Coffee Roasting Question

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Coffee Roasting Question

#1 Post by Michae1 P0wers » August 23rd, 2016, 8:08 am

I see that the most recent threads on coffee roasting are rather old. I used to roast in old popcorn poppers years ago, when you could still get ones that were hot enough. Even so the batches were very small. Recently I've considered returning to roasting. My new house has more space and easier access to outside so it would be simpler to walk out and roast. Plus I'm spending a lot on coffee from top roasters and if I can get close to those quality of roasts for the price of green beans I'd like to do so.

So, anyone still roasting with a Behmor? Anything else clearly better while still coming in under $1000? If so, what are the thoughts on this method? I favor African coffees foremost then Central and South Americans, no dark roasts, so getting very dark roasts isn't important to me. My understanding is that was the major complaint about Behmor, the inability to do a very dark roast. Also I don't need to roast more than 1 lb at a time, as I know that is a limitation of some roasters.

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#2 Post by Corey N. » August 23rd, 2016, 8:15 am

I need to repair my Behmor (hopefully trying to get that resolved this week) but they updated the control panel maybe 2 years ago and it allowed for darker roasts. IMO, it's a nice, simple machine and the capacity is quite good -- I'd say it does better around 400g than a full pound, but still quite usable.
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#3 Post by P. Willenberg » August 23rd, 2016, 10:03 am

I look every once in a while and it's Behmor or $2k for a test batch roaster every time I look.
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#4 Post by John S » August 23rd, 2016, 10:09 am

I use the Behmor and "graduated" from the popcorn style a year or so ago. Works very well and I would not go back to buying beans. But I am too lazy to seek out the best roasters in case some people like that route. Love the variety of beans and control over the roast. Cost wise keep in mind a pound of green beans is about 12 oz of roasted coffee. It always requires careful monitoring during the first crack so the finicky nature of home roasting is not for all. But given the huge step up in quality (and variety) I would no go back.

I know there are better roasters but they get up in the 2k range I think.
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#5 Post by Michae1 P0wers » August 23rd, 2016, 10:53 am

Thanks all. I'm leaning Behmor. It looks like there are a couple of good sub $1500 options, Quest m3, Aillio Bullet, but even that is a fairly pricey step. I'm thinking on a Behmor I can recoup pretty quickly, as I am currently buying from top roasters, typically about $16-20 per 12 oz. bag.

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#6 Post by David Wright » August 23rd, 2016, 11:25 am

I use a Behmor. Have the upgrade panel, but have not steeled my patience enough to install it. (The current Behmor is the "plus" version, so no upgrade necessary.)

One advantage that the Behmor has over many (most, nearly all?) hair-shirt options is that its afterburner does a very respectable job of smoke suppression. This is a pretty big deal to me. Even if I trusted my kitchen hood to be efficient enough to exhaust a ton of smoke quickly (I don't), using a roaster there would mean moving it into position every time it is used. The Behmor rarely produces visible smoke. Occasionally I see a few wisps when doing longer roasts. I leave it set up on a counter in the laundry room and roast once or twice a week. The ceiling exhaust fan there removes the residual combustion products effectively enough that I've only set off the smoke alarm (in hall outside laundry room) twice in 2.5 years. Both times I had left the door ajar too much (doh).

I'm very happy with the roast quality and really enjoy roasting and consuming a wide variety of coffees. In particular, I like being able to roast at City/City+ darkness... darker roasts became de rigueur in the US after Peet's popularized them in the Bay Area and Star(Char)bucks followed them.

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#7 Post by TimF » August 23rd, 2016, 11:32 am

My wife has had her Hottop since December 2009. Roast 9oz batches. She roasts fairly regularly -- usually a couple of batches per week. No issues. I'm always surprised how quickly the beans cool once ejected.
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#8 Post by alan weinberg » August 23rd, 2016, 7:15 pm

start roasting outside. Look up "popcorn lung," something that roasters are now getting when roasting in poorly ventilated areas.

