Roast Development to Second Crack in Popper Coffee Roaster

Thompson demonstrates a Popper roast from start to finish, aiming for a Full City Plus roast with just a bit of Second Crack.

Some people have requested roast profiles for the Popper coffee roaster … or some guidance on how to approach the roast. More specifically, how to roast to get toward Full City+ level, at the onset of 2nd crack. To be honest, Popper, without some modification or tweaks, isn’t great for roasting to full-on French Roast, ie, dark oily coffee! And Popper has a thermal safety cutoff that can interfere with second crack

But a gentle roast curve is a way to minimize this, and also is a better roast profile anyway!  I really like the espresso I get from the approach I show here in this video, where I am narrating a full batch from start to finish

Roasting to second crack in Popper coffee roaster isn’t hard, but as I say in the introduction to the video, it’s the way you approach it that matters. Roasting quickly with high heat will trigger the thermal cut off for sure. Approaching it with more care is not only a much better way to develop nice, sweet roast taste in your coffee, but also will allow for more roast development to darker stages.

My overhead camera got overheated by the roaster 2/3 of the way through. Bah! But I think the gist of it is there…

The details here: 95 grams of 95% wet process Ethiopia, Roasted for a total of 10:30.

The popper is unmodified except for the addition of a thermometer probe. First crack starts at 415 f. Finish roast temperature is 465 f. I’ll show how I modify poppers for my testing and demos in another video / library page!

I use a narrow range of heat adjustment between 12:45 and 1:15 on the heat dial (reading the heat dial as a clock face). Oh, I added the paper cut out to the heat dial to read it better, just tacked on with a glue stick. 

When the overheat cutoff kicks in, I raise the temperature to 2:00 on the heat dial so that, when the heat coil comes back on 30 seconds later it will recover temperature quickly.

Home Coffee Roasters and French Roast Dark Oily Beans

Remember the ’80s and dark oily coffee beans?

Popper is not the first choice for doing that kind of French/Italian roast. Most electric home roasters are not ideal for that kind of thing, actually.

I think people who only want very dark roasts are best served roasting in some manual way over a flame, such as in a barbeque, or stovetop pan or popper.

In some of my test roasters I do reposition the thermal switch to allow for higher roast temperatures, which is really simple to do. It means loosening a screw and shifting the bracket about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch higher on the roast chamber. But I can’t advise it because it voids the warranty to modify the machine, and while not really unsafe (the thermal switch is still wired and functional for safety), it’s possible people can damage wiring or components in some other way if they open up the machine. So, you know … liability.

But roasting super dark all the time is hard on Popper or any roaster. In a pan or a barbeque drum, you’re not going to hurt anything … well maybe your sense of smell from all the roast smoke!

2 Responses

  1. It is so nice to hear thermal cutoff’s mentioned! We have moved after years in an exceptionally drafty house. I have been banned from indoor roasting and had sought a hotplate to use outside with the Whirly-pop stovetop roaster I have used dozens of times indoors on an electric range. I have tried several brands of hotplates and they clearly do not make them like they used to (I’m in my 70’s). I agree they now appear much safer. I have been wondering if there is access to a commercial grade hotplate that might not be limited by a thermal cutoff, but I have been balking at experimenting at their higher price. I do like the control with electricity. Has anyone found a high-temperature hotplate without resorting to an antique shop?

    1. I am sure the hot plates have some sort of thermal cutoff switch too, but i am not sure since I have not disassembled one. I switched to an induction hot plate, and have no trouble getting it hot enough for coffee roasting. (here is one for example at home depot online) The problem is you cannot use cast iron or aluminum type pans. So the Whirley Pop does not work. It has to be a steel that a magnet sticks to. The newer stovetop popper we sell from VKP, stainless steel but with a conductive steel bottom, does work great

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