HomeRoast Digest


Topic: newbie seeking advice on roaster (15 msgs / 589 lines)
1) From: Phil Palmintere
Hello all... I'm a definite newbie, and I'm seeking advice on a first coffee
roaster.  I've never roasted coffee before -- I've just purchased Starbucks
or Peet's or sometimes Costco whole beans.
Through a friend of a friend, I was able to drink coffee that was home
roasted -- and it opened my eyes to the world all of you are so familiar
with.
I would like to get a roaster and try my hand.  I seek your advice on units
that would be, how shall I say it, relatively idiot-proof?  That is, as a
novice, a roaster that would match my skill level (i.e., none)?
I drink espresso made in an all-in-one superautomatic Jura Capresso F7.  Every
now and then, I'll make a cappuccino. I also use a French press every now
and then (I have a cuisinart burr grinder).
So, my equipment is lower-end than most of you, and I do not have trained
tastebuds... but I'd like to get started.
My hope is to find a home roasting machine that is forgiving - -that is, I
would likely be successful using it with my current lack of skill.
What do you all suggest?
Many thanks in advance,
Phil
-- 
We were taking a vote when the ground came up and hit us.
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2) From: dennis true
Welcome to the wonderful world of addiction!!!!!
A few questions and we will better be able to point you in the right  
direction
what is your budget like I mean if you are loaded there are lot of  
options but assuming that you like most of us here don't have a "daddy  
Warbucks" around... what your budget is will help narrow the choices  
down... you mentioned a friend that Homeroasts...what does he use? he  
could help you learn the ropes with his machine and that will assist  
you in a faster learning curve....
let us know what you have in mind and we will gladly assist you i  
finding the best method for you to start with...
Dennis
HG/DB roasting in GTMO
On Jan 4, 2009, at 3:58 PM, Phil Palmintere wrote:
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3) From: Les
I would suggest reading about the roasters Sweet Marias offers pick
one, and then take the plunge.
Les
On Sun, Jan 4, 2009 at 12:58 PM, Phil Palmintere
 wrote:
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4) From: Brian Kamnetz
Hi Phil,
Welcome to coffee roasting.
The cheapest, most interesting way to start roasting coffee is to do
it with simple implements that are not intended for the purpose. The
two most common seem to be hot air popcorn poppers and heat guns.
Hot air popcorn roasters show up frequently in thrift stores, and also
can be purhased for $10-15 new. I suggest that you check Tom's tip
sheet on the Sweet Maria site.
If you go this route, here is the summary of my experience: The roast
should progress for about 2-5 minutes, and then you should get to
first crack. This is a series of crack as each bean expands. It starts
with a single bean cracking, and then pretty soon (usually) many beans
crack. (Sometimes the beans skip this stage, though that is rare.)
First crack is loud, like twigs snapping. Then there should be a pause
of a minute or two, and then second crack should begin. You will see
"chips" coming off the ends of the beans. Stop here.
If you are using a popcorn popper and don't get the progression I
mention above, there are a couple common causes. One is that you need
to adjust the amount of beans. If your roast is progressing too
rapidly, so that first crack blends right into second crack and you
end up with a charred, oily mess, you are roasting too many beans at
one time. Use fewer beans. If the roast isn't getting to second crack,
use more coffee beans.
If your roast still doesn't get to second crack, it is likely that the
popcorn popper's safety equipment is kicking in. You will probably
have to remove the "bi-metal" thermostat.
If you use a heat gun, try to follow the above profile. Do that by
moving the heat gun closer to or farther from the beans, depending on
whether you want to speed the roast up or slow it down.
That is a summary of what I know of these two methods. The alternative
is to buy an introductory coffee roaster. Tom sells a couple on the
Sweet Maria site.
Hope this helps, and good luck!
Brian
On Sun, Jan 4, 2009 at 3:58 PM, Phil Palmintere
 wrote:
<Snip>
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5) From: Carol Lugg
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6) From: John and Emma
Welcome Phil,
As usual great advice from Les. After reading through the information on
SM's it may bring up more questions people on the list can help you with.
