IKAWA Kickstarter

There’s a new product out there for home-roasting coffee. A British company, IKAWA, has launched a Kickstarter for their home-roaster. Their product appears to be an expensive(?) improvement to the typical Air-Popping Popcorn makers.

12. May 2015 by Nate
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Coffee As a Tobacco Alternative

Here’s a new one for me. There’s a company out there marketing “packets of coffee grounds” as a tobacco alternative:

“Originally designed as a healthy tobacco alternative for professional baseball, Grinds is great for anyone looking to either kick their tobacco habit or simply find a convenient, healthy way to gain a boost of energy. … With Grinds, you simply pop a pouch or two for a quick pick-me-up without having to worry about feeling wired all day and night.” — GetGrinds.com

Sounds like a great gift for your smokeless-tobacco-loving-relatives this holiday season.

08. November 2014 by Nate
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A Myth of Gesha

I’ve been hearing more and more about Gesha but have yet to taste any. This is an interesting introduction:

“The fascinating thing about Gesha is the extent to which the end cup reflects the varietal of coffee itself. … A well-produced Gesha is clean, juicy, sweet, and intensely aromatic. In general, the Gesha tends to make for an excellent cup of coffee, and many enthusiasts consider it the king of coffee varietals (to-date, at least).”


27. June 2014 by Nate
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Astronauts get Coffee Maker on International Space Station

“The ‘ISSpresso,’ a capsule-based espresso machine, will enable astronauts to brew the hot caffeinated beverage as an alternative to the instant coffee that has been their only option aboard the space station for the past 13 years.”


17. June 2014 by Nate
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Lido 2 Coffee Grinder

NPR ran a great story about a Mom & Pop outfit from Idaho designing a great manual coffee grinder, the “Lido 2”.

“The grinder is the unsung hero of the coffee process.”

It’s worth a read and maybe even an order, if you can figure out how via their website.



31. March 2014 by Nate
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Kenya Nyeri AA Gatomboya

This week I’m enjoying some “Kenya Nyeri AA Gatomboya” from Sweet Marias.



03. June 2013 by Nate
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El Salvador Finca Siberia Bourbon

I recently acquired a small bag of “El Salvador Finca Siberia Bourbon” (originally purchased from Sweet Marias). It was an interesting roast with a lot of chaff before first crack and what seemed like a long time to reach second-crack.

I took the liberty of trying a couple of different roast levels and think it tastes best after letting it “rest” for at least two days after roasting.


25. May 2013 by Nate
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A Tale of Two Roasters

In my never-ending quest to find the best [cheap] coffee roasting technology, I took some time to study the coffee-roasting performance of two slightly modified “air-popping” popcorn poppers.


The two models I used were: West Bend Air Crazy and a Presto PopLite.

Both of these models feature “safety” circuits that keep the poppers from getting overheated. Since coffee roasting requires sustained temperatures of approximately 400°F, it was necessary to perform some minor modifications to their internal circuitry for use in coffee roasting.  Disabling the circuits facilitates great coffee roasting… but can lead to some problems when you try to dark-roast coffee. — The modifications were relatively simple for both of these roasters and detailed instructions on how to perform these modifications will be posted soon.

Ignoring the challenges of modifying these off-the-shelf products, these two models also have a major design difference. The West Bend Air Crazy was designed to feature a circular airflow and the Presto PopLite’s airflow is directed upward.


These differing airflows are what encouraged me to explore roasting with the West Bend Air Crazy. The majority of my coffee-roasting experience has been with a Presto PopLite and while I have been generally happy with it, it is worth an investigation since a circular airflow should be a great gain in the coffee roasting experience. — One of the major problems I have with the Presto PopLite is I am often having to stir the beans throughout the roasting process as the vertical airflow isn’t strong enough to thoroughly circulate the beans. The West Bend Air Crazy‘s circular airflow promises great feature; auto-stirring the beans! Since auto-stirring means less work for me, I was naturally intrigued.

Now that I have both poppers roasters modified, I thought it would be interesting to compare the experience. I roasted an identical volume of Peru High Grown beans with the two roasters starting from “cold” states.

Quick Disclaimer: There will obviously be manufacturing variations for both of these products. My results may not be consistent with the poppers you acquire.

Brand Time to Start of First Crack (minutes) Time to Start of Second Crack (minutes)
Presto PopLite 2:04 3:30
West Bend Air Crazy 3:20 6:40

In the future, I would really like to study the heating profiles of these two poppers roasters but in the meantime, I am sad to report that I expect to continue using the Presto PopLite for most of my roasting. I do not trust either popper to roast unattended and I currently consider the time-to-roast a more important feature of the roasting process.


12. April 2013 by Nate
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Peru High Grown

I was pleasantly surprised by the great flavor of some Peru High Grown (Unroasted, Organic, Fair Trade) I recently bought from Coffee Bean Direct.  It was easy roasting with well-defined cracks.


25. March 2013 by Nate
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Espresso Blend (First attempt)

After reading the “Blending Basics” article on sweetmarias.com, I decided to give it a shot.

I just happened to have a few bags of beans and came up with a fairly close approximation (in my opinion) to the recommended recipe. I started with a 50-25-25 blend.


The blend

  • 50% Columbia Narino Taminango
  • 25% El Salvador Finca Siberia Bourbon
  • 25% Yemen Mokha Matari



100 grams of green beans

100 grams of green beans

Starting with a total of 100 grams (3.5) ounces of green beans, I let the roast begin!

Since the timing of first crack was different for all three beans, I decided to bring the roast up to a high temperature, then cool, then raise again. Using ‘Old Melty’ (the Air Crazy), I tried to control the heat by shutting the power on/off. I really need to install a switch on the thermal cutoff wiring harness…


79 grams of roasted beans

79 grams of roasted beans

Running through first crack and on to 2nd crack was also tricky. So, I threw another wrinkle into the roast. Once 2nd crack started in earnest, I dumped the beans into my stainless bowl and let them cool for about 30 seconds. Then, I dumped them back into the roaster and brought them back to second roast. This created a definite oily sheen on the beans. The final product weighed in at 79 grams (2.8 oz).




Rich crema

Rich crema

After resting for 2 days, I threw a load of beans into the grinder for a first taste test. The coffee has a rich crema and a mellow flavor. It is surely a light espresso roast, but very enjoyable. None of the unique flavors of the individual beans overpower the others, maintaining the mellowness. Not bad for a first attempt, but next time I need to add a robusta to bring out more body.

28. January 2013 by Monty
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