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Christmas eve coffee roasting adventures
I ran out of roasted coffee yesterday Shock and with all the traveling we will be doing through this weekend, I decided it was time to roast a few beans for the next few days consumption. At 9 am this morning it was rather cold, and my efforts to use the popper went no where. Twenty minutes into roasting, the beans had not hit first crack although they were the "right" color.

Not one to give up, I decided to put the grill burner I am using to build the drum roaster to use. After a quick trip to the kitchen to grab a heavy stock pot and wooden spoon, I was in business. I call it the "improvised roasting device."


Not having any way to measure the temp, I knew this could go rather poorly, but pressed on. Bad coffee is better than no coffee! After pre-heating the pot for a few minutes, I dumped in 2.5 cups of green beans and started stirring. Alfresco roasting over an open (gas) fire ain't so bad! About the time first crack started, it began to rain/snow! Argh! I quickly take everything into the garage (no small feat, I can't carry the burner, workbench, propane cylinder, colander, and now very hot stock pot all at once!). Even off the burner, the beans continue to pop. I get everything set back up near the garage door as quickly as I can, and get back to roasting. Some of the beans were scorched on one side, but I had come to far to throw them out. The remainder of the roast went well enough, although I've yet to sample the results. I had the heat way too high initially, and after first crack I couldn't slow the roast down very much leading to a very uneven batch. Some of the beans were hitting second crack before all beans had finished first crack!


This method of roast was quite a lot more enjoyable than I expected. The roast was terribly uneven, but some of that had to do with poor heat control (18,000 BTU burner on high was way too much heat!) not to mention the brief intermission due to rain. I'll hold final judgement until I brew some of the beans tomorrow morning. At least I know I can roast larger batches in the cold, even if its rustic. A temp gauge would probably go a long way towards refining this method. Until I find new employment, I may keep at this and see if I can't get decent coffee out of it now that the drum roaster is on hold. c:1


PS - I brewed up the failed/baked batch from the popper (can't let beans go to waste!) and its not that bad. Decidedly "bready" but in a pumpernickel sort of way. Luckily, I like pumpernickel... lol Grin

I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas!
Edited by qajariaq on 12/24/2008 11:11 AM
John Despres

Pumpernickel coffee? Hmmm. Opus pan roasts to wonderful results. Maybe he can weigh in here with a few tips.

Merry Christmas!

Respect the bean.
John Despres
Fresh Roast 8, Gene Cafe, JYTT 1k, Quest M3, Mazzer Mini, Technivorm, various size presses and many more brewers.
run to your local hardware store an grab a nice deepsided castiron chicken fryer will give you some thremal mass that will allow you more control.
Flea Markets are good spots to grab cheap castiron.
My first ever roast was in a castiron skellet on the cookstove, cowboy style, filled the whole house with the wonderful arroma of fresh roasted coffee, that gave me a fond reminder of when me poor departed ole mother used to peel the strip from a can of Maxwell House,
Edited by dja on 12/24/2008 8:14 PM
I pour Iron and roast Coffee BeansThumbsUp
If life seems normal your not going fast enough Mario Andrette
Great story qajariaq! I've done some improvised emergency roasts myself. I had a heatgun go out before first crack on a roast once and had to dump it into the cast iron frying pan and head to the side burner of the grill, much like what you did. Dja (and opus) have it right using the cast iron. I think you'll have better control.

Now, I'm going to wager a bet that for some odd reason, that uneven home-roast may just make a better cup than the perfect roasts you've completed successfully with the same coffee... let us know how it tastes! You'll get the pure notes from the lighter coffee, plus the carmel from the dark beans. It should be a very nice cup indeed.

Roaster: CoffeeAir II 2# DIY air roaster
Grinder: Vintage Grindmaster 500
Brewers: Vintage Cory DCU DCL, Aeropress, Press, Osaka Titanium pourover
The wildly uneven roast is not bad! While the profile is similar to the same beans roasted with the popper, there's not as much brightness and the body seems a lot more full (but I suppose that could be due to the wider array of roast level just as much as the different roasting method). There is certainly a wider array of flavors present, but it tastes more balanced that I had thought it would. Grin

Either way, I'm definitely going to explore this method a bit more. It allows me to roast a weeks worth in one shot and do so in the cold without too much difficulty (as long as it doesn't rain or snow on me mid-roast!). I'll have to see what I can do about a cast iron pan, too. The deep stock pot I used was very thick walled (roughly 1/8", and the bottom is about 1/4" thick) but it was too tall forcing me to hold my arm up high to stir as well as forcing me to hold exposed skin over the rather intense heat coming around the pot (not so bad on a cold day, though!).

I used to be dissatisfied with the 'mixed roast', just due to how it looked. I however think it gives a great taste. You get the best of all roasts. What one lacks, the other makes up for. It certainly gives a full bodied cup. The best tip I could give is to preheat the pan to about 450, then put your beans in. Once you get to the end of the roast, you will be turning it down some. Pretty much trial and error until you get it right. You start stirring once you drop them in and dont stop till you pour it out. I have done 2# at a whack.
I am in the process of designing a roaster using this method. Once I get sometime I will share it.
We like it so much that we got into this a few months ago: www.castironcoffe... I am amazed at how many people are wanting this coffee from us.
Very cool Opus! May need to discuss a branch office in northern Alabama. :-)

Call it a Melange roast and charge more. :-)


Kaffee Bitte
Interesting. Have you ever seen a cast iron dutch oven? If you pan roasters haven't you should really think about finding one! They are nice and deep and have the benefit of cast iron to hold heat.

"Some days it's spice, other days it's bitter dirt."
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