The best thing do initially is become friends with a local roaster and find someone who you can watch and learn from. There are many books on roasting that also are great to build your overall coffee knowledge. We do offer roasting classes at the American Barista & Coffee School. We also have a new hands-on roasting class starting later this year. Keep checking back and good luck!
The best home roaster depends on what you can afford. I'm at college, so the most I could pay was about $300. I bought the Behmor 1600 and it has been great. So far, I've roasted about 12 lbs. of coffee. Although the Behmor does not offer complete control of the roast like the Hottop or Gene Cafe, it is extremely repeatable.
for years I roasted on a hot air popcorn popper which I modified so I was able to control the heat element. Placing a reostat in line to interupt the neutral leg allows you to contol the voltage to the heat element only. Less voltage = less potential, therefore you can ramp up the heat and control the profile anyway you like. Once you reach your drop temp you turn off the heat completely and the fan continues to run. The fan strength determines the cooling time, but since the quantity is so small it's much faster than any other home set-up. You are limited to about 1/3 cup of green (about 1/8 of a pound, 1/16 kilo) per batch. Limiting yes, but very educational. I learned more about subtle heat changes, timing, charging, etc. from that MacGyver'd set up than I did as a full time production roaster at a local company. Best part...the poppers (which you will wear out and replace a couple of times) cost less than $20 US. The most expensive piece is the reostat you will need for voltage control. A 1500watt rotary light dimmer works wonders on a 1000watt popper. Get a good one and you won't have to replace that. Less than $80 US and you have a great learning tool. Blow a few of those up then move to a drum system and feel out the differences. I can give instructions on how to wire up such a monstrosity if you want to give it a try.
sounds beautiful, I have just bought a fluid bed roaster, but that would work as a drum roaster.
It' s probably a very effective way to learn, but alas I will have to wait a couple of months for a new investment right now.
Anders, I know you don't have one close, but I can't speak enough about making good pals with a roaster, and latching onto one. When I was first starting, I became friends with my local roaster, and went there everyday. I swept floors, helped with blending, moved bags, whatever he wanted in exchange for being able to watch and learn the art. Roasting coffee is something that uses all the senses, and can't be learned from a DVD or book. It's the smell, the sounds of the beans popping, pulling the tryer and watching the temps. Watch a roaster, and see how he really becomes a part of the machine. It's a great balance of science and art, and hands-on is the best teacher.
Getting a good home unit is a great start, and you are well on your way to picking up the process!
Yeah I have started to think about moving out of town to get in contact with a small roastery (of high quality) in or Outside the Norwegian border.
I do believe you Jason, it's not bookskills, it's like riding a bike or swimming or being a carpenter, you can't read yourself ready.
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