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Another newbie to coffee roasting using a popcorn machine.

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  • Another newbie to coffee roasting using a popcorn machine.

    Hi everyone,

    Declaration : I have NFI (No Frigg'n Idea) of what I'm doing, like usual, but as usual, I'll have a go..

    I have got me a...OK I stole the kids....Breville Crazy popcorn popper, took the lid with a chute off and put the lid aside...Got an old 500ml paint tin, and cleaned it up...Cut the bottom out of it with a can opener left the top and lid alone...but separated...I then pinched the bosses hand held flour sifter, when she wasn't looking.... I also have her pizza tray with the holes in the bottom of it set to one side....I use that for cooling the beans later...A glass cutting board, set up on top of the stove with the popper on top, under the extraction fan...The paint tin, I use as a chimney on top of the popper and flour sift fits nicely on top(upside down) of the chimney, to stop the husks flying around the stove area....I measured out about 12 grams of green Guatemalan coffee beans out and put into popper...Put paint tin chimney and sifter on...Turned the popper on and set the kitchen timer going...Extraction fan on and away we went...About 7 mins I heard the first crack and about 8 mins 30 second the second crack just started... So I think anyhow...Popper off...Oven gloves on....Chimney and sift off...Pizza tray ready....Coffee beans onto tray.... I move the beans around for a couple of minutes until cool....

    I hand ground the beans as soon as they were at ambient temp and made a syphon coffee with it straight away...

    I thought the coffee was a touch bitter but still nice sweet and smooth....

    A couple of questions if I may...

    Do you folks wait for any amount of time before grinding the beans?..If so, roughly how much time and, what does waiting do to the flavour?


  • #2
    "A couple of questions if I may... Do you folks wait for any amount of time before grinding the beans?..If so, roughly how much time and, what does waiting do to the flavour?"

    Lol, good on you getting stuck into it like you did, there is only one way to learn and thats your way.

    To answer your question, I usually wait 4 to 5 days before grinding/drinking, but the beans will continue to improve with age, some better at 10 days others at day 21. The flavour can start off bitter, very weak, grassy, etc. with time the body develops and other flavours begin to appear. Unless you run out of beans early like I do, try to start grinding after a few days at least. And roasting 80 grams in the popper is going to be easier than 12 grams, do 2 or more larger roasts then you can afford to leave some to sit and mature for longer.

    Every roast will be somewhat different to the one before, even using the same beans, and as others will no doubt drop in and offer advice that is far more useful, I will just add that roasting with the popper is a great way to learn about coffee.


    • #3
      Thanks for the reply Smokey,

      I took up your advise except this time I used 100 grams of green Guatemalan beans....I'm finding it hard to detect the second crack with all the noise of the popcorn maker and extraction happening...I think I put too many beans in this time as It may of got to hot...I reckon the roast took less time to heat up but still at 7mins 30 seconds The first crack finished I reckon and 8 mins 30 seconds the second crack finished...I think?....The beans were significantly darker at 7 mins 30 seconds then the last time.... Similar ambient temps and humidly to last time.... The reason I say it's significantly hotter is, the darker bean, and the top of the popcorn maker has gone from a creamy yellow new look to a heated creamy faded yellow look...Next roast I'll put in 80 grams like you suggested....and see how we go....

      Does what I'm saying sound about right to you folk?

      Just hand ground 15 grams and ran it through the syphon and I think it tastes a little more bitter with less body, even at this stage...I'll let theses beans mature now and see how they are in 10 days or so...

      Any suggestions welcome.



      • #4
        Yes, your timing sounds about right, in fact anything beyond 6 minutes is very good for a popper. Popper roasting depends a lot on ambient temperature, in hot areas wait until early morning when it is cool to roast. Below 23 C is best I think. The longer the roast (up to about 18 minutes or so) the better quality of the coffee, generally speaking, but then again I have had awesome coffee out of my popper from a 4 + 1/2 minute roast.

        Listening to the cracks is hard work with a popper, its so noisy, but with practice you get better and better at it. Most roasters take their beans to the start of second crack, SC, any longer than that and the beans can burn. So FC, keep heating, SC wait a few seconds then cool. This gives a nice city roast, and as I said, each roast will be different to the one before. You will eventually learn which depth of roast, that you prefer. Personally I like the darker roasts that bring out the cocoa flavours, but sometimes I burn the beans trying. Even then they still taste quite OK but seem to stale a little quicker.

        The popper will eventually go brown inside with all that oil coming off the beans, its just oil, you don't have to worry about that. 80 grams seems to be the optimal mass for the standard popper, too much and it roasts too quickly, the heat stays in the mass longer and it heats up too fast. When you cool you can use a colander with holes and a small fan, the faster you cool the better.

        On the grind, if you like coffee right after roasting then you are fine, however the coffee flavours mature over time, try to leave some of your new batch to rest for 7 days, and a small amount for longer, like 14 days and a smaller batch for 21 days. You may find that it improves in flavour over this period. If it is hot and humid then it might mature faster and by 21 days it might start to taste a bit stale.

