Roasting Small Batches of Green Coffee in Popper Coffee Roaster

Whether you’re roasting tail ends of a coffee bag, or green coffee samples for cupping, tiny batches are totally possible in Popper.

“Roasting small batches of coffee in the Popper” may sound like an oxymoron, seeing that Popper’s 100 gram maximum batch size is small to to begin with. But I often find myself with really small amounts of green at the end of a bag, and it’s impossible to roast them well using the standard roast settings we’ve outlined in other posts that’s based on a 100 gram batch size.

You may also be using Popper at your coffee shop or roastery to evaluate green coffee samples from farms and importers. If that’s the case, getting a handle on roasting 50 grams comes in handy when you need a couple cracks at a coffee but only have a limited amount of green to work with.

The main issue I’ve had with roasting <70 grams is that my roast takes off very fast from the outset, and continues to cruise right on through 1st Crack. To keep this from happening, you need to take a gentler approach up front, starting off with a lower heat setting, gradually increasing the Heat Dial settings to to the finish.

A video demonstration of roasting 50 grams of coffee for the more visually-oriented learners.

Roasting small batches of coffee in Popper is a Coffee Roaster

Our approach to roasting 50 gram batches in three easy steps:

  • Start the roast off at a low heat dial setting of around 12.1 for the first two minutes of your roast, and high fan setting. You should absolutely adhere one of the paper dial guides that came with your roaster so that you can pinpoint these positions with some degree of accuracy! (or print a new one here).
  • Increase the heat to 12.4 at the 2 minute mark (8:00 displayed on the timer…remember, the it’s counting DOWN!). Your roast chamber temperature will be around 320 F at this point, and won’t get much hotter without increasing the heat input. 12.4 should cause the rate of temperature rise to increase to a steady clip, climbing to about 350-375 F, where it will then start to plateau.
  • Increase the heat one last time to 1.1 on the dial guide at 4 minutes into your roast. I usually hit 1st Crack around 5-6 minutes into the roast (5:00 – 4:00 on the LED timer respectively), and am able to let it roll to my desired end point without having to pull back on heat in order to avoid the over-temp safety feature.

The biggest difference I noticed between roasting small and large batches is your ability to create a holding pattern once you’ve made the final Heat Dial adjustment to 1.1. With 50 grams, the rate that the hot air temperature increases slows down at around 415 F. In my experience, I don’t need to pull back on my heat settings to avoid hitting the over-temp safety feature that kicks in between 435 to 445 F, and causes your roaster to enter an involuntary cooling cycle. That’s not the case with 100 grams of coffee, and I find myself having to modulate the Heat Dial settings after the onset of 1st Crack in order to keep the roast chamber at a safe temperature.

Snapping on the Popper top cover, preparing to roast a batch of coffee.
Snapping on the Popper top cover, preparing to roast a batch of coffee (my Quest M3s gets an honorable mention!).

I think the main reason for this lies in how the air flow is interrupted by bean mass. 50 grams of coffee is fairly buoyant in the cyclonic air stream, and that extra movement, plus smaller bean mass, allows the air to flow through the coffee more freely. The denser bean mass from 100 grams of coffee traps the hot air to some degree, causing the temperature in the roast chamber to increase, especially after the beans become exothermic.

In no way are we recommending you switch to 50 gram batches. That will only make your roasting regimen twice as long! But if you do find yourself wanting to roast a smaller batch, the baseline provided here should get you well on your way to a nice, gentle roast curve.

More information on Popper is a Coffee Roaster:

Here’s our Popper FAQ on the in’s and out’s, do’s and don’ts, and all that’s in-between

Or peruse the Popper info page, where you’ll find links to all our Popper-related material!

4 Responses

  1. Hi, I just received my 27lbs of green coffee . thank you. I used to roast it in a pan with not much control of the roast so I followed your advice and bought a west bend popper. I just tried it and….not the best results. You can only roast 1 cup at a time. it gets so hot that it is almost impossible to stir. no control on the roast, unless you time it blindly. the noise of the device is enough to mask the cracking of the grain. And incidentally the smoke detector went off! Lastly the mess of the peels all over the kitchen….I was roasting the Yemen one, the most expensive. hopefully I didnt ruin it Next time I’ll stick to my old pan-method. I still love your products. Thank you

    1. Yes, sounds like you had your method down in the pan … plus you can roast larger batches on the stovetop so that’s a big plus. I like the poppers for roasting personally but it is a whole different beast for sure…

  2. I personally find nothing wrong with doing it in the oven even if there’s a learning curve. I’m not going to say how I do it because every oven is different. I started at 420 but it was taking too long. At 450 now it takes 17 minutes to get to City.

    1. Hey Christophe, agreed. If your method isn’t broke, don’t fix it! I started roasting in my oven as well, buying green beans from the warehouse who sold them down the street (Sweet Maria’s). After getting a job at said warehouse, I started trying the different roasting machines that were available for testing and slowly moved away from that method. But there are certainly pluses to roasting coffee in an oven, volume being one of them.

      Tom had a bit of a ‘rediscovery’ of oven roasting after picking up an air fryer a couple years back, and documented that journey, along with including helpful roasting tips, in this blog post.

      Thanks for the comment and happy roasting!

      Dan

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