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byarvin

Home Coffee Roasting

138 posts in this topic

Hello out there!

Like everybody else, I've been reading the Fat Guy's home coffee roasting posts, and it makes me wonder....who else besides him (and me!) are roasting out there?

I've been doing it about a year and I roast around a pound a week using either a Hearthware roaster (in the garage) or a converted stovetop corn popper.

Surely there must be more of you out there!

Green beans and equipment are snatched right up on Ebay, and there are all sorts of websites for this.

I can't be the only home roaster in New Jersey...or could I?

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Just got one from Santa! FG's posts have been invaluable. At this point I'm still tinkering with roasting times, but I'm astounded at how much better my coffee is. I still don't have a French press, (for shame) but I'm working on it. Just haven't had chance yet. I also have to find a local source for green beans. For the record I bought a FreshRoast from The Coffee Project. Love it. It's very easy to use. mmmm roasting smells.

--therese


Many parts of a pine tree are edible.

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I'm working on the final chapter in the roasting diary and hope to have it up next week -- it's just some general observations now that I'm a semi-experienced home roaster. I'm glad you found what I wrote so far valuable, and soon I'll figure out a way to link this thread into the diary chain.

Also, I've distributed a few samples of my home-roasted coffee to eGullet people whose homes are near mine or whose paths I've crossed lately. I'm hoping they will post their comments and critiques soon. I hasten to add, if they think my coffee sucks, they should say so.

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Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I confess to being a recepient of some of Fat Guy's home roasted java. The stuff is good, really good actually. Only two problems:

1) Made me immediately want to invest in the apparatus

2) And in the interim I had to invite him over to dinner a second time just to get more beans spilled in my direction.

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Sheesh, I have to go to Seattle to get Klink's sausages, to New York for Fat Guy's coffee. Why don't we all just come to North Cackalacky bearing gifts?


Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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I confess to being a recepient of some of Fat Guy's home roasted java. The stuff is good, really good actually. Only two problems:

1) Made me immediately want to invest in the apparatus

2) And in the interim I had to invite him over to dinner a second time just to get more beans spilled in my direction.

I confess I have had the same problems...

And unlike Ed, I have had to sit with FG and Mrs. FG at Ed's home and travel in Fat Mobile and their generous selves gave me more coffee to take home even though unlike Ed, I was not cooking for them.

The coffee is very very very good.

And makes me want to drink coffee.

And like Ed, I too shall invest in the apparatus. :smile:

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Regarding apparatus, I'd like to add that you really don't need to make a big investment. In fact with no investment at all you can be roasting your own coffee. You just need the beans.

People were roasting coffee 400 years ago, long before electricity came on the scene. All YOU need is a smallish cast iron pan and a heat source. You don't add oil or anything else, just the beans into a hot pan. If any of you live near a place that roasts coffee, green beans will cost about half of the roasted price, so immediately you're way ahead, and most professional coffee roasters love to talk about their craft.

Get some raw beans, ask for peaberry if you can because they are round rather than flat. They'll roll around better. Put a half cup of beans in the pan and keep them moving constantly for about 12 to 15 minutes. If they aren't done turn up the heat next time, if they're burnt turn it down next time. If you are doing it right there will be some smoke, so keep the stovetop vent going on high.

Voila! Coffee.

Honestly, stovetop roasting a lot of fun the first...three times. Then you'll really wish you had something with a plug. But for cheap fun and really getting a sense of how easy it is, stovetop roasting offers no barrier to jumping in and giving it a try. If you have a fast enough 'net connection and would like to see a time lapse movie of what stovetop roasting looks like there is one on The Coffee Project's site.

Another way to see this in action is to find and visit an Ethiopian restaurant. It's a long tradition to roast coffee and serve it to guests. You can see the whole process and even get the traditional coffee with cardemon served just as it has been for hundreds of years. Its worth the experience. It is exactly this experience that led me to home coffee roasting in the first place.

James

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Regarding apparatus, I'd like to add that you really don't need to make a big investment. In fact with no investment at all you can be roasting your own coffee. You just need the beans.