You have started in the right place. With the SM's website and this list you
can't go wrong. SM's is not only the best place for buying equipment and
green beans but it is the most thorough website I've found to use as a
starting point when researching.
I started with an air popper popcorn maker and used it for several months
before I bought a Behmor. The popcorn maker was cheap, helped me learn first
crack, second crack, the different smells as the roast progressed etc. I
still use it for beans that are too small to use in my Behmor. As has been
mentioned there are many other methods available. If you choose to use a
popcorn maker read SM's website first because not all popcorn makers will
work for roasting beans.
Remember there is no right or wrong here it is all a learning process and if
you keep reading this list you will always find that you want to upgrade
something you have in your arsenal.
Welcome to the roasted side.
John H.

7) From: Alex Fitch
Phil,
I started with a hot air popper that met Tom's spec that I found at  
Walgreen's. I think it cost me $9. I then went and found a Poppery on  
ebay. I then started modifying them to add controllability.  I have  
enjoyed the learning that occurred with them and at about 6 months I  
ordered a Behmor from Tom. I do 90% my roasting now with the Behmor,  
but still pull the popper out. I have loaned the popper out to friends  
to try roasting.
In the end start simple, learn, enjoy, then upgrade.http://www.walgreens.com/store/product.jsp?CATID02575&navAction=jump&navCount=0&nugD&skuid=sku1160669&id=prod1160679------------------------------
Alex Fitch
Alex
On Jan 4, 2009, at 8:43 PM, John and Emma wrote:
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8) From: Stephen Carey
Welcome, Phil.
I have read all of the great advice people have given you and I agree 
with it all.  Knowing the price range helps a lot, then, as Les 
suggest, dive in.
I did.  It was about 18 months ago.  I read this list, and most of 
the articles and other information I could find on this site, in 
particular, but others also.  I kept coming back here, though.
On illustration:
I read and jumped in with an IR2.  I read and read, then just did 
it.  But, I was never alone, this group was here the entire 
time.  They are amazing.
A while later I got a Behmor, which I love, but was totally new to 
me.  Again, I was not along; the people on this list were here to 
help me through it all.
I now use both roasters, letting my mind at the moment decide which 
to use and which coffee to roast.
So, research, know your budget, plan on having fun, take the plunge, 
let us know what you got.  Then roast and enjoy.
I can't speak for how the coffee will turn out, but you will feel 
great about making your own and now being in control of such 
fantastic flavors which are out there.
And, finally, once again, you will never be alone, everyone here is 
rooting for you and will help in whatever way that can.  That usually 
is a shared experience and man, does that make all the difference in the world.
Keep us posted.
Stephen
At 03:58 PM 1/4/2009, you wrote:
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9) From: dennis true
as always Stephen is so eloquent....
and he is correct!
Dennis
On Jan 4, 2009, at 9:05 PM, Stephen Carey wrote:
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10) From: Earl Hoing
I'm extremely new at roasting.  I too, bought a Kitchen Gourmet popper and have done maybe 4 lbs.  This post talks about modifying the unit.  I'd like to do the same st slow down the roast, but my bottom plate is put on with what looks like tamper proof screws. If yours is the same, what should I do, to do the mods?
 
Thanks, 
Earl "Old age always sneaks up on one, but once it's fully present, the effects are hardly subtle,"  Stone commented dryly. -- David Baldacci  "The Camel Club"> From: Alex> To: homeroast> Date: Sun, 4 Jan 2009 20:56:04 -0500> Subject: Re: [Homeroast] newbie seeking advice on roaster> > I started with a hot air popper that met Tom's spec that I found at > Walgreen's. I think it cost me $9. I then went and found a Poppery on > ebay. I then started modifying them to add controllability. I have > enjoyed the learning that occurred with them and at about 6 months I > ordered a Behmor from Tom. I do 90% my roasting now with the Behmor, > but still pull the popper out. I have loaned the popper out to friends > to try roasting.>
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11) From: Michael I
Phil,
I asked virtually the same question when I started on the list (and  
started roasting) about 2 years ago.
