username Senior Member Joined: 5 Jul 2011 Posts: 45 Location: P3 WH N Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: d2 Grinder: maj Vac Pot: no Drip: pouring over. pressing. Roaster: B1.6K
Posted Thu Jul 19, 2012, 6:08pm Subject: Beans for home roasting (learning curve on the learning curve)
I've had a B1600 for a while now---ordered through SM a few rounds. Overall things are OK.
I have some pretty high-end coffee stuff, and I know that the B1600 isn't exactly in the same league as my other gear, and I'm not expecting too much. In fact, that's pretty much my point. If there is one thing I've learned it is that I have a lot to learn. I'd like to get good at doing the basics.
So here's my question:
Q1: What kinds of beans are the least challenging to home roast?
I'm not asking about specific batches or blends, but instead more like the style---this wet v. dry, high v. low or other categories or classes.
I've noticed a few beans I've ordered required a bit more sophistication. For example, in my last order I brought home an extra-large bean sumatra which was good when I hit it, but it was very hard to hit. No audible (or visual!) FC and seemed to be tough to time how the beans were progressing. A peaberry brazilian was good too, but was very easy to take too far. In addition to those two I had a Rwanda which was 'easier'. I still managed to **** a few batches up, but overall, I could rely on just waiting for FC and then using the force to decide when to push the button.
Anyway---I'm looking for suggestions about the features (style, climate, all the other stuff) that makes for easier roasts.
I'm sure there are thousands of hours of reading that can be done, but if I don't go to work, someone is probably going to come take my major away! Plus, experts already know what makes beans challenging, and the intro/education stuff is not really all that forthcoming about the fact that this coffee habit is not perfectly easy.
I'm hoping some of you out there know what I mean and have figured out the broad strokes.
Posted Thu Jul 19, 2012, 9:55pm Subject: Re: Beans for home roasting (learning curve on the learning curve)
You might go with the centrals and South Americans. That is, the strictly hard beans. They accept more heat willingly. Costa Rican, Colombian, Guatemalan. Some El Salvadors can be a bit tricky, but are SO good. It also depends on what appliance thou are roasting with, and what roast degree you are reaching for. I prefer my SO's stopped before 2nd crack, which makes my job not so hard, as I keep records of each bean, time to 1st crack, how long was the 1st crack, when I stopped the roast by time, how large the "charge" (amount of green bean in the drum) roast color (city+, etc).
Obviously, 2 different guatemalans from 2 different farms can chary a bit, but in general, if they are both SHB (strictly hard bean) your results should be fairly similar. As we are not professional coffee roasters, close is not a bad result.
Posted Fri Jul 20, 2012, 2:06pm Subject: Re: Beans for home roasting (learning curve on the learning curve)
I'm trying to read between the lines.
Let's try this: I had 10 lbs of El Salvador that was 'unforgiving'. At 2:30 min after the onset of the 1CR I got a decent FC roast. At 2:40 (just 10 seconds more) I was into a minute of 2CR and a bit dark for my liking. On top of that I had voltage variation issues and ambient temp issues. I could never get 2 roasts the same.
Right now: I am doing 10 lbs of Sumatra Mandheling Gr 1 (from SM's) which is very forgiving of voltage variations and timing. While sometimes I edge into the 2CR it is always drinkable and I have done roast after roast +/- the same.
Similarly: I am roasting Monkey Blend for one of my sons with similar results. Always an easy roast, and good flavour either side of the 2CR.
In conclusion, I take VERY seriously Joe's Rosetta-Stone rule: That you pay close attention to the number of min/sec after the onset of the 1CR per notes in his manual. I did 3 successive roasts of the Monkey Blend, 15 seconds apart, to find the best time to 'go-to-cool'.
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