Sunday, May 06, 2007


i've gone a little back and forth on whether this post is blog worthy. but since it's been a while since i've posted regularly i figure this might be the impetus to do so.

i'm building a roaster from scratch. well, i should say i'm having it built and we'll be using a lot of parts that are more or less off the shelf. my father in law, a now retired aeronautical engineer and i got to talking a few months back(as i was telling him how i'll be outgrowing my baby roaster by year's end) about the physics of roasters and it got us to thinking about how basically simple the design of roasters are. tolerances. that's the big issue. sure, anyone can put together a washing machine on stilts and call it a roaster. but creating something to such precise tolerances as to have utter control over a vast range of subtle control issues without wasting energy and doing possible detriment to the beans and their fragile needs is the trick. that's the trick.

i guess it's important (to me, anyway) to say that the reason for this approach to upgrading my roasting capacity is driven completely by economics. i am growing brown organically without any bank loans or big infusions of cash. it's literally a shoestring operation that's growing by fits and starts into something stable. basically, i don't have the multi-thousands of dollars in the pot to go out and buy a roaster. so we're collecting and compiling in order to make it happen on our own. the old saying: if it's going to be it's up to me.

so, off we go. i say "we" in the royal we sense. it's really him. he's collecting raw materials and he'll be the one going to the university's machine fabrication shop where he still has the connections to let him build and bend at will to fabricate this thing to my desires. heck, he's not even here in texas. he's up in indiana (purdue university is his playground for this). let me just say that the amount of "stuff" that gets tossed from major american universities such as purdue--perfectly good stuff, the kinds of things that are ideal as the raw materials necessary for this project--is jaw dropping. and good for me.

estimated time of arrival: very early autumn when my father and mother-in-law return south for the texas winter. if my volume projections are correct for my growing wholesale and web retail sales, it'll be none too soon. i'll go from a 5 1/2 lb capacity electric table "beginner's roaster" to a 20-ish lb gas roaster. it may still be a beginner's roaster in the sense that this will essentially even still be a prototype. we'll get this thing up and running, find out what works and what we don't like and make tweaks as we go. eventually "we" may be building yet another roaster from scratch with what we learned went wrong with this one.

so that's the long and short of it. i am taking suggestions from you dear readers (all six of you) on a sort of wish list of things you would absolutely have to have if you could have your pick of bells and whistles and, more importantly, totally essential components. away.

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At Monday, 07 May, 2007, Blogger Ben C. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At Monday, 07 May, 2007, Blogger Ben C. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At Monday, 07 May, 2007, Anonymous gabe said...

laser beam coffee "grinder" attachment

At Monday, 07 May, 2007, Blogger blanco said...

ah, you remember that conversation in guatemala?

At Tuesday, 08 May, 2007, Blogger Jason Haeger said...

A real-time Agtron color monitor right next to the bean mass thermal read-out.

Also, a real-time moisture content analyzer... I have no idea how the physics of that would work during an active roast.

Also, a density analyzer, with programmable communication with the moisture content analyzer with programmable communication with the Agtron color indicator that just happens to be able to read internal color as well.

"we can rebuild it. We can make it faster, stronger... etc.."

Aaron Blanco's $6,000,000 roaster. Score!


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