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butch burton
Just joined and thought i would like to let you know how i got into roasting.

When with coca-cola in atlanta, coke sold the wine division to Seagram's and even though i love nyc - once was enough. I got a good parachute and then what to do. Always loved to travel so i bought an open around the world air ticket and had no reservations - horizons are the only boundaries when i play.

after a couple of months ended up in tanzania on safari and we stopped in gibbs farm - a beautiful coffee plantation to shower and eat lunch. when i saw down to eat - sat next to the plantation manager and automatically turned over my coffee cup. the plantation manager said, "We wish you would taste our coffee."

took a sip and then asked the plantation manager, "What the hell is that?" he laughed and said, "For the first time in your life you have tasted freshly roasted, arabica varietal coffee."

after banging around for a few years, finally found out what i wanted to do. No more big companies where politics rule - not performance. am now self employed selling very complex unit dose packaging machines to large hospitals over most of the country.

I built my own roaster from a gas grill and the drum i built has a capacity of 5# but only roast 2.5# at a time. Used suggestions from Ed Needham - he has a home roaster web site and have been roasting for over 10 years - the drum is rusty but who cares. Love Yemeni Mokha Ishmali from SM. Roast for 17 minutes and go thru first crack and do not get into second. I only drink coffee in the winter and am moving to atlanta to get out of the cold frozen north.

am amazed at how complicated some of these roasters are. our ancestors when they had coffee roasted it in a cast iron pan. Remember Killick in Patrick O'Brian books.

This is my second attempt - second time is always more fun.
Hey Butch!

USRC 1lb Roaster, Chemex+Kone, Espro, Various FPs, Royal Siphon Vacuum, Yama Ice Drip Tower, Bunnzilla, La Cimbali M21 Casa, Ceado E92.
Welcome to HRO Butch,
I have a gas grill roaster too and would be nice if you can post some pics..

welcome butch...

good old Ed Needham was a founding member of HRO and he knows his stuff about coffee roasting plus he plays a hell of a bass guitar...

Big Welcome Butch,

I've heard of many users of BBQ grill drum roasters who are getting results that quite often rival the roast quality from "sophisticated" drum roasters.

It would be great if you could share with us what techniques have worked well for you with your roaster as there is a lot of mystery out there as to how to best control them without being able to sense bean temp.

1/2 lb and 1 lb drum, Siemens Sirocco fluidbed, presspot, chemex, cajun biggin brewer from the backwoods of Louisiana
butch burton
Everything I have done was derived from Ed Needham. The only big difference is how we made our drums. Stainless steel is wonderful to look at but a bear to work with. If u don't get a hole drilled immediately, you anneal the stuff and it is a bear to drill even with new titanium bits. I had help from a large company in Racine that fabricates the cabins from the very large Manitowoc cranes which are so large they have to be fabricated on site. They were in a very slow period about 10 YAG and were delighted to help me with the project including having about every kind of plate cold rolled steel imaginable and the know how to use a pinch roller to get the right bend in the steel.

It was just a matter of using a pulley for one end and getting a 1/2" shaft and cutting a slot in it for the gear motor to be attached. They also helped me with a large 1/2" thick steel plate cut to precise specifications using a giant chain saw which made quick work of the task.

I let the drum get very hot in a garage - lots of smoke and chaff - you can not do this inside. Then pour in the beans and it generally takes around 17.5 minutes to get just a little over half way between first and second crack. Although smell and the sounds of first crack are important, you must use a bean thief to visually look at the beans and when the color is right - you must immediately get the beans poured out of the drum. I use Ed's box window fan cooler - way lot simpler than the exhaust vent i first used.

Oh also keep a lot of what bean you are roasting, when was first crack and when did u remove the drum from the grill. A timer is essential and also a reliable thermometer. Not much clearance between my grill and the burners or the top of the grill so the temp gauge must have a short snout on it.

Also be very careful when pulling the drum out of your roaster - mine weighs over 20# and if you touch it - that is an instant 3rd degree burn. Also at a certain point beans become exothermic and will they burn. One guy burned a hole in his asphalt driveway. So if there are things around that will burn - be careful.

Oh do not worry about continuing to use your gas grill for food. Had 10# of chicken quarters on last week and let the grill get a little hot - talking to a neighbor and then looked over and wow was it smoking. All of the grease and chaff caught fire - very neat way to clean your grill - other than lots of smoke all you have left are some fine grey ashes.

Will provide pics later - the busy season is here - everybody is back from vacation and now the fun begins.
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