Coffee roaster that won't stink up the house?
May 20, 2008 10:20 AM   Subscribe

Good coffee roaster that'll cut down on the smoke?

I've discovered home roasting and love the combo of quality and cost savings, but my wife hates the smoke. She's greenlighted me to invest in a home roaster, with one of two possibilities: either it makes just as much smoke as the popcorn popper does, so I have to go roast in our detached garage, or else it has to cut down on the smoke significantly so I can do it in the kitchen.

I'm prepared to do either one, honestly, especially if there's not a roaster out there that will both cut down on the smoke and do a good job roasting the beans. So if there's not a good one that eats smoke, just give me your recommendation for the best. Less than $200 US preferred.

(Roaster recommendations have been asked previously, but I'm asking again because the previous question is 3 years old.)
posted by middleclasstool to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: As somebody that has messed around with roasting -- and CAN stand the smoke -- I'm afraid there isn't anything currently on the market that I'm aware of that will do the job. The one roaster that claims to be the most smokeless, the Zach & Dani (now sold under a different trade name), says that it emits very little smoke/odour, but as somebody that owned one for three years and used it weekly, I can say it definitely emits less smoke, but can still smoke/stink up your kitchen. I eventually gave up on it for a roaster that does faster, larger roasts.

THAT being said, there is the option of getting a shower curtain and some magnets, putting the roaster on your stovetop, cranking the stove hood fan up to maximum and creating an E.T.-style "tent" to contain the smoke while the hood fan does its work. That works reasonably well and if you're feeling adventurous you can hot-box the coffee smoke.
posted by Shepherd at 10:42 AM on May 20, 2008

I use this roaster which was a gift from my bf (he got it off the Birds and Beans website but it seems they no longer sell it - I know he didn't pay that much). It creates smoke but is essentially a popcorn popper with a modified lid. It works extremely well and I am very satified with it. If you get it, I would suggest either keeping in the garage or trying the tent method suggested above to appease your wife. There will be smoke, but also yummy home-roasted beans! Enjoy!
posted by LunaticFringe at 11:09 AM on May 20, 2008

I know someone with this roaster and he loves it, but even though it has some smoke reduction capabilities he can't use it inside. But then again, at a pound of coffee a time there's a lot time spent roasting.
posted by aspo at 11:13 AM on May 20, 2008

I stopped roasting cause of the smoke - set off the hardwired alarms in the kitchen every time, even placed right underneath the extractors. :(

I was using a Cafe Rosto, which did a pretty good job otherwise.

One thing you want to watch out for about roasting outside - if the ambient temperature is too low the roast can stall with some machines. I had a problem with the Rosto even inside in winter (in the UK). If you plan to do a lot of roasting in the shed, and expect to be outside in cool temperature you should probably factor that into your purchasing decision.
posted by bifter at 11:39 AM on May 20, 2008

Best answer: I use the iRoast under the stove hood. We have a pretty powerful fan in the hood, so once it's on, no smoke escapes into the house (but it does make the back yard smell like coffee smoke!). Don't have to do the shower curtain trick or anything. Have you tried, or do you have, a vent exhaust that leads outdoors?
posted by Addlepated at 11:53 AM on May 20, 2008

The thing is, if your wife is anything like me, even the tiniest, tiniest bit of that smoke is going to bother her. And I'm the one doing the roasting at my house. I absolutely cannot roast inside because coffee smoke is super stinky and super sticky. I can smell it on my hair the day after if I don't take a shower afterwards, and I'm usually 10-20 feet away from the roaster while it's roasting outside. I do have a super sensitive sniffer, though.
posted by hecho de la basura at 12:29 PM on May 20, 2008

Response by poster: Unfortunately, I have no vent fan (old house and stove). I have a fart fan in the bathroom right off the master bedroom, but roasting in there would likely put me in divorce territory. Shame, too -- the ET shower curtain idea sounds like a good one. I figured that a larger roaster (my popper can only do about 1/4 cup of beans at a time) might reduce the effect some, or failing that, at least reduce the amount of time I have to spend in the garage in February (or, for that matter, late July).
posted by middleclasstool at 12:36 PM on May 20, 2008

This one is supposed to produce less smoke than others, but it's not cheap and it apparently isn't too good at dark roasts. OTOH, it does a pound at a time.

