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West End Poppery 1
MichaelK
I'm a newbie using the West End Poppery 1 roasting with Guatemalan beans. I have made a few batches already but haven't had much success. I've roasted well into the 2nd crack at around 7:15 which proved to be too long and too dark. I made a second batch and stopped at around 6:30 on the verge/beginning of second crack and it tasted horrible! I've been degassing for about 12-15 hours before brewing. I understand this will take a lot of practice...

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I would love more help on approximate times I should be roasting although I understand it's not all about time and that its more about listening, looking and smelling.

Thanks!
 
bvwelch
Hi Michael,

Is your poppery original, or have you modified it?

Also. are you weighing the greens prior to roasting? Yiou might want to try increasing the amount of beans -- try adding them slowly until they stall -- then manually stir them with a wooden spoon -- in a few minutes they will get lighter and begin to spin again and you can quit stirring manually then.

In short -- vary the 'batch size' as one means to change how fast the beans are roasting.

Have fun -- also you may want to save some for 3 days to a week and perhaps they may taste better.
 
MichaelK
Thanks for your suggestions. I did not modify it to answer your question. I've been roasting 125 grams at a time and stir frequently in the beginning to release the chaff. I tried roasting 133 grams once and they roasted a bit unevenly.

I tried a cup tonight after degassing for about 48 hours and have been taking more notes on how many teaspoons of grinded coffee I am brewing with the amount of water. I grinded the beans finer and used less water and it tasted pretty good. Not perfect but definitely very drinkable and a step in the right direction.

Letting the coffee rest also seems to be crucial. I will try varying batch sizes. Taking very detailed notes and a lot of trial and error is helping tremendously so that I don't make the same mistakes. Roasting coffee is really fun and I am happy that I made some good progress today.

Thanks again!
 
bvwelch
Michael,

Your approach sounds very good. By the way, another idea would be to put the Poppery away for now, and get a new stainless steel dog bowl, heat gun/paint stripper and a wooden spoon.

A basic 'profile' would be 4-4-4 -- 4 minutes to get the beans to start turning greenish/yellow, another 4 minutes to the first crack, and another 4 minutes to the second crack. Once you can do this consistently/repeatably, you can experiemnt with different times for each phase.

It probably was more like 100 roasts before I felt like I was getting repeatable results, so be patient and have fun along the way
 
MichaelK
Thanks!

I looked up the heat gun method. It looks like it is a lot more labor intensive. But, for you to suggest it must mean that you get good results. I will likely keep using the poppery until I become more consistent before I try anything else. I have only made a total of 4 batches of roughly 125 grams so I am really new at this.

On a side note, ever feel like you drink so much coffee that they all start to taste the same? I can't believe I'm saying this. Ever since I've been doing this my taste buds have been thrown for a loop. Tasting coffee before I started this and tasting coffee now has taken on a totally different meaning. Maybe its because I'm consistently drinking Guatemalan? Any tips on what to look for when tasting?
 
bvwelch
Actually, it is hard to use the dog bowl method, but my point was -- you are in total control of everything, and you are right up close to the action the whole time.

with the poppery, things can get out of control quickly. for instance, at some point you may run into a problem where the popper's over-temp sensor / thermostat kicks in and may reduce your heat just when you did not want that to happen.

there are hundreds of postings about modifying your poppery, and I have done quite a few of them. But if you aren't careful you can get so involved with tinkering with the poppery it becomes a hobby of its own and perhaps your coffee roasting goes lacking...

about tasting -- there are other folks here that can help with that -- i am terrible at describing tastes, other than -- nice, good, poor, etc.
 
MichaelK
I haven't had any problems yet. If anything, it gets too hot. I've been getting to first crack shortly before 4 mintues and it ends a little after 5 mintues. Then its a sprint to the second crack which usually starts a minute later at around 6 min.

I've read about "throttling" and think I'll try to stretch the roast after the first crack completes. I'll have to play around with how long I turn the poppery off then on. I'm guessing I'll stop it for 15 seconds and put it back on for 30 and so on. My coffee has been tasting better and better. I am at the point where I think stretching the roast may prove to be a good thing, and also keeping the coffee uncovered after roasting for at least 2 days. It's hard not to drink it after 2 days, though. Who knows, maybe 4-5 days before the first cup is the answer. The experimenting and tweaking is part of the whole joy of doing this.
 
jkoll42
A quick comment on coffee tasting the same. Guats are great balanced beans that are pretty tough to screw up a roast on since they are so dense but.... dare I say it.... pretty much all have a very balanced similar taste profile if you are buying good bean. Nothing against them, but they're balanced and this can lead to them tasting 'the same'.

Do yourself a favor and order the sample pack from sweetmarias so you can taste the different regions and some real variety.

