This week I received an email from Michael Singer, who wanted to share his experience roasting coffee using the West Bend Stir Crazy Popcorn Popper. I was unfamiliar with this model and thought having a roasting tutorial on this model would be good for INeedCoffee.
Then Michael told with me how long his roast took. He said 60 minutes. Slow roasted coffee just took on a new meaning.
I’ve been home roasting since 1998 and I’ve never heard of anything close to a 60 minute roast. My experience tells me that if you can’t get to 2nd crack by 20 minutes (at the very latest), the coffee will be flat and tasteless. I asked Michael if the coffee was even drinkable. Here was his response.
Believe it or not the taste is not flat. There is still enough caramelized sugar in the beans to give it some body. Mind you it is far less quality than if the beans were roasted properly in a commercial or higher end roaster. “Go figure” Like I said the only thing I can think is the factor that causes such a long roast time is the fact that the surrounding air is cool and the beans are only getting roasting heat from just below. In an oven method the oven air would be hotter than the pop corn stir method. Even an on the top of the stove pop corn popper with stir method would be hotter because the unit has top on it and keeps the heat in. Because the beans in the West Bend Pop Corn Popper are only getting direct heat from the hot surface in contact with the bean, so I think the roast time is tripled. I know this sounds crazy, but I can’t come up with any other thoughts or reasons why? This speculation I am coming up with is logical and sounds accurate. It is a mystery to say the least. Anyway if you do put together a post for your site, I think readers will get a kick out of it regardless. This method may be for those who have a lot of time on their hands.
To say this is unchartered territory is an understatement. Below is a time line of the actual roast.
The bean being roasted was a Sumatra Decaf. When did the 1st and 2nd crack arrive? You won’t believe this. According to Michael:
I did hear what I thought was the 1st crack at 42 min into the roast. I started to hear an audible second crack at about 55 min into the roast and by the end of the roast it just started to smoke slightly.
UPDATE: It appears Michael has solved the slow roast mystery.
Yesterday I roasted a batch of Colombian Decaf in the crazy stir. But this time I did not stir it with a wooden spatula. I left the dome lid on and let the stir arms on the popcorn popper do all the work. To my amazement the roast completed in 20 min. 1st crack was after 10 min and second crack was at 19 min. The coffee came out fine. Not the best flavor in the world but it is much faster if you leave the dome on as more heat builds up inside the covering.
Of course. The roasting temperature inside the popper was dropped everytime he stirred. The solution was not to stir. The lesson is don’t go stir crazy if you plan to roast coffee in a Stir Crazy!
West Bend 82306X Stir Crazy 6-Quart Electric Popcorn Popper – Product page on Amazon.com.
Photo Gallery – Full photo gallery for the Longest Roast Ever?
In 2007, Michael moved to America's coffee capitol Seattle, Washington. He has visited close to two hundred different coffee places in Seattle, Portland and Vancouver and met many of the top roasters and baristas in the country. Since 2009, Michael has been the Organizer of the Coffee Club of Seattle, which is a Meetup group of over 600 coffee enthusiasts. Besides the social aspect of the group, the Coffee Club of Seattle partners with local coffee professionals for educational events such as coffee cuppings, brewing demonstrations and roasting tours.
Unrelated to coffee, Michael has a personal blog at CriticalMAS.com which covers several topics including fitness, cooking and economics.