Posted Fri Jan 17, 2014, 10:11am Subject: How far into second crack, if at all?
I'm really just looking for opinions and experiences with roasting into second crack. I know that generally the farther into the roast you go the more the roast profile overtakes the bean origin profile. I wanted to avoid this so I could really learn the flavors of the various origins. I would generally pull the roast either before 2nd crack or after I heard one or two cracks of 2nd crack. For a while I was finding that most of my roasts tasted slightly too acidic/tart for my tastes, and I wasn't getting all (or any) of flavors used to describe these beans. I decided to try to go a bit darker, say about 30-60 seconds into second crack, and here I found was all the flavor that I was missing. I've roasted several batches this way and have really been able to notice the differences in the origins, and it just down right tastes better now.
I know what some of you are thinking. I burnt my beans, and might as well go with *$. I think, though, that my success at slightly darker roasts has to do with my cooling method. I basically use a box fan on a stand pointed up, with a mess tray that I made, which allows the beans to be spread out in one layer. The bean are cool to the touch with in 10 seconds, if that. I'm wondering if others with slower cooling methods have experience at lighter roasts because the beans are still "cooking through" during their cooling process, in the same way a steak does as you let it rest when it comes off the grill.
Anyway, that's my experience so far. I would love any feedback or insights others might have. It is a learning process.
Posted Fri Jan 17, 2014, 10:48am Subject: Re: How far into second crack, if at all?
Roasting is not just about teh destination but also about the journey. How you get to 2nd is just as important as being there (or not). Maybe some details or even a graph of a roast might help with the opinions you receive.
Brewing method as well as the origin of the bean is also very important. A Colombian roasted to just after first can be quite good as drip but probably fairly well spittable as espresso.
Beyond that, the best advice is to experiment and find what tastes best to you.
Posted Fri Jan 17, 2014, 12:06pm Subject: Re: How far into second crack, if at all?
How long are you degassing your roast? If you have roast that taste too acidic/tart or little to no caramel/chocolate coming though give your roast a little more time to rest or set up. Depending on the varital and roast degree most beans need 5-7 days rest to be in their prime and reveal their most balanced flavor.
Posted Fri Jan 17, 2014, 12:49pm Subject: Re: How far into second crack, if at all?
I generally let the coffee rest/degas 3-4 days before touching it. Though, I have gotten to it a bit faster if my rested were running low. There is a clear difference.
Generally, for my roasts I start at a low temp and ramp up every couple of minutes until I get up to full temperature. It is hard to tell the temp exactly because I am using a meat thermometer that is really just checking the air temp, not the bean mass. A roast from start to finish will generally take 12-15 minutes. I am using and SC/CO style roaster.
Posted Fri Jan 17, 2014, 3:30pm Subject: Re: How far into second crack, if at all?
If you are running into second crack just to tame a tart acidity, there are other ways to accomplish this. Your overall roast times look good for your roaster, but look at how long you spend between the start of first crack and roast completion; A longer time here, a slower development, will mute acidity without bringing out the darker roast flavors. It is both time and temperature here that is critical; The hotter the roast, the faster the roast reaction rate.
OTOH, going into second crack and the higher temperature roast will bring out different flavors if the bean variety and origin is so inclined. Bittersweet dark chocolate, pungent mulling spice like clove and cinnamon. Keep going darker into second crack and you get the turpeny distillates, then further still... carbon and ash.
I have some El Salvador Majahual - Tablon Tempisque from Sweet Maria's that responds well to a fast finish (3-3.5 minutes in my roaster) with some second crack. Full City+ to bring out these complex flavors. Wonderful! I like the dark chocolate and spice but stop short of the distillates. Other coffees (like a Dry Process Ethiopian) I wouldn't dream of taking this dark.
If you enjoy these darker roast flavors, by all means explore. This is one big reason to home roast; to have coffee roasted the way you like it!
Posted Fri Jan 17, 2014, 10:22pm Subject: Re: How far into second crack, if at all?
I clock 'finish time', from start of first crack until roast end. This for my espresso roast is mostly between 3 and 4 minutes. Go longer if too tart, shorter if too flat.
Time between cracks will give an indication of how fast and hot you are running the finish. If first and second run right together, you are blazing. For a light roast, first crack might last for the entire 3 minute finish.
carbondream Senior Member Joined: 22 Jan 2014 Posts: 1 Location: United States Expertise: I live coffee
Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 7:52pm Subject: Re: How far into second crack, if at all?
In addition to these suggestions, dont be afraid to play around with the heating profile. Ex. Turn heat down a bit at peak of first crack and back up at the end of first crack. Biggest piece of advice i can give is.... MAKE NOTES!
Posted Thu Jan 23, 2014, 7:30am Subject: Re: How far into second crack, if at all?
Once or twice a year I buy greens from one of my fav roasters. I 'll buy 20-60lbs of their top varitals and see how close I can match the beans flavor profiles using their profile tips. It's interesting to see how much I have to modify my own profiles and roasting techniques that I've developed over the years roasting on my limited equipment. Below is a tip from their roastmaster.
Hello Joe, In regards to your questions, we roast everything right to end of first crack. Typically that means 2:30-3:00 mins tops. As soon as you hear that last pop, you want to drop. i don't prescribe to the ideas of hard fast roast profiles as much as a roasting for "origin" character vs "roast"character. This holds true for all the coffees you purchased from us. Hint-We drop the El Salvador Malacara Tablons early-2:15 mins
Let me know if you have any more questions. -- David Vicente Johnson Head Roaster/Green Coffee Buyer Barefoot Coffee
DavecUK Senior Member Joined: 21 Sep 2005 Posts: 1,467 Location: UK Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Thu Jan 23, 2014, 10:09am Subject: Re: How far into second crack, if at all?
It's hard to generalise, but try not to go very far into second crack at all, it doesn't favour most coffees. Equally try and always finish 1st crack, to not do so (especially on a smaller mass home roaster), will not favour most coffees.
Roasting just to the end of first crack might be OK, but unlikely to give great results on a home roaster with a small mass of beans (sub 300g). For the commercial roast You can get away with it, but I find that it can be 50/50 with a lot of beans. Get your roast level somewhere between 1st and 2nd crack. If you can a little into first crack try to reduce the heat input to the roast (on a larger commercial roaster you would be doing this earlier than on a smaller roaster. Your not wanting to see the temperature drop, but you are wanting to limit the maximum temperature and have the first crack not be too short. 2m 30s to 3m is good.
Lastly when 1st crack has finished, you may need to reduce heat again to maintain a flatter temp profile as you again don't really want things getting too hot....but of course you don't want it to get colder.
If you don't know a coffee a good first roast is always "just" to second wanting to start....then pull it back from there on subsequent roasts and cup.
Apart from the above, you also have to experiment with your max temps for any particular bean...rule of thumb, Harder/higher grown, the higher the temps it can take, naturals and sun dried like the ethiopians, you want to use the lowest temp you can that gives acceptable results, because the cherry layer remnants that gives the fruit notes is in the outer surface of the bean and high temps either kills the flavours or makes it taste a little funky. in general coffee hates getting too hot (hotter than it needs to) and it's a good way to lose a lot from the roast...but it doesn't like being baked either,. If your home roast is longer than 17m it's likely to taste very flat and a touch cardboardy.
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