Peet's Coffee & Tea


A random conversation about homeroasting

Today I ended up in a fun coffee conversation. Someone I’ve known for several years, after someone referenced a local Starbucks, randomly mentioned that he was looking for an old-time popcorn air popper, but said he couldn’t remember the name. I said, matter of fact, “A West Bend Poppery II?” He said, “No, not the newer ones — the old ones with higher wattage.” I said, again, “Yeah, the West Bend Poppery II.”

He seemed confused, so I got straight to the point, “Did you realize I roast my own coffee?”

“No!” he said. And this started a whole homeroasting conversation.

Anytime you hear someone looking for an old popcorn air pooper, you can assume they’re looking for one so they can try homeroasting their own coffee. The West Bend Poppery II is the air popper of choice for this due to its high wattage. You can find them on eBay, and I’ve actually bought two of them but haven’t used them yet. They’re currently sitting in boxes in my workshop, and this friend actually offered to buy one. But my plan is — when I get around to it — to do some of the modifications you can find online to customize the popper so you can have more control over the fan and heater during the roasting process. I bought two so I can have an extra if I screw up the first one.

Our air popper conversation allowed me to make my case for using a drum roaster instead of an air popper. Air poppers have limited capacity and capture the high notes of coffee beans well but miss some of the lower, richer notes. A drum roaster — like the roasting drum I use on my gas grill rotisserie or the new Behmor drum roaster I have in my workshop but haven’t used yet — has more capacity and really does a great job of roasting coffee beans to a full, well-rounded flavor. The Behmor can roast up to one pound, and a gas grill rotisserie can get scary big, roasting several pounds at once. The conversation led to my pulling up as we talked about the iRoast and the Behmor and compared the two.

Ultimately, I got to share that when my friend Paul first threw out the idea that I might like roasting my own coffee, I laughed and told him I had no time for such things. From that day until now, I’ve discovered that the hobbyist and foodie in me loves homeroasting, its flavors, and its nuances. I talked about how coffee, in the week or two after it is roasted, changes flavor daily like ripening fruit, and how I so enjoy roasting coffee to my personal tastes instead of just buying what someone else thinks I want to drink or whatever roast is popular at the moment.

I just find it fun to be able to decode someone’s language when they are considering roasting their own coffee. Homeroasting coffee is a quiet thing that many people do and that more are researching, and I enjoy serving as a resource about homeroasting.