If you’re looking to get started roasting coffee at home, there’s no better place to start than with an electric popcorn popper. These machines can’t roast much at a time, but you will familiarize yourself with the process of roasting coffee and you’ll have a lot of fun doing so.
All in all, you might be roasting 2-3 times a week, depending on how much coffee your household goes through in a day. Because the setup for an electric popper is super easy, it’s not a big deal to bust it out and toss a cup of green beans in the chamber for a quick roast for tomorrow morning’s coffee.
I’ve burned through three electric poppers before deciding to break down and spend the cash on a machine specifically designed for roasting coffee.
There are two types of electric popcorn poppers: poppers with bottom screens and poppers with side vents. You want the popcorn popper with side vents. If you choose a popcorn popper with a bottom screen, you will be disappointed. These do not agitate the coffee beans enough, so half will shoot out, the other half will burn, and you may possibly start a chaff fire.
Here is my favorite popcorn popper for roasting coffee:
The Victorio PopAir
When it comes to popcorn poppers, it’s not like there is a huge advantage for one over the other. The differences are all in the types of plastic they use, where the air vents are, and their prices.
For these reasons, the Victorio PopAir is the top-dawg when it comes to popcorn poppers for coffee roasting.
The plastic on top is hardier, so it won’t melt and disfigure as quickly over the years. That being said, roasting coffee with a popcorn popper will lead to disfigured plastic hoods: it’s just what happens.
The air vents for the Victorio popper are along the sides of the chamber, and not from the bottom. This is extremely important to know when choosing your popcorn popper. There are two types: side vent, and bottom screen. The bottom screen style will blow half of your coffee out of the chamber and burn the rest. The airflow dynamics are such that your coffee beans just won’t agitate as much as they should.
However, with the side vents, like those found in the Victorio, it just takes a little bit of time before you can get a full cup of coffee beans spinning in the chamber, ensuring that you’ll have an even roast.
Poppers to Avoid
I looked through the top electric popcorn poppers on Amazon to justify why Victorio was my preferred choice of starter coffee roasters.
Here are a few more electric popcorn poppers and why they just ain’t the same.
Everking Popcorn Popper
You can use the Everking popper for roasting coffee, and I’ve heard it does well. However, it has an overheat safety feature that must be disabled by going into the machine and messing with some doodads.
I’ve never been the type of person to do such a thing, so I can’t recommend this machine because I wouldn’t ever disable the safety feature. To clarify: this isn’t because I respect safety features, it’s because I am not a very technologically capable person.
I relish this opportunity to knock on one of Hamilton Beach’s products. Their popcorn popper uses a bottom screen style vent, so it will not work for roasting coffee.
Plus, Hamilton Beach also makes that breakfast sandwich maker, which is blatantly disrespectful to anyone with any sort of resourcefulness. If you value freedom and independence, throw away your Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker.
The Presto PopLite also works well for roasting coffee, though at the moment I’m writing this, it’s $3 more expensive. That’s $3 you could be spending on green coffee, a sweet mug, or something unrelated like a boogie-board.
If you’re looking for the trusty brand name like Cuisinart for your coffee roasting needs, keep on looking. The Cuisinart Easy-Pop is similar to Hamilton Beach’s popcorn popper in that they both use a bottom screen rather than side vents.
The Cuisinart Easy-Pop will not work for roasting coffee.
If you haven’t taken the plunge into home coffee roasting yet, do it, now. While you’re at it, read my Complete Guide to Getting Started. There are few things as rewarding as enjoying a cup of coffee that you’ve roasted and brewed.
Knowing that you’ve labored over that cup and have had a hand in controlling the exact flavor is something special. Plus, it’s something fun and nice to give to your friends and family. From experience, you become known as the coffee person and people come to you with all sorts of questions. Being able to help people and give fun tips or advice is one of my favorite things in life, so home coffee roasting is perfect for me.
You won’t regret it.
Have any tips for roasting with a popcorn popper? Let me know in the comments below!