Roasting coffee in a castiron pan

I first read that as “castration pan”.

The thoughts that ran through my head in quick succession were

  1. A what now?
  2. Seriously, the hell is that? How would that even?
  3. Dude. I live in Melbourne, the coffee-wankery capital of the world, and even I think that’s a bit too hardcore.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go down to the corner to pick up my third coffee of the day for lunch.

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This is one of those things (like making your own pasta) that takes a lot of time/effort (any maybe equipment) when you can already probably buy something comparable (i.e., artisan) for a reasonable price.

Depending on what you pay for beans and how much coffee you drink you can actually save money over time if you roast your own. The key is to buy green beans in bulk.

Having said that, this is more work than what I do. I use what looks like a modified toaster oven (Behmor 1500 or 1600). It does most of the work, but I monitor it carefully; roasting coffee is a fire hazard, and you essentially tell where you are in the roast by listening for the first and/or second crack. This is particularly important with a new batch of beans. I think it’s dying now; I’m not sure what I’ll replace it with.

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It’s great if you like dark, medium and light roast.

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Check you local thrift store or Value Village (sorry, not sure what the none-Canadian version is… they take donations from the public, resell in their nice stores, give some of their profit to charity), etc. My wife, a frequenter of all these things sez you can always find them used for ~C$5. She got me a simple West Bend popper and it does a wonderful job on roasting coffee. Makes the house smell like roasted coffee, too.

Don’t plan on using it for both coffee and popcorn, unless you like your popcorn coffee flavoured. Which I don’t.

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Around 20 years ago one of the oldest family coffee roasters in the country, Gillies, was hit with EPA fines because of odor complaints from new neighbors. The neighborhood of Brooklyn where they were located had been home to coffee roasters (like Chock Full O’Nuts) for quite a long time, but gentrification brought the kind of people who think that coffee roasts itself.

I no longer roast my own coffee, mainly because I have limited access to beans,but also because I am not as good at it as the people from whom I buy roasted beans. However, there is something special about drinking coffee from beans you’ve just roasted yourself.

That said, I know an excellent coffee roaster in Port Melbourne, and if it wasn’t an ocean and customs border away I would probably be buying from him.

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SInce there seem to be a bunch of coffee roasters that have commented here, I need to ask the hive mind: I’d like to give this a go. Where can I find green beans, especially if I don’t want Bezos to get a cut? Maybe on the eastern US coast (I’m in Baltimore)?

Having roasted (almost) all of my own coffee for the last 5-6 years, I agree that freshly-roasted coffee is a step above most premium commercial brands (not necessarily compared to small commercial roasters). I’m not 100% sure it saves money, but I think the taste improvement is worthwhile.

I also have a Behmor 1600. I’ve had that one for about a year and it’s great that it will take a pound of beans at a time. Prior to that I was using a FreshRoast (think an air-popper with temperature and fan controls and a chaff basket). I like the capacity of the Behmor, but it was easier to adjust the roast with the FreshRoast.

I think the primary advantages of a purpose-built roaster over improvised solutions is consistency and chaff control. The FreshRoast, comes in at about $200 I think. That’s not cheap but as kitchen gadgets go it’s not ridiculous either. If coffee is your thing, there are many toys that will consume more of your money.

If you have a good range-hood, you can roast indoors. I suspect pan-roasting will produce more smoke than other methods because you have coffee oils directly in contact with the hot pan. That’s not really the case with air poppers and air roasters.

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I can never understand why people want to roast their own coffee. Given the need for coffee to degas after roasting for something like 4-7 days, and given the absolute absence of temperature control unless you own an industrial roasting machine, what are you hoping to achieve that going to your nearest specialty coffee roaster won’t give you? And ffs, just look how extremely unevenly roasted that stuff in the video is. You’d never get a good brew out of something that unevenly roasted, as you’d inevitably end up with some parts under- and overextracted in every cup.

I grow my own coffee and do a unique ferment/wash method before drying in-carapace for 3-4 months

I’ve roasted in the oven, on the stove top, in a toaster oven and in an actual bona-fide coffee roaster. The roaster beats all. The tumbling action makes the roast uniform.

I use an inherited Behmor 1600, I had to hack the panel a bit to make it work when a cooling fan but despite nearly falling apart it does it’s duty for coffee and calabasa (pumpkin) seeds .

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Torrefacción Mayor, Highest Quality Coffee in Puerto Rico

The man and his son run the shop in Ponce, the farm is on the highest peak on the island.

