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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