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Author Topic: Roasting and bean density!  (Read 523 times)

Simon

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Roasting and bean density!
« on: 12/08/2017, 02:07 PM »
Hey cool cats, I've done a silly amount of research this morning regarding general roasting approaches to different bean densities... and can't really find any conclusive guidelines. Or moreso I'm finding contradictory guidelines haha.

What would be a good general guideline for roasting different density/altitude beans? I understand it is definitely dependent on the bean rather than exclusively altitude etc, but just looking for more general recommendations.

Some of the info I've gathered:

"Higher grown, smaller bean, SLOWER roast.
Lower grown, often larger bean, QUICKER roast.

...

Harder bean= slower roast, so it roasts more evenly all the way through

...

For hard beans, roast with a relatively high initial heat and moderate heat in the final stage of the roast process. Examples: Kenya AA, Guatemala SHB and almost any coffee grown higher than 5,000 feet.

For medium hard bean types, roast these with moderate initial heat and moderate heat in the final stage. Examples: Brazil, Sumatra, Java and most Latin American coffees grown lower then 5,000 feet.

For soft bean types, roast these with low to moderate heat during the entire process. Example: Hawaiian coffees, Caribbean types and beans grown lower than 3,500 feet."


I'm roasting up the rest of my Kenya AA beans today just to tide me over, and not sure what approach.

Both approaches make sense logically (strangely...):
- A harder bean needs higher heat at the beginning to penetrate through so that the inside develops evenly
-A harder bean needs a slower roast, and low temp ramp up so as to make sure it roasts evenly and doesn't scorch the outside


Kenya AA is a more dense bean, so to go P2 profile on my Behmor (ramps up quicker for full heat), or a slower P3-P5 profile...


I had roasted this before but would like some more input as to this aspect (as I was just roasting according to what someone said and not really understanding bean density roasting approaches..).

Any thoughts on soft/hard bean roasting would be great, thanks guys!


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Roasting and bean density!
« Reply #1 on: 12/08/2017, 07:31 PM »
Simon.
Can you please allow me to dose a wee bit of tough love.

By all means, do your research. Devour every morsel of information and knowledge.......but......and this is a big BUT.....

you are not going to have light bulb moments reading stuff or taking someone else's ideas or opinions. The problem will be that at the time they seem like light-bulb moments but you will soon realize that it's not really the case.

The only way to develop your roasting skills is by your own resources - that means......try something, measure and evaluate the result, learn, adjust and then repeat the process - over and over 1000 times.

There is no gospel. No stone tablets from the mountain that enlighten one about roasting. It's an acquired skill inextricably linked to your device, apparatus or system. From there you will develop YOUR style......and over time your style will change based on what you believe is true.

I have a few friends (not in the social sense) that also own coffee businesses and they roast coffee just like I do. Sometimes, they are having a bad patch and want to bounce something off me.....but it's not helpful because their system is different, even if it's the same brand and capacity.......tis different in many ways either due to the flue design or other factors.

So what I say is this......there is fundamental logic and there is acquired skills or awareness. This awareness of how your system responds......what happens at various stages, it's not written in a book, or applicable to my own environment......it's unique to them, so they must keep notes, think about what they changed, what impact did it have and was is better or worse.

Simon, what you are asking for is impossible and I will tell you why.

Last week I received a fresh arrival Guatemala. I thought it was nice and within the expected specification - moisture, density and screen size. So when I roasted the first batch on Wednesday morning, I though OH YEAH, this is too easy, done it before 80,000 times in the last decade, around 1st crack instead of the RoR diving like most hard, dense Centrals, it actually spiked up and behaved in the complete opposite to what I was expecting. Yes, yet another WTF moment and another never take anything for granted situation.

This also happened on a Colombian that arrived into my warehouse in Dec 2016. It roasts differently to the other 6 Colombians I have. There are no visible signs, no metrics that I can measure which would indicate it would roast differently.

Simon, develop a process the involves what you see and what you taste. Keep meticulous notes (which I suspect would be easy for you  :coffee2:)

Don't be the follower that is influenced by internet knowledge as it will lead you down a rabbit borough to nomansland.

Learn the subtle nuances of what happens to various beans during roasting and then cross-check that with your taste. by all means, try different approaches if the recommendations are logical and possible, but you must understand the change and the effect at the same time.

I roast slow and I roast fast - never is it related to the bean density, varietal or any of the nonsense that is available on the internet.

