Friday, November 25, 2011

Roasting Coffee in the winter

The weather has gotten a bit cooler in Boston recently. The drop in ambient temperatures will affect your coffee roasting results if you don't make any modifications to your set-up. The beans will just not get dark or even to first crack. So, I took a cue from Ryan Jacobs, who simply puts the Poppery into a cardboard box and puts one flap over the Poppery to recirculate the hot air.

If it's cold outside, one of the first things you might notice is that smoke comes out of your popcorn popper. If it smells like your coffee beans roasting, then don't worry about it. However, if it smells like burning plastic, turn the machine off and make sure the machine is not melting. The smoke should be just the steam coming out of the beans as they are roasting. After first crack, you might see a bit more smoke as the beans getting darker. Just monitor the roasting process and trust your nose.

Some air poppers roast hotter than others
I recently saw a Popcorn Pumper at the Goodwill and just had to buy it, even though I already had a Poppery II and a Popcorn Pumper. I'm glad I got it because I discovered that poppers don't all roast at the same temperature. When I used the most recently acquired Pumper, I managed to get to first crack in a shorter period of time and I was able to get a darker roast too. If you get an air popper and it doesn't seem to roast hot enough, try getting another one. If you get the poppers from thrift stores, it won't be a huge investment.

Back to the winter roast
All in all, the cardboard box technique seems to work quite well with all of my air poppers (both the Popcorn Pumper and the Poppery II).

The Popcorn Pumper in the Coffee Bean Direct box works just fine.

At first, you might see some smoke.
To increase the ambient temperature even more, flip over one of the flaps.

Happy winter roasting!

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