NEVER LEAVE THE ROASTER UNATTENDED!
I don’t want this to end up being a shameless plug or advertisement for any particular roaster, but I am going to share my experience. If you have been following each of my posts, you know that I began home roasting in a popcorn popper. You may recall that before very long I had purchased a Nesco fluid bed roaster and that I now also have a Behmor drum roaster. How and why I got the Behmor is somewhat of a story in and of itself. Let me begin by admonishing you that home roasting does not take a long time (a batch of coffee can be roasted in a hot-air popcorn popper in about eight or nine minutes), but it does require your complete attention during the roast.
I love the information that is provided, I believe, by Sweet Maria’s in describing the progression of roasting coffee and the various levels of roast. Simply stated there are three phases: first crack, second crack, and “fire imminent.” In a popcorn popper “fire imminent” can come quite quickly. As a result all roasters warn you to “NEVER LEAVE THE ROASTER UNATTENDED.” I never left a roaster unattended, but perhaps they should be more specific (or perhaps I should be a bit more prudent).
About ten months after getting my Nesco I was roasting coffee one day. I do not remember why, but I needed – right then – to give my attention to something else that was apparently far more urgent in spite of the fact that I cannot now recall what it was. I asked my son to “mind the store” with regard to my roasting coffee so that I could go do whatever it was that I had to do. As experienced as I had become I apparently assumed anyone could roast coffee. Unfortunately, as life so often goes, in spite of the fact I had never had a problem with the roaster this was the one time it chose to “act up.” Apparently some beans caused the auger to become stuck and my son did not notice. After just a few seconds of not spinning in the roast chamber my beans had gone from first crack, to second crack, to “fire imminent,” and almost to the point of literal fire. My son unplugged the roaster, yelled for me, and I ran, grabbed it, and rushed it outside so the whole house did not burn down.
Once the danger was passed and I stopped kicking myself for having left the roaster myself; depression set in. I realized my roaster was not going to work any longer. I went back to using the popcorn popper for a while, but, as I said, I live in a cold weather climate and winters outside huddled over a popcorn popper did not seem prudent (I didn’t want to be like those who are smokers and who are now – in most states – relegated to going outside in even the most horrific of weather conditions to satiate their habit). So, I undertook to find a new roaster. I had seen the Behmor, I knew that most commercially roasted coffee was drum roasted, and I got my heart set on a drum roaster.
Once I had purchased my Behmor I contacted Burman Coffee Traders – from whom I purchased not only the Behmor, but the Nesco as well – and they suggested I call American Harvest. American Harvest in the manufacturer of the Nesco roaster. I was not sure I saw the point in it since I knew it was my fault, but I remembered something my dad taught me: Son, if you don’t ask, the answer is always No. I called American Harvest and customer service gave me a return authorization to send it in for them to “look at.” I didn’t expect much, but about four weeks later I received a box from West Bend, Wisconsin. When I opened it up I found what I to this day believe to be a brand new (not refurbished) Nesco roaster. Hence, I now have both home roasters (and my popcorn popper).
I cannot, as a result, say enough good things about Burman Coffee Traders and American Harvest. I would recommend, without hesitation, either OR BOTH of these roasters. I do recommend, however, that you “NEVER LEAVE THE ROASTER UNATTENDED!”