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Topic: raoasters (9 msgs / 587 lines)
1) From: Kai-La-Sha
Snip...
The original post in this thread hoped for a reliable replacement for
her 
Hearthware . . . not advice on how to roast over propane in an outdoor
kitchen 
Snip
I have heard nothing but lamentation over the shortcomings and the self
destructive propensities of all these machines - from modestly priced to
quite expensive. In contrast, my wok cost under $30.  It is
indestructible.  I use it on my stovetop.  smoke is controlled quite
effectively by my range hood. It offers a degree of direct control
unmatched by any semi automated roaster out there. Chaff is easily
removed by shaking the resulting roasted pound of coffee in a large
coarse meshed strainer, outdoors on the back porch, cooling the coffee
at the same time. I have found it a very reliable substitute for my FR+,
and it is undoubtedly just as reliable a replacement for a Hearthware.
.. . .
<Snip>
popcorn poppers
That is to say that although you praise the wok you don't use one more
than 
occasionally yourself . . .
Deward, I have an FR+, which I have just about given up using.  Reason:
I get much better tasting coffee roasting it in the wok. I can do a
pound of coffee at a time, and comparison tests (myself and other coffee
lovers) with the FR+ roasted coffee come out in favor of the wok every
time.
Oh, and if you can get consistent, reliable roasts without "artificial" 
measurements of time and temperature, or temperature control beyond
"toss on 
another log, she ain't steamin yet . . .", well, more power to ya . . .
I sure 
can't . . .
Bet you could if you tried.  Cooking is cooking.  Roasting beans is
simply the uniform application of heat. Using the same wok with the same
gas flame, on the same range with the same exhaust fan, at the same
ambient indoor temperature, with the same agitation of the beans by the
same cook's hand, can produce just as consistent, reliable results as
any machine can deliver. I don't need an electric skillet to fry eggs
perfectly either.  I know you boys are devoted to your expensive
pushbutton electro - mechanical gadgets, and , but direct human
controlled cooking is not a Luddite activity, it is an art. 
-- 
Regards, Cathy
"If you're not a liberal when you're young, you have no heart.  If
you're not a conservative when you're old, you have no brains."
- Winston Churchill
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2) From: Simpson
Cathy, AFAIK this is exactly the way coffee was roasted for a very long
time and not much different from the way it continues to be roasted in
parts of Africa and elsewhere. I tried a wok... just the basic steel one,
and it worked fine as did a frying pan and a heavy pot. With care this is a
fine roasting method.
That said, I prefer my VolksRoaster but I built her by hand, so it still
feels like art.
Merry Holidays, all!
Ted
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On 12/24/2002 at 9:30 AM Kai-La-Sha wrote:
snip
<Snip>
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3) From: dewardh
Cathy:
<Snip>
I get much better tasting coffee roasting it in the wok.
I haven't used a FR (or FR+), but based on what I've read don't find that hard 
to believe at all . . . what reports I've seen generally suggest that, 
unmodified, the FR roasts too fast . . .
<Snip>
We have a (very old) "showpiece" Wedgewood stove which we actually use (for the 
three-burner "countertop").  It has no thermostat on the oven, but with "the 
same flame . . . the same ambient temperature . . . etc" one could, I'm sure, 
get (somewhat) consistent results from it, even without a thermometer. Many 
"housewives" no doubt once did. With a lot of practice.  We tend to do our 
baking in the temperature controlled electric convection oven, though . . .
<Snip>
And "profile roasting" is the non-uniform application of heat to deliberately 
vary the rate and "condition" of a roast . . . something which I suggest is 
more easily done with "technical assistance" (and accurate measurement), even 
if it *can* be done without.  Of course a lot depends on what tools one is 
comfortable with . . . I happen to be comfortable with (some ) technology, 
and like the benefits that the additional "complexity" can bring enough to put 
up with it.  Other people these days seem to prefer the convenience that 
"automation" brings . . . and they want to have the benefits of "complexity" 
without having to deal with the details.  Nothing wrong with that.  Still 
others reject it all . . . for whatever reasons.  Nothing wrong with that, 
either.  Everyone benefits when we discuss the various techniques of roasting . 
.. . all of which have both advantages and drawbacks.
<Snip>
gas flame, on the same range with the same exhaust fan, at the same
ambient indoor temperature, with the same agitation of the beans by the
same cook's hand, can produce just as consistent, reliable results as
any machine can deliver.
How would one know, without measuring what's happening *in both cases* ? ? ? 
 Wishful thinking?  And, even if true, what does one say to people who simply 
want good fresh-roasted coffee, but have neither the time nor the inclination 
to develop a "skill" at the "art" (or "craft") of frypan roasting?
