Roasting Coffee Inside Vs. Outside

From my previous blogs, I have indicate that beside enjoying artisan roasted coffee,  I also enjoying roasting my own coffee. For one thing, roasting my own coffee had made me appreciate how much work it is to actually goes into transforming green coffee bean into delicious roasted product. Some people were interested in how I'm roasting coffee so I think I might as well write a little bit about it!

I started out roasting coffee with the most primitive kind of roaster, a pan over an open flame; thankfully, I quickly outgrew that roasting method when I acquire myself a popcorn popper from my local thrift store. I roasted with the popcorn popper for a while but was never really satisfy with the roast quality when compare to local artisan roasters such as Inteligentsia or Metropolis or from the fine roasters available through here on Then by chance, I came across a used and abused Hottop coffee roaster locally; the guy who was selling it probably had never cleaned the roaster and as such it did not work well for him. I spent well over two days, disassembling the roaster to clean off the chaff and the coffee oils that accumulated in the roaster for years. Thanksfully, after the hard work and about $50 dollar in a new heating element, the Hottop perform like new!

When I lived at my old place, I roasted with the Hottop almost exclusively inside because it was really well ventilated and I find that the carbon filters in the hottop did a fine job of limitting the output of roast smoke. However, since about a month ago when I moved to my new place, I have started to roast coffee outside, on the deck just outside of my second story condo. Although I find that it was okay to roast inside if  I place the Hottop in the restroom and turn on the vent fan; however it still leave the restroom smelling too much of the roasting smoke after I finish and I received too much complain from my family. 

I have noticed a few negative when roasting outside; most noticebly, the roast are taking approximately one minute longer than usual because the temperature here in Chicago is really cold.  I have taken measure such as preheating the Hottop more but it seem like it just going be be like that. Also, the roasting has become a little bit less predictable due to obviously the varying environmental temperature. I think I will try to place the roaster inside a box or a container as to limit the draft issue that might contribute to the unpredictability of the roaster. 

However, there are definitely a lot of pluses when it comes to roasting outside. For one thing, it make my family happy due to no longer having to deal with the roasting smell. I also enjoy staying outside more especially when it warm and nice outside! Today, in Chicago, it was like 55F outside (I know, in the middle of January no less!) and as I'm typing right now, I'm roasting a batch of Costa Rican Fruita De Oro. I will report in several days as to how the roast turn out compare to when it was roasted inside.

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