HomeRoast Digest

Topic: Poppery I with two variacs (12 msgs / 319 lines)
1) From: Jim Anable
I'm new to this list, and hope to get some suggestions and hints on how 
to improve my roasting techniques.
For over a year now, I've been using CHEAP Chinese Toastmaster (Poppery 
II type clones).  I split the voltage dropping coil and fan from the 
main heater, and wired so that the fan runs as soon as you plug it in, 
and the switch is used to turn the main heater coil on and off.  I'd 
then roast by eye and ear, rocking the switch on and off.
I recently "upgraded" to the original Popper (AKA Poppery I).  What a 
difference in quality!  The Toastmaster units are JUNK in comparison.
So here's the current setup:  Poppery I, rewired with two power cords.  
One cord is direct to the fan, the second is switched to the heater.  I 
plug the fan into one variac, and the heater into a second larger variac.
Here are some notes on my very first attempt:
I used a rather large load of green beans - Sweet Maria Monkey Blend 
(I'll weight next time).  Even with a larger than usual load, they still 
danced and rotated with slightly over 130V on the fan.  As the beans 
went from yellow to brown and chaff came off, I lowered fan speed by 
dropping voltage to about 120.  As the beans hit first roast, I bumped 
fan up to about 130V and stopped ramping up the heater voltage.  At the 
end of the roast, I cut the heater and gave it a good 135V for a couple 
of minutes for cool down.
The body of the Poppery is still intact, and I used the top with butter 
tray until most of the chaff was blown off into a mesh strainer.  At 
that point, I took off the top and put on a soup can.  I'll note that I 
could use an even larger load of beans if I just skipped the chaff 
collection and started with a soup can.
I started the heater out at about 105V, which in retrospect might've 
been a bit low.  I gradually ramped the voltage up, and I think it was 
running around 112 VAC at first crack.  With a few more attempts, I'll 
learn where to start and how to ramp it up.  My next addition will 
probably be a thermometer.
On my previous attempt with no modification and no variac, I was struck 
by how little time there was between first and second crack, and by how 
fast and heavy the smoke was.  The good news is that with the variacs, I 
was able to obtain a rather darker and oily roast with very little smoke 
at all. 
Any tips would be appreciated, and I'll post more as my technique improves.

2) From: miKe mcKoffee
I'd suggest loading beans until barely any movement when green with fan
maxed, P1 boosted fan ought to be 1/2# range. AND if you do have slight bean
movement with 1/2# or better personally I'd stick to exactly 1/2# greens and
adjust fan speed accordingly, so greens bags come out even. (Which is
precisely what I do:-) Use the heater variac as primary "ramp" control.
Target total roast times 11 to 15 minute range. Also give a good 3 to 4
minutes going to 300f (beginning of yellowing) which will set the beans up
for roasting and eliminate grassiness in lighter roasts. Then go as fast as
beans change colors evenly from start of yellowing to just before start of
1st. I'm usually around 4 minutes that stage but it varies a bit of course
bean to bean. Take it easy start of 1st to end of 1st for a sweeter roast, 3
minutish, the speed up to end of roast, total roast times start of 1st to
3nd of roast 3 to 6 minutes depending on degree of roast. Play with it and
have fun! (You do want to have a thermometer in the bean mass;-) Roast the
same bean to same finish temp/degree but varying the profile and compare,
find what specific profiles you like for different beans. Highly suggest
trying some roasts of most beans stopping before they're "dark and oily" so
you can better taste the varietal characteristics!
Now off to dinner and then Pirates!
Pacific Northwest Gathering Vhttp://home.comcast.net/~mckona/PNWGV.htmKona Konnaisseur miKe mcKoffee
URL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://mdmint.home.comcast.net/coffee/Rosto_mod.htmUltimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must
first not know. And in knowing know I know not. Each Personal enlightenment
found exploring the many divergent foot steps of Those who have gone before.
Sweet Maria's List - Searchable Archiveshttp://themeyers.org/HomeRoast/

3) From: Jim Anable
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
miKe mcKoffee wrote:
Yeah, I know.  I'm deciding on whether a Fluke 179 might be the ticket.  
I could use a better multimeter, and it does -40 to 500F.
I actually got that dark by accident, because I didn't see the normal 
smoke that'd indicate it was getting done!

4) From: Michael Dhabolt
Our hosts sell a TC thermometer that is a great addition to your
accoutrement's if temp indication is all that you are after.  Mine has
been trouble free for several years.
Digital Thermometer with thermocouple: $29.90 at this page:http://www.sweetmarias.com/prod.roastkits.shtmlMike (just plain)

5) From: Aaron
Since the topic is poppery I / II roasting, i have a question concerning 
Has anyone done back to back roasts with one, and if so, how many.   ie 
will it cause major problems with the unit to do a few back to back like 
it would with an I roast or can you run it pretty hard w/o harming it?

6) From: Jim Anable
Michael Dhabolt wrote:
I saw that, and it looks good.  ...but I'm trying to justify upgrading 
my mulitmeter, and the Fluke 179 also has a good thermometer.  ;^)
I have a digital oven/deep fryer thermometer, but something tells me it 
peaks out at around 390F.  What range do I really need?  Does it really 
read bean temp and not the hot air?