I did not  want to shell out the big bucks (relatively) for a Hot Top  
or Gene at the time, so was looking at some of the lower-cost methods  
of being introduced to roasting.
The advice pushed me towards starting out with the heat gun / dog bowl  
(HG/DB) method.  This allows you to directly experience the stages of  
the roast using all of your senses, so you can get an idea of what the  
coffee is doing.  Then, if you choose to use another roast method  
later (for me, an RK Drum), the triggers you've picked up on in the HG/ 
DB method can be used to help you identify what's happening in the new  
roast method.
For me, the sight component of the roast disappeared when using the  
drum (as it's on the rotisserie in my grill), so I had to use sound  
and especially smell to determine what was going on in there.  Having  
many roasts with the HG/DB, that was relatively easy.
I prefer the HG/DB to the popcorn poppers for a few reasons.  First, I  
think you get  "more" of the roasting experience with it, but I'm sure  
that can be debated.  Next, I think that since the roast progresses  
more slowly than in an unmodded popper (about 15 minute roasts  
compared to 5-7 minute ones), you can differentiate the various roast  
stages more easily.  Finally, an off-the-shelf heat gun is perfect for  
roasting, whereas a popper is often modified to provide more roast  
control -- this can be very simple, or quite complex.
As far as cost goes, if you were to buy all new, the HG/DB setup would  
probably cost from $50-100, while the popper would be considerably  
less (before modding).  You can get a cheaper heat gun, but the  
consensus is that the really cheap ones (e.g. Harbor Freight) are  
cheap for a reason.
If you want to get a purpose-built roaster, and are willing to commit  
to the "hobby" (obsession?), then check out the Behmor, Gene Cafe, and  
Hot Top.  I would definitely recommend the popper or HG/DB over the  
IRoast 2 or FreshRoast, as I think they give you closer contact with  
the beans so you can learn what's happening.  Plus those home-built  
methods are cheaper, which means more money for beans.
If you decide to get one of the other roasters in the future, there is  
also little regret cost associated with a HG/DB or popper.  And I'd  
venture to say that most of the folks that are active on the list have  
at least two methods of roasting (some could probably use a different  
method for every day of the week).
There are other factors involved, too.  If you really want an "idiot- 
proof" roaster, one of the purpose-built ones may have more appeal.   
If you need to roast indoors, then the Behmor stands out.  If budget  
is more the issue, a popper could be the place to start.
Sorry about the verbosity, but I needed to put in a vote for the HG/ 
DB, and hopefully give you some criteria you can use to evaluate which  
method would work for you.
-AdkMike
(Ugh...now back in Boston, after two weeks in the lovely Adirondacks)
On Jan 4, 2009, at 8:56 PM, Alex Fitch wrote:
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12) From: Seth Grandeau
another variable to consider is how much coffee do you go through.
I'm not a DIY guy, so I decided to buy a roaster, rather than HG/DB or
popper.  I started with an IR2, before the Behmor came out.  It was very
easy to see and smell the roast progress, but hard to hear the cracks.  I
also found that my pre-home roasting consumption (less than 1/2 lb per
week), quickly rose to 1.5 lbs per week (I drink more coffee and I bring
coffee in to share).  Doing many tiny roasts got annoying, so upgrading to
the Behmor made perfect sense to me.  Also, as someone who roasts inside,
the smoke supressor on the Behmor was a godsend.  My wife now lets me roast
indoors, which makes a HUGE difference at this time of year!
Good luck with your purchase.
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13) From: Karl Schendel
On Sun, 4 Jan 2009 12:58:19 -0800, "Phil Palmintere" wrote:
<Snip>
I'm going to suggest the Freshroast, for a few reasons:
- it's very nearly foolproof, in that it's a lot harder to
ruin a batch than it is in a popper or other "by hand" method.
- it does small batches, so if you screw up, you have only
screwed up two scoops of beans.
- it does small batches, which lets you experiment a little
bit more easily with less beans at risk.
