My roaster: the Deathstar

Roasting - after I dropped the Deathstar

And then one day, silly me dropped the Deathstar. Aaaaaaaaargh! Georgie was most distressed at my swearing. I was distressed because I'd bent the sphere out of shape and snapped off the handle. And it's a fairly solid bit of metal.

Google, Sweetmarias, Hearthware, and Espresso Italia Ltd to the Rescue

Irritated, sad, and with coffee supplies running short, I was thinking of visiting my brother-in-law to beg a bit of welding and hammering. As part of the procrastination stage that accompanies anything that I decide to do, I searched on Google. I revisited Sweet Marias website. Now if you are at all interested in coffee roasting, this by the way is a must visit site. Noting that Hearthware had manufactured its i-Roast 2 hot air roaster, I idly searched Google in New Zealand (when purchasing electrical items, always ensure that the power supply is legal in and compatible with the jurisdiction in which one lives). And I found Espresso Italia Ltd. A mere $500 later, I owned the i-Roast 2

Official portrait of the i-Roast 2

A New Roasting Process

Compared to the old process, the hot air one is much more controlled. And the results are much more consistent.

Firstly, the roasting cycle. The i-Roast 2 allows you to programme in a number of roasting stages by setting temperatures and times. Hearthware's two preset cycles have three stages each.

Preset One Temperature Minutes
Stage 1 385F 3:00
Stage 2 425F 4:00
Stage 3 455F 2:00
Preset Two Temperature Minutes
Stage 1 455F 6:00
Stage 2 400F 4:00
Stage 3 435F 1:30

Since I prefer lighter coffee, and also prefer to roast 100 grams of coffee each time, rather than the 150 grams that the i-Roast 2 can do, I've calculated out the percentage of time each stage uses in the preset cycles, and converted the temperatures to celsius (for some obscure reason, the i-Roast 2 manual provides the temperatures in fahrenheit only even while acknowledging that the machines available outside the United States of America need to be programmed in celsius) and away I go. I then experimented with a seven munute cycle which has a first stage of 2 minutes 20 seconds at 170 degrees celsius, a second stage of 3 minutes 5 seconds at 200 degrees celsius, and a third stage of 1 minute 35 seconds at 230 degrees celsius.

My 2008 standard Temperature Minutes
Stage 1 170C 2:20
Stage 2 200C 3:05
Stage 3 230C 1:35

I've being reading more lately about roasting and am currently working with some 5 stage cycles, aiming for a 100 grams roast of 7 minutes before cooling that finishes with the second crack(le). I'm also trying to slightly stretch the gap between the first and second crack(le) as opinion seems to suggest that this gives a fuller flavour.

. .
A five stage roast Temperature Minutes
Stage 1 170C 0:45
Stage 2 190C 1:00
Stage 3 200C 2:15
Stage 4 216C 2:00
Stage 5 230C 1:00

One interesting factor in the hot air roasting process is the link between the degree of roast and the amount of chaff. The more chaff collected, the less airflow, the hotter the temperatures, and the darker the roast. The ambient temperature also has an effect on the process. It has become a lot more important to keep a roasting log or journal, recording which settings I've used, the ambient temperature, the quantity and type of bean, the finished colour and the amount of chaff along with a variety of other observations and comments. The one drawback is that I cannot do a number of sequential roasts. Hearthware recommend allowing at least 2 hours between roasts for the i-Roast 2 to adequately cool. Then again, the process is nowhere near as fiddly as it was before. And the consistency of the roast is superb.