HomeRoast Digest

Topic: How did you get into homeroasting? (33 msgs / 1232 lines)
1) From: Les
 This thread is an off-shoot of the "What do you say to normal coffee
drinkers.?" I think it would be fun to hear how we got started in this
hobby (obsession).  So here is my story.  In 1984, I was a Gevallia
coffee drinker.  I enjoyed getting the coffees from around the world,
so I had moved to the only specialty coffee I knew.  One day I had to
be in Corvallis, Oregon about 20 miles from my house for a meeting.
After the meeting I drove by Sivetz Coffee.  I dropped in and had a
nice visit with Mike, and he told me about his roasters and that he
had a homeroasting machine I could buy.  Being a bit skeptical, I
bought a pound of his coffee.  It was very good!  Since I had a weekly
meeting in Corvallis, I planned on stopping at Sivetz for an hour or
so every week.  After talking to Mike for about a month, I bought one
of his converted Wearever Poppers.  It had an added coil for more heat
and an  on-off switch to cut the heat and allowed the fan to run with
no heat.  It also had a thermometer and a stainless steel stack.  So,
that was my first roaster.  I bought my greens from Mike.  I
volunteered to be his gopher for one of his one day seminars.  I
learned al ot.  Back then the seminar cost $400.00, today it is
$800.00.  Mike is a very knowledgeable roaster.  However it is his way
or the highway!  I have been homeroasting ever since.
I found Sweet Marias because a friend of mine owns a commercial
roaster and he gave me some Uganda Bugisu greens.  I fell in love with
that coffee and found greens at Sweet Marias.  That was when he was in
Ohio.  I have been buying from Tom ever since.
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2) From: jeff michel
Reading the Home Barista and Coffee geeks site's.
I was going to do the heat gun, bread roaster thing (since I have both  
Then a used (CL) Behmor 1600 and the SM site convinced me to invest in  
a roaster.
And I used to used to be a tea guy.
I got berries (briefly) out of my Monkey blend crema yesterday. I  
should be ready for another pull,
On Feb 5, 2009, at 8:19 AM, Les wrote:
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3) From: Frank Parth
Great idea, Les.
I was working for Martin-Marietta designing satellite systems back in Denver in the early '80s. In 1984 they moved me 
to southern California. Since I was changing my lifestyle I was looking through some cooking shops to replace what I'd 
left behind and discovered a whirly-blade coffee grinder. I suddenly understood that I could grind my own coffee beans, 
and it HAD to be much better than the stuff I was buying in the grocery store. I also got a Krups drip brewer for my 
new-found coffee tastes.
When Starbucks starting opening stores in the area I started buying my beans from them. It worked great at the time.
In 1995 I read an article in the local (Orange County, CA) edition of an international organization I belong to 
writtenby a member who was roasting her own coffee. She mentioned Sweet Marias in the article. I called her up and 
shecompletely sold me on roasting my own coffee. So I ordered a Zach & Dani's roaster and some beans and haven't looked 
back. I sold the Z&D to someone else who gave it to her husband as a present and moved up to a GC, a Rocky, andmost 
recently a Bezzera for espresso.
Now I can't drink the stuff they provide in hotel rooms and I long ago stopped buying anything at Starbucks. I'll 
bringcoffee with me on trips and use a hand grinder and an Aeropress.
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4) From: Douglas Hoople
I was really slow to finally take up home roasting.
For years, whenever I had the choice, I drank Chock Full O' Nuts, both from
the supermarket cans and from the delapidated chain of Manhattan
coffeeshops. By today's standards, that's awful to contemplate, but that was
pretty close to as good as it got for ordinary folks. Dunkin Donuts could
turn out an awfully good cup of coffee, too. Again, by the standards of the
day. That was a very long time ago.
In 1976, I had my first cup of specialty coffee, at the Coffee Connection, a
newly-established and very intimidating shop just off Harvard Square in
Boston. It was a Guatemalen and it was fantastic. That started me out on a
search for the perfect cup of coffe that led me to specialty sources all
throughout the Northeast.
By time I had my first cup of Starbucks, served to me with overweening pride
and excitement by the barista in the brand-new shop in the lower level of
Rockefeller center (in 1986 or so, IIRC), I already knew enough to notice
that they roasted everything way too dark. I found myself dubious about this
"exciting West Coast phenomenon" that was finally arriving on the East
In 1989, an office colleague, having discovered my interest in quality
coffees, dropped a freshly home-roasted 1/2 pound of Tanzanian on my desk. I
took it home and brewed it about 36 hours after it was roasted, and it was
one of the best cups of coffee I had ever had. My colleague landed in the
hospital with a bypass shortly after that, and I moved on to another job.
I moved to the San Francisco area in 1998, and had let my active interest in
coffee lapse to the point that I simply accepted 10 years of drinking
Peet's, which was good enough, even though it never reached the heights of
the best of the East Coast coffees. I was being lazy, and I mistakenly
accepted this state as inevitable.
