I’ve been using a Fresh Roast SR500 for about 6 months now, and I am wanting roast bigger batches. Can these drums be used over open flames or a bed of hot coals? I own a woodworking business and create tons of scrap wood that I use for backyard campfires, but I thought it would be an even better use of the scraps if I could use them to roast coffee. Good idea? Bad idea?
Let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions,
Hi Chris! Thanks for the question. Seems like there has been a run on fire roasting lately. Maybe the 5th person in 2 months to ask that question. I would say if there was ever a person to have a natural fuel source for this it would be you. From that standpoint, there are a number of people that do indeed roast over an open fire. One fellow in Big Lake Texas has quite a following roasting by hand over mesquite wood. While I’ve never personally roasted with this method, and I’ll invite others here to comment on their experiences with it, I do feel that good temperature control is preferable to poor temperature control. For example, roasting at too low a temperature for the mass to be roasted can result in an extended roast and a baked taste to your coffee where it doesn’t jump in the mouth but rather falls flat. So you would need to have some way to understand how much heat is generated and how to focus it or not. That would be my only point that would give me pause. Mind you, I don’t mean to discourage at all, but rather to point out that, if you are a very picky roaster then you may find your roasts not as reproducible as with gas methods. I have recently encouraged people to roast with a sort of tray over the flames filled with wood that can produce the wood flavored taste. Similar to how smokers work. If you are wanting to roast with this method to not buy propane and save money there, I would say the net loss of control to be more critical than the cost of the gas. If you are doing it to impart the wood flavors into the coffee to capitalize on a niche then that would be a better plan in my opinion. There are plenty of folks that do this for the flavoring it provides. My .02 cents!
Just a clarification. The tray over the flames was to be put in a gas grill so that temperature control could be had while simultaneously smoking the coffee. Water would be applied to the flavoring wood in the tray. Just like a smoker.
RK Drums has been providing roasting advice for coffee aficionados and small business owners for over 15 years. We specialize in making coffee roasting accessible to anyone who wants to roast, and sell complete solutions to roast coffee using a barbecue grill.