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Roasting coffee at home - Convecto

This is a discussion on Roasting coffee at home - Convecto within the Coffee Discussion forums, part of the Coffee Forums category; Home roasting for cigar-smokers... Poppers are an inexpensive way in for the coffee roasting learning curve. They're great if you ...

  
  1. #1

    Ask me why I dinged Black Mister Moo's Avatar


     

    Roasting coffee at home - Convecto

    Home roasting for cigar-smokers...

    Poppers are an inexpensive way in for the coffee roasting learning curve. They're great if you live (or drink) alone and like to fiddle with stuff. They are perfect for geeky software/hardware folks who want to develop a very controllable way to perfectly roast and record small batches of coffee - this is not me, but I'm not knocking it. If you have a soldering iron and can read a schematic, you can do a lot with a popper - but you can't ever roast more than 1/2C or so per cycle with one.

    The wife and I NEED at least a pound of fresh roasted coffee per week or we will die; our survival and marriage largely depend on espresso to flourish (or drip coffee, at the minimum, to survive). Accordingly, I geared up to a pound/plus roaster without breaking the bank. To assemble a pretty darn exotic ConvectoStir takes practically zero mechanical skills and costs:

    StirCrazy (new - Target) $25/approx
    Convection Oven (ebay) $40/tops
    Spring form (optional - ebay) $10
    Nuts/bolts (Lowes) - $3
    Thermocouple (optional - Sweet Marias, new) - $30
    Window fan;
    hot pads; strainer(s); wooden spoon; mason jars - $0
    Total cost under $100.

    Then figure:

    Decent store coffee costs $9.00/lb.
    Green beans cost $5.50/lb.
    Your spare time to pursue yet another hobby is worthless.
    You save $3.50/lb roasting it yourself if you waste nothing and electricity is free.

    You're paid back in 25-30/lbs of home roasted beans in a world of imperfect accounting, assuming you don't burn your house down.

    Home roasting is a fun hobby that fits with smoking cigars. It makes a lot of smoke, creates a smell you either love or hate, makes a mess of burned stuff that isn't especially hard to clean up, tastes good, can burn down your house if you're careless, requires interesting specific paraphernalia, improves with proper aging, stores well and scares away people who don't share your interests or tastes.

    ConvectoStir (or StirVection, SCCO, etc.) album* from this weekend - http://photobucket.com/albums/v339/x.../ConvectoStir/

    I smoked less than one Joya de Nicaragua toro in the time it took to prepare, preheat, roast, cool and clean up after 5 cups of green beans. This will make about 50 espresso doubles. The 4-bean blend I use to make an espresso roast can't all go into the roaster at once - I run two (or more) cycles when I roast for espresso. If you roast one bean type for drip, the process is faster and easier still.

    There's a lot to be said for roasting in a BBQ but that can involve a lot more hands on work. Unless you like mechanical projects the BBQ can be a little daunting. A typical gas BBQ with rotisserie/drum can, however, roast a lot of coffee per cycle. Fact is, I don't need 5-lbs per week so the merits of BBQ pale beside the ConvectoStir for me.

    If you read this far, you should be roasting your own coffee.

    * ConvectoStir, powerstrip, hot-rest for oven and a radio sit on a cart that stays on the back porch;
    a couple of strainers carry beans, hot pads, thermocouple readout and dustbuster in/out of the house;
    thermocouple shows 425-35F approx. at first crack;
    convection oven temp control can regulate roasting temps very reliably;
    a small Dremel tool notch in the springform/space ejects roasting chaff into a strainer;
    a window fan atop a fishtank frame cools beans - it's not hard to melt a plastic fan, by the way - a fan with reversible motor is a good idea;
    a Mazzer hopper is excellent for spill-less funneling of beans from strainer to airtight bottles;
    a maduro ashtray is a colorful all-season accent to any living room, garage or back porch roasting area.
    "But with a little bit of luck You'll run amok!"

  2. #2

    Dave's not here, man! hollywood's Avatar


     

    Re: Roasting coffee at home - Convecto

    This thread already needs a sticky!!

    Awesome information and great way to walk us coffee newbs through this process ... with pictures even!! I cannot wait to try the pooper you're sending, but have a feeling within 2 weeks, i will be wanting to set up something much larger capacity. This looks like a great option.

    Thanks again.

  3. #3

    Elder Puffer Fish Leader mosesbotbol's Avatar


     

    Question Re: Roasting coffee at home - Convecto

    What are the advantages to home roasting? My Whole Foods has a coffee roasting machine, I can buy coffee made that day or the day before.
    Do you speak Campagnolo - F1- Alfa Romeo - IWC - Robiola?