Until 2008, that is, 32 years after drinking my first really great cup of
coffee. I was on a musical tour of Rio de Janeiro. Brazil, of all places, (I
play Brazilian choro on mandolin). We were in the airport, and I insisted on
going upstairs for a cup of coffee before the security ordeal.  The leader
of the tour, a musical hero of mine, mentioned that one of his bandmates,
another musical hero of mine, was a home roaster. I asked where his bandmate
got his beans and what he used for a roaster. When he got back to me with
the information, all the pieces fell into place. Green beans, roasters,
people with passion and vision who could tell me how to do it, everything I
needed in one simple URL www.sweetmarias.com.
So now, 10 years after my interest in great coffee had waned quite
substantially, it's waxing again, bigtime. I got an iR2 and a sampler last
June, and I haven't been the same since. In the past half year, I've had
more misses than hits, but I've increased the number of really great cups of
coffee I experience from about once every year or two, to about once or
twice a month.
Yesterday, I tried HGDB for the first time. I've got the thermometer, vacuum
pot, a stash of greens from all over the world, a growing body of knowledge
of how to roast them and what to expect. Just about the only thing I haven't
yet succumbed to is espresso. It's probably only a matter of time.
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5) From: Zara Haimo
Great idea for a thread, Les!
A good friend of mine had a new boyfriend.  She kept telling me stories 
about all the wonderful things he made - cereal freshly milled at home, OJ 
from the tree in his backyard, and, of course, freshly homeroasted coffee. 
I just thought she was newly in love and so infatuated that anything he did 
seemed wonderful.  I couldn't imagine why anyone would roast at home and it 
seemed like it would be a big, messy project too.
Then, they invited me to dinner one evening.  I asked about homeroasting 
which led to a demonstration with a small Hearthware that Tom used to sell. 
I asked to taste the results, but they refused - the coffee needed to rest. 
Rest?!!!!  Finally, they relented and made me some coffee from the beans we 
had just roasted.  It was the best cup of coffee I'd ever had and I was 
hooked.  We spent the rest of the evening on the Sweet Maria's website 
picking out what I should order.
That was about 7 years ago and I've been roasting ever since.  I started 
with one of the small Hearthwares.  When that broke, I switched to a dog 
bowl and heat gun - now my backup roaster.  These days I have a HotTop with 
the digital panel and am thinking of upgrading to the programmable because I 
miss being able to stretch out the time between 1st and 2nd.
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6) From: R Nepsund
Originally I didn't drink coffee,  I just didn't care for the taste.  Any
ways, one Christmas I got a  Starbucks gift card and for a while I was going
there every week or two and it was good.   When the card ran out I thought
that while it was good it was also expensive so I went online and googled
for "good coffee" and found a mountain of info.   After that I picked up a
cheap burr grinder off of ebay and started buying roasted coffee from online
and the various local stores.  I finally ended up getting coffee from Peet's
coffee which was the best I found.   About a year later I was in a thrift
store and noticed a Poppery II for $2, which I remembered was the 2nd best
popper coffee roaster. I couldn't resist, and ran over to a local roaster
shop and picked up some greens.  :-)   Now a days I'm still using that
popper if a bit modified and use a large comercial grinder I picked up on
craigs list.
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7) From: Mike Koenig

8) From: Kathleen Tinkel
I tried to roast coffee shortly after reading about it in the Whole 
Earth Catalog in the 1970s. The early experiments were not too 
successful, but any time I found a likely tool or source of green 
beans I always gave it a whirl.
The whole saga is posted on my food site: 
"Roasters I have known."
The bottom line is that I was able to roast usefully only after 
learning about Sweet Maria's (around 1999 or 2000). As so many others 
here have said, I owe Tom and Maria and crew an enormous debt of 
gratitude for the tools and greens they provide, and for the 
knowledge they so generously share.
-- Kathleen
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9) From: Jeff Holder
I'll chime in here and share my story.  I got into home roasting about four
years ago while living in Cape Town, South Africa.  A good friend of mine in
Johannesburg convinced me to buy a hot air popcorn popper and I used that
for better than a year.  I graduated to an IR2 and am now roasting on the
Gene Cafe.  I've enjoyed it so very much that I've sought to encourage
others to give it a try.  One of my son's is now roasting on his IR2.  It's
a wonderful hobby and conversation starter as I'm sure all who are "out
there" enjoying can testify.
On Thu, Feb 5, 2009 at 3:51 PM, Kathleen Tinkel 

10) From: Stephen Carey
Hi.  You point out that it is a conversation starter and it sure is 
that.  But, it is also a reason to get together with friends, 
really.  It may sound odd, but some of my friends want to know when I 
am roasting and if the time is right they want to come over and watch 
and learn.  Some nights I have about seven people here.  We roast 
some coffee, study where it comes from, share how we started drinking 
coffee and then on to other things as we taste other coffee I have 
already roasted.  Sometimes we even brew some of the just roasted 
coffee to see what it tastes like.
