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Pan Roasting - Ye Olde Fashioned Methode. Ultra low tech.

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  • Pan Roasting - Ye Olde Fashioned Methode. Ultra low tech.

    I started out pan roasting because I had nothing better but now that Ive completed about 20 roasts using a pan and whisk Im really addicted to it and am actually surprised how effective it can be. At first every batch of beans was both scorched and under-roasted. Taste was somewhat crapola but I think Ive got a few tricks now that improve this method dramatically.

    Basic Method - this is just what I do, could be better ways of doing it but here goes.

    Heat pan to 100 degrees celsius. I place an oven thermo in the pan until it hits the mark.
    I have an electric element stove which is very unresponsive to changes to power level. So I put the element on 3/4 full and leave it there. Modulating the heat by holding the pan either closer to or further away from the element.
    Remove from heat.
    Dump beans into pan and stir at slow and steady pace with whisk.
    Place pan back over heat but not on the element. I hold the pan suspended about 1/2" above my electric element. I found that if the pan is on the element the beans scorch but suspending it even a little above prevents this and provides a far more even roast. I hold my pan by hand, but I only roast 100gms at a time.
    Stir at a slow and steady pace for the entire roast. Stirring faster does nothing really except tipping your beans all over the kitchen as they lose mass. A fast stir will not make the roast more even nor prevent beans from scorching.

    As a general rule I aim for rolling 1C at 10mins and stop the roast completely a couple of mins after RFC has ended. At the end of RFC I remove the pan from heat entirely and let the beans coast before dumping them. Bringing the roast to an average of 14-16mins long. Use the cool down as part of the roast. So if I want to stop the roast at 15mins Ill have to dump them into the colander at 12mins stir and sift into another bowl as they cool.

    I let them sit for 5 days before tasting but I do give them the whiff test each day to see how they are developing.
    I actually enjoy the challenge of the chaotic pan roast and I like my 15mins of zen time watching beans change colour, chaff flying off and losing mass. I cant see Ill get half as much fun out of a popper, even if I may get a better roast.

    So far Ive cooked up some.

    Indian Elephant Hills - I call this my chocolate bomb. Its nothing at all until day 5 then suddenly it smells and tastes like chocolate pudding. Not much complexity but a nice sweetener to another bean.

    Ethiopian Gambella - I get cherry out of this one, sometimes a hint of marzipan. Its weird.

    Indo Sulawesi - just heavy spice but I think thats because I baked the beans on the roast. I did a 15min roast but it didnt do the beans any favours. Have roasted again at a 10min higher heat roast. Well see.

    Tanzanian Kyaurinde - smells really fruity post roast. Very even for a pan roast and no scorching. Easy bean to roast. Loads and loads of chaff though.

  • #2
    Re: Pan Roasting - Ye Olde Fashioned Methode. Ultra low tech.

    Welcome back.

    All those flavours sound about right--even the Sulawesi--so you are close to the mark. If you have a look some of the profiles in this roasting forum you can see that your "hand" work matches pretty well.

    As long as youre having fun and getting good coffee, then its all good.

    The next step up would not be a popper, but a proper roaster--some of them are quite hands-on, some primarily automatic.



    • #3
      Re: Pan Roasting - Ye Olde Fashioned Methode. Ultra low tech.

      Thanks for the heads up on pan roasting.  Ive been contemplating purchasing a Popper for when we head off in the caravan for 6 months as the Bhemor is a bit too big to take.  Ill have a go at pan roasting in the next few days to see what the results are like.  Not sure about doing it in the kitchen though - wont go down well with SWMBO!

      Thanks again

      Bazza B


      • #4
        Re: Pan Roasting - Ye Olde Fashioned Methode. Ultra low tech.

        Any tips on how to achieve dark, strong roast without burning?

        Newbie here.

        Have been using a cast iron skillet for roasting green beans over gas stove top but cant seem to get the roast right.

        Method Ive used is to set the gas flame to about medium, heat the pan , put about 250g of green beans in the pan at a time, cover the pan with a glass lid with handle then continuously shake the pan over the gas flame (as if making popcorn), pausing now and again for 15 sec or so (to rest!).

        Ill remove the lid about 3-4 times to allow the smoke to escape and run up the exhaust fan. Usually takes about 15-17 min to get the beans to an even roast colour that I like (somewhere between French Roast and Espresso colour).

        Issue I have is that I like a dark, rich (but not bitter) roast and I cant seem to achieve this with any of the beans Ive used. Tried roasting them darker once but then they just tasted burnt.

        Have tried the Coffee Snobs sample pack along with several other varieties Ive purchased, but each time the brew comes out much thinner and lighter than the ground coffee I used buy that I liked (Brazilian Pilao Intenso)

        Have tried all variety of grinding granularity with a decent Krups burr grinder but still comes out way to weak for my taste.

        Would appreciate any recommendations on how to improve the outcome to produce a darker, thicker brew.

        Not sure how useful this is, but heres a photo of the most recent batch. (shot on plain white paper for reference)



        • #5
          Re: Pan Roasting - Ye Olde Fashioned Methode. Ultra low tech.

          Haha! Just when I think I have nothing more to contribute to this forum. Well...

          Ok, having a look at your roast there it seems you are having a problem with scorching, which as you know leads to a bitter charred flavour in the roast. I do successfully roast dark roasts in a pan (my Tanzanian/\/Sulawesi combo is a dark roast) taken to about CS10 and becomes a lovely smooth and deep cocoa roast. Lots of spice, lots of body and not a hint of ash.

          So a few comments here.