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They show up in thrift stores all the time, generally for < $10. There are plenty of web pages detailing how to do this. You can make it as easy or fancy as you want. I removed everything (heating element, control board, etc). Luckily the one I had the geared motor works directly off of 120v AC, so I soldered the cord directly to the motor. I have an old license plate (painted side up, though I haven’t had any issues with the paint burning) bent over the top of the pan, with a hole drilled in the center the size of the heat gun’s nozzle. It covers all of one side, and leaves the other side open, blowing the chaff out of the pan. At some point, I want to get a thermocouple to log temperatures (just drill the correct size hole in the pan at mid-bean height, attach with some high-temp silicone).

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Sweet Maria’s is my first stop. They also have guides on how to roast on their website. They often have farm-gate purchases (or collectives), which pays the farmers directly instead of loosing money to many middle-men and getting the farmers a very low wage. They detail it on each bean selection.

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it’s a fun learning project. it definitely made me understand the roasting process and appreciate a good roast when i come across it.

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Well, sure, but that’s a one-time thing (unless you’re willing to expend the time and effort to actually get to a passable level of skill and equipment). And it’s something you do explicitly expecting poor results and accepting that as par for the course - like most DIY attempts at complex practices typically requiring specialized tools. This article, and much of the discussion above, seems to start from an expectation of a good outcome being a reasonable expectation and that doing this (even or especially in a cast iron pan) can somehow produce actually good coffee. That is extremely unlikely. There’s a significant disconnect between reality and the ideas circulated here. Most mass market (or almost all non-specialty, really) coffee is crap, is roasted too hard and blended to produce a uniformly bland flavor profile (what most people think coffee tastes like) typically through the roast overpowering or burning off the specific flavours of each batch of coffee, with the blending then rounding it all out - but also losing the freshness, fruity and floral notes that good, moderately roasted coffee has. IMO, even reaching that ‘industrial bland’ level of results is unlikely for a home roaster - you don’t have the scale to blend hundreds of batches of coffee, after all, so any warts in your particular batch at your particular roast level will be very tangible. And if your roast is then poorly controlled and uneven, those warts will be exacerbated and feature even more prominently in the end result. So I can absolutely understand wanting to try this as an experiment with the coffee essentially being sacrificed to the purpose of trying out the process, but expecting a drinkable result? Nah.

Saw that earlier post too. Going to give them a shot. Their website seems pretty helpful. Thanks!

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That’s a great idea! We’ve got Value Villages here, but more importantly, I live in a retirement town. Our thrift shop is incredible. Although on the day they release new items there’s a line up around the block and the shopping is pretty much a full contact sport. Those old ladies like their deals and are willing to fight for them.

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Find an Ethiopian or Eritrean grocery – not sure about B’more, but there are plenty around DC (e.g. Adarash near US 29 & Briggs-Chaney; another in White Oak – at least those are on the way to/from B’more; also some good takeout). I think green coffee beans are $5 or $6 per lb.

Pretty sure that I’ve also seen them at MOM’s.

I didn’t know that, but in the aforementioned Ethiopian coffee ceremony, the roasted beans go from roasting right into grinding, and then into the pot. I’d guess it’s the same for Arabic (if not Turkish?) coffee.

I bought a “Dash” brand air popper, about $20 from Target (thought it was one of their house brands, maybe not) and it’s too powerful, I guess – all it did was blow the beans right out of the spout. (Got a refund for it, didn’t try it with popcorn – we have a microwave popper for that)

The pan-roasted coffee doesn’t turn out badly (for me) just uneven. The other thing is, having read about acrylamides a while back, I have to assume I’m breathing that right in while I stand over the stove (and those beans need constant stirring).

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It’s like cooking. Sure, I can always pay someone more skilled than I for an excellent dinner. Does that make it so that I don’t ever cook at home? Or take pride in turning out something delicious? Can I get the best roast with consistency at home? No, but it’s a damn sight better than 95% of what I can buy at the grocery store and 75% of coffee shops. Maybe it’s different in big cities, but it seems like roasteries here in small-town use college labor without much training or experience.

Yes, you can roast in a cast iron. It would be like cooking over a campfire. Little control over temperatures and evenness. It wouldn’t be my first choice. The popcorn popper is still un-ideal as you only really have timing as a control, but it does a pretty good job of evenness (constant swirling in the chamber). It’s pretty easy to mod for heat & air controls though. Small batch size is the big downfall. I’ve put in ~$50 into gear ($5 for a popcorn popper, $20 for a bread machine, $25 for a heat gun) + ~2 hours of “modding” the equipment. Not to bad for startup costs for a hobby.

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Most of the sources I’ve read suggest degassing the beans for a few hours before use , not many days. Yes, the beans will continue to degas over time (hence the neat little valve on many packages), but I think the first few hours are the most important

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