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I've been roasting for about 3 years and have gone thru about 3 or 4 poppers for roasting coffee. The machines wouldn't stop working I'd just notice they slowly started taking longer and longer to roast my coffee beans.

I've been looking at the FrenchRoast sr500 and wondering if the $170 price tag is worth it over just getting another popper. I have no complaints over the coffee I roast from the poppers other than a few gripes over the actual roasting process.

Will the FrenchRoast produce a better roast over the popcorn popper? If not is it mostly convenience? I don't have to roast outside, it has a cooling function, etc. Anything else I'm missing that can sell me on the $170 price tag?

  • What kind of popcorn popper are you using to roast coffee? I'm intrigued. Is it one of those air poppers? Or a stovetop dealio with the crank? Oh! And where are you buying un-roasted coffee beans? Teach me your ways. – Preston Jul 22 '14 at 15:50
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    yes its the Toastess TCP-713 Hot-Air ($20 on amazon). I buy green beans from sweetmarias.com – Brendon-Van-Heyzen Jul 22 '14 at 16:04
  • Very cool. I've never heard of anybody doing that. – Preston Jul 22 '14 at 16:10
  • How long do you keep the green coffee beans in the popcorn popper? What hallmarks do you use to tell if they are roasted enough for your taste? (I dislike Starbucks (other than Blond) because it tastes burnt.) – piquet Jul 22 '14 at 23:46
  • 6 minutes for a little less than half a cup. 7 minutes tops, but that is just my preference. As for my taste, in roasting so many different types 6 minutes is where i start. – Brendon-Van-Heyzen Jul 23 '14 at 13:36
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Domestic coffee roasters are usually 'fluid-bed', barrel or 'stirrer' type.

  • Popcorn poppers and most low-end purpose built roasters are fluid-bed. That is you agitate the beans by pumping hot air to roast the beans.
  • Barrel types have a rotating barrel with fins inside to agitate the beans.
  • Stirrer types have a pot and arms inside that are turned to stir the bean ensuring an even roast.

Upgrading from a popper to another fluid bed usually just buys you some convenience and increased roasting capacity. That being said, I had an iRoast 2 fluid-bed and that lasted at least 2 years. It was still functioning when I upgraded so it probably still works. So it may also be overall cheaper.

IMO, it's more worthwhile to upgrade to a barrel or stirrer type like the Behmor or the iCoffee. They take longer to roast, but you can achieve much better roasts and they have more capacity than fluid-beds.

Edit: Differences between roasters

Just a note between the differences in roasters.

Fluid-beds tend to roast very quickly. 10-15 mins total roast time. But this means that the outside of the bean roasts first and the inside is often lighter. The result is often a bit more acidic or 'bright'. The forced air however, does disperse smoke very quickly and it's a bit cleaner. It still has the capacity to set off your fire alarm.

More traditional designs tend to have longer roast times. I clock about 28 minutes. The slower process gives you a bean that has the same colour inside and out. Anecdotally, I would say most people prefer this. Many of the barrel type also produce a lot of smoke and not suitable for indoor roasting. However, the models I mentioned - the Behmor and the iCoffee - have after burners. This means they actively vent the smoke through a stage that burns up the access smoke and are suitable for indoor roasting.

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