Espresso enthusiasts have long sought to enhance their experience through home roasting. Some are content to rely on inexpensive mass produced home roasters like the i-Roast, Gene Cafe, Alpenroast, and Hottop. But in the quest to perfect the home roast the true aficionado's have continually pushed the envelope of home roasting equipment. Techies make PID controlled popcorn poppers, artisans roast by hand over the stove top, Nascar fans use heat guns and dog food bowls, while the manly-men use gas grill drum roasters.
But the problem is that all of these home roasting devices have serious flaws. Most roast batches that are far too small, lack adequate precision over roast profiles, are difficult to use, and cannot match the quality of a true commerical roast.
So, I decided to push the envelope even further in my quest to go where no home roaster has gone before. Surely, I thought, there must be some untapped home appliance that can be converted into the ultimate home roaster for those of us who cannot afford a $15,000 Diedrich commercial roaster.
Then one day, while observing my wife doing the laundry, I had an epiphany - the household dryer! The many advantages of converting a dryer to a home roaster were suddenly obvious to my espresso infused brain: (1) virtually every household has one, (2) due to the drum design it should have the refined roast profile of a drum roaster, (3) it is large enough to roast a substantial amount of beans, (4) it is already set up with external venting, and (5) it has excellent built-in user controls. Having never used my wife's dryer before I quickly got to work on modding it.
My wife's clothes dryer
After a few quick modifications I had created the MEGA ROAST 4000! This baby is capable of roasting up to 4 pounds of coffee at a time and as you can see it has complete functionality for selecting your preferred roast.
The MEGA ROAST 4000! 22,000 BTUs of roasting power!
Here are some green beans loaded into the MEGA ROAST 4000 and ready to go.
Ready to roast a small test batch of Brazilian, Ethiopian, and Sumatran
My first few roasts were promising, but far from perfect. I realized that it would take some experimentation to dial in my new home roaster. To help dial in the machine and develop the ideal roast profile I hooked up my thermcouple to the MEGA ROAST 4000.
The MEGA ROAST 4000 on its way up to the target roast temperature of 400 degrees
Here is a pic of a full city roast that took 15:30.
Look at that nice even roast and imagine being able to roast 4 pounds at a time!
Make sure to clean the built-in chaf collector after each roast!
The quality of the pours from the MEGA ROAST 4000 far surpass anything I've ever had - I got wonderful sweet chocolate honey with floral overtones from this blend of dry processed Brazilian, Ethiopian Harrar, and Sumatra Mandheling.
As my friend Borat Sagdiyev says: "She's nice!"
My model is based on a gas dryer and I'd recommend a gas dryer over an electric - I think it's got better and more even heating. If you try it with your electric dryer please post to let everyone know how it goes.
Despite all the clear advantages of using a dryer as a coffee roaster, there are a few disadvantages (but nothing that can't be overcome with a little ingenuity).
(1) When roasting larger quantities of coffee you need to be EXTREMELY CAREFUL
not to roast too dark - otherwise you could start a huge fire in your laundry area. So either make sure you have a fire extinguisher or keep the washer fully loaded with water and have a bucket handy.
(2) The amount of smoke can get quite overwhelming despite the external ventilation, so be prepared to set off your smoke detector (but DO NOT DISABLE
). The smoke can also make your laundry smell like coffee (my wife got quite upset about this, but I think it's a plus - in fact I'm now thinking about developing a coffee scented laundry soap).
(3) You have to roast by smell and sound, if you open the door to check the beans you'll stop the roast and reduce the temperature. Next weekend I'm planning to cut a hole in the door to add a window - problem solved!
(4) Cooling the beans is challenging, especially for large roasts. My next project, after the window, will be to work on converting the washing machine to run a cooling cycle. I'm thinking I could mount an air conditioner on the side of the washer which would run on spin cycle (with the water disabled of course).
- This device can be dangerous to your marriage! If your wife thought you were crazy spending over a grand on an espresso machine and she freaked out when you bought a $500 grinder, then she may leave you when she sees you've commandeered her clothes dryer to roast coffee.
This is the ultimate home roaster and I challenge anyone on HB to produce a better, more versatile home roaster, using an ordinary home appliance. I know you probably can't wait to get your hands on on one of these. Not to worry, shortly I will have kits available to convert your dryer to a home roaster. The kits are expected to retail for $295 - far less than a Hottop and far better! I'm taking pre-orders now for the special introductory price of $195 for HB members only, so place your order right away because these will sell fast.