Best advice I can give starting off is have fun and don't sweat it. You roasting little batches so even completely screwing up a batch is no big deal!
-Jon
Honey badger 1k, Bunn LPG-2E, Technivorm, Cimbali Max Hybrid, Vibiemme Double Domo V3
 
MichaelK
Ok so I do have a point on them tasting so similar. I'm definitely going to get the sampler from sweetmarias. I got the Guats first cause I knew they were hard to screw up. Not that I don't like the way it tastes and I know I just started, but the coffee just lacks that "wow" factor for me...
 
jkoll42
They were a good choice for first beans to try. Once you are able to slow the roast a bit and stretch 1c-2c you will really add to the low notes and get things tasting better.

So, this early in your roasting path, is the coffee you are making better, worse, or about the same compared to what you were buying in the store?
-Jon
Honey badger 1k, Bunn LPG-2E, Technivorm, Cimbali Max Hybrid, Vibiemme Double Domo V3
 
MichaelK
That's a good question. Some have been worse, some have been better, but none have been great yet...which is fine for now.

I did a taste test yesterday actually. My father owns a bagel store and before I became such a coffee connoisseur I thought that the coffee there was definitely the best quality commercial grade coffee around that you can get at a bagel store, deli, diner etc...

So I brewed my roasted coffee and drank some with my brother so I can have an unbiased opinion. Then I brewed the coffee used at the bagel store with the same amount of water, grinds etc. immediately after.

My roasted coffee was better, my brother agreed. The bagel store coffee, believe it or not, was more balanced but had less flavor but was smooth and had uniformity across the board. My roasted coffee, according to my brother, had more character and complexity. I also agreed. Mine had more flavor and was more "interesting."

My issue is the after taste tends to lean to being on the sour/salty side. The after taste is what is becoming my consistent issue that I am trying to dull. The sourness is enough where it becomes a bit unpleasant.

So to answer your question, I am definitely making progress but I am not up to par to what was my favorite coffee before I started roasting. It's a coffee called "1820" from Costa Rica and I order it from Amazon. I went to Costa Rica a few years ago and never looked at coffee the same since. I drank coffee brewed from a Chorreador and I swear it was like a life altering experience. Before then, coffee was just something that tasted pretty good and woke me up. Now it's a whole 'nother ball game.
 
jkoll42
good post

Someone else might give better insight into the 'sour' aftertaste but my thought is that it may be your palates interpretation of a ton of acidity in the coffee. If the beans are fairly bright/acidic and then have such a short 1c-2c stage you really limit your ability to balance the acidity. Maybe this acidity is being registered as a sour aftertaste.

You should be able to troubleshoot this with a roast of sumatra or something that is very low acidity. If the flavor is still there there is something up with the actual roast. If it's gone then likely just a short roast leaving lots of acidity.
-Jon
Honey badger 1k, Bunn LPG-2E, Technivorm, Cimbali Max Hybrid, Vibiemme Double Domo V3
 
allenb

Quote

jkoll42 wrote:

good post

Someone else might give better insight into the 'sour' aftertaste but my thought is that it may be your palates interpretation of a ton of acidity in the coffee. If the beans are fairly bright/acidic and then have such a short 1c-2c stage you really limit your ability to balance the acidity. Maybe this acidity is being registered as a sour aftertaste.

You should be able to troubleshoot this with a roast of sumatra or something that is very low acidity. If the flavor is still there there is something up with the actual roast. If it's gone then likely just a short roast leaving lots of acidity.


Most of the coffee's I'm roasting now, centrals and a PNG will always end up with a tannic astringency along with a grassy taint if I try to shrink the drying phase (ambient to 300F) less than 4 minutes. Hitting 1C in 4 min with these would be similar to eating a way under ripe persimmon with a side of freshly cut straw. Not many coffees can hold up to this short of a roast and taste their best. It's unfortunate that their aren't that many options outside of gaining control of the heater circuit.

jkoll has a good point that with a real fast 1C to finish the acidity level may be way up there also.

Allen
1/2 lb and 1 lb drum, Siemens Sirocco fluidbed, presspot, chemex, cajun biggin brewer from the backwoods of Louisiana
 
MichaelK
Well that's a bummer. Then why all the hoopla for the West Bend Poppery 1? I feel like I need better...
 
allenb
The Poppery 1 is a very well built unit and has plenty of power compared to many of the other poppers out there. It has a well deserved great reputation. OTOH, any roaster whether it be gas fired, electric or a Japanese charcoal roaster is only going to satisfy your desire for the perfect cup if you can steer the roast through at least basic profiles.

Unfortunately, to do this you're going to need to at least separate the heater wires and connect to an inexpensive import router speed controller so you can slow this puppy down. Fortunately, there's a wealth of how-to's here and on many other sites to take you step by step through the process.

