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Michael Whipple's profile photoINeedCoffee's profile photoMichael Allen Smith's profile photo
Good job on the article! Hot-air popcorn popper is the best intro to home roasting. I burned out a couple of popper heating elements, but still was able to roast quite a few pounds through each. Target used to sell the cheapies at $15, but microwave popcorn has made hot-air poppers hard to find, except for the Goodwill stores and yard sales, as you noted. Yesterday I received 10 lbs of a sweet Peruvian blend for $63, shipped.

Some extra notes?...
-- Besides sight and sound, there is smell: warm grass/hay through caramel/smoke/roast.
-- I use a timer. My sweet spots were 2-minute warmup. Next 4 minutes to get from yellow to brown. First crack between 6 and 8 minutes (takes as long as 10 in my current heat-gun-mixer-bowl method). Desired roast between 9 and 16 minutes (u. about 12, and I rarely enter second crack).
-- I used a long bamboo skewer for stirring the popper
-- more beans means more heat is trapped and therefore a faster roast; fewer beans means slower roast and/or less heat
-- if outside, find the outlet closest to the breaker panel (I don't know why this makes a difference, but it does, especially in cooler weather)
-- I lay a stand fan on its back and hold a spaghetti strainer over it while I pour in beans. Takes about 90 seconds for beans to cool to touch.
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