Britains Hidden Hobby.
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.