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Thread: Newbie Popper Roasting

  1. #1
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    Newbie Popper Roasting

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Greetings all,

    It would appear from this forum there has been a quantum leap recently in the number of people giving home roasting a whirl so I thought I would post my recent foray into this brand new world hoping for advice and offering perhaps a small amount of illumination to newer roasters than myself, if that is at all possible *:)

    My folks purchased a Breville Crazy Popper for me at Christmas. This sells for around $35 mark which places it at the high end price point for poppers. But what persuaded me to go for this one is the number of retail popcorn chains which run this particular model constantly. So I figured perhaps there may be a sense of longetivity here.

    I had some Ethiopian Yirga from last Novembers poll which I thought Id have a crack at.
    I decided to roast three batches. These were approx. 80g in size. I roasted indoors with the A/C *running and a temp of about 24 degrees.

    I roasted the three batches at 10, 12 and 15 minutes respectively. The beans aggitiated nicely around the chamber and all three batches displayed a uniform roasting colour. First crack seemed to appear at around the 5.30 minute mark. I detected no second crack at all.

    However *:-/

    All three batches remained very undersized compared to a friends BBQ roasted beans. All three batches appeared old and slightly shrivelled.

    Phoned my friend who suggested I had managed to bake my beans (sounds painful) rather than roast them. The suggestion was made that the popper was struggling to reach a temperature where the beans could be roasted and to try, increasing the batch size. This manages to increase the heat in the chamber I suspect because there is a larger mass in there and the temperature begins to climb very nicely.

    So I moved the popper outdoors into the 38 degree heat *>:( and increased the batch size to approx 110g. There was an audible, pronounced first crack at 4.12 minutes. The beans were ejected at the 9.30 mark when I could ascertain a small amount of smoke coming from the chamber.

    Amazingly different result *:o

    The beans I roasted were a normal roasted bean size. Great uniformity in the colour of the beans themselves. They had a pleasant sheen on the surface. Definitely not oily! Just a subtle sheen. Even the aroma was different. I repeated this again for three more batches with the exact same result.

    Allowed all of the beans to cool with the aid of a collander and bathroom fan. Ground and pulled a double-short black immediately. Great results visually. As for taste, I suspect the taste was commensurate with the rest I allowed them post roast and I have no doubts this will improve ove rthe next day or two. However, the taste up front was most palatable and enjoyable *:)

    Definitely an improvement over the first lot.

    Very addictive. Any thoughts?




  2. #2
    Senior Member fatboy_1999's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    Yes, its very addictive.

    It certainly sounds like the first 3 lots were baked.
    I think you have fixed the issue yourself by upping the quantity.
    Ambient temp counts too (and outside is always best due to smoke and chaff) but I think simply upping the amount was the main component.

    If the beans are really swirling in the popper, it usually means there arent enough in there.
    At 110g, if the beans are still moving without any assistance from you, then you might even be able to go up another 20g.

    As the beans roast they get lighter. Therefore, it might be a bit sluggish to start with and might require some manual agitation, but as you progress it should become more fluid.

    Welcome the the light brown side.

    Brett.

  3. #3
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    In my Aldi popper, chaff emerges after about 20 seconds, first crack in about 2.20, and by about 4 mins its time to stop. And thats outside in the dead of winter.

    Havent tried it in summer yet, but Id imagine the beans would hit second crack the moment I switched the machine on!

    Those sort of times are a pain--much too quick, and dont produce very even roasts with some single origins (ethiopian especially) and blends.

    But 12 - 15 minutes for a popper after a 5.30 first crack sounds extreme, too. The huge gap between cracks does seem like the beans are being baked.

    80 grams seems right, so Id question your poppers electrical capacity. How many watts is it, and is the fan forceful enough?

    Robusto

  4. #4
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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    I havent been able to roast at all in the lead up to xmas, as work interfered (gotta love 6-7 day work weeks). I prefer to "max" out the poppers capacity. Ive never yet had a problem with the "turbo roast," with most of my batches finishing around the 6-8 minute mark. I roast in the garage, where theres not a lot of airflow, but the ambient temperature is usually slightly cooler than outside.

    Ive tried roasting small "sample" batches and found that the beans never reach a temperature hot enough to get to second crack, hence baked beans. If your popper has a decent fan, I see no reason why you cant roast 120-130g batches. My poppers do 150g and 140g batches respectively.

  5. #5
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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    Hi!

