HomeRoast Digest

Topic: Stove-top Popper Profiles (9 msgs / 227 lines)
1) From: Dan Kellgren
I'm a stainless stove-top popper roaster (for about 2 years now).
I typically follow a roasting profile that runs 10-14 minutes and runs
240-330F with 6-8 oz. of greens.
Most places I read about the stove-top popper method recommend a 330-400F
I tried some Yirgacheffe at this range yesterday.  I preheated to 500
and dropped in 8oz of SM Yirgacheffe.  Temp dropped to about 330, but really
never got above 350.  I had first crack at 3 minutes that never stopped.  I
went on for 5 more minutes (basically in a panic that I was in constant FK)
and pulled them.
I don't think I really got "into" second crack.  My beans today have no oils
showing through.  But it really seemed like I had no control over the
roast.  There was no way to tell City from Full City+.  It was just all
I can stick with my lower temperature roast profile, which typically works
just fine.  But I always have this wonder if I'm roasting hot enough or
not.  Any thoughts?

2) From: Tom Ulmer
Using more heat will change the flavors brought out by the roast. Whether
that's a move in a positive direction is worth investigating. An aggressive
roast on some beans works particularly well. My opinion is that you still
need a drying phase that is not so aggressive. Trying to coordinate this on
a stovetop is a challenge. After the first couple of pops of the first crack
I would raise, swirl, and lower the popper as necessary to level out the
heat application.
Lately it seems that I am getting good rolling first cracks using the same
apparatus and roasting profiles as I typically do. This is not always the
case and I do not understand what conditions cause the same coffee - or bean
terroir if you like - to offer only a wimpy first under the very similar

3) From: Elliott Perkins
I've been stove-top popper roasting for about two years too.  I don't 
have a thermometer, but I am curious about the temperature in the pot.  
Have you got a hole drilled in the lid for the thermometer?  How far in 
does the probe go?  When I had the aluminum popper, I would roast with a 
glass of water, and put a drop or two on the lid to gauge the 
temperature within.
I have settled on 3/4# of green beans for most roasts.  More than that, 
and I end up scorching the beans to get to temperature in time, less 
than that, and I run out too fast.
I use a Coleman propane camping stove, preheat for two or three minutes, 
give 'er the gas until I see smoke, then ease back as first crack 
approaches, for a soft, gentle finish.
Dan Kellgren wrote:

4) From: Dan Kellgren
Elliott - I had an 8" thermometer that I drilled a hole in the lid for.  It
had a big face on it and went to 500 degrees F.  This was for my aluminum
pot.  I've since switched to a stainless pot and now I have a high-end Fluke
digital thermometer (that goes to 1200? maybe) - thanks to my father-in-law
who works in a lab.  The probe is a wire with this version and I just fish
it in a vent hole in the lid.  The probe goes down to about an inch from the
bottom - basically low enough NOT to hit the blade.
I too use a Coleman on my back porch.  I guess the sweet spot of the heat is
Dan K
On 5/8/07, Elliott Perkins  wrote:

5) From: Dan Kellgren
I'm challenged to make sure I'm not "stalling the roast" (although I have no
idea what that really means - or at least I wouldn't know if I'm "doing"
that or not).  FK is never an issue.  It's loud and clear for me.  But if
I'm aggressive, it goes on right into 2nd crack, so I lose the advantage of
knowing a City spot from a FC+ spot to stop.
But if I use a lighter flame/heat, I'm afraid my internal bean temp will be
too low.  SM's site says to roast in the 325-400 range.  So could it be that
my temperature reading (due to the sensitivity of my equipment and placement
of my probe) is just "different" than what the SM profile suggests?  So my
225-325 roast is really similar to their 325-400 roast?
I know - if what I create tastes good, then don't worry about it.  But I'm
always in search of the holy grail!
Dan K
On 5/8/07, Tom Ulmer  wrote:

6) From: Tom Ulmer
Temperature measurement is for baseline comparisons in my opinion. If you
measure at the same point under similar conditions you develop a sense of
what it is indicating. As you mention there is a time to crack relationship
that you are attempting to manipulate.
With the WhirlyPop and the Coleman my concern would not be with stalling the
roast unless you run out of fuel. In my mind stalling indicates a drop in
temperature that you are unable to recover from. There is no way of
stretching the time between first and second on an aggressive roast except
to "stall" it. If you back off on your heat application at or near the start
of first crack you will have better control. Don't worry so much with your
thermometer at this point. Merely note the readings for future reference and
trust that the beans will in not go immediately too cool.

7) From: Dan Kellgren
Tom - great advice.  Thanks man.
Dan K
On 5/10/07, Tom Ulmer  wrote:

8) From: raymanowen
"...if what I create tastes good, then don't worry about it.  But I'm always
in search of the holy grail!"
And once you find it, you're going to try to repeat it, right? One great
cuppa doesn't come with an invitation to stop looking for better.
You're doing that now. If you're making progress, why would you stop trying
at some point just because you found the HG of coffee?
Cheers -RayO, aka Opa!
Holy Cow- Holy Grail? Press on!

9) From: Elliott Perkins
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
I was roasting with a Coleman on a porch until I realized, on a windy 
day, just how much the wind took heat from the popper.  It wasn't that 
cold, but really windy, and I roasted twelve minutes, thought "what the 
heck", took a peak, and saw beans that weren't even brown.  Since I have 
moved to the garage, I have had a lot better luck with control.
The Fluke is the only good digital thermometer I have worked with, 
though I worked with them in pottery kilns not coffee roasters.
I've been roasting with a stovetop popper for two years now, and I have 
only just learned to roast with a pause between first and second crack.  
The trick, for me, is to ease off on the heat just before first crack, 
which I judge by the quantity and quality of the smoke, and also by the 
fact that I can spin the paddle.  The bearing on my popper wore out 
early, so I generally shake it to stir the beans, as if I were cooking 
in a wok.  Shortly before first crack, the beans become lighter, or 
bigger, or something, and I can crank without resistance.
Dan Kellgren wrote:

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