Feb. 1, 2016
For years, the WhirleyPop has been a popular item here at Sweet Maria's. Using one is an affordable and an easy way to get into coffee roasting. We think it requires a little more attention compared to it's electric sibling (the hot air popper) but once you get the hang of it, using it is one of the best DIY roasting methods.
After carrying the aluminum version with plastic gears for many years, WhirleyPop's manufacturer introduced a stainless steel model and we were excited because metal is always better than plastic, right? Well, we found the steel pan was great, but the metal gears didn't work as well as the plastic ones. The metal gears would sometimes jam and require some adjusting for them to work properly. Most of the time, they worked fine but if you have ever roasted with a stovetop roaster, you know that a jam means losing your batch to scalding and burning.
We still carry the aluminum model and are always impressed with it's plastic gears. We are still surprised that they have never turned into melted globs over all that heat. Over the years we have been aware of WhirleyPop users replacing their entire aluminum poppers (pan, lid, gears and all) when their pans got beat up after too many uses.
That's why we decided to carry the stainless steel pan a la carte. It's noticeably heavier, thicker and it works on induction cooktops. Replacing the the lid is a literal snap...it just snaps on. If you are into stovetop roasting this could be one of the simplest modifications you can do but keep in mind that steel maintains it's temperature a lot longer than aluminum so pre-heating takes longer and it will retain a lot of heat after you remove it from the burner.
We suggest buying a stainless steel pan as a replacement when your aluminum pan is ready to retire. If you are just getting started, we recommend starting off with with the basic, aluminum Whirley and moving up to the stainless steel pan once you know that stovetop roasting is your thing.