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Britains Hidden Hobby.

The secret is out. I didnt realise it. Only a few were privvy. It was only by accident I discovered it. Im still reeling from the knowledge. Who would have thought.

More so than America, More so than Europe combined, More so than Australia. The U.K. has a furtive little hobby that no one admits to, certainly does not discuss, and is not mentioned in public. BritishCoffeeScene is going to lift the lid right now.

Home Coffee Roasting. Its a spreading hobby throughout the British Isles. Its true. In talking with Artisan Coffee houses, and doing the sums, I can state that between 35% and 45% of bean sales are the raw green beans!

That means approximately half of all sales from specialist coffee Houses are going to individuals who, in one form or another, roast their own. Yet… there is no mention of it, no discussion, no contact through on line forums, no interchange with the supplier about roasting. The beans are sold, the beans arrive at the solitary destination and then… silence. A little while later, the coffee house gets another innocuous order for some more green beans. Noting that the customer has previously bought green beans, the supplier will include a little information pack with references to online forums that discuss coffee roasting, or offer for the customer to take advantage of advice the coffee house gives freely, and…… nothing.

Britain, what gives? Coffee roasting is a proud and noble art. It contains elements of innovation in equipment making, it requires a modicum of skill to bring all the elements together, and it has the capacity to be turned into a full scale home roasting production utilising computers, logs, thermometers, roast times and bean preferences. Around the world, there a clubs and chat boards and people who have never seen each who exchange information and equipment and test results. In Britain? there is a just a request to purchase green beans on the Coffee House Paypal site or Amazon ordering. It stops there.

Although I have use of a professional Toper roaster, what do I use for small batch testing? I have small home made hot air units. I have air guns. I have Stainless steel bowls and wooden spoons. I have adapted breadmakers. I have popcorn poppers. I have Halogen cookers. I have heavy pans. Ive used a lot of the commercially available home roasters too.

My favourite home roaster is a Russell Hobbs “Breadman” breadmaker. I use it weekly making a kilo of coffee in 18 minutes including pre heat time. This is my own machine with a test lid of 2 nonstick roasting pans cut down to size, with the viewing tempered glass sandwiched between them and pop riveted to hold. I drilled the hole tight for the air gun and later will add another hole for a chaff removal system Ive thought of. I will be making a more professional lid for this once my testing is complete with this prototype. I have a the unit linked to my computer via a thermometer.

So why dont I just spend a couple of thousand pounds or more on a “mini” professional system? First, I dont want to. Second, for less than 60 smackers, with this setup, I have the ability to produce equal if not better roasted coffee than most large scale coffee houses.

If you have a computer, and purchase an inexpensive Victor 86c thermometer..and couple it to an amazing FREE software for Roast logging and charting (No, Im not going to tell you where it is unless you come out of hiding and ask for it!)

Perhaps when you home roasters realise its Ok to come out of the closet, and that what you do is fine and wonderful and that there are some of us out here who want to share and learn from each other, you might join in some discussions and forum groups to further information.









When you finish your Roasting. Your coffee should look like this and taste amazing. You will never settle for less.



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6 thoughts on “Britains Hidden Hobby.

  1. your roasting curve looks great, how do you get such a nice controlled increase in temperature in your set up? i would have thought the heatgun would have shot the temp up to over 200c really quick.

    • Hi Tim
      A heatgun is totally controllable. It will allow you to roast as good as any other system if you know what you are doing.
      You require a heatgun with two settings, low and high. I warm the pan.
      I drop in about 600 grams of beans. (up to 1 kilo and the bake time is slower but still manageable)
      I start off on high heat and drop to low as heat starts to rise.
      I adjust the heat rise by raising the gun and lid to control temperature. If its a hot day, I can have the gun 4 inches above the pan top.
      These days, with knowledge of my setup from roasting weekly, I usually do not use the computer or a profile.
      I usually roast Colombian for the filter machine, and do it this way. Place 600 grams in the heated pan. Watch the heat rise so from 0-8 minutes it gets to 190-200. Then I listen for first crack. I allow first crack to complete. I usually hold at crack temp by on and off the heat for 3 minutes. I then raise the temperature to either just under 2nd crack or allow one or two beans to set off. in any event, I NEVER go above 215 for Colombian for filter. I dump and cool FAST…

  2. hi, thanks for those details, its been really helpful in getting my setup done and ive come come to the same conclusions with the roast time/temps.
    I have found the lid to be essential in holding the high temps near the end of the profile.
    one thing ive wondered is as you are using a lid are you able to stop your roasts at a the precise roast levels like city+ or full city?
    most of the recommended roast levels for a lot of beans seem to fall in those two levels and its a bit difficult to see inside the pan too see the bean colour.

    also as do you get any problems from chaff with no exhaust?

    • Hi Tim
      I roast outside and let the wind take the chaff. Clears 99% of it.

      An example. When I roast Colombian and first crack starts, I hold the temp at the crack starting temperature, ie 204-207C for roughly 3 mins, by raising the lid and dropping the temperature on the gun to low…… You can see the colour of the beans… If I want to take it to just before or ON 2nd crack, I know its going to be @215C. So I reintroduce heat and pull it on the first pop of the second crack or at 215c.
      If Im going darker, the residual heat in the pan will allow me to remove lid and blast heat whilst Im watching the beans… As I see the oil start to form, time to pull for city or take it a touch further to full.
      I have a “new” instant bean cooler now… so can extract beans and cool immediately, this solves over roasting for me.

  3. thanks gary, i think i may try the lid off and blast method sometime, its getting full city without going in to second crack thats hard and slightly nerve wrecking for me when theyre spinning around in the pan.

    on a different note, ive only every used 100grams of beans in my bread machine but i see youre using 600g-1kg of beans in your breadpan! the beans must be piled centimeters deep arent they? it looks like its working for you and roasting ok but i had always assumed the layer of beans needed to be quite shallow for good air circulation, no tip burning and an even roast.
    ive got a secondary bread machine whose pan i had considered to be too small being only about 10cm square but now im reconsidering.

    also have you ever tried and compared a shorter roast?
    i had seen professional roast profile where fc is reached at about 7 min so thats what ive always aimed for, typically getting there about 8-9.30min and finishing at about 11min. i also read somewhere that its recommended it all to take less than 12 min in total.

    • 100 grams is, in my opinion, unmanageable. There is heat build up in the pan with 600 grams, just like in a professional roaster. the blade moves everything around…… just put a few cooked berries in a basket of green and you will see it goes top to bottom.
      i have also done all this by hand in a stainelss steel pan as well and got great results stirring and holding a heat gun.
      12 minutes is a good time for roasting with a 3 minute delay between 1st and second.

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