I cannot shake the desire to roast

Discuss roast levels and profiles for espresso, equipment for roasting coffee.
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EddyQ
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#1: Post by EddyQ »

For several years I had the desire to roast coffee. But I usually talk myself out of it since I can buy rather good coffee. But the bug keeps biting . . . So, the last time I looking into doing this, my nephew was roasting with a popcorn popper. Very cool. But it seemed far too simple. It lacked so many controls and the only feedback was your own senses.
Well, I guess your five senses are very important. I considered a heat gun and dog bowl. But, I think I would be lost without some data. Temperature for one. As I read more and more, folks who roast a lot want more controls on heat, air flow and thermal probes to know what is happening with bean temps and other temps. Profiles and all. . . .

I've never roasted. Getting a >$1-2,000 roasting system doesn't seem practical to me right now. However, if I did get such a system, I bet I would learn to roast eventually and be happy. But a LOT of beans would be waisted and I would cry.

I love this thread: Contemplating a move from Hottop to Quest or Huky (looking for owner opinions)
It shows a struggle to obtain the best coffee similar to mine. The difference is that the OP had lots of experience with smaller, home type roasters. I have no roasting experience, but feel I will learn quickly and don't want to be limited with my roaster after 6 months.

I am considering a Fresh Roast SR500 or SR700. It is inexpensive, small and the batch size is low, so I won't be throwing away that much coffee. I've read that the temperature readout is way off when the ambient temp, humidity or voltage changes. And it isn't bean temp. Some folks have added thermometry to the units. For the SR700, apparently the software that comes with it is a disappointment and folks are replacing it with OpenRoast. It is hard saying what the improvements are when temps are not accurate. All this said, I think it better than a dog bowl or popcorn popper.

I'm thinking a year with the unit I likely will tap out its out-of-the-box capabilities (of close too). Then, if I want a project, I could take it appart and add more controls and possibly a setup with Artisian and some phidgets. Learn a bit about these systems. Then, perhaps upgrade to a North or Sonofresco or similar.

Is this a nutty plan? Currently I only make myself one or two espressos a day. So, a Fresh Roast batch will likely last a week. I can easily see if I start turning out as good as the commercial stuff I am buying, I likely could have co-workers and friend wanting some. But that, I think will be a while from now. In the spring, I'd like to roast and have my head straight with a plan. Your comments would be greatly appreciated.
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amagad
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#2: Post by amagad »

freshroasts are nice to get into roasting. I had the issue of capacity and grew out of it rather quickly from our consumption of coffee. there were also times where the roaster wouldnt get hot enough to roast some of my beans into 2nd crack but that appears to be a common problem and likely adding less coffee would have done the trick. my 2 cents, jump into a behmor

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another_jim
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#3: Post by another_jim »

Find out first if you'll like it. Go to someone nearby who roasts, or try a dog bowl and heatgun and get some smoke in your face. There's something very sad about watching someone try to cook, roast, etc, at arms length, as if they were handling something toxic, because they don't really like doing it.
Jim Schulman

Goldensncoffee
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#4: Post by Goldensncoffee »

I would get yourself a good 'ol P1 on Ebay and see if you like it. Or the dog bowl/heat gun. The P1 is what got me hooked on roasting. I got some really great tasting beans out of that thing.

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[creative nickname]
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#5: Post by [creative nickname] »

Give it a try! I also got started with a popcorn popper and it gives you a nice balance of cost and quality of product. Or, as Jim said, you can find somebody who is already roasting and give it a try on their equipment.
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EddyQ (original poster)
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#6: Post by EddyQ (original poster) replying to [creative nickname] »

Oh, I am planning to roast. Just trying to decide where to start and my next steps. Lots of popcorn/dog bowl suggestions here.
Ok, so if I start with this method, what is the likeliness of getting a very good roast (like as good as
a commercial roaster) in say a few months or 6 month? Is it even possible to roast this high of quality with this method?
I'm feeling there would be a lot of variations even after I gain some experience. One sure way to kill this roasting desire would be poorly roasted coffee for 6 months.

I think I have a B&D paint strip gun and a SS dog bowl. I certainly could start any day in my garage with that. See how it goes.
Perhaps it will be easier to get good repeatable results using my own senses than I think it would.

There is a local roaster that uses an old Probat roaster. He roasts all day every day and makes a lot of decent coffee. He has also been quite friendly with showing me a roast in progress a while back. I may visit him and ask if I could experience a complete roast (start to finish). See how he does it. Smell and view the tryer as beans roast. Learn a bit if he lets me. Other than him, I know of nobody locally that home roasts. My nephew roasted with a popper (not the West Bend Poppery P1) back a few years ago. However, he is quite distance from where I live. I will look more for folks . . . Love to join a coffee club, but know of none in my area.
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EddyQ (original poster)
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#7: Post by EddyQ (original poster) »

amagad wrote:freshroasts are nice to get into roasting. I had the issue of capacity and grew out of it rather quickly from our consumption of coffee. there were also times where the roaster wouldnt get hot enough to roast some of my beans into 2nd crack but that appears to be a common problem and likely adding less coffee would have done the trick. my 2 cents, jump into a behmor
Thanks amagad. Just curious, if you did not have issues with consumption, would you have kept with the Fresh Roast a bit longer? Also, I'm curious how long you roasted with it.

I have looked over a lot of posts about the behmor. Many are happy with the roast quantity and quality. But there are quite a few not pleased with the lack of controls and being too automated. I guess that argument could apply to Fresh Roast as well. But, more so with the Behmor. I'd much rather no automation during my learning phase.
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RobertL
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#8: Post by RobertL »

I'd suggest building a stir crazy turbo oven roaster. They are pretty easy to build and can roast small amounts or up to a full pound (IIRC). Total build cost should be less than $100 plus your time. I think the SC/TO is a good way to get into roasting with little time and money invested.

centralvalleycoffee
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#9: Post by centralvalleycoffee »

I used a handful of mostly unmodified popcorn poppers when I first started roasting. It was a fantastic way to get into the hobby and learn on the extreme cheap. I have since built my own 1.5lb fluid bed roaster that took a lot of learning and a good bit of wasted coffee. Looking back I wouldn't change much to how I learned but I would say that being able to adjust heat, air speed and collect bean mass temperatures would have helped my transition to the new roaster. At the very least try and collect the bean mass temps as it will help you understand where you are in the roast and how its developing. as Goldensncoffee said, you can try to find a poppery 1 or just start looking at local thrift stores and you will most likely find several that are dirt cheap and will get you started. I fell in love with roasting very quickly and I'm sure you will as well.

Royce

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MNate
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#10: Post by MNate »

I am sure I will roast someday too. My plan is to get to the end game espresso machine and grinder first. And then skip all the beginning roasting steps and go straight to an end game roaster. I like to cook (and follow recipes and learn a bit about the science behind it so I'm sure I'll like roasting). I'm probably 10 years away from this though but that should give me time to also learn more about coffee itself and try a lot of great professionally roasted beans first too.

That's my plan! Not worth much since I haven't done it yet but if you think you'll like it, why mess around with difficult tools at the start?