Anytime friends can be around is a nice thing.  Though, to be honest, 
there are  times where it is just me and the beans and I sort of 
relax into myself as I roast, enjoying the sounds and smells, plus 
the color changes of the beans.  I can't say I go into a meditative 
state or I would have fires all over the place, but it is a relaxing 
time.  I love this stuff.
At 05:17 PM 2/5/2009, you wrote:
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11) From: John Grubbs
I've been homeroasting only about a year now. (In fact, almost exactly one
year. First roast was last Feb. 8.) I caught the bug strictly through the
internet. I started out looking for more interesting ways to brew coffee
than the default autodrip. In the process of researching brewing, I found my
way to Sweet Maria's and other sites and discovered something called
"homeroasting coffee". I was drawn in like a moth to flame. I gathered the
necessary implements (in my case, HG/BM), ordered a sampler from SM, and
away I went. There's no going back now.
Through the web and especially this list, I've begun (barely) to learn about
roasting. It's exciting and more than a little daunting to realize there's
no end to this quest. Thanks to all of you for your help.
John, in Birmingham
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12) From: Brad Baker
I always had a blade grinder - 8 o'clock Columbian from the
supermarket.  I thought I was special.  Then we started buying from a
local roaster at $12 or more a pound.  It was worth it.  Then to save
money I bought 20 lb at a time from California Coffee Roasters mail
order.  People at work bought pounds and shared the cost.
Last July California Coffee Roasters became, shall we say,
non-responsive?  We went back to local - but She wanted more decaf
We looked on the SM website at the decaf variety and bought a Behmor
and beans.  Here we are.
I have two Behmors now, one in the house and one in the garage in a
state of partial disassembly.  That story will have to wait for
another time.
Take care,
---  b r a d  b a k e r  ---\\
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13) From: raymanowen
"...I haven't yet succumbed to is espresso. It's probably only a matter of
[May I edit that a little bit?]
**I haven't yet succumbed to espresso. It's inevitable; only a matter of
My own coffee/ home roasting story is wildly obfuscated and encompasses 60/
30 years in total.
I just saw the dentist this morning re: a silver nugget that fell out of one
of my teeth. I am a coward, and had delayed the call for 16 hours.
At 0830, an hour after I called Doc and walked out the door, I had the
cleaning, filling fix and walked back. Bertagnolli is 150 yards south- the
building out my front window. They're in the office at 0600 every morning.
I was anxious to try a shot of the IMV FC+ after 3 days' rest since the
first truncated roast in the FR. I  that Ray & Ethiopians like ++more
than a Sitty roast. Right again.
Electric Tooth. Agony. =Coward....
- - - - -
Tonight, The 3.5 day IMV gave a mellow Montmorency Cherry/ Apricot on almost
smoky Almond nut. Nothing like the train wreck/ mortar attack of the Sitty
On Thu, Feb 5, 2009 at 10:37 AM, Douglas Hoople wrote:
"When the theme hits the bass, I dance the Jig!" - -Virgil Fox at the Mighty
Wichita (ex- NYC Paramount) WurliTzer- 1976
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14) From: kevin creason
My obession with coffee goes back a long time. My dad passed it on to me.
A friend knew my obsession with coffee and when he saw a Melitta AromaRoast
at a resale shop, he called me and picked it up for me-- this is 2005 I
If anyone shares my obsession it is my dad, and he was coming to visit in a
few weeks so I ordered some greens.
We had a blast though we eventually popped the thermal fuse using the box to
recirculate heat. I did fix it, but quickly upgraded to a couple of poppers
(one with soup can extension),  an IR2, a Behmor, and finally  RK.
I use the B16k and RK mostly, but the soup-can popper some too.
My uses a Popper 1 with a split circuit.
I send him a couple of sweet marias care packages several times a year. I
just received my latest self care package.
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15) From: jeff michel
I hope you didn't put the mercury back in there...
I just had a tooth crack in half due an enormous amalgam fill and I  
was glad to get it out of there.
Mercury does not belong in our body's. I think it is the second most  
toxic metal. One down from uranium.
Thank god they don't use lead in there. At least use gold if you have  
to have metal.
Probably one of the largest contributors to disease in the western  
AMA and insurance thinks we need them. Draw your own conclusions.
Got to meet Maria today!
Sweet place!
On Feb 5, 2009, at 8:06 PM, raymanowen wrote:
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16) From: miKe mcKoffee
I didn't start drinking coffee until 1984 at age 30. I'd tried it a number
of times but yuck. Then a string of events happened that changed that
forever. We (Debi, my then wife of 4yrs now 28yrs, & I) were on a road trip
vacation through California and planned a couple days in San Francisco. As
chance would have it a Convention Committee I happened to be chairing had
chosen one of the keynote speakers from San Francisco. Before beginning our
2 week road trip I gave him a call, he insisted we cancel our hotel and stay
with him. The evening we arrived he asked if we'd like a cup of coffee, Debi
said yes (grew up drinking whatever was on the stove all day:-) and I
politely declined. He opened the freezer, took out a bag of beans, poured
some in a grinder, returned the bag to the freezer, ground 'em up and brewed
a drip pot. Hmm, what's that smell? It doesn't smell like any coffee I'd
ever smelled before! When it was done brewing he poured himself & Debi a cup
and again asked if I'd like to try a cup. I accepted. Don't remember what
variety it was etc. but it was unlike any coffee I'd ever tried in my life.