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#9 Post by alan weinberg » August 23rd, 2016, 7:18 pm

Michael Powers wrote:Thanks all. I'm leaning Behmor. It looks like there are a couple of good sub $1500 options, Quest m3, Aillio Bullet, but even that is a fairly pricey step. I'm thinking on a Behmor I can recoup pretty quickly, as I am currently buying from top roasters, typically about $16-20 per 12 oz. bag.
Behmor 1600+ has served me well for 2 years and about 500 roasts, though converted to the + only about a year ago. Thinking of an Ailio now. I roast for us and kids and friends and it is getting out of control. Did 7 roasts past weekend.

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#10 Post by alan weinberg » August 23rd, 2016, 7:20 pm

another plug for Bodhi Leaf as a source for beans. Weekly specials, great service, great people.

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#11 Post by David Wright » August 23rd, 2016, 8:36 pm

Bronchiolitis obliterans... lovely. Thanks for the heads up.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronchiolitis_obliterans


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#12 Post by Michae1 P0wers » August 24th, 2016, 6:47 am

Thanks all. When I used to roast with a popper I always did so outside. I imagine I'd do the same with a Behmor, because of smell but also because it is enjoyable (though I recall some frigid winter roasting).

At present my consumption is probably suited to the Behmor and I'll probably bite. I worry that on some of the coffee forums they claim you'll never get the extreme complexities out of this machine, and frankly even amongst pro roasters I feel that only the top, top roasters really pull all of the complexities out of their beans. Still, I feel it is worth the try, and the relatively low investment is likely recouped in six months to a year of cost savings. Certainly worth it as a project for that length.

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#13 Post by Dave Gottschalk » August 24th, 2016, 7:06 am

Where would you buy your Behmor? Local store like Bed bath beyond or online like a Sweet Maria's or Amazon?

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#14 Post by Michae1 P0wers » August 24th, 2016, 7:23 am

I would think Amazon. If SM does free shipping then I'd consider them because they give you an 8 lb sampler with the purchase, but its $20 more than Amazon.

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#15 Post by alan weinberg » August 24th, 2016, 7:28 am

Dave Gottschalk wrote:Where would you buy your Behmor? Local store like Bed bath beyond or online like a Sweet Maria's or Amazon?
$369.99 at Bodhi Leaf Coffee Traders. Some free beans also. no affiliation . . .

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#16 Post by Michae1 P0wers » August 24th, 2016, 8:17 am

Thanks Alan. Looks like $25 to ship to me though, so at $45 over Amazon I'm not biting for four pounds of beans. If I was local and could pick up maybe that would do it. However, based on the good recommendations here and on the other roasting thread I may check out their bean selection.

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#17 Post by Darren Leininger » August 24th, 2016, 9:05 am

Michael Powers wrote:At present my consumption is probably suited to the Behmor and I'll probably bite. I worry that on some of the coffee forums they claim you'll never get the extreme complexities out of this machine, and frankly even amongst pro roasters I feel that only the top, top roasters really pull all of the complexities out of their beans. Still, I feel it is worth the try, and the relatively low investment is likely recouped in six months to a year of cost savings. Certainly worth it as a project for that length.
I love my Behmor! I prefer super fruity, high acid coffee, so in general, African and lighter roast. To get what I am looking for, I started experimenting with the various settings and roast profiles on the roaster as well as a few other tricks. Via various coffee roasting books and some forums, I have learned that a slow over all process but rapid center bean roast results in my preferred roast profile. First crack occurs around 385 F so I pre-roast my beans in an oven to 275 F for about 25 minutes and then transfer them to a pre-heated Behmor to complete the roasting. I generally use roast profile 2 for all roasts but have experimented with others thru my learning process. I will use roast duration as and example to give you an idea of the difference between pre roasting in the oven and going straight to the Behmor. Generally, first crack for my go to bean (Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and Harar) using only the Behmor occurs around the 12 -14 minute mark for 12oz on profile 2. For the same quantity using a pre roast, first crack occurs around the 7 minute mark. This method yields a fully roasted bean, but lighter over all roast resulting in a fruity complex cup. For what it's worth I'm a Sweet Maria's guy, I live local to Oakland so I pick up at the warehouse and have never had an issue with quality. Have fun! Roasting the perfect batch, or at least the pursuit there of, is half the fun. Enjoy!
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#18 Post by Corey N. » August 24th, 2016, 9:09 am

Agree on Bodhi Leaf for beans. Sweet Maria's has good quality too, but more expensive.
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#19 Post by alan weinberg » August 24th, 2016, 8:02 pm

Michael Powers wrote:Thanks Alan. Looks like $25 to ship to me though, so at $45 over Amazon I'm not biting for four pounds of beans. If I was local and could pick up maybe that would do it. However, based on the good recommendations here and on the other roasting thread I may check out their bean selection.
when you get your Behmor and have done some roasts to get familiar, let me know. Wil give you some tips. I have done over 500 roasts on mine.