          I use a small deep stainless saucepan for roasting rather than a skillet. I find the key to getting the roast even is having a nice big pocket of hot air around the beans. This seems less likely with a skillet due to depth. I dont use a lid because I like to keep the beans constantly in motion with stirring therefore I need a deep pan that will retain the heat without a lid. You also want to get the beans to take on and retain their own heat, that increases the surface area of conductive heat as the beans then start roasting each other. So having a pan with small surface area where the beans are heaped on top of each other is what I use.

          The problem I can see with cast iron is its mass. Sounds good but what youll get is a big surface area of hot iron that will easily burn your beans and you wont be able to bleed off any excess heat quickly because of it. The stainless saucepan is a bit easier to manage because removing it from the heat source for just a few seconds bleeds off any excess heat that appears to be scorching the beans and Ive got my roast under control again.

          The trick with pan roasting is to try and equalise the heat of the bottom of the pan with the hot air inside the pan so that a more even roast results. And also to minimise the beans contact time with the pan surface to prevent scorching. Its a real balancing act and one I find much easier to master by holding the pan in the thermal coming off the heat source rather than allowing it contact with the heat source itself.

          My basic routine to avoid excess scorching is to heat the pan prior to putting the beans in to about 100C, remove it from the heat source entirely, let is sit for 5 seconds then put the greens in. While the greens are still waxy and sticky with water content heat is very gentle until they start to yellow and become more easily mobile in the pan.

          Once they get to a straw colour I then put them back on the heat and keep the heat up until end of RFC. During this time I hold the pan very close to the heat source and stir so that the beans are never stationary for more than a second. The roast will look really uneven until end of RFC Ive found and the beans will be quite mottled. Once the last of the FC is over I then remove the pan from the heat for a count of 20, put back over the heat for a count of 20 and continue stirring on and off the heat until they get to the depth I require. Im only heating the pan enough at this stage to keep the latent heat within the beans at an even temp so they continue to roast with a tapering heat profile. I usually dump my beans when they emit a wine-like aroma and are smooth with a satiny sheen. This is typically right before 2C or at the first few snaps of 2C. You could continue coasting them with the latent heat to get them darker if you wished, perhaps right into R2C.

          My roasts do have a very small amount of scorching, its pretty much unavoidable with pan roasting but Ive found if its only minor it doesnt ruin the taste of the roast. So saying that the darker roasts take a good 10 days post roast to taste good though.

          There is a limit to what can be acheived with pan roasting. If with a little more practice if you still fail to hit your dark roast sweet spot then perhaps it might be worthwhile investing in a Corretto/\/Behmor or iCoffee setup. These setups will produce a much more even roast because they produce that nice flow of hot air around the beans rather than just use conductive heat.


          • #6
            Re: Pan Roasting - Ye Olde Fashioned Methode. Ultra low tech.

            I would post a pic of my roast but cant due to not enough posts on here yet.


            • #7
              Re: Pan Roasting - Ye Olde Fashioned Methode. Ultra low tech.

              Originally posted by 4B44495A494E4447280 link=1332401984/5#5 date=1337144158
              I would post a pic of my roast but cant due to not enough posts on here yet.
              You need to start collecting the $200 when you pass go again...

              Member, ex-member, member, ex-member...Tomorrow??? ;D


              • #8
                Re: Pan Roasting - Ye Olde Fashioned Methode. Ultra low tech.

                Yeah I know. Cant make up my mind. : ;D Maybe its boredom and I just need to register all over again to keep life interesting.


                • #9
                  Re: Pan Roasting - Ye Olde Fashioned Methode. Ultra low tech.

                  Originally posted by 207F67717A717D747477777F737C120 link=1332401984/6#6 date=1337144574
                  Member, ex-member, member, ex-member...Tomorrow???
                  Theres our answer. We didnt have to wait...Add a further cycle of member, ex member to the list :


                  • #10
                    Re: Pan Roasting - Ye Olde Fashioned Methode. Ultra low tech.



                    • #11
                      Reviving this thread as the most complete (and interesting! thanks OP for the tips) of the 3 I found on pan roasting. I'm interested in trying it out because of the manual aspect of the thing, I love cooking and slowly iterating towards perfection.

                      For experienced pan roasters who also have experience with the proper roasting equipment (Behmor etc.) do you think it is possible to achieve the same quality of roast with a pan as with the equipment? What limits the possibilities of the pan? What variables including heat, weather, pan thickness and material, layers of beans and presence of lid have you played with?


                      • #12
                        I got a $5 steel skillet from Kmart, and roasted outside in about 15 celsius on a gas stove.

                        The first attempt was the CS Colombian Vulcan Galeras and reached first crack very fast, in about 4-6 minutes, stirred with a wooden spoon mostly, with a bit of shaking throughout. I took it a few minutes beyond that until the colour was relatively even (I think Colombian benefits from a slightly darker roast anyway). Whilst many of the beans are darker on the flat side, after a few hours the Colombian flavours started coming out of the resting container and perfumed the living room.

                        The second attempt was supposed to be a slower roast, the CS India Elephant Hills Monsoon. This one took a full 12 minutes on the lower heat to reach a miserable first crack with just a few pops, and almost no chaff or smoke. The beans were noticeably more uneven so I continued for another 4 minutes at which point it was close to a dark roast (if anybody could point me to the "CS10" etc. visual scale, that would be really helpful!). Despite my continuous shaking of the skillet and throwing the beans up over themselves like flipping a pancake, many of the beans were very dark indeed. I thought this one was a goner but after a few hours, the container started moving on from "you burnt the spoon" to the pungent aroma that I knew from monsooned malabar (which I'm guessing is close to this varietal).

                        I'll cup both tomorrow and try again at higher heat with the Monsoon.


                        • #13
                          The Colombian is unfortunately both grassy (underroasted) and charred at the same time. I'll give it a few more days and see if things improve.


                          • #14
                            Hey there - considering getting into pan roasting myself in a few months - how did it go?