I guess I’ve been roasting coffee for about 11 or 12 years now. I started out with a small air roaster that would only produce about 60 grams at a time. I moved on to a larger air roaster, then a small, half pound drum. After wearing that machine out I purchased a gas grill and mounted a steel drum on a rotisserie spit, powered by an electric motor. It would roast 4 pounds at a time. I will never forget my neighbor telling me that his wife had chided him, saying, “See that Jamie, he grills out for his wife all the time, even in the winter!” I had to confess to him that I wasn’t “grilling,” I was roasting coffee!
I’ve owned a couple commercial machines and have been fortunate enough to roast on a handful of others as well. I even got the chance to hang out at Green Mountain’s facility in Knoxville and, had I played my cards right, could have most likely been running one of their huge roasters, which involved controlling the machine from a computer at a remote location…ah, maybe not so fun after all. I suppose I prefer the hands on approach. I never really had any interest in computerizing my machines. I tend to favor, the old approach of sight, smell, sound…and a good bean temp probe.
Coffee brokers regularly send out samples of their latest crops and I received several this week. Small time roasters like me can’t really afford to spend thousands of dollars on an elaborate sample roaster just to roast a few ounces at a time. I used to have a pretty nice one, but let it go when I was between roasting gigs. I had resorted to using a little air roaster for my sampling but it died. so I was forced to make a decision: buy another cheap roaster, buy a real sample roaster…or go really high tech and buy a popcorn popper! Yep, drove over to the local Target and picked this up: