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Topic: question on roasting methods (6 msgs / 198 lines)
1) From: Phil Palmintere
Hello all,
I have a few questions to which I hope some of you might be able to respond.
I've never roasted coffee beans before, but I'm going to try it. this
weekend I'll put in an order at Sweet Maria's for a sampler of beans, and
I'll go from there.
I want to try the heat gun/ dog bowl method first.  I purchased a Wagner
digital heat gun that has multiple temperature settings and two fan speeds.
 But for the dog bowl... is there a reason to use a big metal dog bowl?  I
don't own one, but I do have a few very large Pyrex bowls and also some
large ceramic bowls that are the right size. I'll do the roasting outside,
and I can of course put something like a silicone trivet underneath the bowl
... Now, I realize that the metal in a dog bowl is most likely a better heat
conductor than a Pyrex bowl.  Have any of you tried the heat gun with Pyrex?
 Or should I just go to a pet store & buy the metal dog bowl?
The other method I would like to try is the hot air popcorn popper.  I've
visited all the local thrift shops and retailers and have not found a West
Bend Poppery II, the model I read about.   However, at both Walgreens and
Target there are inexpensive generic brand popcorn poppers that, to me, seem
quite small.  The inside of the popping chamber is the right type (I
actually own an old popper that has the incorrect type of chamber).   Have
any of you tried using the type of generic hot air popper?
Target does sell a West Bend popper that is not hot air -- it is called the
Stir Crazy -- it appears to be a hot metal surface with a
motorized kernel agitator. Any thoughts?
Finally, I've found several counter-top (not built-in) convection ovens.  It
occurred to me to get one of these & use it outside to roast beans.  My
naive thinking is that the convection portion of the oven, blowing hot air
inside, might be OK to roast coffee beans.
Do any of you have any thoughts on the above?
Thanks in advance,
Phil
---------
We were taking a vote when the ground came up and hit us.
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2) From: R Nepsund
You can find Poppery II's on ebay.  Poppery I's also, but those are
pricey.   On the convection oven you might want to think about one with a
rotisery and look at roasting drums on ebay.  I think some of them are made
to be used with specific ovens.   Of corse buying a real coffee roaster
would probably be better.   I think the deal with the dog bowl is that the
bowl doesn't soak up much of the heat and holds it off the ground.   I seem
to remember somebody saying that they use a colander suspended over a
regular kitchen bowl.  A step up on the HG/DB is to use a bread machine set
in dough mixing mode and let it stir the beans for you instead of stiring
them by hand.  Good luck
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3) From: Lynne
Phil - there is someone on the list (forgot who) who uses one from
Walgreens. You might post another question just under that heading.  (I've
never used this method - I use a plain ol' pan and roast stove-top).
Good luck -
Lynne
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4) From: Brian Kamnetz
Hi Phil,
Congratulations in taking the step into home roasting!
The method is called "heat gun/dog bowl" because the first person to
try it (he used to be on the list... haven't heard from him lately. I
can't even recall the name now, darn it) looked at his heat gun one
day and thought, "You know, that should produce enough heat to roast
coffee...." He needed something to put the beans in that wouldn't burn
up, and spied his dog's stainless steel bowl. It's been called the
"Heat gun / Dog bowl" method ever since. I personally use a colander
nested in a stainless steel mixing bowl.
We won't know how well the containers you mention work until you try
them. Try to hit first crack around 9 or 10 minutes. Try to get first
crack to last about a minute and a half. When it stops, you are
approximately at City roast. Go another minute or so and you are at
City+. Go another minute or so and you are at Full City. When you
start hearing the first snaps of second crack you are approximately at
Full City+. I just look and see what level of roast Tom mentions in
the write-up on the package of greens and aim for that.
There is quite a lot of disagreement about the "right" kind of popper.
Supposedly, the type with the dime-sized screen-covered hole in the
bottom of the roasting (or popping) chamber is a fire hazard. However,
the last I knew (and maybe we will hear now) no one knows quite where
that caution originated. No one seems to have ever heard of a fire
occurring in that kind of popper. I think that some have reported that
using that type of popper is a bit tricky in terms of scorching the
beans, or blowing them out of the popper, or something like that, but
I don't recall for sure.
The cheap generic hot-air poppers tend to work pretty well, but may
not live too long. A friend who uses them has burned out a couple. But
they seem to get hot enough. Some hot air poppers get barely hot
enough to almost get the beans to first crack, then a "bimetal"
thermostat gets hot enough to warp a bit and break the circuit, which
stalls the roast. The fix is to remove the bimetal chip (it looks like
a metal fish scale).
The Stir Crazy is a popular roasting method, but people mostly use it
to stir the beans. They use a convection oven, such as the Galloping
Gourmet or Sunpentown, as a the heat source.
You will probably hear from several listers, and I hope they correct
any errors I may have inadvertently included.
Brian
On Sun, Feb 8, 2009 at 11:38 AM, Phil Palmintere
 wrote:
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5) From: Jim Couch
As I Understand it, the main reason for it is the "usual "double wall"
construction of the dog bowl.....
Jim
On Sun, Feb 8, 2009 at 10:38 AM, Phil Palmintere
wrote:
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6) From: David Martin
In addition to being made of a material that won't melt, a metal dog
bowl has three characteristics which make it a good container for heat
gun roasting: it has a sturdy base, so it won't wobble or move when
you're stirring; it's round, to facilitate proper stirring; and most
of the surface area is elevated, so you presumably won't lose too much
heat to conduction if you set the bowl on a concrete surface. The
first two points are perhaps more important than the third. I haven't
actually used a dog bowl, but I've experimented with several types of
container, including a small aluminum mixing bowl, a large oven-safe
ceramic mixing bowl, a wok on top of a portable electric range, a
stainless steel pot, and a wire mesh colander nested inside the steel
pot. The wok method didn't work well for me, and the steel pot on its
own caused uneven roasting, because it had straight edges rather than
being concave, and green beans tended to hide in the corners. The
aluminum and ceramic bowls worked well, as did the colander nested
inside the pot, which is now my preferred method.
Regarding heat gun settings, I believe some people make use of
multiple settings, but I find it's simpler to keep mine at the hottest
setting and modulate the heat by adjusting the height of the gun over
the beans.
I've found heat gun roasting to be a very satisfying method, despite
the manual effort required.
Regarding the West Bend Stir Crazy popper, it doesn't get hot enough
to use as-is, but I know some people have modified it by attaching
some sort of portable convection oven to the top, modifying the
stirring arms, and replacing the plastic nut with something that won't
melt. There's a web site describing this somewhere.
-Dave
On Sun, Feb 8, 2009 at 8:38 AM, Phil Palmintere
 wrote:
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