7) From: Jim Anable
Aaron wrote:
Well, that's how I burnt out a couple of Toastmaster poppery II clone 
types.  They are cheaply made, and tend to burn out the main heater at 
the end rivet.  I was only paying about $3 each, but there was labor 
involved with splitting off the main heater from the fan circuit.  I am 
counting on the Poppery I giving me longer life.  Build quality is MUCH 

8) From: JanoMac
Aaron asks:
will it cause major problems with the unit to do a few back to back like
it would with an I roast or can you run it pretty hard w/o harming it?<<
I have done no coil modifications or wire-splicing/cutting or similar mods
to my Popperies I and II and a very recent Popper from West Bend. I vastly
prefer the Poppery I.
I have done back to backs and find that with the popper "preheated," as it
were, it gets jumping into 1st crack far too fast and then stalls into the
1st crack range. If I were to defeat the thermal protection circuit, it
would probably allow full heating, but then I'd be ramping into 2nd crack
before the 1st crack was really over.
On a roast with no extension cord and a loaded (beans barely moving) poppery
I, I can get from zero to 2nd crack in under 6 minutes...too fast! With an
extension cord and appropriate bean mass (beans move steadily, with a little
bouce), I stretch my roast to a little over 10 minutes (minimum) to around
13 minutes. When I go back to back, I once had a 4 oz. roast that didn't hit
2nd crack for 21 minutes! Flat tasting beans...
I run one popper, then let it cool while I roast with the other.  My garage
circuit won't let me run both at the same time without popping a breaker, so
that is just as well. The 10-15 minute break between roasts with a
particular popper is enough to allow a pretty good roast for three
successive roasts with the poppery I and two successive roasts with the
popper II. I may as well forget the new West Bend popper. It has a difficult
time getting up to proper roasting temperatures at all.
I CANNOT use the extension cord on this new popper and get a 2nd crack
--sometimes even 1st crack is ellusive-- so I use it to dry the beans &
start a roast, then dump the preheated beans into one of the other poppers
to finish. This effectively gives me a kind of "profile" whereby I slowly
dry (3 minutes or so) the greens in the newest (junkiest) popper, then dump
the yellowing beans into one of the older poppers to get into 1st crack and
let 1st crack roll a little until I am waiting only for outlier "snaps."
With many coffees, this is where I stop; if 2nd crack is needed then I let
it keep getting hotter in the poppery I.

9) From: Aaron
Ok it sounds like I will be needing to put less beans into my poppers 
then to drag out the cooking time.  You are right, they do taste a 
bit.... not as full tasting when done fast.
You mention can't get to second crack or heating problems.  One thing I 
did that seemed to bring temp up is, when beans are bouncing, I take a 
metal spoon and just hold it in there to hold the beans down for about 
10 seconds so they don't bounce, then when I let them up get a small 
burst of cracks... might be enough to 'push forward' a roast that is 
trying to stall on you..... worth a try at least.

10) From: JanoMac
From: Jim Anable wrote:
 >>I am counting on the Poppery I giving me longer life.  Build quality is
MUCH better.<<
I am roasting in the well-used Poppery (yes, it made wonderful popcorn) I my
wife & I received as a wedding gift. We just celebrated our 30th anniversary
last weekend, so this thing just celebrated its 30th birthday as a kitchen
We just got back from a trip to the Smokies and I just have to tell you one
We drove into a a kind of artsy-craftsy strip mall outside of Gatlinburg and
when we stepped out of the car, my wife, who does NOT drink coffee and finds
the taste of even my best stuff "really awful and bitter" (I cry every time
she says this) immediately remarked:
 "I know that smell...Someone is roasting coffee!"
Indeed it did, and I replied: "...and it smells like it just got into 1st
crack" (because the smell was still sweetish, but had lost the "baked"
aroma). I told my wife it smelled like the Africans (almost entirely
Ethiopians) I like so well. I was sipping some 5-day rested Harrar Horse Lot
#30 (Moka pot brewed) when we pulled into the lot.
We looked around and there we saw a small coffee shop. Inside a fellow was
roasting Harar in an Amnex 5-kilo roaster. He had already been at it 6-hours
that day and was still enjoying his roasting! We had a nice chat and I
bought some Rwanda Bourbon coffee (roasted) from him for the pleasure of the
I'll let you know how it tastes.

11) From: Michael Dhabolt
The only modification to the heater assembly on my Poppery 1 (Ubber
Popper) is the removal of the thermostat, and the fan is stock
(re-lubricated during assembly).  Most everything else has been
tweaked a bit.....variac controlled fan, TC heat indication / PID
controlled heat, 3" pyrex glass chimney, opened up the housing to help
air flow a little.  The same thing is do-able with dual variac control
(and a few other methods).
I roast every fifth day, on the average.  My net roast load yield is
within a few grams one way or the other of 1/2 pound.  I normally
roast six loads and cool the beans to between 250 and 300 F in the
roaster (heat off - fan max.).  I immediately reload the roaster with
greens and start the profile when the bean temp normalizes at approx.
120 F.  This roaster has been trouble free since being built....about
3 years ago.  Lets see.....365*395 days, 1095/5!9 roasting
sessions, 219*6 batches/session=approximately 1314 batches.  And still
going strong.  Overall.....a pretty good investment.
Mike (just plain)

12) From: Peter Z
Back when I was roasting with Popperies I used to run back to back 
roasts all after noon and into the evening, roasting many pounds in a 
session for Christmas gifts etc.
Consistency of roast is easier after the first roast, especially and 
even if you are using dual Variacs in a split wired configuration.
They are very tough, especially the PI, and it still sits in its place 
of honor in the garage, ready to jump into service with a moments notice ;)
Only 111F today, here in LHC
Aaron wrote:

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