It’s not easy to keep things in stock these days …
So you might have noticed the Popper coffee roaster is out of stock. We have some units in reserve to cover any issues / replacements, but don’t have any to sell.
It’s pretty easy to guess the reasons, but just to state the obvious … this big rats nest called the global manufacturing and logistics network is very hard for a small business to negotiate these days. Parts aren’t available and time lines keep changing.
We are taking this break to make any changes we need in components. The plan is really not to “upgrade” what we have, add function (which always adds cost). But instead to improve the durability and % of units that come off the line with a quality issue.
When you manufacture something the accepted rate of defect is 1.5%. That could be one of the many components, or the assembly itself. We actually came in way below that with assembly defects (and we replace any problem units promptly as our buyers will know). But we want to improve some components in terms of durability, specifically a better fan motor.
So that’s where Popper is at, and the focus of the project. Look for updates when we are in production again, which should be fairly soon.
In the meantime, Popper is 100% supported, so send any questions about operation or to report any issues!
It is indeed, a Popper! But Popper is a coffee roaster indeed
We are excited to launch this new home roaster because it offers a great, economical option to start roasting your own coffee. But we also think experienced folks who roast coffee will find it attractive … and perhaps those who like to modify machines too.
Popper is, as the name makes pretty clear, based on the hot air popcorn poppers so many people use to roast coffee. (And in case you are wondering … Popper does indeed do a good job popping popcorn too!) Popper allows user-control of the heat level, fan speed (just high and low really) and the roast time. These can all be fluidly adjusted during the roast cycle.
A Quick 2:00 Popper Roast Run-through
Not high tech… but simple, straightforward, and user-friendly
Popper has no automated roast cycles, beyond a default 7:00 roast and 3:00 cool. You, the user, can “profile” the heat curve and set roast parameters using the front control knobs. But nothing is “preset” for you. If you want a roaster that saves programs, has automated roast curves, or connects to your phone app, Popper is not for you, probably
Turn on the Popper and you see 0:00 on the timer and a green light – the Off position. When you start a roast batch, the maximum time allowed will read 10:00 on the digital count-down timer. But that is not 10:00 of roast time. The final 3:00 on the timer is the cooling cycle. During the roast the light is red, and when the timer reaches 3:00 it turns blue for cooling. So yeah, you gotta do a little math: 5:00 on the timer clock means you have 2:00 more of roasting and then 3:00 of cooling. You can handle it!
The nice thing here is, unlike some other roasters, you can use the time dial to add and subtract roast time during the roast whenever you want. Even if Popper goes into cooling mode, just turn the dial above 3:00 and you can roast more.
In other words, Popper is pretty inuituve for you to control. It’s not high tech but -pretty ok in terms of human tech. And we still think humans controlling and making decisions about the roast process is the best way.
Sumatra from Aceh area isn’t that low grown generally (1250 to 1800 meters) but can be tough to roast. It often gets a heavy, dark roast treatment that obscures the coffee to a point. Lighter roasting is more challenging.
Air roasters do a pretty good job with this. It’s hard to scorch coffee in an air roaster … provided you don’t overload it.
Currently we use a 3 barrel Probat for samples but when I have a single sample to check out, I’m using Popper lately.
Here is a 1450 meter Sumatra from Aceh (near Lake Takengon) roasted for cupping in Popper.
We wanted to create a coffee roaster, one that was a lot like a popcorn popper from the ‘70s.We didn’t want to think up any new design, or new roast method. We wanted to take what works, the air popcorn popper, and roll it back to the way it was 30 years ago.
So we took an old vintage air popper machine we bought at a thrift store in the ‘90s for $4, and sent it to China. We sent it to the factory that still makes air poppers, and asked if they could make one just like that. They said they could.
They sent us back a prototype machine. It looked just like the popper we sent them. Actually it was the popper we sent them, but they added 2 knobs to the front.
From then it was a long (and actually pretty boring) back and forth between Oakland and the factory.
There’s more to tell… but we are trying to drag out the story and make more “content” out of this.