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Fat Guy

Old-School Coffee-Roasting

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I finally shattered the roasting chamber on my FreshRoast. Now I'm faced with some indecision: should I pay $20 to replace it, given that I'll likely get a Hearthware I-Roast very soon? What to do?

But that's not what I wanted to talk about.

Now that my FreshRoast is out of order, I've had the chance to start experimenting with real old-school coffee-roasting. You know, the old fashioned way: in a skillet.

I don't have embers of a fire. I did this on the stovetop. I also used a stainless-lined copper skillet rather than the traditional cast-iron. I just put some coffee beans in the skillet, turned on the heat, and shook the beans around once in awhile until they were the right color.

I used decaf beans for my first batch, because I didn't want to deal with chaff. I was able to achieve a reasonably accurate level of doneness just by sight, though some of the beans were not uniformly colored.

In terms of flavor, the skillet-roasted coffee was not as good as the coffee roasted in the FreshRoast. It may very well be that I simply need to improve my technique -- it wasn't massively inferior; it just wasn't as good. The coffee overall wasn't as extracted and the aromatics were blunted.

More to come.

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You can roast more evenly in the oven on a cookie sheet, but still, by the time you get it figured out, you'd have received your new coffee roaster.

Doesn't do a thing for chaff removal, though.

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You can roast more evenly in the oven on a cookie sheet

This occurred to me, but I couldn't figure out what temperature to use.

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I'm sorry....chaff removal AFTER you've roasted the coffee? Don't you do that before you roast it? Like just after you dry the beans? I have relatives in Kona who are growing and roasting their own coffee and it ROCKS, and they've got VERY SMALL production....my uncle has a little screen that he dries the beans on, and then has a machine of some sort that separates the chaff from the beans (sorry, I wasn't paying that much attention when he was talking about it, not b/c I wasn't interested, but b/c I was doing the Ironman World Championship Triathlon a few days later) and then he does have some sort of roaster (I think he said he could only roast 8 oz at a time which took about 20 minutes). His coffee is some of the best Kona coffee I've ever tasted...If you want any info, I'd be happy to get it from him....he's entering his coffee in some competition this year and I'll be very interested in how he does.

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I'm sorry....chaff removal AFTER you've roasted the coffee?

I don't know if professionals have special machines or what, but in home coffee roasting the standard operating procedure is to remove the chaff during (by means of a filter in the machine) or after roasting. The roasting is what causes the chaff to peel away from the beans.

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My uncle just moved to Kona about 2 yrs ago and has coffee trees that have just started producing so I wouldn't put him in the professional catagory ....he only has enough production to make for himself and his wife and for friends and family. He's got some little machine that separates the chaff and if you are intested I'll find out from him what it is etc. I don't think it's exorbitantly expensive (altho, I think he may be borrowing it from someone he knows...another "detail" I overlooked) but I do know his little coffee roaster is his and it's really pretty small...he roasts the beans out in his garage. If you want any details I would be happy to find out for you...i"m in contact via email with them all the time. The machine that separates the chaff seems to be a fairly large machine....but I can get all the det's from him if you like along with photos.

What I mean to say, is that my uncle is a home based thing and he maybe has 30 trees at most (us athletes are SO self centered, lol...I didn't get all the main details), but he's so far from professional other than the qualilty of his stuff...he does it all on his patio and in his garage.....so I think that would qualify as a "home roaster"???.


Edited by NVNVGirl (log)

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I'm sorry....chaff removal AFTER you've roasted the coffee? Don't you do that before you roast it? Like just after you dry the beans?

The "chaff removal" you're referring to is a part of the process of harvesting the beans, removing them from the fruit, and getting them ready to sell and roast.

When we (those of us without acreage in Kona, that is :biggrin:) buy green coffee beans, they come already dried and cleaned. There is no loose material, and the beans do not appear to have any chaff. As FG says, only during the roasting process does the chaff peel off the beans.

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You can roast more evenly in the oven on a cookie sheet

This occurred to me, but I couldn't figure out what temperature to use.

I used to have a book that explained this in detail, but since I had to give up coffee :sad: I'm not sure what happened to it.

Sweetmarias has a page about how to do this.