- it's only $80-ish, so that when you ultimately get tired
of roasting those Wee Little Batches All The Time,
it's not a big financial hit to upgrade to something
larger.  And even if you end up with a Hottop, having
a Freshroast around might still be handy for a backup or
for small batch experiments (e.g. how does city roast
taste with bean X?  or Vienna with bean Y?)
- it's much quieter than the iRoast and you can hear
the crack stages easily, which is nice especially for
someone starting out.
You can of course start out with any of them, but I think
the Freshroast is a good starter roaster in the proper
sense of "starter" -- it's not going to make life hard
for you.
Karl
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14) From: John Carlson
I've been roasting about five years, a couple times per week so I'm still a=
 "newbie" too.
 =
The Fresh Roast is without a doubt an excellent 1st choice. Simple, reliabl=
e, & inexpensive. Mine still works fine in spite of being dropped from time=
 to time and numerous cracks in the base due to heat & the ravages of time. =
 =
Air poppers are great too, once you have an idea what to look for as far as=
 bean color, sound & aroma. My Poppery seems to roast a little larger quant=
ity at a slightly higher temperature, which works well with the cooler ambi=
ent air temperature common during Minnesota winters.
 =
I started using a iRoast II a few months ago, and love this machine too. St=
ill think I'll break out the Poppery & FR from time to time, just because.
 =
I'm currently really intrigued by the Behmore. I have a pretty strong suspi=
cion one may show up at my door in the next year or so. I better start plan=
ning my story now.
 =
John
 =
<Snip>
roast> Subject: Re: [Homeroast] newbie seeking =
advice on roaster> > On Sun, 4 Jan 2009 12:58:19 -0800, "Phil Palmintere" w=
rote:> > > > Hello all... I'm a definite newbie, and I'm seeking> > advice =
on a first coffee> > roaster. ...> > I would like to get a roaster and try =
my hand. I seek your> > advice on units> > that would be, how shall I say i=
t, relatively idiot-proof? > > That is, as a> > novice, a roaster that woul=
d match my skill level (i.e.,> > none)?> > I'm going to suggest the Freshro=
ast, for a few reasons:> - it's very nearly foolproof, in that it's a lot h=
arder to> ruin a batch than it is in a popper or other "by hand" method.> -=
 it does small batches, so if you screw up, you have only> screwed up two s=
coops of beans.> - it does small batches, which lets you experiment a littl=
e> bit more easily with less beans at risk.> - it's only $80-ish, so that w=
hen you ultimately get tired> of roasting those Wee Little Batches All The =
Time,> it's not a big financial hit to upgrade to something> larger. And ev=
en if you end up with a Hottop, having> a Freshroast around might still be =
handy for a backup or> for small batch experiments (e.g. how does city roas=
t> taste with bean X? or Vienna with bean Y?)> - it's much quieter than the=
 iRoast and you can hear> the crack stages easily, which is nice especially=
 for> someone starting out.> > You can of course start out with any of them=
, but I think> the Freshroast is a good starter roaster in the proper> sens=
e of "starter" -- it's not going to make life hard> for you.> > Karl> > > >=
 > >> Homeroast mailing lis=
t> Homeroast>http://lists.sweetmariascoffee.co=m/listinfo.cgi/homeroast-sweetmariascoffee.com> Homeroast community picture=
s -upload yours!) :http://www.sweetmariascoffee.com/gallery/main.php?g2_it=emId=7820
It’s the same Hotmail®. If by “same” you mean up to 70% faster.http://windowslive.com/online/hotmail?ocid=TXT_TAGLM_WL_hotmail_acq_broad=1_122008
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15) From: Sandy Andina
My progression was i-Roast-->i-Roast2-->SC/TO (a Tradition, which I am  =
figuring out how to "pay forward")-->Behmor.  All have their  =
advantages, but I generally use the Behmor, with the SC/TO as an  =
outdoor backup for melange roasts of "quakers" and "drop- =
throughs" (small beans that fall through the Behmor drum's mesh).
On Jan 6, 2009, at 2:27 PM, John Carlson wrote:
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Sandy Andina
www.myspace.com/sandyandina
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