This brown liquid stuff was good! We spent the evening talking about coffee,
his buying his roasted beans weekly, San Francisco being a major coffee port
When we got home we immediately bought a coffee pot, whirly chop 'grinder'
and went looking for fresh roast whole beans. (up 'till then the only
brewing method in the house was a plastic single cup pour through and a
small can in the freezer for Debi...) Way back in 1984 we discovered a
micro-roastery cafe' called Coffeeville USA in our hometown. Started buying
our beans from them and been chasing fresh roast whole beans ever since.
Unfortunately they were ahead of their time and went out of business a
couple years later... found another place across the river in Portland that
didn't roast their own but got it in a couple times a week from a local
roaster. Bought from them for a couple years.
Then one day while at the Mall we heard something that sounded kind of like
popcorn popping in a place called Cap'n Beans. He'd brought in a drum five
pounder from Germany to do some roasting in the shop to draw attention.
(main roasting was off site) We chatted and learned a bit more about coffee.
He was a freshness fanatic donating any roasted that didn't sell to shelters
after 7 days. My kind of guy. We happily did business with him for 10 years.
Until it happened. The new Mall owners wanted a 'name' coffee shop in his
prime corner spot. A Charbucks copycat whom I choose to call Seattle's Worst
got their Mall spot. We lost track of him.
Went back to our previous source but they didn't cut it anymore. The
Internet had taken off so I began searching for a place that would roast to
order and offered a choice in degree of roast. Starting ordering across
country from a place in Texas. Roasts dated and not a bad job. But they
couldn't seem to get the Sulawesi just how we liked it. Did business with
them for a couple years and continued searching. Discovered some Websites
talking about home roasting. After a couple months research bought a Caffe'
Rosto and 1 pound of every Indonesian green CBC offered plus a few others
and was off and roasting. Very shortly later placed an order with SM (May
21st, 2001 first SM order) for the 8 sampler. Roasted with dual voltage
controlled Caffe Rosto via FrankenFormer for a number of years as well as
occasionally skillet then dedicated wok. Later a couple of computer
controlled HotTops (now just one) and of course last year plus USRC 3k.
Indeed it's a slippery slope!
Slave to the Bean Kona Konnaisseur miKe mcKoffeehttp://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must">http://www.NorwestCoffee.comURL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately 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.
Pacific Northwest Gathering VIIhttp://themeyers.org/HomeRoast/Homeroast mailing list">http://home.comcast.net/~mckona/PNWGVII.htmSweet Maria's List - Searchable Archiveshttp://themeyers.org/HomeRoast/Homeroast mailing list
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17) From: jeff michel
Nice tale!
On Feb 5, 2009, at 10:24 PM, miKe mcKoffee wrote:
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18) From: Coffee
My coffee quest was sparked many years ago but died in frustration  
shortly after. After tasting espresso in my college years at a  
espresso bar (dark, lots of couches, poetry readings, live music, long  
hair -- I didn't really fit in, but I loved the espresso), I wanted to  
be able to make espresso. I bought an inexpensive (krupps) espresso  
machine that only produced crap that then sat on a shelf for 25 years  
until my wife got rid of it. Then I drifted for a long time. Buying  
beans from a specialty store. At some point I settled on Starbucks.  
Could have been the hype, maybe the convenience. I didn't like the  
coffee they served in the store, but it was ok when I brewed it at  
home. I bought different kinds of coffee brewers, I've got a Bodum vac  
pot, french presses, etc. I've gone through various drip brewers too.  
Somewhere along the way I had a good Kona. Kona is still one of my  
favorites, probably because it was the first coffee that seemed  
distinctly different. The first I could pick out of a crowd. I started  
looking for more different coffees. I found a local roaster and  
discovered Sumatras and Kenyans. At some point I read an article about  
single-serve coffee machines and bought a pod brewer. It was  
disappointing and bought a better one. This was pretty good. If you  
bought the right pods. It was convenient and clean. I also bought a K- 
Cup brewer which was sometimes better than the pods and sometimes  
worse. In general, though, the coffee was sometimes a bit weak.
I read an article somewhere on home roasting coffee. I thought this  
might be a fun thing to do. I must have talked about it enough because  
my wife bought me a Gene Cafe for Christmas a year ago. Then I found  
Sweet Maria's and this list and have enjoyed the best coffee of my  
life for more than a year now.