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Thanks for enlightening me. No acreage in my family ....my uncle has coffee trees in his back yard; just like about 80 percent of the other homes up the hill :biggrin:

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Wierd, I tried some coffee roasting the other day for the first time. I did it on my stovetop in a nonstick pan. It worked fairly well, but even roasting of the beans is definitely an issue. I think I need a smaller pan so the bunched up heat of the beans roasts them evenly instead of contact with the hot pan itself. The latter seems to be a problem since the beans are not round, rather they are flat on one side.

Ben

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The "chaff" that NYNV refes to is actually the parchment. It's a sort of inner liner that surrounds the coffee bean and separates the bean from the coffee cherry (the cherry being the fruit so to speak and the bean being the seed inside).

There are both dry processed and wet processed coffees. Both of these methods remove the parchment but IIRC the wet process removes more of it. Regardless.... beans processed by both methods have chaff. It's the dry husk of the bean itself and is an integral part of the surface until roasting occurs. Decaf bean don't have chaff beacuse this husk comes off during the process of removing the caffiene.

That said.... chaff has almost no taste whatsoever and a bit of it your coffe or espresso won't be noticeable.

I know there's a guy on the Sweet maria's list who has been doing "dog bowl roasting". He uses a big stainless steel dog food/water bowl and a heat gun - there are cheap consumer grade heat guns available for $25 or $30 at Home Depot and the like. You just point the gun at the beans from a moderate distance and adjust distance and temp to get desired color and roast level.

It appears to have the simplicity of skillet roasting but a greater degree of consistency and control. I have an Alpenroast and love it for the convenience - half pound at a time and I just let run until the 13 - 15 minute mark before I start monitoring the sound and smell to determine when to end roast.

I was in NYC a few weeks ago and went to Ghenet restaurant to share the Ethiopian coffee ceremony with a couple other folks - they roast the beans in what appears to be a beatup old saucepan. As is always the case with coffee prepared in the coffe ceremony manner - it was one of the smoothest cups I've ever had.

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Interesting. About a month ago I heard a radio essay on NPR about roasting coffee in a cast iron skillet. Then, a couple of weeks ago I ran into some descriptions of how to use a Whirley Pop popcorn maker to roast coffee on the stovetop (the website I was reading was here). Since I have a Whirley Pop I might have to give it a try after all the holiday hoopla settles down.

Any suggestions to source green coffee in small quatities?

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I know there's a guy on the Sweet maria's list who has been doing "dog bowl roasting". He uses a big stainless steel dog food/water bowl and a heat gun - there are cheap consumer grade heat guns available for $25 or $30 at Home Depot and the like. You just point the gun at the beans from a moderate distance and adjust distance and temp to get desired color and roast level.

It appears to have the simplicity of skillet roasting but a greater degree of consistency and control.

That would be me, Martin or Jim at Coffeegeek. Martin and I have posted to the sweetmarias list on this, and all three of us have made many postings on www.coffeegeek.com in the home roasting talk forum.

The specifics of our technique can be found on the coffeegeek site, but it is a technique that should be done outdoors, primarily due to chaff blowing everywhere.

Martin, Jim and myself have many years of homeroasting experience and many dollars invested in various coffee-roasting appliances. All of us are enamored with the simplicity, low cost and quality in the heatgun technique. Jim and I seem to be the ones roasting mass quantities, and we are very pleased with the quality and the throughput of this roasting technique.

While we are on the 'old-school' methods, there is also a lot of talk on coffeegeek about using a stainless-steel perforated drum in your gas grill to roast coffee. This is a method for people who wish to roast anywhere from one to four pounds at a time.

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You can roast more evenly in the oven on a cookie sheet

This occurred to me, but I couldn't figure out what temperature to use.

The expert consensus is that oven-roasting in a household oven can only be successfully done in a gas oven or an electric convenction oven capable of reaching a minimum of 500 degrees. The key to even roasting with this method is the air currents circulating through the oven; a conventional electric oven does not generate sufficient air movement to achieve an even roast. As also mentioned later in the thread, SweetMarias has details.

Kenneth Davids book 'Home Coffee Roasting' has a lot of detail on this method. The other key factor to success is using a perforated pan. A solid cookie sheet blocks too much of the heat to allow even roasting.

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