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Modified Popper with Chaff Collector by thirddayhomeroaster
My roaster is a modified popper. It has evolved over time. It started as a straight popper underneath the stove vent. Set off several smoke detectors. Weather in MI is not conducive for outside roasting. I built a chimney/chaff collector first.
thirddayhomeroaster attached the following image:

Edited by David on 07/29/2007 10:32 PM
Here's an up close of the chaff collector. I built the chimney to fit around a gladware container. Popper blows into chimney, chaff falls down into container, smoke rises out the flexible stove pipe and out the window. Because it is all made of aluminum, it's only hot around the area air blows in-it's cool at the chaff collector, cool at the flammable cardboard window insert.
thirddayhomeroaster attached the following image:

Edited by David on 07/29/2007 10:35 PM
close up out the window
thirddayhomeroaster attached the following image:

Edited by David on 07/29/2007 10:37 PM
I chopped the top off the popper, screwed it into the brushed aluminum box I made, added a glass viewing chamber. It is a monin syrup bottle with the ends cut off (google "how to cut a glass bottle" to learn how) I could slow the roast by putting a bag of ice in the stand (later picture) underneath the chaff collector. In this picture, it is standing on 2x4's-I hadn't made the stand yet.
thirddayhomeroaster attached the following image:

Edited by David on 07/29/2007 10:40 PM
Here is the air intake. I cut away part of the popper to increase flow.
also to encourage air intake to come through the stand/cooling chamber. I could slow down the roast by putting a baggy of ice in the stand, and speed it up by stuffing a dish towel in the hole. Still wanted more control of fan, heat, etc.
thirddayhomeroaster attached the following image:

Edited by David on 07/29/2007 10:42 PM
I was able to save the clip on the popper body and worked it in to my case to make it look nice.
thirddayhomeroaster attached the following image:

Edited by David on 07/29/2007 10:44 PM
Attempted to split the heater/fan circuit. Good thing I'm not in the bomb squad-I hooked up the wrong wire. Got a flash and puff of smoke. My guts were toasted. Emailed a friend from church who thought she had a spare popper, traded popper for promise of future coffee, which I already had her hooked on. It didn't fit perfectly, but close enough. The bean cup is taller and a little bigger in diameter. Monin bottles won't work anymore, so I am settling for this for now. Doesn't look nice, but it works.
thirddayhomeroaster attached the following image:

Edited by David on 07/29/2007 10:46 PM
Here is my bean cup-I opened up the fins with a screwdriver to increase flow. A little too much, I started to lose beans through the fins, had to close them up. Had no idea you could get that much air out of that small of a fan. Some made it into the chaff collector. Note the thermometer probe. I pull it out half way when roasting, otherwise beans collect and burn in the triangle it makes against the side of the cup.
thirddayhomeroaster attached the following image:

Edited by David on 07/29/2007 10:48 PM
Here is the stand/cooling chamber in place.
thirddayhomeroaster attached the following image:

Edited by David on 07/29/2007 10:49 PM
here's my control panel. Off/on heater (dimmer switch that can handle that kind of wattage is too expensive. Hoping to find one on ebay. Also disabled the heater thermal cut off and thermostat. I never leave the element on for more than 25-30 seconds, with 1 second off. I lost one fan blade that way-melted it. Dimmer switch (lower) for fan control. great to push a roast into 1st/2nd crack when you want. Thermometer is from sweet marias. timer is from my kitchen junk drawer.
thirddayhomeroaster attached the following image:

Edited by David on 07/29/2007 10:51 PM
Here's my current setup-I plan to wrap my switches in the same brushed aluminum to make it look nicer and keep people from being so afraid. I hope to be able to add a glass viewing area-looks nicer, better to monitor bean movement/fan control, and degree of roast.
thirddayhomeroaster attached the following image:

Edited by David on 07/29/2007 10:53 PM
here is how I peek at my beans for now-the crack between the silver and black parts
thirddayhomeroaster attached the following image:

Edited by David on 07/29/2007 10:54 PM
when I am done roasting, I turn the fan all the way up, turn the heater off. I cool right in the roaster. this cools off the whole thing so I can touch it and roast multiple batches right in a row. I usually rest it after 3-4 batches, as the transformer gets hot. takes about 2 minutes to get to room temp, I usually run it on cool for 5 minutes to get the inside of the beans cool too, based on reading at Sweet Maria's. I then dump directly into a valve bag. Here's a half pound bag-fits right on the bean cup, Just pick up the roaster, turn, and dump.
thirddayhomeroaster attached the following image:

Edited by David on 07/29/2007 10:56 PM
-Roasts 2/3 cup green beans (could sneak more in)= apx 1/4 lb roasted. Great batch size-fits Sweet Maria's 1/4 lb valve bags. I give these away and have gotten a few people hooked I can sell to, and am building a roaster for my wife's friend who swore Folgers was just as good. She gets it now.
-I can roast anywhere from 3 min to first crack (5 to 2nd), up to as long as I want-I usually finish just into 2nd crack at about 10-11 minutes.
-Binary heat control (off/on) time on then off determines roast curve-ie 5 sec on, 1 sec off, 5 on, etc.= 1st crack at about 9-10 min. 25 sec on, 1 sec off, etc. is about 4-5 min 1st crack. changing this time and adjusting fan allows decent temp control.
-I've gotten readings of 500 deg at 2nd crack, but usually hit it around 450 for most beans.
-in unit cooling= no inclement weather, ambient temp is constant.
-venting means very little smoke in the house, however, I DID NOT seal the cracks in the chimney, so I DO get little smoke-this is desireable b/c it helps determine where I am in the roast, it leaves the house smelling great, and it's not enough to stain, burn your eyes, or set off the smoke alarm.
-Chaff collection system nearly eleminates mess.
-Unit comes apart and stacks neatly in a rubbermaid bin for storage and transport.
COST: $15 to buy my wife's friend a new popper (with the hole in the bottom center) so I could have hers.
$5 thermometer from sweet marias.
$4 elbow
$10 dimmer switch
$10 transformer
A few pounds of coffee to trade for my second popper, different friend.
I had everything else lying around the house. That was the fun of it. I tried to design it so I didn't have to buy anything.
snips, screwdriver, 2x4 to bend the metal, pliers, drill, candle, glass cutter,wire strippers, part of my dog-chewed extension cord, tape measure.

I'd be happy to finish my case and add a glass roasting chamber if it will help the aesthetics and help me win!
Edited by thirddayhomeroaster on 07/10/2007 9:58 PM
Thanks for entering the contest! That thing is cool! B)B)B)

Eddie Dove

The South Coast Coffee Roaster
vita non est vivere sed valere vita est
Home Coffee Roasting Blog and Reference
Nice job. How come my sheet metal work always comes out looking like used tin foil?

It's all in the extremely high tech metal brake (2x4) I use.
Very nice, good luck!
Impressive chaff collection system! Thanks for showing it off for us!

What gague aluminum did you use, and did you use "roof valley" rolls of aluminum? That was what I was thinking. Yours looks quite clean. I ended up using sheet (ductwork) metal because I wanted to be sure it would work. I figure an upgrade to aluminum is in the works!

Very cool setup, good luck...


Hi there thirdday!!

I cannot believe this has a popper in it's heart! Just fantastic form and functiion. Well put together, fine example home roaster work.

good luck,


yes, I can be nudged by chocolate, fine fresh roasted beans and maybe a beer!!

Here I cut the bottom out of the pickle relish jar to make a viewing chamber. The rolled edges on the top & bottom allow a very easy fit at the bean cup and the elbow-much more forgiving than the monin bottle I originally used.
thirddayhomeroaster attached the following image:

Edited by David on 07/29/2007 10:17 PM
Here I made a holder from an insulation support. It keeps the glass chamber from falling out when I dump the beans in the bag. It had to contour around the inside of the popper.
thirddayhomeroaster attached the following image:

Edited by David on 07/29/2007 11:02 PM
Here's a look at the guts of the roaster, and how the wire holder snakes along the inside to hold it in place securely.
thirddayhomeroaster attached the following image:

Edited by David on 07/29/2007 11:03 PM
The chamber is removable so it can be cleaned. I keep the brown char stuff off so I can get a good look at the beans. Just pull the holder back a bit, remove the chamber, clean, replace.
thirddayhomeroaster attached the following image:

Edited by David on 07/29/2007 11:05 PM
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