My own experience is that when it comes to coffee, expensive equipment is highly overrated. Yes, a burr grinder is a big improvement over those small cylinder shaped ones, but I get great roasts with an old corn popper, an oven thermometer and a colander.

It's the same with brewing...a simple stovetop espresso pot or coffee press can make a delicious pot in the hands of a skilled user.

With machines, I spend too much time wondering if there's a problem with the unit, and not enough thinking about the product itself.

webespresso1.jpg

Here's a photo I took of my standard shotmaking setup.

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to New York for Fat Guy's coffee.  Why don't we all just come to North Cackalacky bearing gifts?

I ain't no Fat Guy (although that's debatable according to some) but I do live in the NYC area and have begun visiting Charlotte NC on a regular basis lately (might even move there if the romance keeps progressing). If you're near the Queen City, Varmint..... let me know and I'll bring ya a good bag of home roasted custome blend next time Im down there.

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Byarvin - you're not alone. I'm roastign in NJ and very successfully with a total investment of $0 upfronty. My folks had an old West Bend Poppery int he closet and I already had colanders and an oven mitt. The need to roast wiht an open window and a fan (not to mention chaff blowing back into the kitchen when the wind gusts) have me looking at the Zach and Dani's roaster but I'vbe done well with the popper. Sweet Maria's is my mainstay for beans - I'm unaware of anyplace in NJ that sells a good selection of green beans in small quantities via retail. Heck.... I don't even know of any good micro rtoaster in or near southern Bergen County - one of the thigns that led me to roast my own.

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I was lucky enough to receive some of F-G's beans the other day and let me tell you, they made the best cup of coffee I've ever had. It made me understand what all the fuss was about in the 18th century. And I understand that these were the cheap beans! If I had room on my kitchen counter, I would seriously consider buying a roaster.

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I agree that the burr grinder is the one really essential piece of equipment. It's the only aspect of coffee-making that you just can't fake with an el-cheapo everyday utensil or appliance. If you want excellent coffee, you've got to plunk down around $120 for a Solis Maestro or something at that level. A spice grinder just won't cut it. Actually, it will just cut it, which is the problem.

Still, I think if you're going to roast coffee more than occasionally you're just torturing yourself if you don't get a FreshRoast or other entry-level roaster. These are a heck of a lot more convenient than hot air poppers, even though they're built on the same platform. The built-in timer, the power control lever, the chaff catcher, and the cool-down cycle all make the dedicated roaster the better tool for the job.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I agree that the burr grinder is the one really essential piece of equipment. It's the only aspect of coffee-making that you just can't fake with an el-cheapo everyday utensil or appliance. If you want excellent coffee, you've got to plunk down around $120 for a Solis Maestro or something at that level. A spice grinder just won't cut it. Actually, it will just cut it, which is the problem.

Still, I think if you're going to roast coffee more than occasionally you're just torturing yourself if you don't get a FreshRoast or other entry-level roaster. These are a heck of a lot more convenient than hot air poppers, even though they're built on the same platform. The built-in timer, the power control lever, the chaff catcher, and the cool-down cycle all make the dedicated roaster the better tool for the job.

What does a good roaster cost Fat Guy?

And $120.00 is not bad at all if one can get the quality of coffee I have enjoyed from what you shared. It is worth every penny invested.

When can I come back for more? Would you ever consider packaging your brand and selling it? I know at least a few people that would have regular orders. :wink:

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The roaster I have costs $62 (before shipping and tax if any) from, for example, Coffee Project:

http://coffeeproject.com/mcart4/index.cgi?...D=IT113&code=13

The Solis Maestro burr grinder, from the same source, costs $126:

http://coffeeproject.com/mcart4/index.cgi?...i?code=3&cat=11

Roasting coffee is a reasonably idiot-proof procedure. If you don't get it right after your first few tries you've got major troubles. There's really nothing I do that's special. The coffee I roast is probably worse as an objective matter than the coffee roasted at a store that roasts on premises. The thing is, mine is super-fresh. Provided you don't completely screw up the roasting procedure, freshness trumps all. That's the major benefit of home roasting -- you devote 4.5 minutes a day to roasting (during which time you can multitask by posting on eGullet while you listen for cracks and sizzles) so you always have a rolling inventory of coffee beans at the optimum age of 24-48 hours.