On Feb 5, 2009, at 8:19 AM, Les wrote:
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19) From: Darliene Stanhope
Ironically I come from a household that did not drink coffee.  My
grandmother would slip some cafe au lait into my bottle when she kept me, or
at least she did until she was found out by my parents. :-)  I then stopped
drinking coffee until I was in my teens and only at my grandparents house at
that point.  I kept searching for better coffee, and I tried many different
brands all preground.  In my mid twenties we had a national coffee chain
move into the local mall.  It wasn't Charbucks, we didn't get a Charbucks in
this area of Florida until 5 or 6 years ago.  The coffee from there was a
whole lot better than the supermarket stuff.  I started buying ground coffee
from them, then graduated to whole bean. I also started drinking coffee in a
french press at that time.  This continued until 2000.  I found a company on
the internet that had fresh roasted coffee.  I started ordering from them.
It was better than what I had been drinking, but still not what I was
wanting.  I ordered from them until 2004.  In the fall of 2004 I was
searching for some Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee and came across green
coffee beans for the first time.  I became curious as to how you would roast
them.  I started doing research, found SM and the rest is history.  I
started with a Fresh Roast roaster, it was a great first roaster for me to
learn on to make sure this is what I wanted to do.  I now roast with a
On Fri, Feb 6, 2009 at 8:55 AM, Coffee  wrote:
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20) From: golfermd01

21) From: Joseph Robertson
Les thankyou for this wonderful thread....
Coffee ahhh coffee when and how did I discover you and how the hell
did I get up to my ears in it.
How can I make this short and sweet like a great Ristretto or should I
make it a long dark....
I'm 60 years young so it's going to have to be a long dark for now.
Like many I was raised by my mother,grandmother, and babysitters after
loosing my dad to cancer when I was seven. Coffee was always on the
stove. An all glass stove top peculator brewer. I bet many remember
that picture. I was always intrigued by being able to see all stages
of brewing. It was an adult drink so I never came close to it till I
turned 17 or so. Never really understood the reason for drinking it
except I soon learned that the adults around me would not start a day
with out it.
My first real taste of what I consider tasty black came at 17 or 18
when I dated my Italian/Fin wife to be. Her mother introduced me to
French Market coffee with Chicory. She made it stout so it had full
flavor. I never drank any of that other stuff because it tasted like
thin muddy swill. No real taste. Not only did I marry her daughter I
was forever hooked on mud with serious flavor. Along came Vietnam and
some serious time in the Navy. Again mostly thin mud swill. Then along
came post war and *$'s. I was more intrigued by the strange looking
machine with long handle's than I was what was coming out of them. I
didn't know or learn what the machine was doing from a technical point
till a few years ago. Coffee from them was nice but how often will I
be downtown or where I could get coffee at that price. "I thought the
price then was high for a good cup"
A friend introduced me and I took it as a cool novelty. I have always
loved good coffee but it wasn't till the same friend said to me if
your serious about roasting you should talk to Dan so and so who has a
business in downtown PDX. That was 4 years ago. At almost the same
time I discovered this strange eclectic group of people called
homeroasters thanks to Sweet Maria's and Google. I was trying to get a
popcorn popper modified when I heard about an even stranger fellow
named miKe McCoffee and an annual gathering of these coffee geeks
which I was in the process of morphing too. Little did I know at the
time. One thing they all had in common they bowed to the same Coffee
God that I wasnt' even sure was human at the time. Sure I could place
orders and see it come in the mail but I still was not sure what I was
getting into.
Then I went to one of miKe's summer gatherings with a couple of
friends and all of a sudden I knew I was home. I not only discovered a
bunch of coffee lovers I found a select few of extremely special
people all with common interests and unconditional support for each
other. At the time of this summer event I knew roasting coffee at home
was not going to keep me entertained for long. I wanted more, more of
this one on one with folks of the same passion. Now with a small
Coffee Roastery and Wine shop it is my mission to share my passion of
coffee roasting with as many people I can. My first roaster sits on
the shelf "IR2" so I can let others know how this happened to me and
where I got most of the information and special greens. Sweet Maria's
has been a serious hub for many of us and will continue to be. Oh, and
by the way I am very sure that Tom and Maria are flesh and blood like
the rest of us. I did not get a chance to meet them at thehttp://home.comcast.net/~mckona/PNWGVII.htmbut most all at that
gathering said they were at the previous gathering and photos
supported that. Someday I'll meet them in person.
Thank you to this list and all who support this passion, coffee,
roasting and coffee love.
On Thu, Feb 5, 2009 at 8:19 AM, Les  wrote:
Ambassador for Specialty Coffee and palate reform.
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22) From: Dave
1st: congrats to Sean on the Light Colonel!
Interesting thread Les, thanks!
My coffee interest started about 1980 when we were newlyweds and my
wonderful non-coffee-drinking wife brought home some specialty beans from
Cost Plus in Oakland. We figured out how to grind them in the blender (put
the blades on a 1/2 pint mason jar), or in a little "peanut butter maker"
we'd gotten as a wedding gift. I didn't realize it then but the PB machine
was a little burr grinder.
