I recently learned that coffee roasting at home is accessible, but I didn’t realize it would merely require a trip to a thrift store and a shipment from Sweet Maria’s. It’s incredible. I found a West Bend Poppery 1 from my local Goodwill for $8 – a little pricey relative to most stores which sell them for less than $5. I then purchased the 4lb sampler from Sweet Marias and read up on popcorn popper roasting.
It’s not all that complicated really. You apply heat to green coffee beans. Wha-la! Well there’s actually more to it than that if you want your coffee to have any sort of flavor, but that’s the basic gist of it. I admit to being a roasting noob. I know next to nothing about the roasting process. However, I intend to learn and grow. That’s all there is to do.
Here are some of the notes I took from roasting.
Sumatra Grade 1 Mandeheling – Sweet Marias
- 30s Preheat – This should have been longer, I think. Much longer.
- 100g In, 86g Out
- First Crack: Around 3:00.
- Roaster off: 4:00
- Cooling: Colander by 4:15, shook till 7:45.
- Already hot from the previous roast.
- 100g In, 84g Out
- First Crack: Around 2:35 – This batch definitely cracked earlier than the first.
- Roaster off: 3:35
- Cooling: Colander by 3:40, shook till 7:45.
I am no pro at cupping, which was evident by my first cupping experience, but I am slowly getting better and discerning tastes and flavors. It’s fun to cup coffees from others, but everything changes when you are the roaster. I felt accomplished to begin with, before I even knew if the coffees were drinkable. And I still feel accomplished.
The two other coffee cuppers and I went through a very informal and relaxing coffee cupping process that lasted about fifteen minutes. After dozens of slurps of perplexed expressions, we were finally ready to reveal our thoughts. Here are some of the notes that were taken and opinions that were expressed. Keep in mind, we kept things fairly basic.
Aroma: grape, floral
Flavor: grape (2 votes) , floral (2 votes), citrus, apple, wheat
Conclusion: This batch wasn’t disgusting, but the acidity was overwhelming. Still, very bright flavors are present and the beans remain somewhat drinkable.
Aroma: spice (2 votes)
Flavor: apple, grape (2 votes), herb, dried fruit, tomato, nougat, spice
Conclusion: This batch was much more balanced and drinkable. The acidity was tame and the flavors were present. All three of us were very pleased drinking these beans.
What I Learned
I was really pleased with the way these beans came out – both of them. Neither is perfect, or even close, but they were much better than any pre-ground grocery beans I’ve ever tasted – and that was on my first try! The future looks bright.
From here I would like to play with a few variables to hone in my roasting skills with the Poppery 1. I’ll probably start by using an extension cord to reduce the wattage. This particular popcorn popper is notorious for getting too hot, too fast. 3:30 is much too quick for a solid roast. The further I’m able to extend that time to more precise I am able to be.
I may play around with stirring the beans while they’re roasting too. I don’t know much about that, but have seen it recommended several times for popcorn poppers. Lastly, I will invest in a thermometer so that I can further understand the entire roasting process. This will also enable increased precision.