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#20 Post by Dave Gottschalk » August 25th, 2016, 1:18 pm

Thanks - I have been thinking about this for a while, and think I will take the plunge.

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#21 Post by Brian Gilp » August 29th, 2016, 4:39 am

I have been roasting with a Gene Café for a long time. I think I have the original model. It has been a dependable machine. Easy to roast 8 oz batches consistently. I rarely go past full city so not sure about dark roasts.

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#22 Post by D Zurcher » August 29th, 2016, 11:17 am

We've been using the Hot Top Roaster for at least 10 years. It's a bit more expensive (I believe about $1200 now), but it is easy to work on, and they sell all of the parts. Our heating element failed about a year ago, and a non-electrical guy like me was able to tear down the machine, replace it, replace the control pad for an updated version, and completely clean out the machine in a day or 2. Hot Top has instructions and videos on most everything on their website. If you have any trouble, there are experts that you can talk to that will help you through it.

We buy our green coffee from Sweet Maria's, and roast 3 or 4 batches every couple of weeks. Pretty easy to dial in your desired roast level...you can go as light, or dark as you want. It will take a few batches to start to dial it in, but if you catalog your roasts, you will be able to figure it out. Even if you don't catalog, you can eyeball it through the glass panel on the front of the roaster. You will need to either roast outside, or have good ventilation to suck the smoke out and roast on your cooktop.

Not that there is anything wrong with the Hot Top, but I have always wanted the Dietrich home model, but have never had the $6 grand laying around to order it :).
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#23 Post by alan weinberg » August 29th, 2016, 3:29 pm

give Aillio a look. $2500 plus $215 to ship to US. I am pondering.

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#24 Post by D Zurcher » August 29th, 2016, 3:57 pm

alan weinberg wrote:give Aillio a look. $2500 plus $215 to ship to US. I am pondering.
Wow.....thanks for the heads up, I had not heard of this one. It looks like a sleek, modern Hot Top with a much larger capacity. You can roast a bit over 2 lbs at a time? The Hot Top is about 11-12 ounces max per roast. I have no reason to replace the Hot Top right now, but if I did I would definitely consider this.
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#25 Post by Michae1 P0wers » August 30th, 2016, 6:40 am

Thanks all. Dan, I wanted to start relatively inexpensive so I went Behmor. If I ever want to step up in the future it looks like I will have plenty to consider.

I received the Behmor yesterday. I did a test roast on a 1/4 lb batch as suggested. It looks very uneven. Obviously there will be some learning curve and I will need to experiment once I have some more time, starting this weekend.

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#26 Post by D Zurcher » August 30th, 2016, 7:21 am

Totally agree, nice to see more people roasting! :). We did the same, we went through a few other roasters for a few years, and they worked out fine as well.
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#27 Post by M Hudson » September 1st, 2016, 3:05 pm

There is little to zero chance of getting any adverse effects from home roasting. The exposure levels and exposure time are barely there in commercial roasters, and that level is crazy as it is. The exposure was something like 8 hours a day for 40 years to have an adverse effect. You have a better chance of dying from a car accident.
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#28 Post by alan weinberg » September 1st, 2016, 9:31 pm

M Hudson wrote:There is little to zero chance of getting any adverse effects from home roasting. The exposure levels and exposure time are barely there in commercial roasters, and that level is crazy as it is. The exposure was something like 8 hours a day for 40 years to have an adverse effect. You have a better chance of dying from a car accident.
anecdotal, but I roasted often in our laundry room w window open but smelled considerable roasting gases, and had chronic cough that resolved when I moved to outdoor roasting. Sure, a pack of cigarettes daily is bad, but who is to say that one cigarette a day isn't also bad. Why not minimize voluntary exposure--who knows what study will be out next year showing problems from less chronic exposure?

