The Ultimate Home Roaster Project

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

Postby keno » Apr 01, 2007, 1:25 am

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Look at that nice even roast and imagine being able to roast 4 pounds at a time!

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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.

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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).

(5) WARNING - 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.
:wink:

User avatar
TimEggers

Postby TimEggers » Apr 01, 2007, 2:09 am

:shock:

Wow.

What do I say to something like that? Man that's cool.

You don't actually dry clothes in there afterwards do you?

User avatar
another_jim
Team HB

Postby another_jim » Apr 01, 2007, 4:00 am

Nice work. But you forgot to mention that for espresso roasts, it's very useful to add a fabric softener sheet. This extends the "glass phase" of the roast just after the first crack, and creates a slightly softer bean. This in turn allows for finer grinding and improved extraction.

It also would help to post instructions on how to cool the beans. Does your kit work in conjunction with the permanent press cycle to do the cooling internally, or do the beans have to be removed and cooled externally?
Jim Schulman

DaveC

Postby DaveC » Apr 01, 2007, 8:12 am

Sorry guys but I'm still loyal to the Aromaroast

http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/coffeetime/_sgg/m4m1s9_1.htm

and of course all those other wonderful products for April!

Rainman

Postby Rainman » Apr 01, 2007, 9:09 am

Ken- you're up 'till 1:25 AM doing this stuff?

hey, where'd your signature go- you know the one; if not for coffee, etc....

pretty funny- almost had me going to the laundry room myself!
LMWDP #18

User avatar
fredfal

Postby fredfal » Apr 01, 2007, 10:45 am

I almost spit coffee all over my computer.
-Fred

Spresso_Bean

Postby Spresso_Bean » Apr 01, 2007, 11:52 am

Oh man, that is awesome. I love the dial settings. LOL.

User avatar
TomP10

Postby TomP10 » Apr 01, 2007, 12:49 pm

Let's give credit where credit is due... the world's greatest coffee roaster -- Mr Sidd Finch -- was the first person to use a dryer as a coffee roaster --- back in 1985 if my memory serves.

- Tom

hgs

Postby hgs » Apr 01, 2007, 1:47 pm

why risk problems with the wife, the hassles of cutting a hole for a window, and my horizontally-challenged lint-screen that won't catch the chaff? i took your advice, but will only be using the machines at the laundromat on the corner. for $1 of qtrs, i can use a heavy-duty machine with a pre-installed window for constant viewing. no problems with my significant other (we use our own machine for clothing) - so i won't have to worry about coffee-smelling clothing. i will only go late at night so i don't get hassled by the regulars there. thanks for the great home-roasting solution - and sorry, i won't be needing the conversion kit.

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cannonfodder
Team HB

Postby cannonfodder » Apr 01, 2007, 9:13 pm

I built a one pound roaster from a rotisserie toaster oven. I had to make a stainless steel drum, weld the rotisserie rod mounts to the drum, fabricate a hinged lid to charge and dump the drum. The roaster did not get hot enough so I pulled the case off and insulated the oven chamber with high temperature ceramic insulation and added an electric charcoal starter in the bottom to augment the lower heating elements, there is an upper broiler set as well.

The oven would now spike my 600F oven thermometer, which I mounted in the back of the oven. I can control the upper burners, lower burners, both sets and the lower auxiliary burner. I also have temperature control. The little rotisserie motor finally gave out after a year of use so I got and external motor with a reduction gear and wired it in on the outside of the oven case. I then welded together an extension to bridge the gap between the external motor and the internal rotisserie mount.

It worked quite well, but eventually I got a Hottop and relegated my homemade roaster to backup duty. The Hottop is just easier to use.

I will have to look for a photo and post it.

Almost forgot, for a cooler, I dumped the beans into a large wire mesh colander and used my air compressor with the regulator turned down to around 20psi and blew air up through the beans. That cooled them very quickly and blew out any remaining chaff.
Dave Stephens