 to 15 minute 
range depending on how I 'profile' it. If I use 
less than 120 grams of coffee it may or may not 
manage to get to second crackÅ@in 18 minutes.

9) From: Edward Spiegel
At 12:25 AM -0500 4/10/05, Rick Copple wrote:
Great news! Keep us posted.

10) From: Rick Copple
Edward Spiegel wrote:
I tasted the 2nd experiment today. It was a deeper chocolate flavor, I 
guess more completely carbonized, than the 5:30 roast. I like it pretty 
good, but I'm still sorting out in my mind if I like it as much as the 
5:30 roast. I think I was partial to the more vibrant flavor of 
chocolate in that first one, but this one is still pretty good too. So 
I'm not sure yet, but both batches I think are an improvement over what 
was coming out previously.
For today's experiment, I looked at the slots in my pumper to see about 
widening them. However, I could not see how I would get a screwdriver 
into them. They are slanted downward. I took a screwdriver but could not 
see how to angle it to get into the slots, it almost looked like you 
would have to have a screw driver that was bent to a hook so you could 
work it in there. Perhaps I need to try a different one. I don't know. 
So I didn't widen them, not sure how to get there to do it.
However, I surmised that I liked the 5:30 roast quite well, so I figured 
any roast between that and the 9 minute roast is going to be pretty 
good. Since more beans will shorten the time, I figured I could use the 
extension cord experiment and just add a greater amount of beans. It 
will be shorter than 9 minutes, but perhaps longer than 5:30.
I added another 2 oz. to make a total of 4.5 oz. That might have been 
too much, I don't know. After I got it started, I looked in and noticed 
that the beans were not rotating very well. It was more the beans at the 
top (I had leaned it aprox. 45 degrees) were being blown down the heap 
and it was slowly rotating this way, sort of from up underneath, but not 
at a quick rate. In retrospect, I think maybe perhaps less of a lean 
would allow the air flow to move the beans more efficiently.
This became apparent when I began to hear the first, first crack beans 
at about 2 minutes. Hum, way too early. Yet, it was because the beans 
were not moving very well. So I grabbed a stick and began stirring at 
regular intervals. That seemed to help and it didn't really get going 
into a full first crack until 3 minutes into the roast and that went 
till almost 4:20. I think the last sounds of first crack died off at 
almost 5 minutes. It was about 6 minutes when I heard the first sound of 
a second crack, and at 6:15 it started in earnest, and I ended the roast 
at 6:20.
I believe the ambient temp was around 70 something...I forgot to look. 
It wasn't hot but it wasn't as cool as last evening. So I'm guessing 
around 72 to 75. Once the beans were beginning to bounce around and one 
flew out the top of the tin can chimney, I figured I had better reduce 
the angle of the lean, and moved it more to about 15 to 20 deg. I forgot 
to notice at what exact time I did this, but it was somewhere between 
first and second crack.
I roasted some of my Tanzanian AAA Songea. It looked a bit more uneven 
in the roast than I usually get from the popper, and I figure that is 
because the beans didn't move as well and I had to stir them. However, 
most all the beans got to full city+, and the lightest among them looked 
to be at least city+ and they looked to be about 3-5% of the batch, so 
not too bad. Of course the results will be in the how it taste. I'll 
find that out tomorrow. However, I did get a roast over the 5:30 mark 
with the larger batch size.
Based on this, I think my next experiment with it will be to reduce the 
batch size down to 3.5 oz. or maybe even just 4 and see if that allows 
the beans to move better. I can also experiment with the lean of the 
popper to see at what angle the beans move best. One problem with 
dropping the voltage is that I'm sure the air flow isn't as strong as it 
normally is as well, which of course is the advantage of splitting the 
fan and heating element onto two different circuits to control things. 
Yet, this still worked it seems and if I can find the right balance of 
beans to lean to time, I might find a sweet spot that produces the 
largest amount of coffee with the best flavor development.
Once I get there, then I can try some city and maybe even a cinnamon 
roast on something that is good for that and see how well that turns out.
Rick Copple
Marble Falls, TX

11) From: Jared Andersson
I really like John's idea of popper roasting by weight.  Less weight
equals longer profile.  I am curious about your definition of Gestalt
though John.   I have always seen Gestalt not as intuition but rather
as seeing the complete whole or the whole of the incomplete parts that
are greater than the sum of the parts.  Or even as Fritz Pearls would
say as a process of seeing the figure and ground as a whole.  Jared
On Apr 10, 2005 8:40 AM, AlChemist John  wrote:

12) From: Tom Ulmer
Since we've stepped into the realms of philosophical... If one were to
intuitively know that the parts came together as greater whole what would be
the difference?

13) From: Rob Stewart
Knowing....  ta..da..
Tom Ulmer wrote:
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14) From: AlChemist John
That is pretty much exactly what I mean by Gestalt - I see intuition and 
"seeing the whole" as the same thing, although I think some people think of 
intuition as subconscious and gestalt as conscience.  Mostly what I mean is 
that I roast using all of my senses that pertain, my base of experience and 
knowledge and my gut feeling.  I know a lot of my get feelings and 
intuition are nothing more than my experience and base of knowledge, but I 
don't think of it that way since I don't think "oh, this happen this way 
back when, so I have to do this" - I just think "hrm, not right [twiddle, 
twiddle, adjust], that's better".
Sometime around 05:30 4/11/2005, Tom Ulmer typed:
John Nanci 
AlChemist at large
Zen Roasting , Blending & Espresso pulling by Gestalthttp://www.dreamsandbones.net/blog/http://www.chocolatealchemy.com/

15) From: AlChemist John
And this is a layer of "zen roasting" - balance the capabilities of the 
roaster - I often "profiled" by using different amounts of coffee - some 
people adjust voltage - I adjust bean amount and air flow (by tilting).
Sometime around 09:04 4/10/2005, Edward Spiegel typed:
John Nanci 
AlChemist at large
Zen Roasting , Blending & Espresso pulling by Gestalthttp://www.dreamsandbones.net/blog/http://www.chocolatealchemy.com/

16) From: Jared Andersson
  John, I hadn't put intuition and Gestalt together before but your
explanation makes it very clear.  I have preciously only used the
concept of  Gestalt in regards to acts of perceiving and understanding
ones world and not towards actions.   Jared
On Apr 11, 2005 7:54 AM, AlChemist John  wrote:

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