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#29 Post by Michae1 P0wers » September 2nd, 2016, 7:41 am

I've only done one roast. Did it on a little table in the doorway of my walkout basement, basically a landing at the bottom of about four stairs. Even so there was significant scent, so I will move it entirely outside next time. Alternatively I may run a fan to blow the scent out. I will certainly hear about if from my wife otherwise.

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#30 Post by alan weinberg » September 3rd, 2016, 8:02 am

another advantage of outside roasting is quicker cooling by opening the door at the end, avoidance of "coasting" where the roast goes a bit beyond your intent.

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#31 Post by alan weinberg » September 3rd, 2016, 4:19 pm


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#32 Post by M Hudson » September 4th, 2016, 7:00 am

Again that is sensational journalism. If you find the actual study, the cdc set their exposure level for "risk" for 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, for forty years. In addition the real ppm came from commercial grinding of the beans vs the roasting.

There is a reason no governmental agency has not acted on this "threat".
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#33 Post by Michae1 P0wers » September 14th, 2016, 7:25 am

Roasting has been coming along well. I have been happy to find that I can coax a range of nuanced fruit scents from the African greens I've been buying, and happy with the others I've tried as well. Fried one batch, undercooked another by trying to get cute with the "+" function, but mostly good results.

Also, I recall engaging in a discussion here a while back about resting coffee after roasting. I was surprised to find that some like to brew immediately after roast. I can now re-confirm that I prefer to brew a few days out after they've had time to lose some gas and some of the roasted flavors. The Ethiopian natural process coffee I roasted on the 3rd was still going strong today, and was much better than at two days out. It was the last of the batch too, so I'm sticking with timing for a three day rest and happy with what I'm finding.

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#34 Post by alan weinberg » September 14th, 2016, 6:07 pm

with my Guats, I am finding them best about a week after roasting--glad you are doing so well with the process.

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#35 Post by Michae1 P0wers » September 15th, 2016, 6:51 am

Thanks Alan, and thanks again for the tips. It is going well. The batch of Honduran beans I roasted on Sunday I think are just past where I like them, but it is hard to tell if they will still improve a bit. There is a dried quality that I don't love, even if not overtly burnt. The Ethiopian from a week ago that I just finished killed though.

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#36 Post by alan weinberg » September 15th, 2016, 5:47 pm

keep notes on weight, settings, and time so you can reproduce the great ones!

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#37 Post by Michae1 P0wers » September 22nd, 2016, 12:39 pm

So I had an odd situation last weekend in which I think I managed to "rescue" a roast, something previously thought not to be possible. I guess I missed the warning button so the machine went into cool-down mode. I took the beans out , they were just short of first crack I think, and opened the machine to cool. By the time I got it to fire up again the beans were still warm so I put them back in, assuming that they wouldn't roast properly and that I'd end up throwing them out, but wanted to see. Anyway, maybe 12 minutes or so later they finished and they seem great. It was really odd as I'd always been led to believe this was not a thing that could be done. Anyone else ever try this? Of course the takeaway in the future is that I need to pay more attention and not let the machine prematurely cool in the future.

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#38 Post by Brian Gilp » September 22nd, 2016, 1:06 pm

Never had a batch stop before first crack. I have had roaster issues that resulted in significantly longer times between first and second crack and the body is noticeably impacted.

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#39 Post by Michae1 P0wers » September 22nd, 2016, 1:27 pm

I rested the coffee from Sunday until today so today was my first cup with it, but it seemed completely fine, good even. It ended up a bit darker than I'd have taken it, but still very good. I was shocked. I would have bet anything I had to through it out.

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#40 Post by alan weinberg » September 22nd, 2016, 1:46 pm

Michael Powers wrote:So I had an odd situation last weekend in which I think I managed to "rescue" a roast, something previously thought not to be possible. I guess I missed the warning button so the machine went into cool-down mode. I took the beans out , they were just short of first crack I think, and opened the machine to cool. By the time I got it to fire up again the beans were still warm so I put them back in, assuming that they wouldn't roast properly and that I'd end up throwing them out, but wanted to see. Anyway, maybe 12 minutes or so later they finished and they seem great. It was really odd as I'd always been led to believe this was not a thing that could be done. Anyone else ever try this? Of course the takeaway in the future is that I need to pay more attention and not let the machine prematurely cool in the future.
did it once, results not good. Now if I miss a timer and it goes Err7 and I lose the roast, I throw it away and kick myself.