For many years I bought various specialty coffees, some good, some not so
much... I settled on Peet's as my preferred supplier, but they weren't very
Three years or so ago I was surfing around on the net, and learned about
homeroasting. I wasn't terribly interested, but it was in the back of my
mind. When we bought an investment house in Victorville, I stopped into a
little shop for coffee one afternoon, and got talking to the owner who
roasted his own, and had been a homeroaster. I didn't really see the point
at first, but was intrigued. I started talking about giving it a try, but
never did anything about it.
Two years ago my oldest son gave me a Walgreens air popper for Christmas.
Everybody gave him strange looks, because I rarely eat popcorn. I knew
immediately that it wasn't a popper at all, but a roaster in disguise! So I
got right to the SM site and placed my first order for a sampler. I used
that little popper for almost a year, until the Behmors were released, then
bought one of those, and have been using that ever since. I take coffee, and
am generally in charge of the coffee at all the family get togethers now.
I've only bought roasted beans a couple times since I started, only when
I've underestimated how much I need for a vacation, and I've been
disappointed each time.
I make my morning pot er... cup with an Aeropress. Later in the day I may
use that again, or my mocca pot, or most recently I've been using a beehive
pour-over. I also have a Bodum mini-electric vac pot, and a couple of
auto-drips that I only break out when I need to make more coffee than
I haven't yet succumbed to the dark side. Mostly because
1) I don't have counter space, and
2) I like sleeping in bed with my wife;-) An espresso machine I'd be happy
with would be a budget buster...
Some days...
It's just not worth chewing through the leather straps
On Fri, Feb 6, 2009 at 8:42 AM,  wrote:
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23) From: Seth Grandeau
For me, coffeelife started when I was in grad school (early 90s) and I had
the opportunity to spend a semester teaching in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Excellent coffee!  When I returned home, I discovered my local Starbucks
sold "Aged Indonesian" and I loved the smokey goodness.  But one day, they
were out.  When I inquired, they explained that there had been a warehouse
fire and the crop was all destroyed.  "When will you have more?" I asked.
"Probably 3 years...they need to age it."  I never did see Aged Indonesian
again at that Starbucks.  Fast forward a few years to the early 2000s.  A
co-worker found out that I was "into coffee" and brought me a sample of his
homeroast.  It was HEAVENLY.  I asked him all about it, but the story
involved tracking down local suppliers and converted popcorn poppers and
cooling rigs and smoke and mess.  Too much hassle I decided, though it did
lead me to stop buying Starbucks coffee and to switch to fresh roasted
coffee at my local Whole Foods.  Then, a year and a half ago, another
co-worker brought in some homeroast for us to enjoy and it was, again,
heavenly.  We started chatting and I told him that, although I loved it, I
didn't think it was worth all the effort.  He then introduced me to
SweetMarias and the IR2.  Suddenly homeroasting didn't seem like such a bad
deal.  And when I went to the website to order, what did I find?  Aged
Sumatra!  I've been hooked ever since!
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24) From: Andy Thomas
I've been a coffee drinker from about age 6. Used to watch the morning news=
 on TV with my grandfather and he would give me a few spoonfuls of his coff=
ee in my milk. First introduction to espresso was in the 60s in Greenwich V=
illage, where my friends and I would go and pretend to be bohemian. I was a=
 teenager and used to go to Cafe Feenjon on McDougal for cappuccino. It was=
 astoundingly delicious. Cut to about 1999 -- my Krups steam toy died and I=
 decided to get a new one. My research into espresso makers led to Coffeeki=
d.com (Mark Pringle's precursor to Coffeegeek.com) where I learned it was=
 actually possible to roast coffee at home, and also learned about Sweet Ma=
ria's. As it happened I had a West Bend Poppery II, so I ordered a sampler =
pack. Coffee life has not been the same since. My first attempts were succe=
ssful enough that I kept doing it, and perhaps got a little more skillful o=
ver time. I've tried a few other roasting methods, but now roast with
 the original Poppery, modified so I can control the profile a bit. I have =
occasionally tried other sources of green coffee, but the quality of the pr=
oduct is always disappointing. And of course, the service, information and=
 resorces -- such as this list --  are unsurpassed by anyone I know of =
-- in ANY business.
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25) From: Brian Kamnetz

26) From: Karl Schendel
I got into it because I found the Sweet Maria's website, entirely
by accident.
I used to drink 5-6 cups of office bilge a day, but since I
did the consultant thing and stopped working in a regular
office, I cut way back.  For some years, my wife and I have
had our one or two small cups of coffee in the morning.  We
were quite happy with the Capresso (burr)grind and drip and
we figured we were in coffee heaven.  Still, every now and
then we'd get a particularly good cup at a restaurant
and wonder how it was done.
(Neither of us ever cared for $bucks.  Nasty bitter stuff.)
I got into teas a few years back, and after the morning
cup I would drink tea the rest of the day.  (I still do
a lot of tea. If there are any tea drinkers on this list,
may I direct your attention to www.specialteas.com.)
