Roasting coffee on a boat

Discuss roast levels and profiles for espresso, equipment for roasting coffee.

#1: Post by EbenBruyns »

A little background first...

We used to live on land and I had a very nice La Cimbali junior (automatic - older version) and matching grinder plumbed into our spacious kitchen, before that I owned a VBM Domobar super paired with a Mazzer Mini. I usually manage to talk my way behind the counter of most cafes I frequent to pull my own shots, unless the barista can do better than me.

I feel like I understand how to pull a shot sufficiently enough that my current research on a completely electric free setup is probably ok. But since we live on a small (smaller than the kitchen that housed the La Cimbali) boat, and electricity is this weird thing we hardly use (we have no engine and still use kerosene lamps). Storing coffee is basically a futile effort. Since we're away from shops for weeks at a time and good roasters are even further away I gave up coffee when we moved onto the boat. There's only 2 things I truly miss from my land life and my La Cimbali is one of them.

After going on a research bender I've come to the conclusion that the Flair Pro 2 (which didn't exist when we made the move to water) is actually a pretty decent machine to get espresso without power. I think the Kenu m47 classic would be the grinder to get and if I'm in need of steamed milk the bellman ss50 will probably get the job done (not that I really drink milk and UHT milk doesn't really go well with espresso anyway).

So now for the advice, I know absolutely nothing about roasting coffee. From what I can gather it should be possible to store green beans for an extended duration (we carry 6 months worth of provisions so the coffee needs to last about as long). Firstly is it possible to store coffee in the marine environment, it's generally fairly high humidity and things can get wet in the boat. While I could store it in water tight containers I'm not familiar with the do's and don'ts of storing green beans. From the background I posted above you might be able to tell that I'm fairly picky about the quality of my espresso and I often put better stuff down the drain than they serve at most cafe's.

Is it possible to produce a decent roast using manual methods on a gas stove? If so what equipment is recommended (keep in mind space is at a premium), I'm already trying to find space for the brewing equipment and I might have to remove a few things from the galley in order to do that so it will be a negotiation with my wife (who doesn't drink coffee at all).

Am I chasing some sort of pipe dream thinking that I might be able to have a setup that would have the potential to replicate the setup I had on land? Obviously there's going to be a learning curve and that's ok, it took me a long time to master pulling good shots to begin with so I'm not afraid of taking the time to master things.

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#2: Post by TenLayers »

Beautiful first post as well as a very interesting question. I know exactly zero about this product but there are people on here that do. It does seem to fit for you.


#3: Post by thirdcrackfourthwave »

Robot is also a good machine to get espresso.

In that environment I would put the greens in something like foodsaver bags.

Cheap, fast, comfortable--pick two? Roasting on a boat is doable but. . . .probably some compromises somewhere. Something like a Fresh Roast--mine died literally three weeks after warranty. There are roasters you can set over gas burners. Still, gonna be better than coffee 6 mos. at sea.


#4: Post by thirdcrackfourthwave »

TenLayers wrote:Beautiful first post as well as a very interesting question. I know exactly zero about this product but there are people on here that do. It does seem to fit for you.

70 x 34 x 30 pretty big chunk a space for a boat and probably a uses a fair bit of electricity.


#5: Post by EbenBruyns »

thirdcrackfourthwave wrote:Robot is also a good machine to get espresso.
Robot is too big. Think no counter space. It has to store away in a small space in a locker.


#6: Post by EbenBruyns »

thirdcrackfourthwave wrote:

70 x 34 x 30 pretty big chunk a space for a boat and probably a uses a fair bit of electricity.
You're joking right? Our boat is only 29 feet long. It won't fit even if nothing else goes in. Also no electricity. I'm concerned that the kaldi mini is too big...


#7: Post by archimede »

6 months on a boat, wouvv. It is a dream for me too...
Because i don't know too much about roasting i can't answer directly to your question but you may keep in mind vacuum sealing your roasted beans.

Let's say you get 2 shots a day. That would be about half a kilo for a fortnight. I would vacuum 12 packages of 500gr roasted beans and would open a package fortnightly. The vacuum sealers are cheap on aliexpress and efficient. I think you won't loose too much freshness for the first 2-3 months but a little for the rest of the period. i believe that loss would not be much worse than you would roast on stovetop on a boat. The humidity would not be a problem, also. Just consider :wink:


#8: Post by Rickpatbrown »

How does the concern for fire weigh into this? Simple roasters over flame will have a lot of chaff exposed to the fire. Seems like a recipe for disaster.

I would think a very simple rotiserry roaster over a gas stove is the simplest setup. I've never used one and would think quality would be difficult to achieve, but possible.

If you have never roasted, then its gonna be difficult to produce excellent results while learning on a boat. You'll need lots if trial and error, experimentation and mistakes. It's a mess and crazy at times. In a constrained environment, it would be tough.

As you mentioned, the humidity is a problem. Your beans will change over the course of a few months and make roasting even harder to get good results.

I think you would get better coffee by vacuum packing roasted beans. Or even stocking up on dozens of Illy canisters, God forbid.

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#9: Post by Almico »

I'm sure these are still made somewhere, but there are rotisserie type roasters that either have an incorporated burner like the one in the picture, or are open on the bottom and sit on a gas burner. Big learning curve for roasting, but not too invasive in form.


Or ask this guy where he got his:


#10: Post by EddyQ »

Living on a boat is like living in a camper. The space is small and getting power (heat) is a challenge. So your energy source would likely have to be something other than electricity. Then, small indoor space will be your next challenge. Coffee roasting gives off smells that tend to cling and not go away for a day or so. I like the smell, but not for days. It is best to vent them outside. IMO, you would be best roasting outside.

I think a Huky 500 runs off a gas burner or stovetop options and uses minimal electricity (110V, assuming you have an inverter).
It produces good coffee, but is on the bigger side.

Or perhaps your kerosene stove is portable and can be used with something like this:
I have not used such a roaster. Getting repeated results would be challenging, but I heard it can produce tasty coffee with a bit of work and practice.

As others said, coffee roasting is prone to fire. So please consider this with whatever option you choose.