Seek first to understand what your device is doing......not whether the beans are a factor - yes they will present a spectrum of challenges, but ultimately the process of roasting is relatively transportable across origins and varietals - it's not the massive, insurmountable difference that most people make it out to be (just more a case of too much stuff that people can't understand, or roasting systems that are not operating properly).

Simon

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Roasting and bean density!
« Reply #2 on: 12/08/2017, 08:34 PM »


Simon.
Can you please allow me to dose a wee bit of tough love.

By all means, do your research. Devour every morsel of information and knowledge.......but......and this is a big BUT.....

you are not going to have light bulb moments reading stuff or taking someone else's ideas or opinions. The problem will be that at the time they seem like light-bulb moments but you will soon realize that it's not really the case.

The only way to develop your roasting skills is by your own resources - that means......try something, measure and evaluate the result, learn, adjust and then repeat the process - over and over 1000 times.

There is no gospel. No stone tablets from the mountain that enlighten one about roasting. It's an acquired skill inextricably linked to your device, apparatus or system. From there you will develop YOUR style......and over time your style will change based on what you believe is true.

I have a few friends (not in the social sense) that also own coffee businesses and they roast coffee just like I do. Sometimes, they are having a bad patch and want to bounce something off me.....but it's not helpful because their system is different, even if it's the same brand and capacity.......tis different in many ways either due to the flue design or other factors.

So what I say is this......there is fundamental logic and there is acquired skills or awareness. This awareness of how your system responds......what happens at various stages, it's not written in a book, or applicable to my own environment......it's unique to them, so they must keep notes, think about what they changed, what impact did it have and was is better or worse.

Simon, what you are asking for is impossible and I will tell you why.

Last week I received a fresh arrival Guatemala. I thought it was nice and within the expected specification - moisture, density and screen size. So when I roasted the first batch on Wednesday morning, I though OH YEAH, this is too easy, done it before 80,000 times in the last decade, around 1st crack instead of the RoR diving like most hard, dense Centrals, it actually spiked up and behaved in the complete opposite to what I was expecting. Yes, yet another WTF moment and another never take anything for granted situation.

This also happened on a Colombian that arrived into my warehouse in Dec 2016. It roasts differently to the other 6 Colombians I have. There are no visible signs, no metrics that I can measure which would indicate it would roast differently.

Simon, develop a process the involves what you see and what you taste. Keep meticulous notes (which I suspect would be easy for you  :coffee2:)

Don't be the follower that is influenced by internet knowledge as it will lead you down a rabbit borough to nomansland.

Learn the subtle nuances of what happens to various beans during roasting and then cross-check that with your taste. by all means, try different approaches if the recommendations are logical and possible, but you must understand the change and the effect at the same time.

I roast slow and I roast fast - never is it related to the bean density, varietal or any of the nonsense that is available on the internet.

Seek first to understand what your device is doing......not whether the beans are a factor - yes they will present a spectrum of challenges, but ultimately the process of roasting is relatively transportable across origins and varietals - it's not the massive, insurmountable difference that most people make it out to be (just more a case of too much stuff that people can't understand, or roasting systems that are not operating properly).

Ah wow, no no I definitely appreciate tough love. Thank you very much for that, was incredibly informative!

That's true, too often we can read things, take it as gospel and then when it doesn't work out, get incredibly frustrated. And it's definitely a practice and style that one develops.

Even though I've done a fair amount of roasts I still feel like I don't know what I'm doing at times haha. But you're absolutely right in that it comes down to my experimentation, taking notes, seeing what works/doesn't work, and changing accordingly.

I did honestly think there were certain guidelines (or moreso recommendations) about roasting profiles when it comes to more dense/soft beans etc, but that's really interesting that you're saying it's not as dramatic as people get caught up in... it's left me with some confidence in seeing what works according to my equipment and taste preferences.

For example, I constantly see people on the forums taking alot of their roasts to the first snippets of second crack, yet pretty much most of my roasts I've ever taken to SC just haven't turned out great and they tasted too "dark-roasty", so I mainly roast to 30-60 seconds prior to SC occurring.

That's given me much to ponder for sure.

Thanks for spending the time to help out Jeff, much appreciated :)
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Roasting and bean density!
« Reply #3 on: 12/08/2017, 08:55 PM »
Your welcome Simon and keep on trusting your own convictions.

Roast depth is a personal thing. Those choosing to take it into 2C are doing it because it suits them and there's nothing wrong with that. It could also be due to their system not having enough power or the batch size not being optimal.......it can come down to so many things.

