Qoo10 product recommendation – Imex CR-100 coffee bean roaster

Doing home coffee bean roasting isn’t so popular in Singapore, so it’s not easy to buy a home coffee bean roaster machine. Thanks to Qoo10, we have access to Korean made machines, and Imex is an established brand. Specifically, the CR-100 is a good entry level bean roaster. It is a fluid bed roaster (hot air keeps the beans moving while roasting), which is supposed to produce an even roast.

I got mine from a seller called GNeStore on Qoo10 in May 2018 for S$292, before applying cart coupon. Not cheap, but the price has gone up to S$327 currently, from a different seller. If you read the forums, you’ll find they were going for under US$150 more than ten years ago. Oh well.

So, why do home coffee bean roasting? There are a few advantages. You get the best tasting coffee when they are freshly roasted. In fact, the coffee turns stale in just a week after roasting. Yes, that means we have all been drinking stale coffee all along, and it’s even worse with ground coffee. The second obvious advantage is, green coffee is at least 15% cheaper than roasted coffee, and they can be stored for up to two years. I’m sure i will achieve breakeven on the cost of the machine within 2 to 3 years, if it lasts that long, and in any case, it’s worthwhile to get better tasting coffee without paying much more. Also, you can choose a different type of coffee every week, since you’re not under any pressure to finish up any of them first.

Here’s how my maiden batch of roasting went. I watched a Youtube video showing how the roasting is done, and the person mentioned 9 minutes roast. I followed suit, but discovered that 9 minutes is a too long, maybe due to the local weather/electricty voltage. The beans were producing a lot of smoke (after 7 minutes of roasting)! I might have to do it near the outdoor area next time.

Now that i’ve read the forum postings carefully, one option is to turn off the unit when you feel the roast is done, and you can turn it on again when the dial reaches the cooling phase. Anyway, having done the roasting more than ten times by now, i can tell you that 5.5 minutes gives you a medium to dark roast, and 6 minutes already gives you a dark roast, whereby it starts to produce some smoke.

My maiden batch of Espresso beans. I hope they have not turned charcoal (Update: they have).

The Imex CR-100 is quite solid and can withstand very high heat. I was worried the stainless steel chamber will have burn marks, but turns out it was fine. By the way, the unit ships with a Korean manual, but the box does include some simple English instructions.

English pictorial instructions. No rocket science really.
The enclosed Korean manual

For storing the beans, i bought a storage jar that is supposed to be able to allow excess CO2 to escape, much like the micro valves on the retail coffee container bags sold in the Supermarket. Whether that’s really useful, i’m not sure, because it is generally suggested to store the beans in an airtight container. Anyway, it’s a nice looking container with a dial on the top to mark the day of the roast.

Coffee bean container with date marker dial

As for the green beans, it’s quite easy to source from the US. I got mine from Burman Coffee during the Black Friday weekend. So, all set to brew your fresh cup of coffee?

That’s enough beans to last me (and my spouse) probably 4 months or more (usually one or two cups of double espresso per day). And if you’re wondering, they cost US$40 (S$55). Plus $31 in shipping, it works out to under S$22 per month (under S$0.72 per day). That’s a good deal right (compared to $4+ in a cafe)?
Second batch, about 6 minutes of roasting. I think i used too many beans.

Update: it is important to roast the right amount of coffee beans. If there are too many beans, the hot air blasted isn’t strong enough to lift and stir them about, resulting in very uneven roasting. Too few, and they end up in the chaff collector. In any case, don’t expect commercial quality kind of evenness in the roasting. Another point to note is, you actually need two storage jars, one to keep the current batch that you are consuming and another to store the beans you have just roasted which you will start to consume 2 days later. As many people have pointed out, i concur that the beans taste better at least 2 days after roasting. Dark roasted beans tend to result in oily beans which i find undesirable, so i try to keep it to just a little beyond medium.

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