Home-Roasting Heretic: Happy Accidents
A royal screw-up led to my first major home-roasting success.
Well, I should be more specific "the right kind" of screw-up led to success. My first few home-roasting endeavors (particularly the first) were chock-full of screw-ups, and none of them yielded great results. On my fourth or fifth attempt, however, despite thinking I had under-roasted the beans, I experienced my first ahhh that's good! batch.
The light-roasted beans on the left were the result of a botched roasting operation -- which proved to be a very happy accident.
A roasting emergency forced me to prematurely halt an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe/Sidamo roast. Using the Westbend Poppery, I had placed a soup can atop the popper as a chimney (a suggestion from MAS's Roasting Coffee in a Popcorn Popper tutorial). The problem was that the can I used was coated inside. I noticed a couple of beans sticking to the can, apparently because the heat was softening this coating and making it adhesive. I switched the power off, to end the roast and save the rest of the beans.
The Poppery for Roasting Coffee
I've long preferred darker roasts, so I was disappointed that this session ended with the beans just barely at a Light Roast stage. Still, I wasn't going to let this batch go to waste.
I drip-brewed a pot, expecting mediocrity. Instead, I was blown away. For the first time, I could recognize distinct tastes in the beans I roasted ("floral, earthy"). This was the first batch I roasted that I would have been able to identify in a blind cupping. Accidentally, I roasted Ethiopian beans to perfection.
The morals of this story are twofold:
- The trial-and-error involved in learning home-roasting can lead to some fortuitous discoveries.
- Home-roasters using a soup can on the Poppery should make sure the can has no interior coating.
The Home Roaster Color Chart - A visual guide to coffee roasting by color.
Rookie Roast - Alex's first adventure with home coffee roasting.
Roasting Coffee in a Popcorn Popper - Tutorial on how to roast coffee using a Westbend popcorn popper.
Published: May 2010, Last Modified: October 2011