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How to Roast Coffee Beans in a Whirley Pop?

Corn and coffee beans have several things in common. To start with, raw popcorn kernels and raw coffee beans are hard, little nuggets that are turned into something delicious by applying heat. The best thing is that you can transform them with the same device, which is a Whirley Pop. In this article, we will show you how to roast coffee beans in a Whirley Pop.

roast coffee beans in whirley pop

Whirley Pop – Brief Introduction

The Whirley Pop Popcorn Popper, simply known as a Whirley Pop, is a popcorn maker designed for use on a stovetop. It was invented in 1980 by Mike Williams, an Indiana farmer. The Whirley Pop is still in production to date by Wabash Valley Farms, a family farm that was established by Williams. However, its design is imitated by other brands.

The design behind the original Whirley Pop uses slim rotating rods planted at the bottom of an aluminum or stainless steel pot to rotate corn. The rods are connected to a handle crank through gears. When you rotate the crank, the corn is stirred while heating the pot for even heating and popping. When it comes to roasting coffee beans, they are stirred by rotating the crank for even roasting.


How to Roast Coffee Beans in a Whirley Pop Popcorn Popper

Roasting coffee beans is less expensive and simpler than what many coffee enthusiasts think. The idea of roasting coffee beans at home is thought to require expensive coffee roasters, immense roasting experience, and tons of time. However, this is not the case. You can roast coffee beans with inexpensive equipment and a few minutes of your time. Also, you do not need any previous coffee roasting experience.

All you need is a Whirley Pop maker and a few other readily available items. A Whirley Pop is inexpensive and makes it easy to roast coffee beans. It produces an even roast. Also, it is easier to roast beans in a Whirley Pop than in the oven. Here is how to go about it.

Items needed:

  • Whirley Pop
  • Raw green coffee beans
  • Heat source (preferably a gas grill or any outdoor heat source such as a Coleman stove, a backpacking stove, or a small electric burner)
  • Enamel or steel colander
  • Kitchen scale
  • Oven mitt
  • Wooden spoon
  • Infrared thermometer or regular thermometer
  • Timer (or a smartphone timer)


Step 1- Weigh the green beans

You will need about 250 grams of green coffee beans for each roasting cycle. You can use less coffee for quicker roasting. Regardless of the quantity you roast per cycle, use a similar amount every time you roast. Changing the amount now and then will make it hard for you to practice on the best temperature and roasting times. Preferably, use a kitchen scale to weigh the beans.

Step 2- Preheat your Whirley Pop

Before roasting, you will need to get the pot hot. The reason for preheating the pot is that its temperature may drop upon pouring in cold coffee beans. Preferably, preheat it to about 450 degrees Fahrenheit upon placing it on your gas grill. You can use a regular thermometer to get the temperature right. If possible, use an infrared thermometer for easier temperature recording.

Step 3- Add the green beans

Once the pot is hot enough, add in the green coffee beans from the colander. Close the lid and start the timer. The timer will help you know the time it will take for the beans to attain a certain roast level. You can use the time as a baseline for future roasts until you get the perfect roast.

Step 4- Turn the handle

Next, turn the handle of your Whirley Pop to agitate the beans. More rotations will equate to a more even roast. At first, the lid should remain closed to allow the heat to dry any moisture in the beans. You can peek at the beans by lifting the lid after every minute to see whether they look how you want.

Also, reverse the spin of your rotation after every minute. Doing so will dislodge any coffee beans that may be stuck under the rotating beans, thereby preventing them from burning.

Step 5- Open the lid

After peeking into the pot to check the roast progress, you will soon notice their color changing from green to pale. Once they turn pale, it is time to start slowing the roasting process by keeping the lid open. The beans will attain the first milestone of roasting once you hear the first cracking sound. The sound emanates from the beans as they crack open to release steam.

The first crack is heard in about 6 to 9 minutes after starting the timer. However, if you fail to open the lid, you may hear the first crack sooner. If you hear the first crack too soon even after opening the lid, consider reducing the heat slightly once the beans start changing color.

Step 6- Reduce the heat

Once you hear the first crack, reduce the heat to either medium or medium-low. At this time, your beans will enter the development time, which is the time between the first and the second cracks. If you pull out the beans at this stage, you will end up with a light roast. For a medium roast, allow the beans to undergo the entire first crack and pull the roast when they are about to undergo the second crack. If you prefer a dark roast, roast the beans a little past the second crack.

Step 7- Remove the beans

Pull the roast once the beans attain the roast level you prefer. Preferably, remove the beans just before they reach your preferred roast level. The reason behind this is that the beans continue roasting for about two minutes after removing them from the pot.

Step 8- Cool the freshly roasted beans

Wear an oven mitt and hold the pot steady. Lift the lid. Then pour the beans into a colander. Stir the beans with the help of a wooden spoon to fasten the cooling process and prevent the beans from continuing to roast.

Alternatively, you can cool the roasted beans by pouring them out severally between two colanders. Do this in the open air for faster cooling.

The roasted beans will still feel warm after several minutes. By then, you can touch them safely and they will have stopped roasting. Allow them to sit and cool further.

Step 9- Degas the beans

When roasting coffee beans, carbon dioxide gas builds within them. The gas seeps out of the beans over a couple of days. Thus, do not grind and brew with the beans until they degas completely. They will release much of the CO2 gas over the initial 24 hours of cooling. Preferably, transfer the beans into a large Ziploc bag. Lay the bag flat on your kitchen counter and keep the top open to allow the CO2 gas to escape.



By now, you have learnt how to roast coffee beans in a Whirley Pop Popcorn Popper. It is a simple and economical coffee-roasting alternative. You will get evenly roasted beans for a balanced cup of morning coffee. Besides, you only need about 10 minutes to roast coffee beans in a Whirley Pop. Also, a Whirley Pop will give you roasted beans with lower acidity. Preferably, roast your coffee beans outdoors as the roasting process produces lots of smoke.


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