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#41 Post by Michae1 P0wers » September 23rd, 2016, 7:43 am

Had it again this morning. Taste as expected. I assume that this was just a fluke, likely due to whatever point the initial roast stopped. In the past I have had a roast stop early (like very early) and just thrown it out. Will be back at it again this weekend and will pay more attention this time.

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#42 Post by Faryan Amir-Ghassem¡ » September 25th, 2016, 7:43 pm

Great thread. Have been considering moving beyond the popcorn roaster mostly to increase precision/save time (it really only does 40g batches effectively). Any other comps to the Behmor to look into?

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#43 Post by alan weinberg » September 26th, 2016, 9:03 pm

Faryan Amir-Ghassem¡ wrote:Great thread. Have been considering moving beyond the popcorn roaster mostly to increase precision/save time (it really only does 40g batches effectively). Any other comps to the Behmor to look into?
check out the options at Bodhileafcoffee.com. No affiliation, just a happy customer. I am seriously considering a Aillio Bullet.

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#44 Post by Michae1 P0wers » October 10th, 2016, 10:17 am

I continue to be very happy with my decision to start roasting again. I roast 14 oz. green on the weekend and then let it rest until the last batch runs out around mid-week. This cycle is working well so far. Cost is low and quality, if not equal to the best of what I was getting elsewhere, is close, and sometimes very, very close.

Question re. cleaning, what all do you clean? Just wipe down all interior surfaces or what?

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#45 Post by alan weinberg » October 10th, 2016, 2:49 pm

I use diluted Simple Green every 5 roasts, spraying it on all surfaces except near the temp probes on the right side of the Behmor. Then I rub it off, paying a lot of attention to keep the glass clean--including over the light bulb. Then I do a 10 minute or so dry roast to burn it all off before the next coffee roast. You will get a lot of coffee oils and dirt off the machine. Every 50 roasts or so, I take off the right and back panels and vacuum it out, cleaning and washing whatever needs it. I also use a small hand vacuum at the end of each roast instead of the little brush provided.

Just bought 25 lbs of green Angel Mountain El Salvador at Bodhi Leaf--best coffee I have had since Las Rosas Guatemala, second year in a row for this single source bean.

Am debating buying an Aillio Bullet now--have gone back and forth w/the company, reading reviews, debating between gas and electric, vacillating. Will do up to one kilo at a time and gives control over the roast like a professional roaster, half the price to boot!

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#46 Post by Corey N. » March 15th, 2017, 1:01 pm

Where is the best place to buy kraft paper or foil bags? I'd like to have my beans in something that looks nice for gift giving, but don't want to pay 35¢/bag if possible.
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#47 Post by David Wright » March 15th, 2017, 6:54 pm

I've been using these... 1 lb bag 13.99 per 100 (1/2 lb 11.99/100). I am OCD enough to print large Avery 6874 labels with color graphics to complete the package....

http://www.webstaurantstore.com/1-lb-wh ... BCBWH.html

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#48 Post by Corey N. » March 16th, 2017, 8:10 am

Thanks David. This is exactly what I was looking for. Much appreciated.
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#49 Post by Faryan Amir-Ghassem¡ » March 17th, 2017, 7:34 am

Thanks for reviving this. Have had some kickass roasts with sweet maria's guatemala Acatenango geisha beans even with the popcorn roaster.

Curious what people do to reduce chaff that don't completely dislodge from your beans? Especially with the geisha beans, I tend to have more chaff buildup than say a kenyan AA. I dump my fresh roast onto a mesh strainer, and tend to blow and remove chaff through friction, but that's clearly a novice technique. Any tips?

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Corey N.
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Coffee Roasting Question

#50 Post by Corey N. » March 17th, 2017, 7:39 am

Faryan, I have a Behmor and I simply agitate the beans in the container/cage. I've also seen mesh colanders used. Some beans seem to have more chaff left on than others.

Speaking of Guatemala, the new crop should be arriving on US shores soon. I'm going to try to do some roasting this weekend and want to use up what I already have before buying more beans, but an assortment of Guatemalan is definitely my next order -- definitely my favorite country for beans.
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