HomeRoast Digest


Topic: Cast Iron Coffee Roasting (and rambling) (67 lines)
1) From: Ed Needham
Didn't our ancestors roast coffee in cast iron skillets over a wood burning 
stove as pretty much a routine?  I know that I experimented with a cast iron 
skillet back when I was just starting to roast beans.  The first coffee I 
ever saw roasted was in 1976 at the Runcible Spoon Coffeehouse in 
Bloomington.  They used a big, homemade air roaster that I believe is still 
in use today.  Not much has changed with that place over the years.  It is 
truly a gem of a coffeehouse.http://www.runciblespoonrestaurant.com/After my first attempts at roasting in '77 with the oven and with a cast 
iron skillet, it hit me that maybe I could roast beans in the hot air popper 
that I brought home from college like they did over at the Runcible with 
their huge air roaster.  It worked!  I actually got roasted beans!, and it 
kept me happy for a while, but in the early '80's the Melitta Aromaroast hit 
the market for a brief time and I snagged one.  I was in hog heaven until I 
realized it had a few limitations, such as being seriously underpowered in 
the heat and air department.  I could only roast about 3oz. of beans at a 
time, and really had to fuss with it to get the beans all the way through 
the roast without part of them burning and part of them underroasted.  I 
found that tilting the unit caused the beans to agitate more evenly and with 
opening the air vents a bit I could actually get more air.  I also found 
that if I added more beans, with the greater airflow, I could get a much 
hotter roast, and very nice full city beans.  The only problem was that now 
many of the beans were jumping into the chaff collector, which, by the way 
is probably the best design for a chaff collector on any of the air rosters. 
I found that by cutting the ends out of a soup can, I could extend the 
chimney, use higher airflow, more beans and get a better roast!
Then came the internet, full blast, with Windows 95.  I found others 
interested in roasting coffee at home and the rest is pretty much history. 
Limited, expensive minutes restricted by the internet provider, and slow 
14.4 dial up modems made the text based mailing lists very attractive.  I 
could download all my email and read it offline.  Sweetmarias List and 
alt.coffee were two of my favorite coffee playgrounds.  I think I signed up 
around 1996.  It's hard to remember.  I know many of my coffee posts on 
alt.coffee go back to around that time.  Hearthware Precision, Hearthware 
Gourmet, and finally, the little perforated drum I built and tried to roast 
beans in on the gas grill in 2002.  Those beans rocked, and air roasting, 
skillet roasting, and pretty much every other way of roasting faded into the 
background.  Even the big two pound air roaster I was building still sits 
unfinished in my workshop.  I may finish it one day, but why?
Roasting in a cast iron skillet demands attention, and you'll crack your 
skillet if you get it too hot, but it can be done, and the toasty, mélange 
of beans unevenly roasted might not be pretty, but it'll likely taste great.
I think the thoughts of the Runcible made me ramble a bit.
*********************
Ed Needham
"to absurdity and beyond!"http://www.homeroaster.com*********************


HomeRoast Digest