I'll try to make as much as I can and distribute it according to my whim throughout the eGullet community, paying special attention -- as is my nature -- to opportunities for playing favorites, spurring rivalries, and otherwise causing trouble.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I agree that the burr grinder is the one really essential piece of equipment.

Can you explain why this is?

Also -- what size roaster do you recommend? I've seen from 2.5 oz to 8 oz, but I have no idea what that means in beans.

Finally -- I've seen your kitchen. Where do you keep all these gizmos?

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From what I understand it results in a much more even grind. A spice grinder just keeps whirring around making your already grinded parts even smaller.

Ben


Gimme what cha got for a pork chop!

-Freakmaster

I have two words for America... Meat Crust.

-Mario

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But isn't that a question of exposing the proper amount of surface area to the hot water?

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I agree that the burr grinder is the one really essential piece of equipment.

Can you explain why this is?

In a burr grinder, the beans pass once through the grinding plates, so they stay cooler. They also release much less oil during grinding, so they don't clump up. They're ground evenly, which means you don't have a pile of coarse grounds on top of coffee powder like you get in a blade grinder.


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
Manager
jzimmerman@eGullet.org
eG Ethics signatory
Author, The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook and All About Cooking for Two

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Fat Guy mentioned the heat factor also. How hot does the stuff get? I've touched newly ground coffee, and never felt any heat. Certainly nothing like the heat from, say, the boiling water that I pour on it.

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How do you add that hazelnut flavor? (Actually, I hate flavored coffee, but I'm curious if it's possible at home.)

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But isn't that a question of exposing the proper amount of surface area to the hot water?

I think a burr grinder is required for proper extraction, with a consistent grind you end up with very little sediment in your cup and you don't end up with big chunks of coffee bean that are under-extracted left in the filter.

For home roasting, I have a hot air roaster (hearthware) that roasts 3oz (by weight, 4oz by volume) that I never use anymore, and a drum roaster that I built that roasts 4 to 12oz by weight (16oz by volume max) on the rotisserie spit for my gas grill. The gas-grill roaster takes 15-20 minutes per batch and produces a much mellower cup. It’s much cheaper to build a gas-grill roaster and I think the end result is significantly better. I think I spent all of $7 on parts for my roaster, I can probably make a quick howto if anyone is interested…

My current morning cup is a blend of Sweet Maria’s Moka Kadir blend and Java from the Blawan estate. I highly recommend this blend.

Last year Starbucks was selling a repackaged Bodum eSantos electric vacuum coffee pot, they since discontinued selling them and if you can find one they are being sold for 50%-75% off. The eSantos makes some damn good coffee although if you want to adjust the brew time you need to tilt the machine back using a quarter or a dime as a shim.

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Wanted to mention that ecookbooks.com, our new ecommerce partner, has green coffee beans for home roasting:

Brazil Vargem Grande

Sumatra Mandheling "PWN"

Decaf Columbia French Roast

Decaf Sumatra

Ethiopian Yrgacheffe

Papa New Guinea AA


Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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You are not alone indeed! I love home roasting so much that I quit my day job last year to pursue my own dreams as a small business owner operator. I have a growing website which is loaded with info for home roasting. This site has a picture catalog of each green and roasted beans, lovely description and recommended roast for each varietal, and best of all.....Great prices!

I would welcome feedback from one and all as this is really OUR site. If there is something you think I should add or change please let me know. We are always adding new items.... so check it out.

http://www.thebeanstock.com

Sample pic: Colombia Huila

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I too have gotten into the coffee roasting obesssion. I have a Fresh Roast Plus roaster, use a Solis Maestro Plus burr grinder and brew in a french press. I have been roasting different beans and experimenting with roasting times and end points. The coffee is excellent and I would advice anyone interested to give it a try. The investment in money is small but the rewards are big. High quality green beans average around $4-5/ pound and after yeild the best coffee you have tasted that would sell for $15-20 a pound. Flavor peaks between 2-3 days old and I never have coffee more than 5 days old. For anyone looking for a new obession this is it.

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