Month: December 2013

Dog bowl roasting

Dog bowl roasting

The method of roasting I recommend to my friends is dog bowl roasting. I produce (usually) good coffee in about 15-20 minutes. Since you are right in the action, you see how the roasting process works. Best of all this is a cheap entry into roasting as you already have most of the equipment needed in your kitchen and garage.

You need a heat gun capable of reaching 400-500 degrees, a stainless steel bowl (traditionalist will want to use a dog bowl), a long wooden spoon (a plastic spoon will melt and a metal spoon will get too hot), a way to dissipate heat (I use a fan and colander), and 1-2 cups of beans.

Pour the beans into the bowl. Turn the gun on and hold it 1/2 to 1 inch from the beans. Then stir and stir and stir….. I have a friend that stirs with the nose of his heat gun though I’ve never attempted that so your mileage may very. Be careful not to burn the beans. If you hold the heat directly on a bean for too long it will burn.

Depending on the power of your gun, the type of beans, and the quantity you are roasting, roasting will take 15-25 minutes. If you make a dark roast, your beans will progress through two “cracks”. First crack is usually easy to identify -because it’s first. :-). Second crack can be a bit trickier. It occurs closely behind first crack and sometimes even occurs while some beans are still in first. First crack tends to be more “snappy” like a finger snap or a dry twig snap. Second crack is softer, more like wrapping paper crackling and a lot of smoke. After a few roasts you’ll have a good understanding of the different cracks.

The final step is cooling. Dump the beans in the colander (careful as the bowl and beans will be very hot). Set the fan upside down with the air flow going up. Put the colander over the fan and stir.

If you don’t have a fan, spread the roasted beans on a large cookie sheet and stir. You need to dissipate the heat or the beans will “bake”.




Coffee Roasting De-mystified

coffee drink food wine news

How many different names have you run across for different types of coffee roasts? Light, Medium, Dark? Espresso? Continental? Vienna, French, Italian, Spanish? City? Full-City? C’mon, who’s thinking up these things?
Well, the dark secret (pardon the pun) of the coffee industry is that, well, there really isn’t full agreement on which roast is which. So basically, we all pretty much get to hunt around, try different coffees from different sources and pick the one(s) we like. In this article, I’ll try to use the standard nomenclature, and map it to the color and texture anyone can judge for himself.
The roasting adventure begins with green coffee beans. These are stored at room temperatures, at 12-15% moisture content. Roasting is done at temperatures of up to 450+ degrees F. Duration and temperature determine the roast.
A coffee bean will take on heat until the internal temperature of the bean reaches…

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My first foray into roasting was with the iroast (/www.i-roast.comm). I wanted to begin roasting, but I didn’t know how to start. I began to read about this upcoming roaster that could do everything and was relatively cheap. Other roasters on the market all had sketchy reviews and cost more money. The nice thing about pre-release products is there are no bad reviews. I put the iroast on my Christmas list.

It is easy to use, just pour a cup of beans in the glass container and press start. There are some roast profiles you can select. I don’t think the profiles ever helped my roasts, but I felt more “pro” since I was using “roast profiles”.

The thing is load. It is an inexpensive fan blowing heated air from underneath the beans. I don’t recall if I could hear the beans crack (most of the time the beans probably didn’t crack anyway). The real hint that something was happening was when the chaff collector started to fill up.

The first thing I learned was: Don’t roast coffee indoors. All the “oil” on the surface of roasted beans is also in the smoke. And there is a lot of smoke. My wife was unimpressed with what the oily smoke did to the house. The iroast has a connection for a vent line, I never tried to use that – it was just easier to move to the garage.

Chaff is important to a successful roast. I don’t think the machine can generate enough heat until the vents became blocked by the chaff. When I purchased beans with little chaff, I never could get a proper roast.

At first I liked the results. But the capacity just wasn’t there. 10-20-30 minutes to roast maybe a half pound of beans while locked in the garage was a lot of work. Then I moved. For some reason the iroast seemed to struggle even more after I moved. Maybe it was getting old or maybe I was doing something wrong. I suspect that the power at my new house is different, causing less heat output.

It was a good start for me. I didn’t know anyone who roasted coffee and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. With the iroast, I had a complete, albeit flawed, tool to roast coffee. I learned about first and second crack, I started to order greens, and I had begun the learning process.

Today I recommend people start with dog bowl roasting. However, without anyone pointing me in that direction, dog bowl roasting seemed less quality. All the variable and the unknowns, when I could just buy a small machine to solve every problem. The iroast is a lot like a bread machine. How can a computer controlled specially made appliance not be the right path?

Eventually I grew enough confidence in my knowledge, and got frustrated about my low success rate with the iroast, that I began to investigate dog bowl roasting.

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