Once you get into good leaf tea, there's no going back.
So my wife was already somewhat used to my extremist
One day, I was looking for something tea related - I
forget what now - and somehow landed on the SM website.
The notion of home roasting was so weird I started
reading the home roast info, and was fascinated by
the coffee bean descriptions and reviews.  I was
sufficiently intrigued that I ordered the smallest
4-pound sampler they had, dug the old air popper
out of the nether recesses of the corner cupboard,
and fired it up.  My wife came in and said "what
EXACTLY are you doing?"  :-)  The first roast
was a disaster, because I wasn't sure if I was
hearing first crack or second so I let it run
until the cracks stopped.  It was second crack,
alas. The second roast was really quite nice,
and I decided to get a Freshroast to make life
easier since the auld popper was barely holding
After that first order of greens was gone, we had
to go back to store beans for a few days, and that
was enough to convince us!  The store stuff wasn't
nasty, it was just flat, dead, and tasteless.
Now we enjoy our fresh beans thru a J5 superauto
(the old drip machine was just about worn out and
we got a great deal on the J5), and I use an AP
when I want something with more character than
what the J5 puts out.  At some point I may invest
in a lever espresso machine and fancy grinder, but
that's a ways off yet.  I'm still using the
Freshroast;  I expect I'll get a Hottop at some
point, but I don't want to put the money into it
just now.
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27) From: Bonnie Polkinghorn
My parents drank dreck.
Sometimes, ran water through the same grounds twice.
Kept the pot on the warmer all day long.
I vowed I would *never* drink coffee.
(I vowed I would never drink beer, too.)
In college, I drank tea.  It kept me awake, I could not sleep.
I started drinking herbal teas.  That was in the late 70's.
Somehow, somewhere, after college, I found coffee.  Maybe it was at work, I
cannot remember.  It was just something.
I was having problems with irregular heartbeats.  Went to the doctor who
said "give up wine or give up coffee", I kept the wine and turned to decaf.
That was in 1984.
So, since 1984 I had been on a quest to find the best decaf around.
I think I discovered latte's and cappucino's and really dark oily french
roast beans, the oilier the better.  Then, I discovered Peets, and their
cups of coffee were always so much better than mine.
I had this old deLonghi steam toy that I didn't use much.
At work, my friend and I setup a coffee station at our desk, we brought in
better beans and ground them before brewing in our Mr. Coffee.  It was so
much better than the alternatives.  I also had one of those one cup Black
and Decker brewers in my office.  That went on for years, until 1999, when I
stopped working to have my first baby. ( I started working again in 2005,
when the oldest was 6, the middle child was 5 and my baby was 2.)
On June 1, 2002, my house burned down, and the race to replace everything I
ever owned began.  One of the first things I researched to replace was my
espresso machine - just because I could.  I found coffeegeek.com.  I found
my choice of the *$ Barista was good for the $$ and it went on sale twice a
year.  For a drip pot, to replace whatever, my imitation Mr. Coffee, I found
the electric vac pot, wow, was it cool.  They said burr grinders were good,
so I got one at Costco.  I loved my Barista.  I made latte's and cappo's
almost every day for years.  I read how to create good microfoam on this
machine.  Better than *$.  I told my husband, look, there are bigger coffee
geeks than me... some of them roast their own beans, can you believe that?
When they go on vacation, they bring their own equipment.  I told him "I
will *never* do that".
Well, the quest for better decaf continued, and I am lucky where I live that
there are a lot of respectable roasters around, a lot of choices.  I was
perfecting my Barista lattes and cappos and shots.  I got tired of my Costco
burr grinder and did some research and for my price point, I purchased a
Solis Maestro (just plain, not plus).
In March of 2007 I was at a friends house, and the husband showed me that he
roasted his own beans on a whirley pop corn popper on the stove top.  It
turns out, his wife was at my house and I was making popcorn in the whirley
popper on the stove, and she loves popcorn, so she went out and bought one.
When her hubby saw it, he somehow started roasting his own.
I couldn't believe it.  He told me that home roasted beans were kind of like
baking your own chocolate chip cookies vs. store bought.  At that moment, I
knew, I had a new hobby.  He roasted two batches and showed me how to tell
the diff. bet. 1c and 2, and how to cool the beans in two collanders.  He
told me about Sweet Maria's.
I went home on a quest.  I bought a new whirley pop corn popper, a
thermometer, two collanders, a count up timer and a log book.  I subscribed
to this list.  I read that book.  I read Tom's how to's.  I ordered a 2lb
bag of some decaf.
I roasted my first roast, and drank some fine coffee.  I felt very strange,
though, like, huh, there was caffeine in that decaf.  So, I researched more
carefully, and emailed Maria and she asked me if the beans were green, I'm
like, yah, the greens are green.  Oops, they shipped me regular instead of
decaf, but I was a newbie.