In my youth I became quite accomplished at the "art" of the "tune up" . . . 
points, plugs, carburetor adjustment, all that stuff.  I probably even remember 
most of those skills (overlearned responses, etc. ).  But I prefer 
never-need-replacing Platinum electrode spark plugs, breakerless electronic 
ignition, computer adjusted fuel injection, and all that other modern, "high 
tech" stuff that just lets me drive (even as I decry the incompetence of the 
can't-fix-anything generation ).  And while I can, and have, made an at 
least competent Hollandaise "from scratch", I'm now much more inclined to let 
Ms. Knorr do the prep work for me.
I certainly have nothing against "hands on", or doing things "the old fashioned 
way".  My shop still has more hand tools than power.  But if I want a flat 
board I do not "reach for the Stanley" . . . I run the board through the 
Hitachi or the DeWalt.  They are faster, easier (despite the time spent 
sharpening and adjusting . . . got to do that with a hand plane, too), and in 
the end generally do a better job.  If Ed lived nearby I'd invite him to come 
over and use my shear/brake/roller, rather than beat his angle iron on a vise, 
too (and I'd bet he would ).
I don't believe that any "home roaster" has all the kinks worked out (I said 
that in my first post, didn't I?), nor do I believe that one cannot get a good 
roast doing it like grandma did (and a lot of people still do).  But . . . my 
grandmother made her own soap in the garage, and preferred her "tub and 
wringer" to any "newfangled contraption" (she bought a new one while in her 
seventies . . . probably one of the last ones made ).  Shall we sing the 
praise of home rendered soap and hand wrung linen now, too ? ? ?  Is that what 
we recommend when someone asks about replacements for a worn out White 
Westinghouse front loader?
Deward
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4) From: Ed Needham
You go girl!
Ed

5) From: Ed Needham
I'd be a pest for sure if we lived close by.  I do believe you might need to
utilize those machines a bit more for the betterment of homeroasters.  Like
making a few drum roasters and sending them to worthy homeroasters.  I bet
Cathy would like to try her hand at BBQ Grill roasting too, if I read her
personality correctly.
WOK roasting and oven roasting were my first two attempts at homeroasting
back in 1975 or 76.  Somehow I got hold of a few empty bags of green coffee.
Well, they were almost empty.  I managed to get about a half pound of green
beans from them, and without any knowledge of how it worked, I roasted some
on the stove in a WOK and some in the oven.  The house was a smoky mess, but
I had roasted coffee!  I ground it and brewed it and have been hooked ever
since.  It was a happy day when I found a whole shelf of Melitta Aromaroast
coffee roasters at 'Big Lots' marked at about $6 each.  I think I bought 10.
Kept a few and gave the rest as gifts.  I don't think any of the gifts were
ever mentioned again, and probably were never used.  Yard sale fodder.  Now
I'm here, building and playing with so many different ways to roast and brew
coffee.  It provides great enjoyment for me.
There is a fine balance between 'art' and 'craft'.  My guess is that those of
us on this list gravitate toward one or the other, with some stretched to
both ends.  Roasting in a WOK, with the beans right in front of your face,
I'm sure can produce wonderful coffee.  A roaster who drops a 500 kilo batch
into a roaster needs computer controls and very sophisticated equipment.  A
homeroaster who just wants to roast a pound or two at a time can forego the
fancy stuff and still produce incredible coffee.
The term KISS (keep it simple stupid) analogy comes to mind when we begin
discussing spring loaded tampers and PID controlled drip coffeemakers.
Simple is elegant.  Simple allows greater satisfaction to me, especially if
it allows me to be 'hands on' in the process.  Building a roaster that is
somewhat complex gives me the same satisfaction, but in a different way.  The
'hands on' is in the roaster, not in the roasting.  A push button roaster,
that does all the thinking for me is B-O-R-I-N-G.  Even if it turns out
spectacular coffee, I'm out of the loop.
Cathy has always struck me as a person who gets tickled with using her hands
to fix and create (Duh...that's possibly why she is a surgeon).  I would hope
that anyone who takes a knife or laser to my body parts would be both an
artist and a craftsman (er, craftswoman).  WOK roasting is probably
therapeutic too, as if it were a sand tray, stirring the beans and rolling
them as they change smells and colors.  It's probably a pretty good show too,
when others stop by to watch.  OK, I'll end here.  'nuff said.
Merry Christmas to all my friends on the Homeroast list.
Ed Needhamhttp://www.homeroaster.comed
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6) From: dewardh
Ed:
<Snip>
us on this list gravitate toward one or the other, with some stretched to
both ends.
The difference that I see is reproducibility . . . "craft" is but reproducible 
"art".  In essence I don't believe that there *is* "art" without "craft", only 
fortunate accident.  If you have the ability to make something happen the way 
you want it to happen, be it paint on canvas, music from a fiddle, or a rich 
Full City from a pound of green beans, then you have the ability to make it 
happen that way again and again, if you so choose.  You *must* master the craft 
to do the art . . . and then you may repeat it if you wish.  Otherwise there 
are good days and bad, good roasts and . . . not so good roasts, all controlled 
by the Fates, not inspired by the Muses.