Allen
1/2 lb and 1 lb drum, Siemens Sirocco fluidbed, presspot, chemex, cajun biggin brewer from the backwoods of Louisiana
 
MichaelK
Well, there's no stopping now. I'm up for the challenge and over time I'll get the results I'm looking for.
 
allenb
Mike,

If you decide to go for modding to gain control of the power to your heater be sure to carefully read as much as you can if you're not already an electrical techie who can safely do this in your sleep. Also, if this is the case, be sure and bounce any questions or concerns off of us as we're here to help and as they say, there's no dumb questions when it comes to safety.

Allen
1/2 lb and 1 lb drum, Siemens Sirocco fluidbed, presspot, chemex, cajun biggin brewer from the backwoods of Louisiana
 
jkoll42

Quote

MichaelK wrote:

Well that's a bummer. Then why all the hoopla for the West Bend Poppery 1? I feel like I need better...


IMHO the P1 is popular bcs it has good heat outbut and is very durable and inexpensive relative to other methods. Also, since you are doing smaller batches, screwing them up doesn't cost a lot per batch.

Personally I think a HG/BM is a great roaster but the thought of learning to roast with 1# batches means drinking a ton of mediocre coffee!
-Jon
Honey badger 1k, Bunn LPG-2E, Technivorm, Cimbali Max Hybrid, Vibiemme Double Domo V3
 
MichaelK
This morning I tried extending the roast by flipping the switch on and off throughout every phase. I was able to slow down the 1C by a minute. Heard the crack around the 5 minute mark. 1C finished at about 6:30. Didn't hear the 2C till about 8:30ish. Stopped the roast at 9:05 moderately into 2C. The cracks were not moving rapidly for 1C or 2C.

The roast looks like a FC. Looks a bit uneven. I thought the roast would have been darker for the amount of 2nd cracks I heard.
 
bvwelch

Quote

jkoll42 wrote:


Personally I think a HG/BM is a great roaster but the thought of learning to roast with 1# batches means drinking a ton of mediocre coffee!


Interesting point, but in my experience I also drank a lot of poor coffee while tinkering with my poppers -- smaller batches but more frequent roasting.

I figure maybe a year or so before things got fairly repeatable. :-)

Coffee is really complicated/challenging -- maybe 200 different components that can effect the taste and outcome?
 
MichaelK
Hey guys fill me in. What's a HG/BM?
 
imaroaster
Heat Gun/ Bread machine ThumbsUp
 
Bob J

Quote

MichaelK wrote:

This morning I tried extending the roast by flipping the switch on and off throughout every phase. I was able to slow down the 1C by a minute. Heard the crack around the 5 minute mark. 1C finished at about 6:30. Didn't hear the 2C till about 8:30ish. Stopped the roast at 9:05 moderately into 2C. The cracks were not moving rapidly for 1C or 2C.

The roast looks like a FC. Looks a bit uneven. I thought the roast would have been darker for the amount of 2nd cracks I heard.


Modding the poppery was the way to go for me..... Mine has the following mods:
split fan and heat element power
extended roasting chamber
Disabled thermostat
harbor freight rounter controller for the heat
ebay thyristor controller for the fan
thermocouple to accurately read bean temperature

Lots of good ideas and detail here in the forum on how to do these.... Well worth the time and effort if you really want a cheap way to get some control over your roasts.....
 
MichaelK
Did my first mod last night! I split the fan and heating element. So now I plug it in and get the fan and switch the "on" button for heat. It was easy to do thanks to a great youtube video I found. Plus I use a 10 ft extension cord. I don't know what gauge it is though.

I did 2 roasts today with the new mods with Guatemalan, turning the heating element on and off pretty frequently:

125 grams
1C @ 6:30 ended at 8:00
2C @ 11:30
Stopped @ 12:30 after a few cracks

117 grams
1C @ 10:25 ended at 11:45
2C @ 16:25
Stopped @ 17:40 after a few cracks

I have achieved slowing the roast down quite a bit, although I think a 17:40 roast is far too long. But who knows! Maybe it will be good. The 12:30 finished roast I suspect will be much better.

On a side note, that roast I got to 9 minutes that you copied and pasted, tried it and it was probably my best roast so far. Much more balanced and I was able to dull the unpleasant sharp acidity I disliked in my quicker roasts.

I'll update on these 2 roasts when I try them in a few days...
 
jkoll42
Awesome news! Congrats on your first (and not to be last) mod and totally improved roast times. You're right, the first roast will likely be better, but you will be able to taste first hand how different roast profiles taste to it will be a great learning experience.

IMHO there are two things you can do to make you experience easier, and get more date on your roasts. First, get a router speed control. It will just make things way easier on you than having to continually flick a on/off switch and let you focus on the roast. Second, get a thermometer in there so you can actually see and control the profile of the roast. Personally, I have gotten so much use out of http://www.sweetm...ouple.html across multiple roasters it's what I would do. You may be able to find it or something similar for cheaper but you get the picture.
-Jon
Honey badger 1k, Bunn LPG-2E, Technivorm, Cimbali Max Hybrid, Vibiemme Double Domo V3
 
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