Home Coffee Roasting, grinding, etc.


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Mar 9, 2006
South Carolina
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I'm looking to start roasting at home with aspirations of doing more with it. What type of home roaster, grinder, scales and other equipment would you suggest to have a nice setup? I figure I'll put this all in my gargage for ease of use, space, etc. I currently use a VPR Bunn Commercial 2 burner brewer and have access to commercial grade equipment. Thanks for your feedback!

I'm sure this has been asked a dozen times but I'm interested in your feedback.
Hi MRSRoasting,

Starting from zero knowledge and experience I've been home roasting now for about 5 months. I opted to start with the I Roast 2 because of the versatiltiy of the machine with regards to a programmable 5 stage time/temperature roasting profile and memory storage it offers.

There was some trial and error with respect to programming in good roasting profiles but after over a hundred roasts with the machine I've got about 6 programmed profiles that work with just about all the beans I now roast from drip to espresso blending. No problems with the machine so far. I've modified my kitchen vent to accept an exhaust hose from machine to fan so roasting indoors is no problem.

Espresso is my passion now so I'm roasting batches of beans for bases and blending. I'm finding roasting the beans seperately better ensures roasting degrees that suit their character/use so, for one, I have a lot of mason jars and lids. I get spagetti sauce that comes in mason jars so my store of jars is constantly growing. Picking up new mason lids and collars for the jars is a minimal expense. Most hardware stores carry them.

Besides the jars I use a small adjustable kitchen balance scale for roast/blending weighing. It's quite accurate and doesn't need batteries. A canning funnel helps with pouring beans into jars. I use masking tape and a pen to label them.

Logging roasts and blending experiments helps. I've got a big binder dedicated to all things coffee and roasting where all my roasts are logged along with notes on cupping. It's frustrating getting a good roast/blend but not being able to duplicate it.

If you're going to seriously take up espresso a very good grinder is a worthy investment. I have a Rancilio Rocky but if I had to do it all over again I'd have spent a few dollars more and started with a Mini Mazzer. They are exceptional grinders and will follow their owners, from what I've seen, for a life time as a dedicated espresso grinder.

However, if you're going to switch from espresso to drip using the same grinder, the Mazzer, with it's minute stepless adjustability, will drive you crazy so a stepped grinder like a Rocky might be a better fit. That or two grinders: one for drip/decaf, one for espresso.

In any case, quality coffee, especially quality espresso is dependant on the grind so going with a cheap grinder will cause a lot of frustration and regret if you find yourself passionate about coffee and invest in good espresso equipment but can't appreciate your investment because of a poor, inconsistant grind.

As far as coffee brewing, personally I like to have total control. Total control of the water temp, steep time/extraction, grind and roast quality. A french press or a good vacuum brewer is much cheaper than most fancy automatic drips and if you know how to use them will make much, much better coffee. A coffee made from good fresh roast ground evenly and fully saturated by water within an ideal temperature range and extracted over a good period of time will be excellent coffee. For a french press it's water about 25 sec off the boil poured over grounds and stirred for complete saturation and steeped for 3 minutes before plunging. If the coffee is too strong, add heated water to dilute. This will have no affect on the coffee's quality other than dilution to taste.

Unfortunately it's been found that most drip machines do a very poor job delivering ideal variables for excellent coffee extraction. IMHO, if you want it done right, do it yourself. It's no more difficult than steeping tea.

Apart from that, having brushes to brush out the grinder and rags on hand to clean is helpful. If you get into espresso a good solid tamper, coffee scoops, frothing pitcher, frothing thermometer, good espresso cups and cleaning solutions is some of essential equipment.

Roasting and brewing is really a simple and doesn't require much equipment at all other than what's obviously essential. Commercial grade equipment for espresso pulling should make for more consistent high quality shots but for coffee brewing, anything that conscientiously controls the variables will make good coffee. Bunn equipment from what I've read is very good at brewing coffee so apart from a thermal carafe to keep freshly brewed coffee warm rather than letting it sit on a burner to burn, I couldn't think of anything else. Still, if you want to know what you're roast really tastes like grind it well and french press it.
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Home Roasting

I've had my IRoast 2 for about 6 months now and enjoy it. It takes a little time to get the feel for it, outside/inside temperatures, etc. but is fairly painless if you use your 3 senses. I would definently recommend the IRoast2 for someone looking to get into home roasting. It's a good introduction.
Re: Home Roasting

MRSRoasting said:
I've had my IRoast 2 for about 6 months now and enjoy it. It takes a little time to get the feel for it, outside/inside temperatures, etc. but is fairly painless if you use your 3 senses. I would definently recommend the IRoast2 for someone looking to get into home roasting. It's a good introduction.

Right on!

The I Roast 2 is a good roaster. I like the 5 stage roast profile control and the 10 memory storage. It takes a while to get an understanding and feel for how different beans roast but getting good, reasonable sized roasts with the I Roast 2 is pretty easy.

I've had my I Roast 2 for about a year and it hasn't had a problem yet. I was hoping that Hearthenware might have over engineered it to fix the problems with the first I Roast and so far the I Roast 2 is performing solidly and reliably. It's a very good roaster to start with and grow into.
Me, I use a $15 toastmaster hot air popcorn popper from Target and the stopwatch function on my wristwatch. I'm generally through first crack at 4 1/2 - 5 minutes. I stop about 10-15 seconds into second crack for columbian supremo (I use my nose), and dump into a steel pressure cooker with an aluminum plate that just sucks the heat out of the beans. The thing smokes like a demon, so I roast on my back porch.

I don't weigh anything.

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