We use an Alpenrost and have been known to attach a bit of dryer vent to the output to direct it outdoors...something like that may help.
posted by bink at 12:47 PM on May 20, 2008

Best answer: I am going to suggest an alternative, since you cannot vent outside. Roast outside. The cost savings of having an external power source installed in your yard is well worth not divorcing. With an outdoor power outlet you can choose any type of roaster or there is even the option of using an electric stove to enable you to use your popcorn popper.

Roasting in the garage poses the problem that your wife will smell it every time she tries to get to the car and smoke filled structure is no fun. If you can grill outside you can roast outside. It will make the neighborhood all pleasant smelling and save you a ton on installing a vent-a-hood.
posted by jadepearl at 1:07 PM on May 20, 2008


People in the roasting community seem very pleased with it. It has a "Patent Pending smoke removal/air filtration system".
posted by jclovebrew at 2:25 PM on May 20, 2008

Oops, didn't realize bink beat me to it
posted by jclovebrew at 2:35 PM on May 20, 2008

Response by poster: The Behmor looks awesome except for the price and dark roast limitation. Maybe I'm not getting the right beans, but so far I'm not getting enough flavor unless I go well into second crack territory.

jadepearl, our garage was built in 1930, has barn doors, and sits behind a privacy fence. It is, in short, my shop, and I'm happy to stink it up. Also, we have a covered and screened front porch, which might be a better alternative.

aspo, your linky no worky.

The iRoast appears to be the most popular, so I might go that direction. Only does a cup of beans at a time, but that's 4x the rate I'm going at now. Hmm.
posted by middleclasstool at 3:00 PM on May 20, 2008

Best answer: This is probably obvious, but don't forget that the darker the roast, the more (and heavier) the smoke. I'm with you -- midway between first and second crack is the lightest I like my beans (mind you, I'm an espresso nut). So the darker you roast , the worse your problem gets.

It's the garage for you, I'm afraid.

If you're looking for recommendations, the iRoast is a good option. I've been using an Imex CR-100 (Caffé Rosto) for a few years now, and it's fantastic: well-reviewed, under $200, and does a great roast in seven minutes (before the five-minute cooldown).
posted by Shepherd at 4:17 PM on May 20, 2008

Oh! And I just noticed -- the above-linked Green Beanery (Canada) has a page that compares several roasters.
posted by Shepherd at 4:18 PM on May 20, 2008

The broken link in mine was supposed to go to the very same Behmor. Whoops.
posted by aspo at 8:02 PM on May 20, 2008

Best answer: Okay, so I'm following up by marking all the "vent/go outside" answers as best, because that's pretty much the state of things. I'm also adding my own, which I discovered after unwrapping my very own iRoast 2, which I got out of the box just this evening.

The iRoast comes with a small metal ring, about 2 inches or so long and 4 inches in diameter, which has little metal prongs sticking off of it. This can be used to attach a length of 4" diameter dryer hose to use for external venting. I'm about 90% positive I can rig up a pretty well sealed vent system with scrap plywood that I can put in the window in our laundry room and use to vent the smoke out during the winter months, so I can continue to roast without fear of the cold weather messing me up.

If that doesn't work, I have a slightly-more-hairbrained idea for an insulated chamber to run the roaster in outside, but I have high hopes for the window vent idea.

The iRoast, btw, did a fantastic job on its first roast -- a little darker than I meant it to be, mostly because the cool-down cycle wasn't as rapid as I thought it might be, but the beans smell and look good, and I cannot effing wait for coffee tomorrow morning.

I bought it from Sweet Maria's, where I get my beans, and for ten bucks more they threw in eight 1/2-pound samples of beans. The thing came with a newsletter, a "personal experience" paper on using the roaster, and a gorgeous postcard with a photo of a coffee plantation in Yemen the owner took while on a buying trip. This is not the sort of company I'm used to doing business with. They just earned a very loyal customer.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:06 PM on June 6, 2008

Middleclasstool - so glad you've found Sweet Maria's! They are excellent to work with. You can also tell them what kinds of beans you have liked so far and they can give you recommendations on what they have available that might appeal to you.

I had totally forgotten about the vent ring that came with the iRoast. I also noticed the quick darkening on the iRoast 2 (just had to replace my original iRoast) and think it might need some tweaking on temps or times. Be sure not to fill it too much or the beans won't circulate during roasting and you'll end up with some yellow and some charcoal.
posted by Addlepated at 10:05 PM on June 7, 2008

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