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Topic: Air Popper and 1st Crack (5 msgs / 111 lines)
1) From: Steve Wall
I think my $15 air popper may be losing some heat generation capability
but I thought I'd post my experiences first to confirm.  With the first 
pound or
2 of coffee I ran through it I got very distinct cracking sounds and 
of my beans would wind up with the seam burst open.  In the last week 
or so
I haven't heard the cracking noise much at all and the seams are staying
intact and yet the beans do roast to a decent city roast color.  I 
think it is
taking longer to get them the color I want but I haven't been keeping 
detailed roast timings so I'm not sure. My green beans have varied a bit
but I think that some of the beans that don't produce noise now did just
a little while ago.
Recently I've been experimenting with ways to keep from exposing myself
to heavy amounts of roasting smoke as the smoke is raising hell with my
sinuses, so I've been roasting outdoors or exhausting the smoke 
With this and the change in weather the ambient air being drawn into the
popper has dropped as much as 30 degrees F, so that may be a factor.
With the sinus trouble I'm not sure that subtle changes in flavor 
been apparent especially as of a week or so ago.
But I'm worried about the lack of crack noise.  Am I not getting a high
enough temperature, or could it just be the beans?
Steve Wall
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2) From: Gary Zimmerman
Steve Wall wrote:
What do you mean by "the seam burst open"?  Did the beans split in 
half?  I've never heard of that during a roast.  Little divots that happen 
during second crack, yes, but never the seams bursting open.  I roast on 
the stovetop, not in an air popper, so if this is normal for air roasting I 
would never have experienced it.  Do you just mean the seams widen?  Or 
that the bit of chaff/silverskin that often sticks in there is flushed out?
-- garyZ
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3) From: EskWIRED
It is possible, but unlikely that the popper has changed.  It is more likely
that the difference in ambient temp is the culprit, and that while the beans
are still attaining first crack, it is an anemic, slow process, rather than
a fast, energetic one.
You could try putting your popper into a cardboard box, to recycle the hot
air, and see if that helps.  You could also preheat the air going into the
popper using some other means, like putting the popper on top of a heating
pad or a food warming tray.
You could also use slightly more beans, which will slow down the exhaust,
and allow the coils more time to heat the air hotter before it exits.  You
could also plug up the exhaust somewhat, by partially blocking it, in an
effort to slow the air velocity.
Good luck.  Let us know what happens.
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4) From: Ken Mary
Cooler ambient temperature may lower the roast temperature enough to reduce
the number of first crack pops. In my experience, as long as there are a few
pops, this does not harm the coffee. You may have trouble reaching second
crack if the temp is too low. There are fixes for this such as roasting in a
cardboard box. I believe it would be better for the coffee to roast inside
at room temp and vent the smoke outside.
I have had beans with burst seams and even exploded beans. I think this is
from fast heating through first crack.
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5) From: Steve Wall
On Sunday, October 6, 2002, at 08:58 AM, EskWIRED wrote:
A cardboard box really seems to have done the trick, thanks!  I had
been trying to push things along by restricting air flow and I've tried
some larger batches but both of those had the unwelcome side effect
of uneven roasting.  Now I just have to explain this whole process to
the neighbors.
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