The Whirley Pop 6 Quart stovetop popper happens to be a competent coffee roaster (in the right hands) and has been our standby stovetop roaster for years. This is the same stovetop popper you will read about in Home Coffee Roasting by Ken Davids.
While this method is completely manual (you need to adjust the heat, crank the popper consistently, and dump your roasted coffee into a colander in order to cool it, you will appreciate roasting more than 8oz. of coffee at a time (much more than an air popper, FreshRoast or Nesco).
This method can do a full range of roast levels but even with constant agitation it can take some practice to get even results. Stovetop roasters are better suited for darker roasts (great for espresso). It does produce smoke (more coffee + darker roasts = more smoke) but a good range hood will handle it. You can also use this method on a gas camp stove or other portable heat sources. It makes great popcorn too!
We still carry the aluminum version that we have carried for years. Although customers are happy with it, we have noticed there is a certain breed of customer that roasts a lot more than the average home roaster. These are the folks that are doing back to back batches a few days a week. This much roasting will eventually wear down an aluminum popper. If you are just roasting a pound or two per week, the steel pan and metal gears might be overkill but if you want something that will take a beating, this will do the trick. The seemingly wimpy, thin wire agitator is more jam-free than the paddle-type ones. There's an encapsulated carbon steel disk on the bottom of the pan so you can use this over an induction stove. The hardwood handles stay cool and will keep your hands away from the heat.
Don't forget to add a thermometer to your order. It's easy to install. Just punch a hole in the popper's lid and insert the thermometer.
Check out our extended review.
Click here to watch a video recorded from a live broadcast we did where we roasted a batch in a Whirley Pop and discussed some useful roasting techniques.
It comes with a tip sheet. You can download it here too.
|Batch Size||8oz+ (225 grams+) yielding 6.8oz+ (190 grams+) of roasted coffee|
|Control||100% Conduction roasting with manual agitation|
|Roast Time||10+ minutes|
|Heating Source||Stovetop, gas, induction or electric. Campfire.|
|Height/Width/Depth||8" x 9" x 17.5"|
|Pros||Inexpensive way to roast a lot of coffee; it's fun if you like to be hands-on; you have full control over your airflow, heat and agitation; good visibility easy to hear the cracks and it's induction compatible|
|Cons||A lot of cranking. Difficult to get even results. No chaff separation. Very smokey especially with larger batch sizes or darker roasts.|
|Warranty||The 90-day pan/wooden part and 25-year mechanical part warranty are voided once you use it for coffee roasting|