Ryebread119 Senior Member Joined: 30 Jul 2013 Posts: 21 Location: Maine Expertise: Pro Barista
Espresso: Elektra Sixties Grinder: Mazzer Mini Drip: Chemex
Posted Fri Sep 6, 2013, 6:05am Subject: Roasting without a roaster?
I've just inherited 3 pounds of green beans from a friend. I don't have a home roaster, and I'm not willing to buy one of those air-pop popcorn poppers for a one-time try at coffee roasting. I was thinking about tossing them in my cast iron skillet, but thought I'd consult the "experts" to see if any of you had any advice on a cheap, make shift way to roast a coffee with evenly-roasted results. Any Suggestions?
Listen to the steam, the sign of a good drink is in it's acoustics.
Skylar Senior Member Joined: 15 Apr 2004 Posts: 137 Location: New Jersey Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: lelit espresso Grinder: lelit grinder Vac Pot: B. D. Electric Drip: chemex Roaster: wok roast and popper, heat...
Posted Sun Sep 8, 2013, 6:32am Subject: Re: Roasting without a roaster?
I and another poster responded to your original post of the above date. Apparently the two posts have vanished into the aether. I regret that, as forming intelligent responses are a difficult and taxing effort for my enfeebled brain.
To repeat, one requires a heat source and a roasting surface and something to stir the beans. I use a cast iron frying pan a wooden spoon and the side burner of a gas grill. I have also used the dog bowl and heat gun method, the heat gun as the heat source, and also the wooden spoon. Both of these methods are cheap, easy to do and are a good way of learning the changes the bean goes through as it roasts. They either need to be done outside or in the presence of a good exhaust fan as roasting may be replete with smoke, flying chaff and be a definite turn off to a significant other. There is the stove top whirly pop method too and all of these and other variations may be found all over the web. Try sweetmaria web site as a fund of info.
z0mbie Senior Member Joined: 26 Sep 2013 Posts: 356 Location: Online Expertise: I live coffee
Posted Sat Nov 9, 2013, 5:07am Subject: Re: Roasting without a roaster?
I primarily roast by hand over the stove. I have used heat guns , whirley pop, and air poppers before, but I found hand roasting was the most satisfying roasting experience, giving me the most control.
My method uses two very lightweight instant ramen pots I picked up at a Japanese market (see the attached photo). They are less than 4oz each. They are so thin and light that they have virtually no thermal mass and transfer heat instantly. So the control I have is outstanding. And they were only $3 a piece.
And depending on my process, I can do any length profile I want, simply by varying the heat. I've roasted with profiles a short as 6 minutes and as long as 30 minutes. The bottom of the pots are not flat so all that is needed is side to side wrist motion as the ridges on the bottom seem to do a very good job agitating the beans and preventing any particular side of the bean from making contact for more than moment against the hot metal surface (unlike whirley pop and air poppers).
Anyway I added the thermometer by using a small drill. I made sure the tip did not touch the bottom (it is about 3mm away)..
If I want to get the roast to temperature quickly, I cover pot with aluminum foil. Once I've reached my desired temp, I peel off the foil. As the roast continues, the chaff does fly off all over the stove but it takes but a minute with a shop vac to clean it all up later. Once the roast nears my target depth, I turn off the flame grab the other pot. I pour the beans back and forth between pots to stop the roast and let them air cool. I also blow on them as they pass through the air to separate the chaff from the beans. After a dozen or so exchanges, they are free and clear of any chaff.
BTW, I usually roast about a weeks worth of beans at a time. I have roasted half a pound at once, but I can't finish them all before I notice they start to degrade. Doing heavier batches can take a bit of elbow grease, but it's not really a problem for me. I genuinely enjoy the whole process and I think the results are well worth the trouble. For larger, heavier batches (like half a pound), I occasionally give my arm a rest by placing a fist on the edge of the stove as a rest my roasting arm.
Posted Tue Nov 12, 2013, 8:42pm Subject: Re: Roasting without a roaster?
The heat gun and dog bowl method "HG/DB" is a wonderful way to roast due to the tremendous amount of control a roaster can exert over the beans. Basically, the beans are stirred in a metal bowl (a lot of people use dog-bowls, as the name suggests) while a heat gun blows very hot air onto the beans. Benefits of this practice are the control one can have, the volume of beans one can roast, and the tremendously low cost (my setup is under $45). You might already have all the stuff you need. The disadvantages are that it needs to be done outside due to some chaff flying into the air (the skin of the bean as it dries and eventually flakes off), the fact that one can't really filter smoke too efficiently in the bowl (again, gotta be outside), and the idea that it takes practice...this is as far as you can get from "set it and forget it." I highly recommend the method and I'm roasting what I consider great coffee after relatively little time at it...still, I hope to get better.
Seriously...How have I never thought of the shower-cap? I set off so many smoke detectors before moving into a space that allows me to roast outside. I could have avoided taking out many a battery.
On a side note...everyone should be roasting with a fire extinguisher at arms reach. Sort of like frying a turkey, it's pretty safe but if one turns around and has a momentary lapse of memory...well you might just want an extinguisher nearby :-)
John_B Senior Member Joined: 18 Sep 2011 Posts: 1 Location: Canada/UK Expertise: Just starting
Espresso: Lelit PL41TEM/Bialetti 3 cup Grinder: Lelit PL53/Bodum Bistro...
Posted Thu Nov 28, 2013, 5:08pm Subject: Re: Roasting without a roaster?
I use a thick-bottomed steel saucepan and a whisk. I choose green beans that my roaster is good at a range of roasts to try to minimise the downside of the inevitable uneven roast. I'm on my 8th (ish) batch, 1/2 lb of Guatemala Antigua, and I'm pretty happy with the results. Luckily the nearest alarm to the stove is a heat detector rather than a smoke detector, so I've only set the fire alarm off once so far.
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