Just like you, I can't seem to warm to 2C coffees and invariably many roasters in Australia are also edging further away from 2C as they become more knowledgeable about their systems and what is happening for the entire duration of their roast, not just the narrow period between 1C and 2C

To think that just a decade ago, very few commercial roasters used logging or monitoring tools and relied upon their olfactory senses and intuition.

However, I will let you in on a not so secret fact about roast profiles in general.......if you are needing more at the end of the roast, e.g. as in 2C, then it's most likely a sure sign you have not put enough into the front of the roast for adequate development.

There is a little light bulb for you grasshopper :lamp:


Simon

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Roasting and bean density!
« Reply #4 on: 12/08/2017, 09:22 PM »
Yeah for sure makes sense.

Strangely enough in most areas of coffee (espresso, dosing, distribution, weighing, measuring, filter brewing, timing, cleaning etc) I seem to be quite finicky and wanting to be exact, yet with roasting I haven't gotten that way at all really. Of course I still measure most things I can, but I go by eye, time after FC and intuition moreso and I don't measure temp nor have I invested in methods of manually controlling heat (old school Behmor 1600 with preset profiles), interesting haha. Maybe one day I will, but alot of it confuses me.

That is interesting regarding second crack. But yeah I guess preference comes in as well, but interesting about the development aspect.

Will keep that all in mind for sure thanks again :)
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Brett H

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Roasting and bean density!
« Reply #5 on: 12/08/2017, 10:43 PM »
Wow... great read! Thank you chaps!
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LeroyC

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Roasting and bean density!
« Reply #6 on: 13/08/2017, 06:24 AM »
Such a great response from MC and I too really appreciate it. Like you Simon I did a hell of a lot of reading online in the few months after I got my Behmor. I'm really glad I did because it taught me a lot about coffee in general and it definitely gave me useful info that I was able to apply to my roasting. What I did make sure of was that I took info from a heap of different resources. This meant that there was definitely a smoothing out of some of the things that are presented as fact in some arenas. Yes there are some general rules and the like, but there are way too many exceptions to make those 'rules' useful time after time.
What I also saw in looking at a variety of resources was how many conflicting opinions there were and also how much rubbish there is out there. With the Behmor for example most of the information online is from North American users that have the 110v machine. The 230v machine that we have in this part of the world is virtually a completely different roaster (it even looks slightly different), so anything you read from them over there is pretty much useless to us here. Also it amazes me how many people say things like 'I spoke to the roaster at my local coffee roaster today and they gave me some great ideas that I'm going to use on my Gene Cafe or Behmor or whatever'. Ridiculous.
I'm loving your passion and enthusiasm Simon and your willingness to ask questions and share. Keep it up.
I love coffee. It's as simple as that.

Simon

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Roasting and bean density!
« Reply #7 on: 13/08/2017, 07:16 AM »
Yeah for sure, and it's definitely put alot into perspective. Always good to look at different sources, I know I've seen absolutely bizarre things out there that aren't even questioned, and yet other people are doing almost the opposite as well and getting great results.

And yet both could be just as methodological and 'scientific' about it!

And wow I was not aware of the difference in overseas Behmor use, makes sense.

I guess it can feel a bit like blindly walking in the dark at times, but that may be where the true learning occurs. You can either have someone shine their flashlight as to where to go (which may be in very strange and unflinching directions), or just take some slow steps and find a way through it for yourself and be more sure of the terrain that way.

Thanks Leroy yeah learning heaps!

Reminds me of the good ol Bruce Lee quote: “Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is uniquely your own .” :)
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Roasting and bean density!
« Reply #8 on: 13/08/2017, 09:33 AM »
That's a great read guys.
Keep exploring and testing Simon.
There's a little science and a lot of art when it comes to roasting. The art is where a lot of the fun is.
Happy roasting
Paul
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Simon

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Roasting and bean density!
« Reply #9 on: 13/08/2017, 01:32 PM »
Thanks Paul, ah that's so true regarding the art/intuitive aspect, really want to tap into that more. I think the search for 'perfection' just leads to alot of needless suffering and frustration. Reckon if we eliminate that concept/mindset it becomes a much more fluid and natural process, and like you said fun!

Of course we can aim for a perfect roast/brew, but not as a made up ideal; more of a willingness to learn and improve where possible.

As Brucey said... *no! No more Bruce!*
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