    Seems nice with the improving results. Donīt understand the part with the lager batch gaining higher temperature. I have only been using a sause pan, and hot air gun when roasting coffee at home. Havenīt had any popper experiens I donīt know wich popper to use so I havent had the opportunety to try that stuff. Seems you have some pro popper gear. The stuff they sell in Sweden is moastly smal plastic looking poppers, and I donīt know if they would work for coffee roasting.

    It would be nice to see any pictures of you furter progressions.

    Cheers.

  6. #6
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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    Hey Guys, many thanks for the interest.

    The popper I am using utilises 1250w which doesnt sound particularly under- powered to me but I confess I have not bothered to investigate other machines.

    Definitely with the larger batch size of 110g I am seeing a significant drop in roasting time as I indicated in my first post. I have not sought to increase the batch size as yet but will certainly check it out. The fan seems to have no diffciulty moving 110g straight up so I am confident I could strech the batch size out a littel further to that 120-130g mark. Cheers Nunu *;)

    The batch I am presently grinding seems quite good. The roast is consistent throughout the batch, and the beans have a solid chocolate brown colour to them. Early shots (24-36 hours post roast) seem to display most if not all the characteristics that this particular bean is renowed for; high acidity, citrus (both on the nose and palate and particularly lemon citrus) and a pleasant sweetness, minimal lingering aftertaste. The shots are good looking, solid crema, etc.

    Initially I was a little surprised by the suggestion to increase the batch size to reduce the roast time but it has definitely done the job *:)

    Am I correct in thinking that the Ethiopian as a SO is a less than ideal bean for milk based drinks? I have not consumed a milk based coffee for a year so I was a little surprised by the result. The high acid and citrus charaterisitcs seem rather at odds with the milk.

    Cheers.

  7. #7
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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    Littorin:

    The poppers we use are the cheap plastic ones. Your average run-of-the-mill home popcorn popper. Some prefer brands like Black & Decker. I prefer to look for poppers with a specific body shape. I have two different branded poppers, but they look like they come from the same factory. They generally run between 1000-1300 watts, and depending on brand, you get varying degrees of fan power. Theyre very inexpensive as far as roasters go (around $20 AUD), so replacement is not much trouble. Mine are modified with a chimney (soup tin), and a wire mesh chaff collector aka "popperdom" (metal flyscreen works well, and comes in much bigger sizes).

    With larger batch sizes, the higher temperatures come from the larger bean mass. The beans are endothermic, holding heat in, and with a larger bean mass, equate to faster roasting times.

    chris_p:

    As an experiment, I would try boosting the batch size up enough to get the thermal fuse to cut off. From there, you reduce the batch size by 10g, until it goes the whole roast without cutting off. The test batch will be prettymuch a write-off as far as quality is concerned, but it will give you an idea of the max batch size, so when conditions are ideal, you can roast the maximum amount in a certain time period. Adding a chimney is also a worthwhile modification.

    I roasted two batches of 120g this morning (both under the max capacity of each of my poppers), and I got to 1st crack just under 4 minutes. Second crack started around the 5:30 mark, and the roast was stopped around 6 minutes. In cooler weather, im around the 8-9 minute mark. No baked beans there. The key is to manually agitate the beans for the first 30 seconds to 1 minute (I use the tried and true shake the popper method, counting 75 shakes which equals about 30 seconds for me). This gets the beans moving, and after 30 seconds, they should be moving enough on their own to let them go. Another thing to remember is not to stick firm to time. Pull the beans when theyre ready, not because the watch says its time to. Beans roast differently from origin to origin, and roast times are reflected by that. Ive posted a few popper roasting profiles of a few beans, and you can see the differences.

    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1129707148
    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1128647911

    As for Ethiopian being not so good as an SO for milk-based drinks, I think under-roasting may be an issue. Im always just into rolling 2nd crack with the majority of my roasts, the exception being monsooned malabar, which I pull just after 1st crack. I prefer a good combination of roast and origin characteristics, and with the ethiopian (especially Limmu), it gets a bit more chocolatey in the full city to full city+ range. That being said, I dont take my coffee with milk. If you can get a hold of some egg nog, however, lattes are delicious with it. Just sprinkle a tiny bit of nutmeg on top.

  8. #8
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    Once again nunu,

    Some very helpful and concise advice [smiley=tekst-toppie.gif]..... keep up the great work [smiley=thumbsup.gif].

    Ive found that, for my palate and the fact that I consume more Lattes and Piccolos than Espressos, I like most of my roasts to quit before the onset of 2nd Crack. In fact, the only beans Ive found that seem to retain their complexity and spiciness into rolling 2nd Crack, is Yemen Mocha Ismaili and the Nicaragua Altiplano, and both are just great as SO Espressos at this level of roast.