  4. #4

    Ask me why I dinged Black Mister Moo's Avatar


     

    Re: Roasting coffee at home - Convecto

    Quote Originally Posted by hollywood
    I cannot wait to try the pooper you're sending, but have a feeling within 2 weeks, i will be wanting to set up something much larger capacity. This looks like a great option. Thanks again.
    The technical term is "popper", not "pooper" - but what the heck. With some of the coffee I've roasted I really couldn't tell the difference where it came from. I got a little wild with buying used poppers (or poopers - whatever) but never bothered to make them into scientific instruments like many have. They can be extraordinarily precise for small batches. You can stay absorbed with $1 thriftstore unmodified popper roasting for years, not weeks; limits imposed by the popper are totally overwhelmed by the remarkable diversity of beans, blends and roast profiles you can explore... 1/2 cup and 8-minutes at a time. Just enough for a small pot of joe and then on to the next variation.

    Like many who swear by (and never swear at) ConvectoStir roasting, the method is simple, reliable, inexpensive, controllable (highly responsive to changes in temperature settings - very nice feature) and home-volume capable. Like all roasters big or small a ConvectoStir has built-in compromises but can't be beat for cost vs. value. I think anyone who uses one would agree.

    ConvectoStir needs a little hands on to "make", but if you can weld, braze or squeeze JB-Weld from a tube you're in good shape. This revolves around eliminating the plastic center post of the original StirCrazy, which is bound to crumble from heat. Some folks wrap it with fiberglass and aluminum foil to protect it (I tried - it worked OK for six months then crumbled). Smart guys go to Lowes, get a few 1/4" nuts/washers, a 3" x 1/4" bolt and a $1.97 1/4" x 1/4" socket (the "WHODAT" mod) and make a new, metal one. I brazed one (it works), welded one (it works) and have it on BOTL authority that JB Weld works fine, too. Basically, no rocket science. Buy a low end Dremel tool if you don't have one (it's the 21st century - you need one. They do anything but light a cigar); you can cut the head off a bolt, trim washers and make perfect bushings from thin walled pipe for $17.95 - poof. You're there. Bwa ha ha.
    Last edited by Mister Moo; 02-14-2006 at 09:45 AM.
    "But with a little bit of luck You'll run amok!"

  5. #5

    Proud father of Zoe RcktS4's Avatar


     

    Re: Roasting coffee at home - Convecto

    Crap.

    Well, now it's on. I think I can hold out for warmer weather (and til the baby actually sleeps through the night) but anticipate a possible iRoast sale this spring.

    This is too simply explained (and the beans too beautiful) to not pursue. I am a sick man. Many of you are, too.

    Thanks again for the great stuff MM
    It's safe to assume you've created God in YOUR image when he hates the same people you do.

  6. #6

    Dave's not here, man! hollywood's Avatar


     

    Re: Roasting coffee at home - Convecto

    Quote Originally Posted by Mister MaDuroo
    The technical term is "popper", not "pooper" - but what the heck.

    See what happens when trying to be eloquent too quickly and much too early!?

  7. #7

    Ask me why I dinged Black Mister Moo's Avatar


     

    Re: Roasting coffee at home - Convecto

    Quote Originally Posted by mosesbotbol
    What are the advantages to home roasting? My Whole Foods has a coffee roasting machine, I can buy coffee made that day or the day before.
    If Whole Foods (or equal) meets your coffee needs, tastes and budget, or you have no particular interest in the roasting process, in and of itself, there is no advantage.

    I suspect espress'ers and moka-potheads gravitate to homeroasting more than drip, vac and presspot folks because the good (or bad) of any roast is so much more accentuated. That's dangerous speculation, since there are SO many more drippers than espress'ers and drip absolutely benefits from better, fresher roasts. Nonetheless, if someone has already nicknamed you Shotrod Tinkerfinger and your motto is, "If it ain't broke I wanna take it apart and find out why." then homeroasting may have advantages too numerous to mention. Also consider:

    • custom blends and roast profiles at your whim;
    • a universe of beans to select and customize from;
    • lower cost (probably) and higher quality than storebought (usually) or mail order (sometimes);
    • access to fresh roast if you live in a wilderness (like Rocky Mount, NC) thast lacks more convenient options;
    • the smell of fresh roasted coffee on your clothes is a chick magnet (that's a trade secret);
    • the end of wondering why your espresso sucks;
    • the end of wondering why your coffee sucks;
    • it keeps "problem" people off the streets;
    • ridiculously fun, self-financing hobby for people who like coffee as much as we like cigars;
    • the simple joy of producing something you're proud of;
    • being a survivalist does not mean going without fresh coffee...

    Other advantages? Chime in here, homeroasters. For myself, I love the process, the depth of varieties to choose from, the ability to make a blend or profile to suit my taste and the low cost. I got involved because I have no access to reliable, fresh roast where I live for less $12-$15/pound, including postage or driving expense. If I could buy fresh, cheap and local I think I'd still roast it myself (I'd miss the chick-magnet factor). Exception: Electric Chair Espresso Blend. Mr. Jerry far outdoes my best on quality and complexity. Personal taste issue.
    "But with a little bit of luck You'll run amok!"