        Store your fresh roasted beans in a sealed container, some put it in the fridge to slow the maturing process while others keep it in a cupboard away from moisture. Keeping it cool will often prolong its flavour development, but keep it away from moisture, even when stored in the fridge. Moisture affects development of flavours, and low humidity is better than high humidity. Moisture (water), air flow and temperature are the variables to watch for when storing your fresh roasted beans.


        • #5
          I've been considering giving this a go.. Really helpful replies here. Glad I found this forum!


          • #6
            thesmokingduke, give it a go and you will never regret it, your wife might and your bank account might, but its a great hobby. Feel free to ask away, there are a lot of experienced home roasters here waiting for your call


            • #7
              Hi folks,

              I did another 80 gram roast yesterday....A couple of things of note ...Ambient temp 27 C reletive humidity 57 percent...The humidy has been about the same but yesterday was far warmer than when I roasted before...

              So I dropped the amount to Smokeys' recommendation of 80 grams... The first crack was at about 5 min 30 seconds and SC was about 6 mins...I took the beans out virtually straight away so the roast was lighter than last time but still reasonably dark... As I started tasting straight away I think I will continue to get a good comparison... I ran the traditional 15 grams of freshly roasted, freshly ground beans through the syphon and It was actually quite nice....No bitterness, in comparison to the other two attempts and even better than the mature beans you get from the supermarkets...

              I plan to leave the roasts and taste test at 7, 14 and 21 days as suggested...Now I have two different roasts started in airtight containers in the dark cupboards at room temp.....I think I'll do another roast tomorrow and try to replicate what I did yesterday, all be it at well under 23C and store and taste test the same way....

              As usual, all comments welcomed...



              • #8
                Hi everyone,

                I tried the batch of coffee I roasted the longest today...I just smelt it and it did not smell good, so I threw it away...The next batch which was roasted shorter was good...I enjoy it a lot...I think it is sweet and has nice body...

                Below is a picture of my roasting gear...It's all stuff I found at home...

                The other picture is a picture I took of the roast I did today..
                Temp 20 C.
                Humidity 60 percent.
                Time FC 5 mins..Out 10 secs after first crack.

                I did my normal thing and ran it 15 grams through the syphon and this is the best yet I can't wait until these mature.

                Attached Files


                • #9
                  Originally posted by bigdaddy View Post
                  I tried the batch of coffee I roasted the longest today...I just smelt it and it did not smell good, so I threw it away...
                  Hi Bigdaddy
                  Great that you're into the experimenting and testing stage
                  Just a heads up - smell can be deceiving. Unless your beans smell like burnt toast (i.e. you've burnt them to a crisp) or the cat has pee'd on them while they rested, then they may surprise you with taste! In my roasting journey not all batches that 'smelt great' have tasted brilliant - and many that didn't smell like much at all tasted awesome

                  Having said that - my latest batch ticked all the boxes - tastes great as espresso, cuts through milk like a hot knife through butter, and fills the house with aroma off the grinder! Wim/win/win!

                  I'd try all roasts anyway (it's how we learn) - then throw them out if they're terrible!

                  Happy roasting


                  • #10
                    And just to add to Matts comment, sometimes a roast can taste average or terrible one day and the be good a few days later. This ha happened to me a few times.


                    • #11
                      bigdaddy, ditto Matt and Sully, thats great advice, taste test everything, no matter the smell. And let them sit even if they taste bad first time, because bad coffee can be just a bit immature, and needs a few days more rest. I received some fresh roasted beans once and they tasted so bad I threw them out. Now I know better and understand that they need rest time, not throwing out.

                      Your equipment looks just right, your roast a bit mixed, some a little under and some just right, what that means is try to stir continuously. When I use the popper I am stirring like a madman once it starts to colour otherwise you get the bottom ones roasted and the top ones not, and once that happens your whole roast will still need to be pulled when the roasted ones are ready, otherwise they burn. That means the others aren't fully roasted.

                      Its just practice now, more practice and it gets better and better. I still reckon my best roasted beans were from my very first popper roast.


                      • #12
                        Cheers for that folks...

                        Yes I need practice...Just on the throwing the beans out....When they first came out I did my traditional tasting of freshly ground 15 grams through the syphon and they tasted bitter, like they smelt...7 days later the smell was the same but considerably stronger...I take on board comments, I still should of tasted them to get a peg in the ground and to also see if I would be pleasantly surprised...Thanks for all the great advise and encouragement...

                        Hi smokey,

                        What do you use to stir the beans.....I didn't stir mine as you rightly pointed out...I thought the air flying around would of been enough but wasn't...Do you use a wooden skewer or something?...



                        • #13
                          I stir with the handle of a wooden spoon,



                          • #14
                            Originally posted by bigdaddy View Post
                            Hi smokey, What do you use to stir the beans.....I didn't stir mine as you rightly pointed out...I thought the air flying around would of been enough but wasn't...Do you use a wooden skewer or something?...Cheers.
                            bigdaddy, I use a thickish wooden chopstick, its slightly charred at the end but it never burns, a wooden spoon like Barry said is a good idea too.


                            • #15
                              I really wish I had read this thread before I started roasting in my popper!

                              Great info! Thanks for posting!