    Cheers and Happy New Year,
    Mal.

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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    Cheers Nunu and Mal,

    I am off to K- mart later to pick up a cheap set of digital scales since I am really only guessing the size of my batches.

    Nunu, I just wanted to know what is the idea behind the chimmney? As yet my popper remains un-modified :o

    Incidentally the batches which I thought turned out reasonably fine my wife found a little bitter (only one cup was consumed by Ali). I personally found the double short black ok. Am I right to assume that underoasting may produce some bitterness in the shot?

    Finally, whilst first crack was quite distinct I am at a loss to say I heard a second crack. What exactly should I be hearing?

    Cheers.

  10. #10
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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    The chimney serves several purposes. Firstly, it lengthens the roasting chamber, so you can have larger batches. Secondly, it extends roast times slightly. Thirdly, it helps keep the beans in. Once they lose a bit of mass, they tend to fly all over the place. A tall chimney helps keep them all in. Lastly, the chimney makes an excellent place to attach a chaff collector. Wire mesh flyscreens are great because you can cut them to shape and size. You simply make it into a sock that slides over the chimney. A bit of work, and you make a reservoir, to catch the chaff. Of course the fine particles pass through the mesh, but the bigger pieces of chaff stay in place, until you pull the sock off and dump them in the bin.

    Chimneys are usually made from some sort of tin. Heinz very special soup tins work well, as theyre taller. Disclaimer: Be very careful when handling cut tins, as you can very easily cut yourself. Cut the bottom off the tin using a can opener. Remove all the paper and glue (if possible). The top is opened using a pull tab, so the top ring should remain intact for reinforcement. Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut a slit about 2/3 of the way up the side of the tin. This is the dangerous bit; using your hands, gently squeeze the section of tin that has been cut, so it overlaps and creates a smaller inside diameter. Squeeze it just enough so that you can force the tin down into the chamber of the popper. Stop when you get to the screw near the top on the inside of the chamber. Theres your chimney complete.

    Re: "bitterness" Depending on the origin in question, brightness or acidity is often mistaken for bitterness. If the coffee were bitter, youd have a very strong sort of taste near the back of your tongue. The flavour would be similar to turnips, parsnips, or swedes. Chinese bitter melon is a good indicator of a bitter flavour. Try one sometime to compare. Under-roasting will often produce very acidic, or sour flavours, depending on origin. Sour shots can also be caused by low brewing temperatures.

    1st crack is very loud, like the breaking of dry sticks. 2nd crack is subtle, like rice bubbles when you pour milk over them. 2nd crack can be a bit more pronounced with different beans. There should be a bit of a pause between the end of 1st crack and start of 2nd crack. Keep your ears peeled out for the quiet little signals of the onset of 2nd crack.

  11. #11
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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    Here is a picture of the sock, aka "popperdom."

    It was made from a 30cm grease splatter screen.




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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    Cheers again Nunu :D

    Went to K- mart yesterday to grab some digital scales. As it turns out my larger batch weighs in at 120g. Sadly the scales lasted approx 2 minutes before they died >:( so back to K- mart I go. I will crank it up as you have suggested on earlier posts.

    On another sad note, the heat has been extraordinary outside (43 degrees today) which has severely hampered my efforts to roast some more. So I will keep you informed when I get roasting again.

    Keep well.

  13. #13
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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    Chris,

    Over here in Perth the weather has been extraordinary as well. Yesterday I didnt go outside as it was 20C and blowing a 35knot SW!! It was even too windy to light the BBQ.

    It is the fault of inconsiderate people like you hogging all the heat over that side of Australia!!!

    :o

    It has been the coldest spring in 16 years and the coldest December since records began over 100 years ago with an average maximum of 23.4C rather than I think 29.first crack.

    Phew. Now it is warming up today to 28C which is nice. It may be the start of Summer.

    Stay Cool,
    Grant

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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    Grant,

    I would gladly swap you present climates anytime soon, having grown up in a cold climate.

    My skin knows only three shades; white, off white and red *:)

    I am presently considering a Monty Burns scheme of blocking out the sun permanently.

    Wish me luck *;)




  15. #15
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    20C is cold?!?! Sounds like a perfect temp to me!! 8-)

    Weve been having a heatwave lately with temps hovering up around 0C instead of their usual -10C too -20C. Wanna trade? ;D

    Java "Playing in the snow" phile

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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    Java:

    "Java -Icicles- on- his- testicles- phile"

    Hi there. I hope youre keeping all your valuable equipment warm and safe from icing up.

