|The Lone Roaster!
This is the SS Stovetop Popcorn Popper we sell, driven by a drill - great design! Here's the details on it from the Lone Roaster himself: Dear George,
"First, a little background. I decided to build a roaster because the Hearthware roasters I used before that (three of them) only lasted about a year or so, and then the fan would give out. I also wanted a roaster that would handle larger batches. So I went online to Sweet Maria's (where else?) and ordered an SS Stovetop Popcorn Popper. I modified the popper and built the drill stand in March and April of 2004, and it's still going strong.
What you see in the pictures...
The top picture is the entire setup in my garage. The popper is sitting on a two-burner electric stove running at 700 watts per burner. The thermometer is a TecPel 316, dual channel, Type-K digital thermometer. It also has an RS-232 serial port that can be used to connect it to my PC. With it, I can not only record and graph my roast profiles, but also the cool-down cycle at the same time. The shiny SS item next to the thermometer is a canning funnel that I picked up at my local Ace Hardware store. It works great for pouring beans into a mill that has a somewhat narrow opening.
I picked up the drill at the local Home Depot (the cheapest variable speed drill they had), and built the stand for it from scraps around my woodshop. The knob below the drill is used to control the speed. I've found that 60-100 rpm works best. For consistently even roasts... the smaller the batch, the higher the rpm.
Although I don't have a picture yet, I took a somewhat different approach to cooling. Instead of putting some kind of basket on top of a fan. I built an enclosed box with a screen for the bottom. And then attached my Shop-Vac to the lid. This not only sucks a LOT of air through the coffee, but also removes virtually all of the chaff without getting it all over the garage. The box will cool the coffee from an indicated temperature of 360-380 degrees (with the temperature probe about 1/2" or less above the hot coffee) to less than 100 degrees in about 1-min, 30-secs to 1-min, 55-secs. (depending on ambient temperature).
I've enjoyed using this roaster immensely. I've roasted batches as small as four ounces and as large as two pounds. Normally, I roast one pound at a time. In our house, this lasts about five days.
In the almost two years that I've been using it, I've only encountered three problems:
1. When I first starting using it, I quickly found that the cast bevel gears were very rough and tended to catch and jam. To fix it, I smoothed the gears using my handy-dandy Dremel tool.
2. Not long after that, the plastic window fell into a batch of coffee in the middle of a roast and shriveled up into a nasty looking ball of plastic with coffee beans and chaff embedded in it. The wooden knob on the lid had a screw in it that also held the plastic window in place. The knob split from the heat and the screw fell out. I fixed it by pop-riveting a piece of thin sheet steel in place over the window opening. After the first few roasts, you couldn't see through the window anyway.
3. Keeping it clean! The pot is easy, but because of the way it's designed, the lid is a pain! Any advice in this area would be greatly appreciated.
It's been quite an adventure and education roasting here in Flagstaff. We're at an altitude of 7,000 feet and the weather can be extreme. Temperatures range from the hundreds in the summer to below zero in the winter. With a 10 to 30 mph wind, you can imagine the wind-chill! Humidity ranges from 100% down to 3%. In a single day, we can get a temperature swing from the 20's up to the 70's. 50 degrees in less than 24 hours. This, of course, has some interesting effects on roasting. Brewing is fun too, since water boils at about 199 degrees here.
Well, that's my story. I have a web site www.loneroaster.com and am in the process of putting up pictures and instructions for building one of these. Feel free to check it out or ask questions. I think anybody who truly enjoys coffee should "roast their own"...
the Lone Roaster