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Thread: My early attempts using a popcorn machine

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    Junior Member BSmyth's Avatar
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    My early attempts using a popcorn machine

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I thought i would start a new thread as i didn't want to take over the "Target $16 popcorn" thread with my attempts.

    My first try was on Friday night and I followed everything others have noted on the site and also via youtube. I had a Sunbeam Cornelius unit (60g of beans) which i found that my roast time was 2min30sec which was way too quick. first crack was under 2min and second crack very quickly after that. They tasted burnt and no flavour or body so i though them out.

    The second attempt was on Saturday lunch time (60g) and with the same unit, I did all the tricks which have been mentioned (angling etc). I also put the fan directly on the Sunbeam unit and I found that I only got about 15sec more and i stopped them just on second crack. Although they still looked a lot darker then what i was hoping for. They didnt taste too bad. They had a slight burnt taste but still drinkable - Just!

    The Third go on Monday I went into Target (Brisbane Myre Centre) and got myself the same $15 machine. I removed the panel at the front to help the heat get out and didnt have the yellow top on it at all. I started the unit and pre heated it. Let it cool a little and then put 80g of beans in. I helped then beans along and at the 4min point still no crack but they were spinning nicely. At 5:15 first crack started and i had the fan at the ready to slow the process which i felt it needed. first crack lasted until 6:45. I kept a very close eye on the beans to make sure i could hear the second crack and at the 14:13 point, second crack started. I stopped the unit and put it though the cooling process of also using the fan. These just didn't have any flavour or body at all.

    On the Tuesday night i did two batches at 80g. I decided to not run the fan at all, apart from the cooling process. The first patch i didnt help the beans along at all. Where the second batch i helped from the beginning to spin. The times are as follows for 1st batch 4:14 to first crack and then a further 15:22 until mid second crack. For the 2nd batch the times were 4:51 to first crack and a further 13:25 to a similar point of second crack.

    I dont think the Monday roast ran to second crack as the crack was very audible when you compare it too Tuesday.

    Today (Thursday) i worked from home so i had time to have a little play. I ran three batches in total but increase the batches this time to 100g. The first 2 batches i did today were very quick and i didnt run a fan at all, so the heat stayed high. The times are for the 1st batch 3:21 to first crack and a further 4:24 to second crack. 2nd batch was quick to first crack at 2:49 but to second crack it was the same at 4:55.

    After reading a few more posts i tried whilst staying a 100g turning the fan on again to first crack 5:02 and then i turned off the fan put a chimney on and turned off the fan. I got second crack in a further 4:30. So i think this will the best batch. Ill try all roasts tomorrow and let you know.

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    Coffee Nut fg1972's Avatar
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    I've got the same popper and have a thermocouple probe installed in it.
    With 80-100 grams of beans the popper temp gets up to 180-190 degrees (1st crack zone) after about 5-6 minutes & stays at around that temp without getting much hotter which is why I believe people never get to 2nd crack or takes forever with this lower power unit.
    After 1st crack is done, I put the lid on to raise the temperature & get consistent 2nd cracks at 215-220 degrees. I try not to have a gap of more than a few minutes between the end of 1st crack & beginning of 2nd crack.

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    Junior Member BSmyth's Avatar
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    Wow. I tried the batches I did yesterday whilst working from home and it is smooth, full of body and great textures. I think I found the magic process.

    Fg1972 I will do another batch tonight or tomorrow and try and hold off first crack to as long as I can then put the popper lid on and try and get to second crack within a few min after the end of first crack

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    Quote Originally Posted by BSmyth View Post
    After reading a few more posts i tried whilst staying a 100g turning the fan on again to first crack 5:02 and then i turned off the fan put a chimney on and turned off the fan. I got second crack in a further 4:30. So i think this will the best batch. Ill try all roasts tomorrow and let you know.
    BRENDEN, I agree with you on this one. Now that you have the first crack back over 5 min, and the second down to less than that, it's my bet that this will be your best batch so far. I look forward to hearing what you think of it after a few more days too.

    I didn't get to try the latest theory yet (i.e slower first crack faster second crack), because I had to go out early this morning, and just got home a short time ago. I would really like to get somewhere close to Andy's aussie bean roast profile. Might get a chance tomorrow morning - it's too hot this afternoon.

    Last night I went back and re-read the first page of the Target $16 thread. It was interesting to visit it again.


    FIORELLO, I was really interested to see those numbers from your thermocouple. I suspected for some time that this was happening, but I was not sure til now.
    I have a long probe digital thermometer on order but it wont arrive for at least a week - possibly more. I don't expect to go down the data logger path, but it will be good to able to jot down the temperatures at the various stages.

    How did your popper cope with winter in Melbourne ??. My Target 900W couldn't even handle it here in Brisbane. However, I think that there was fair bit of variation between individual units in that machine and mine may have been even less than 900 watts.

    Pity about your BBQ drum, that was a very nice looking outfit.

    Cheers, Leo.

  5. #5
    Coffee Nut fg1972's Avatar
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    Hi Leo,
    I got my popper during winter & it was barley hitting first crack. After fitting it with a thermocouple I could analyse what was happening so was able to add more beans, chimney & put the lid on to get it up to the desired temps.
    After a few roasts using BBQ drum, it's not for me, I get frustrated if I don't have any data to gauge whats happening.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fg1972 View Post
    Hi Leo,
    I got my popper during winter & it was barley hitting first crack. After fitting it with a thermocouple I could analyse what was happening so was able to add more beans, chimney & put the lid on to get it up to the desired temps.
    Thanks Fiorello, I'm now convinced that my Target popper was even less than 900 watts. In the mild Brisbane autumn, it was struggling to reach first crack and could not achieve second crack even with both the lids on. I had to re-cycle the hot exhaust air back into the intake to reach second crack, but I don't think it was designed to handle that.
    After a few batches the fan got very noisy, and after a few more it was so hard to hear the cracks, that I had to scrap it.

  7. #7
    Senior Member saoye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leograyson View Post
    Thanks Fiorello, I'm now convinced that my Target popper was even less than 900 watts. In the mild Brisbane autumn, it was struggling to reach first crack and could not achieve second crack even with both the lids on. I had to re-cycle the hot exhaust air back into the intake to reach second crack, but I don't think it was designed to handle that.
    After a few batches the fan got very noisy, and after a few more it was so hard to hear the cracks, that I had to scrap it.
    I think it was fairly evident earlier on when ppl were purchasing the 900w popper that some performed better than others. Mine has not been an issue as long as its under the pergola and away from the wind



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