    Well, it is all relative as Einstein would say. I mean 20C is not so bad without the 35knot winds. Today was 28C and very nice. Glenys and I went for a drive in the country with the dog and it was very pleasant. Dog beach tomorrow.

    Good roasting weather but not too roasting.

    Regards,
    Grant


  17. #17
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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    Was 45 today :-[ no roasting for me.

    I wouldnt mind a bit of winter. Sure beats that cooler version of summer any time.

    I love it when people are dressed like its Antarctica when the temperatures fall below 20C. For me, nothing changes. Shorts and t-shirt at 30C, shorts and t-shirt at 5C.

    What I really miss is the rain :( Hope we get some steady falls soon, the plants cant take it.

  18. #18
    Senior Member fatboy_1999's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    Around 20 in Melbourne today (well.. yesterday now).
    After 42 yesterday(well.. the day b4 yesterday.. you know what I mean!) , took the opportunity to do a BBQ roast of Guatemalan and a popper roast of some decaf for the lovely wife.

    Really enjoyed drinking some Tiger Mountain today after being way too hot to drink lattes yesterday.

  19. #19
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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    Morning Nunu,

    Enjoy that rain this morning ;D Ah, sweet, sweet rain. PLUS its cool ;D

    Best wishes,
    A fellow Carlingford-ian

  20. #20
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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    Ok off the weather and back to the roast.

    The Ethiopian I had roasted second time around yielded good, drinkable results. The bitterness that was apparent in one particular cup failed to raise its head again and so I have written it off as a poorly pulled shot.

    Decided to roast yesterday afternoon in the pleasant 25 degree heat. Thought I d try the Nicaraguan this time.

    Batch #1
    Loaded 130g into the popper. First crack at 5.34 and sustained until 6.40. Again no sign of second crack. I read post regarding the prolonged roast time for this bean so I left them in the popper until 11.00 and then ejected them. Sadly, as per the first batch of Ethiopian, these beans displayed all the visual characteristics of not achieving a high enough roast temp; undersized beans, large amounts of chaff retained to the beans, uneven roast colour.

    Batch #2
    Loaded 160g into the chamber, now modified with a can chimmney to allow larger batch size.
    Beans aggitated very slowly for 30 seconds or so, then away we went. I quite like the idea of the chimmney. However, second batch yielded the exact same results as the first :( so therefore I have not added any further info to this batch/ roast.

    It would appear from my limited experience and observation that; the fan in the popper unit is truely superb at moving the beans but the chamber simply does not reach a high enough temp for my beans.

    With the E. I could simply increase the batch size and achieved solid results. Yet the Nicaraguan remains a tricky bugger and I cannot see this improving until I can achieve higher temps.

    Any suggestions?

    Cheers.

  21. #21
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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    Hi Chris,
    Give heat gun roasting a try.
    More work, but much more control and excellent visability.
    Bruce

  22. #22
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    Quote Originally Posted by chris_p link=1135804202/15#19 date=1136324414
    With the E. I could simply increase the batch size and achieved solid results. Yet the Nicaraguan remains a tricky bugger and I cannot see this improving until I can achieve higher temps.

    Any suggestions?

    Cheers.
    Hi Chris,

    You could give the HG/DB method a go but your popper might be getting limited by its internal thermostat. Most popper roasters end up having to disable this device but leave the Thermal Fusible Link alone as a safety backup. Lots of info on how to do this here..... http://www.homeroaster.com/homemade.html

    As with all things that use mains power, absolute caution must be observed at all times.... dont want to end up dead :o.

    All the best,
    Mal.

  23. #23
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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    Dumb question for Chris: Areyou using a pan roaster, or an air popper?

  24. #24
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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    What brand popper is it anyway?

    Some are notorious for having weaker heating elements, and theres not much you can do to rectify this.

  25. #25
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    Re: Newbie Popper Roasting

    Behmor Coffee Roaster
    Hey all,

    Well no more roasting since the disastrous Nicaraguan. Im using a breville (Nunu) with supposedly 1250w.

    Still I plan to get out and try some PNG Kimel which has just arrived and give some Brazilian R.F.A. Sweet collection a go.

    I must confess I dont have much of an interest in the HG/DB setup. Mostly because I plan to have invested my money into a RK drum and BBQ setup by the end of this month/ mid february.

    Ill let you know how the other beans turn out.

    Cheers.



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