Stovetop Popper Roasting Video – Full Pound Batch of Coffee

A full length roasting demonstration video using the VKP stovetop popcorn popper to roast a pound of green coffee.

Roasting in a hand-cranking stovetop popcorn popper is still very popular for quite a few reasons. It’s a fairly inexpensive way to start roasting your own coffee at home, it can roast a full pound batch of coffee, and you can roast darker than other methods, if that’s your thing. It’s also a decidedly low-tech, hands-on, sensory experience … no tech needed really.

Thompson roasts a full pound of Burundi at home on a gas range, talking though the process and offering some pointers and other insights. This is a split screen video to show the roast on the stove better – not super attractive but it helps get the information across. This is the VKP Stovetop Popcorn Popper in the video, which can work on inductive electric burners too! It’s advised to have a thermometer to check the warmup temperature before adding coffee, to prevent scorching.

Roasting Coffee in a Stovetop Popcorn Popper: One Pound Batch

There are various brands of these stove top popcorn poppers available. We used to offer the all-aluminum Whirley Pop but we prefer the one we currently sell, the VKP (aka Victorio) Stovetop Popper. It’s a durable build, and can even work with an induction burner, as well as traditional electric or gas stove tops. Since stove top roasting produces smoke, some like to buy a small semi-portable burner and take their roaster outside.

Download our printable Stovetop Popcorn Popper Tip Sheet:

Benefits of Stovetop Popper roasting:

  • You can roast more in one batch than air roasters and some expensive drum roasters! 8 oz to 1 pound batches are possible. This means you can probably roast enough for a week in one sitting with 1 or 2 batches.
  • You can get good roast results through the entire range, from City roasts to dark French roasts. Lighter roasts are a bit more difficult with this method, but all levels can be done well with a proper technique.
  • If you like doing things the “olde tyme way”, you may enjoy this! There are no electronics to break. Completely Y1k compatible.
  • It’s fairly quiet and with experience you should be able to hear the first crack and second crack easily.
  • You can have total control over the length of the roast, getting more of a “drum roast” profile, which some people prefer for espresso.
  • You can go nuts and modify/customize the process endlessly. People have added spit motors or electric screwdrivers to power the agitator, bolted the roaster to camp stoves so it doesn’t move around on them, installed thermometers of all sorts…

Problems with Stovetop Popper roasting:

  • Stovetop roasting produces a lot of smoke, mainly because you are roasting more coffee in each batch. You must have a hood over your stove that actually goes to the outside, or roast outdoors on a camp stove … or maybe you really like smoke..
  • This method requires some skill – you need to set the heat source so you don’t roast too fast and scorch coffee, or too slow and bake it.
  • You need to be patient … to roast coffee well the process takes 8 to 15 minutes, and you need to stand there and slowly crank the roaster the whole time. Sometimes the popper doesn’t crank easily and you need to overcome that …
  • … Stovetop poppers might require some adjustments and occasional repairs to keep working right. You are on your own, since you are using it for an unintended purpose you can’t expect a warranty to cover you. Poppers are for DIY people (do-it-yourself). You may need to fix gears, replace rivets with screws, modify the stirring paddle, etc.
  • Some coffees don’t get along with stovetop roasters and tend to jam them up … namely the Yemeni coffees and other small-bean types. Peaberry coffees roast especially well because they “roll” in the popper.
  • VKP Popper jamming once it is heated up? The agitator tip assembly is supposed to have 1/4” free play on the shaft. See the instructions that came with the VKP Popper. You received a small hex head wrench, so just loosen the tiny bolt and adjust the free play. VKP Agitator not turning? The same little bolt might have come loose from the shaft. Use that hex head wrench and tighten it!

Stovetop roasting takes some practice. There are more variables than other methods since you set the heat and provide the agitation. But the results can be outstanding and the 8 oz batch is nice. It sometimes seems like a 3-handed act: before you start, try a dry-run by adding green coffee without any heat, and agitate it. In the course of the roast, agitation gets easier as the coffee loses weight and expands.

See the article below if you have any issues with the stirrer in the VKP StovePop:

8 Responses

  1. First day with VKP popper on a induction plate. Trying for a dark french roast type.
    Used Maria’s New Espresso blend .I can set exact temps ( up to 450 F ), But I feel like I’m flying blindly. Started at 200F for 8 mins ,275F for 6 mins, 350F for 3 mins & 450 for 5 mins for a total of 22 min Roast . Just guessing here.Any thoughts,comments or suggestions ?


    1. It sounds ok but a bit slow for a total roast time. I think you are referring to the temp you set on the induction plate. For me its important to know the temp of the popper on the bottom – that’s why I use the IR thermometer. 350 to 400 F is a good starting point

  2. Just want to say I started with a whirly pop and after the first few roasts it was modified with a drill motor and a hose clamp on the trigger (Still have as backup ) Works great !!!
    from there I built a Drum roaster on Gas grill which i did use as backup a couple weeks ago when my Aillio skipped a beat ( Thanks Julio ) All Good now .
    And Thanks Sweet Maria’s for being a great customer service

  3. Love your style of roasting! It matches mine. I would love to take the Development job you have posted right now if weren’t 1200 miles away and in a corporate job for 6-8 more years. I’ll just have to continue to support you by buying coffee beans for my home roaster.

  4. Informative video for me as I have never done roasting and looking to start.
    Would it help to put the bake sheet in a freezer then when ready to cool pull it out and place the beans on it ?

    1. Doing so would get your coffee beans down to room temp a tad bit quicker but maybe not to a point where you could taste the difference.

  5. I started out roasting 5 years ago with a Whirly-pop on a camp stove outside. Last fall I bought a Behmor thinking I could roast inside during our long cold winters, but actually had to vent out a window anyway. Today was a nice spring day and I set up the Whirly-pop again. I really prefer the close control I have with the small batch process. I have a downdraft fan with a 3/16″ mesh hardware cloth screen to pour the beans onto, which cools a ½ lb batch in a minute or two.

    1. Hey Daniel, thanks for the comment! While I love the Behmor, the ‘afterburner’ leaves something to be desired. Lol. I wouldn’t put away that fan anytime soon.

      Glad to hear the Whirly Pop worked out for you too. One of the simplest, low-cost coffee roaster, that also boasts an impressive batch size. You can learn so much on those machines too since you have such great visual access to the coffee.

      Happy roasting!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.