I continued to roast on my popper from April until Christmas 2007 when my
family got me my Behmor.  I roast for family and a few friends, and
sometimes give coffee as gifts.  I'm on roast #242, but who's counting?
When my electric vac pot bit the dust,  I ordered a Yama vac pot, which I
use every morning.  I use a French Press every morning, too.  I use my
Aeropress every afternoon.  I toy with my moka pot.  Occasionaly I do a pour
over.  I still make decent shots on my Barista.  I was surfing Craigslist
one day and found a great Super Jolly grinder, which I totally love.
But reading the list about all the fine coffees and flavors, a few months
ago, I decided, it was time, to introduce one cup of regular coffee into my
life.  OMG!!!  The flavors I get from regular coffee are about a trillion
times better than decaf.  My decafs are great, but the regular is supurb.  I
drink one cup of regular brewed in my Aeropress every afternoon.  Right now
I'm enjoying a Kenya, two days rest, C+, and I cannot describe how
wonderful.  I have a twitter/facebook account and now I try to
twitter/facebook the coffee I'm drinking at the moment.
I even have one confirmed convert, she had the same epiphany that I did,
when she tasted my coffee and I showed her how I roast it, she knew she had
a new hobby.
Thanks for listening!
-Bonnie P.
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28) From: Brian Kamnetz
On Fri, Feb 6, 2009 at 6:27 PM, Bonnie Polkinghorn
Thanks for telling your story! I enjoyed reading it.
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29) From: Brian Kamnetz
I sure hope Tom posts on this thread...!!!
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30) From: Terry McVay (rr)
What a great idea!!
Have always loved coffee from the time my Swedish uncle used to slip me some
of his when I was very-very young. Even ran a small coffee house for a time
in the 60's in Hawaii but we had no clue then that instant coffee was not
coffee...  went thru several years of Army brew before settling back in
Hawaii, eventually to Kona in '84 where we noticed that there were coffee
trees growing up behind our house.  We picked it, managed to process it,
somehow, and roasted it in our electric oven on a sheet pan, it was
horrible!  A year or two later, on the Kona Coffee Council, one of other
members, a Dr. Fike, (fellow really knew his coffee) described hot air
popper roasting and away we go, found Sweet Maria's, went through several
poppers, Hearthware Precisions, Rosto's, Wok (thanks Jim), HG/DB and finally
RK's magnificent drum roaster! What a ride! Don't have the 'buds' anymore to
savor the subtle nuances, but I still know what I like and I am always
grateful to Tom for being so patient and willing to share what he has
learned. Terry

31) From: Dave Huddle
.... sure hope Tom posts on this thread...!!! ...
On Fri, Feb 6, 2009 at 6:57 PM, Brian Kamnetz  wrote:
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32) From: Alex Fitch
My journey into home roasting started with a family trip to Fl. We  
took the kids to Disney and had one night of adult time were my wife  
and went to a real nice restaurant (who's name I do not remember)I was  
server coffee in a large ornate vac pot that my non-coffee drinking  
wife thought was the coolest thing.  A year later for Christmas I get  
a Yuma because she thought it was cool and wanted to watch. It came  
with some Greens she said. When I asked what I was suppose to due with  
the Greens she said "your smart figure something out". So from there  
it was a hot air popper, to a modified popper, to a Poppery I, to a  
Behmor. Add a Rocky on to that, an Aeropress, pour over for travel and  
Alex Fitch
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33) From: Dave Huddle
In the beginning - about 60 years ago ~ around the time I was in 2nd
grade - my folks would give me some drip brewed Maryland  Club in my
glass of milk.     Later drank the brew with half  & half.    Tired
instant - yuck!
Tried percolators - never tasted as good as it smelled.
Then ~ 28 years ago, my girl friend gave me a burr grinder and 4 small
bags of roasted coffees for Christmas.  (We've been married for almost
25 years now.)
Years later,  after poking at alt.coffee, I started buying fresh
roasted Mexican beans from a guy in Arizona.
More alt.coffee poking led me to a guy(Thompson Owen) that was selling
greens etc. from his house here in town (Columbus, OH).    When he
opened his shop about a 10 minute drive from work, I went to meet him.
   He told me how to roast with a popcorn popper, loaned me a popper
and sold me a couple of pounds of greens.    That hooked me!
Since then, I've worn out a couple of Hearthware Precisions, a
Hearthware Gourmet, a couple of 'wb' roasters, and an Alpenrost.
When we redid the whole 1st floor of the house, my wife insisted on a
roasting area for me,  complete with an externally vented hood - right
next to the washer & dryer in the new laundry room.    The area under
my roasting area counter top (use a Behmor now) is where we confine
the dogs when we are out of the house.   S0 --- since I do the laundry
and the coffee roasting, I spend lots of time in the 'dog house'.
I'd really be in the dog house if I didn't bring her a mug of fresh
brew every AM when she finishes her shower.
Westerville, OH
On Thu, Feb 5, 2009 at 11:19 AM, Les  wrote:
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