Anyone can roast coffee...

...I thought to myself

That's true. But whether you can drink the result is another matter.

I have been taught that the ultimate, fully automatic coffee roasting machine for home use does not (yet) exist.

So, pan on the stove. Throw the beans in and start stirring.

I'm stirring and stirring, and stirring and stirring. How long do I have to stir? My arm's about to fall off! Gotta take a leak. Not long. Come back and keep stirring. Sheesh, the beans are charred on one side! It smells burnt. Throw it away!

Before the second try, I'll find out. Whether you roast just a handful or a few kilos of coffee beans, the process always takes about the same amount of time. About 12 to 20 minutes. That doesn't seem long at first glance, but stir for 15 minutes! This is hard work!

The second roast also ends up in the compost. I don't give up and lo and behold, the results get better every time, especially visually. But the drinking pleasure is still limited.

This has mainly to do with stirring. 12 to 20 minutes of evenly circling a wooden ladle in a pot is almost impossible. That can't be it. It cannot go on like this.

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Bread maker and hot air gun

I bought the bread baking machine in the local second-hand shop and the hot air gun in a specialty store. So, there you go!

The roasting results are already much better, but still not optimal. I can't keep the heat constant enough.

So I have to upgrade. I need a real coffee roaster.

The agony of choice

Gene CBR 101, Hottop or QUEST M3

The Gene is the most favorable among the household roasters. It is produced in South Korea and costs around 600 Francs here in Switzerland. The advantage is that it is small and relatively light. Many green coffee buyers have such a part with them in order to be able to do trial roasts on site.

The Hottop is an absolute professional device for home use. It is manufactured in the USA in three different models and is shipped all over the world from 1'200 Swiss Francs.

My choice is the QUEST M3. This elegant drum roaster is manufactured by hand in Taiwan. Absolutely perfect device. In contrast to the other roasters, this part has no automatic and no programs.

It is not easy to have something like this delivered directly from Taiwan to Switzerland. Much is based on trust on my part. Payment in advance, after all, about 900 U$. Long wait. A few weeks go by. Finally! I still have to pay the customs and this piece of jewellery will be delivered to me free of charge.

With this roaster, I'm slowly but surely getting a feel for the whole roasting process. It takes skill and craftsmanship. The results are getting better and better. In the meantime I have mastered a wide variety of roasting profiles that are tailored to my QUEST. It is really fun!

Now I have been roasting regularly with this baby since 2014. It is really worth its money! I will probably buy a second one sometimes.

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The Roasting Process

The so-called Maillard reaction

As already mentioned, a roast takes between 10 and 20 minutes. During the roasting process the beans start to crack at some point. The English word crack brings the actual sound pretty much to the point. About 1 to 2 minutes after the first clearly audible crack, the second follows. However, I perceive this cracking more as a kind of crackling.

After the second crack the beans start to crack. This should be avoided if possible, as they have now been roasted too long even for an espresso. I personally usually stop roasting after the first crack.

At about 140°C a chemical reaction, the so-called Maillard reaction, begins. Here, amine compounds, such as amino acids and proteins, are combined with reducing compounds under the influence of heat to form new chemical compounds. Not to be confused with caramelisation.

The same reaction occurs when bacon is fried in a pan, for example. Cooks speak of roasting aromas. However, when roasting coffee, no single coffee aroma can be isolated. It is rather the interaction of many substances in different concentrations which produce the typical coffee aroma.

However, it does not require much science to smell the beguiling aroma of freshly ground coffee. What is needed are green beans, which need to be roasted.

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