What, then, is roasting coffee?  We take green beans, and by raising their 
temperature induce a series of thermally initiated chemical reactions (some 
folks call it "cooking" ).  To add "flavor" to the process we pause, or at 
least slow the increase, at some temperatures to be sure that reactions have 
time to run to completion, and rush through other temperatures to prevent other 
reactions from finishing before the next begin.  And there is no one "right 
way".  Some roast for "brightness", others for "body", and others for "balance" 
between those and myriad other tastes and properties.  One has mastered the 
craft, and the art, when one is able manifest the desired result, whatever it 
at the moment is, and then do it again and again.
There clearly are lots of "clues" given by the roasting beans which, with 
plenty of time and experience, will let a roaster practice his/her craft, in 
his/her roaster style of choice, entirely by the "natural" senses.  I don't get 
the impression that there is either a quick or easy way to gain that mastery, 
but clearly there is a lot of satisfaction to be had by those who do (or 
imagine that they have).  It is equally clear that essentially all one needs to 
know to fully master the roast is the time/temperature curve of the roasting 
beans.  Causing that curve, once chosen, to happen again and again, is just a 
matter of (relatively simple) technology . . . and there are several simple 
ways to do it. The essential requirement of all of them is knowing the state of 
the beans . . . and that comes back to knowing the temperature of the beans. 
 One can do that either crudely by natural senses (sight, sound and smell 
correlated with certain temperatures) or more precisely by "technological" 
means . . . thermometers of one sort or another.  One then "controls" 
accordingly . . .
It is implausible in the extreme that a bean might care whether it makes the 
journey from 200c to 220C in a drum, or a frying pan, or a column of air, so 
long as the time of transition is the same (of course Mesquite smoke will 
impart a flavor that electrically heated air will not, but that's another issue 
.. . .).
<Snip>
discussing spring loaded tampers and PID controlled drip coffeemakers.
Simple is elegant.  Simple allows greater satisfaction to me, especially if
it allows me to be 'hands on' in the process.  Building a roaster that is
somewhat complex gives me the same satisfaction, but in a different way.  The
'hands on' is in the roaster, not in the roasting.  A push button roaster,
that does all the thinking for me is B-O-R-I-N-G.  Even if it turns out
spectacular coffee, I'm out of the loop.
There are, of course, several kinds of "simple" . . . mechanically simple, 
conceptually simple, operationally simple . . . and several kinds of "complex". 
 Witness, for example, "segregation" in a horizontal drum . . . is that a 
"simple" phenomenon, or a "complex" one?  The best designs often "appear" 
simple . . . but the appearance can hide enormous conceptual complexity that 
makes the "simple" appearance possible.  That "boring" pushbutton roaster might 
be simple to operate, and it might even be a relatively "simple" machine.  But 
getting it to "do the job right" will not be a matter of "simple design" .
What I'd like to see is a whole lot of people enjoying fresh roasted high 
quality coffee, and turning up their noses at that nauseating smell of 
"flavorings" that permeates the "coffee aisle" of so many supermarkets these 
days.  That's one of my wishes for the New Year 
Deward
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7) From: David Westebbe
 Cooking is cooking.  Roasting beans is
<Snip>
I don't use a wok to roast, but I think you make very good points.
I'd go a step further, however, and I'd claim that there is no need for the
consistent flame, fan, or anything else.  Only a poor carpenter blames his
tools.
My guess is that a good cook can roast better coffee over a campfire, using
a found piece of sheet metal, than a lousy cook can by using an expensive
roaster, a stopwatch, and a digital thermometer.
I've compared this stuff to making barbecue in the past.  I don't really
know if the comparison is apt, but I think it likely is.  I used to see guys
in competitions who recorded the temperature of both their pit and the meat
at regular intervals, who were concerned that they added exactly the same
amount of wood at exactly the same intervals, who used elaborate recipes for
their rubs and sauces, and who never got beyond the middle of the pack when
judging time came around.
The guy I cook with, however, has a good feel for things.  He'd say "I think
this time, we'll do it like this".  He'd mix up a batch of sauce, and then
call me on the phone to come taste it (we worked together; he was the firm's
chef). I'd suggest that it needed a little more X, and he'd throw some more
in.  We'd taste it again, and keep going until it tasted wonderful.
He'd look at the meat, he'd feel it and smell it and taste it.  He'd always
try new stuff, and he'd always keep past successes in mind.  And we won the
New England Team of the Year 4 years in a row.
The first year we won, we were cooking in some old 55 gallon drums we
cobbled together, and competing against guys who were using multi-thousand
dollar custom pits.
It really isn't the equipment that makes delicious food; it is the chef.
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8) From: Ed Needham
Great post.
Great discourse on art and craft.
I agree with everything you said.
Lets roast!
Ed Needhamhttp://www.homeroaster.comed
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9) From: Ed Needham
The magic is not in the wand, but in the magician.
Unknown author
Ed Needhamhttp://www.homeroaster.com
ed
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