  8. #8

    Proud father of Zoe RcktS4's Avatar


     

    Re: Roasting coffee at home - Convecto

    Bottom Line: Cause I can roast it the way I like it, rather than find someone who does it that way.

    Plus all the reasons MM posted.

    But if you want honesty, it's just because I am obsessive about certain things, and coffee is one of them. This is a great way to get obsessed, and it provides me with a very good excuse to hang out on the deck/in the garage and smoke a cigar.

    Fresh roasted is really really good. The lack of sophisticated roasting equipment is generally more than outweighed byb the access to coffee in the 2 - 10 day window when it is at its most sublime.
    It's safe to assume you've created God in YOUR image when he hates the same people you do.

  9. #9

    He who types in the dark Andyman's Avatar


     

    Re: Roasting coffee at home - Convecto

    How long do green beans stay fresh?

  10. #10

    Proud father of Zoe RcktS4's Avatar


     

    Re: Roasting coffee at home - Convecto

    Quote Originally Posted by Andyman
    How long do green beans stay fresh?
    A very very long time. At least a couple of years pretty well regardless of storage conditions - longer if frozen (which I would not personally bother to do.)
    It's safe to assume you've created God in YOUR image when he hates the same people you do.

  11. #11

    He who types in the dark Andyman's Avatar


     

    Re: Roasting coffee at home - Convecto

    Quote Originally Posted by RcktS4
    A very very long time. At least a couple of years pretty well regardless of storage conditions - longer if frozen (which I would not personally bother to do.)
    This is good to know. Save on shipping..

    Also in a WBII what is the proper amount to roast at a time (I don't have a scale) and what is the approx time to reach city roast..

    Thanks

  12. #12

    Ask me why I dinged Black Mister Moo's Avatar


     

    Re: Roasting coffee at home - Convecto

    Quote Originally Posted by Andyman
    This is good to know. Save on shipping..

    Also in a WBII what is the proper amount to roast at a time (I don't have a scale) and what is the approx time to reach city roast..

    Thanks
    No scale - it's about the correct volume per popper and the days conditions. Each popper is a little different. City in 5-8 minutes, approx - time depends on lots of other stuff. Mainly -

    1. Tip back and secure popper;
    2. turn on;
    3. add beans until they just move on their own - 1/4 to 1/2 cup, approx;
    4. stir with a chopstick or wooden spoon to prevent burning until they move vigorously on their own;
    5. stick on the chute or a pressure fit an extension can with no top/bottom;
    6. smell smoke;
    7. see smoke;
    8. see chaff flying all over the place (are you outdoors or stinking up the house & turning your ceiling yellow?);
    9. hear 1st crack in 3-5 minutes;
    10. less smoke followed by more smoke;
    11. hear 2nd crack in 6-10 minutes;
    12. dump/cool beans fast when you see 2nd smoke and hear the gentle 2nd crack because you are probably moments from charcoal.


    Before running a second cycle make sure popper it totally cooled down or it will ROAR through a roast (and not making anything very good to drink) in short order - unless it's a very cold day.

    With an unmodified popper you can control roasting time by either loading more (hotter/faster) or less (cooler/slower) beans; try an extension cord to lower voltage and slow roasting times; ambient temp affects popper roasting time.

    If no first crack, no smoke or no dark brown beans happen in 10-minutes you are using too few green beans and/or it's too cold out (or maybe something else ).

    If you hear two cracks and beans are lovely cocoa colored in 7-10 minutes, you are soooooooooooo golden.

    If, in 5-minutes, you hear three distinct cracks then the popper was overloaded or got way too hot for some reason. The first two cracks were beans roasting into oily charcoal, maybe catching fire and then evaporating. The 3rd crack was the popper turning red hot and then splitting down the middle. The 3rd crack is not good - but it's a reason to do this activity outdoors.

    Sidebar - I have never actually heard of anyone setting beans or a popper aflame - but you could be first, right? I have made some poppers way too hot - huge smoke pouring out - scary indoors. Smoke alarms popping all over the house... dogs barking... wife screaming... cats jetting up the curtains... evil eyes from the kids for days... no more indoors roasting for me. Garage. Back Porch. On the deck. Anywhere but indoors.
    "But with a little bit of luck You'll run amok!"

  13. #13

    Puffer Fish with many spikes mels95yj's Avatar


     

    Re: Roasting coffee at home - Convecto

    This is great! I'm slowly getting closer to needing a larger capacity roaster. Like I said in the other thread, most of the beans I've roasted lately seem to taste better with a day or two rest on them. So, roasting a semi-large amount at once would be ideal.

    I just found out my parents have a Galloping Gourmet that they rarely use. I'm constantly dropping hints on how much I'd like to have it for my beans! Now, if I could only get them to give that and their empty hottub up, I'd be set!

    Mel


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