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Air Crazy Popcorn Poppers
coffeeforblood
My first roasters were a handful of West Bend Air Crazy Popcorn Poppers. Why a handful? Well, I found out the hard way that these Popcorn Poppers do not tolerate back to back roasting of many batches in succession. I burned one up doing that too aggressively. I played around and figured that with my batch times in the 12 - 20 minute range, if I ran three of them and cycled them, each one would cool almost completely before the next batch in that popper. This seemed to greatly enhance the longevity of the Poppers. I roasted a LOT of coffee with these beasts, but they have shortcomings. Batch size is 1/2 cup max and the batch times ranged from 12 - 20 minutes depending on the popper. That was another issue. There is no control over air flow or temperature. All I could control is roast time. Also, each roaster had its own personality that I had to learn. They always required some manual shaking in the early stage of the roast to prevent the beans from burning before they got light enough to become fluidized. Making a large batch of coffee took FOREVER and the evenness of roast was not perfect.

So, for these reasons, I have retired my Poppers and have designed and built my own fluid bed roaster which can roast a cup of green beans in about 8 minutes. I have roasted about 50 batches in it so far and it works great! I will have to post the details elsewhere though since it is my second roaster. Ha ha.
 
ChicagoJohn

Quote

coffeeforblood wrote:

So, for these reasons, I have retired my Poppers and have designed and built my own fluid bed roaster which can roast a cup of green beans in about 8 minutes. I have roasted about 50 batches in it so far and it works great! I will have to post the details elsewhere though since it is my second roaster. Ha ha.


Thanks for sharing your experience! I'd like to see what you did for a fluidized bed roaster that can make larger batches because I'm just in the planning phase right now myself.

As for air poppers, the difficulties you encountered are not inherent in a popper modification. The Presto PopLite mod I did (my first and only roaster), recently modified for automated duplication of Excel-generated profiles via interface with an Arduino, has run well over 100 batches now without any signs of wear. I routinely do six batches (a little over a pound) consecutively in about 70 minutes with excellent between-batch and within-batch uniformity and without any manual stirring during the roast. Among the many methods of successfully roasting coffee, any of them can be made work better or less well, and popcorn popper modifications are no exception.

While I will continue to use my popper to experiment with profile optimization in 91 gm batches for various single origins, for the same reasons you cite I'd like to apply what I've learned to a larger fluidized bed design that would enable me to do a larger batch size once I've decided upon an optimum profile incorporating the same automated system I am now with my popper. I'm sure your ideas and experience would be of great help. If you have time to summarize what you did (here or elsewhere on the forums), I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks for your post !BBQ grill
So many beans; so little time....
 
coffeeforblood
Thanks John. Where should I post details about my new roaster? Should I just start a new thread in one of the other roaster-oriented forums?
 
coffeeforblood
Never mind. I posted in Building a Roaster - Fluid Bed Roaster.
 
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