How to Roast cocoa beans 

The official names for this item is the Gourmia GTA-2500 Digital Electric Air Fryer. At the heart of it, it is a convection oven with a basket (that from this point forward I will call a drum) and a rotisserie. At 1250 watts, it is perfect for roasting cocoa beans.  The small grid on the drum will also allow you to do nibs.

It comes with a ton of parts and accessories, various pre-set conditions. The manual also isn't very good. None of that really matters for our purposes as I am going to tell you exactly what you need to know to roast cocoa beans.  If you want to air fry some potatoes, or bake a pizza, that is on you. 

All you need to really know is that you are going to use the Turbo pre-set, and will be manually adjusting the temperature and times to suit your needs.

It comes with a 1 year manufactures warranty.

It is very helpful to have both a heat resistant pair of gloves and an IR thermometer to properly use this roaster.

And a final note before we jump in.  The first 6-10 roasts smell of plastic as the roaster gets broken in.  More specifically you will smell hot plastic while roasting but the beans will not taste of plastic.  This is completely normal and nothing is wrong.  

 
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The Gourmia Hot Air Frier

We/I keep making the joke in the warehouse about this being the driod you are looking for.  But it is also reminiscent of the the USS Enterprise with a little bit of Alien thrown in.  

Regardless I've come to really like this "hot air frier" for it's transparency of operation and flexibility.  That is a mixed blessing meaning you can pretty much do what you want, but it also means you don't have any profiles like on the Behmor 1600.  Overall though, it is pretty simple to run.  Let's get to it.


Initial Set up.

The Gourmia comes with a bunch of stuff that you won't use for roasting cocoa.  What you want is the drum, the rod and the two forks for holding roasts (like a chicken) in place.  Install them like you see.  They will help agitate the cocoa beans and keep the drum from sliding around.

 

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Loaded, it holds 2 to 2.5 lbs of cocoa.  A kilogram (2.2 lbs) works very nicely and tends to be what I use.  

I see no reason you could not roast less, but I am all for efficiency so I advocate using it a full capacity.

I didn't like the results with more than 2.5 lbs of cocoa.  It is capable heat wise but the beans don't mix evenly.


Quick Start Roasting

First off, ignore the manual and listen to me.  I'll save you a bit of headache and you can hit the ground running.

Here is what you are going to do to roast cocoa.  I'll go over each step in a moment and why.

  1. Turn it on and Press Turbo.  Let it pre-heat about 5 minutes.
  2. Load the drum, close the lid and Press Roll
  3. Increase the Time to 20 minutes
  4. Reduce the temperature 40-50 F every 5 minutes until you reach your end temperature, checking and recording the bean temperature each time.
  5. Let the beans continue to roast 5 minutes after they reach your target temperature.
  6. Remove the beans and cool 

Step by Step

Welcome to Profile Roasting where YOU are in control.  You are going to need a set heat proof gloves and an IR thermometer to do this right.

It seems kind of obvious, but the greater the difference in the temperature setting and the beans, the faster your roast will proceed.

That difference is called a Delta and that is why you have been reducing the temperature as you go.  This are the approximate deltas I use:

0-5 minutes - Delta 350 F.  This means 100 F ambient (this is rough) + 350 = 450 F (your set point).  The beans are cold and won't burn or scorch but will get them moving temperature wise.

5-10 minutes - Delta 250 F.  Your beans are about 150, so 250+150 = 400 F.  

10-15 minutes - Delta 100-120 F.  Beans at 200-220 + 110 = 300-320 F.

Basically at each stage you will measure the temperature of the beans, do some fast math based on the Delta and where in the roast you are temperature wise, and set your new temperature.  A little higher if you want to speed your roast along or it's falling behind your projection or a bit lower if it's going too fast.  Trust me, I know it sounds complicated but you will get the hang of it quickly.

Use the Turbo button to pre-heat the roaster.  It will show 450 F and 15 minutes.  I like it that hot to fully heat the interior.  Your beans will not really be seeing that temperature.

You will know it has reached temperature as you will see the heating elements turn off.  At this point you can load your beans and press Roll.  The timer will have counted down 4-5 minutes.  Press + until the timer is back up to 20 minutes.  

At 15 minutes reduce the temperature to 400 F by pressing the -.

At 10 minutes reduce the temperature further to 360 F.

Each time you do this I recommend you take a temperature reading with an IR thermometer.  You will do it as follows.

  • Watch the drum and press Roll when the door comes upright.  It will stop the drum.
  • Open the lid. The fan and heater will turn off.
  • Wearing your heat proof gloves, carefully open the drum and use your thermometer to get the temperature.
  • Close the drum, close the lid and press Roll.

You will not lose much heat (it's just air) and will will allow you to track the progress of the roast.

Now we are at the end game of the roast.  It's time to coast in and give everything time to even out.  You may well hit 15 minutes and have a bean temperature of 250 F, and see I said 250 F is a good dump temperature.  Both are true, but you are NOT done. 

Through a bit of trial and error I've determined that the beans need another 4-6 minutes at a very modest delta or the inner most beans will be a little under roasted.  A delta of 20-50 F over your end point does that very nicely.

So if your beans are at 245 at 15 minutes and that is where you want them, set your temperature to 260-280 F and keep on roasting.  You beans won't get to 280 F in that short time.  They will just even out to a good, full, complete roast. 

That is it.  Your introduction to the Gourmia GTA1500 and profile roasting.  Take lots of notes.  It is the best way to really understand what is going on and allows you to adjust the profiles to suit your taste.