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Best choices for City+
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Discussions > Coffee > Home Roast > Best choices for...  
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BarryR
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Joined: 21 Nov 2010
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Posted Tue Feb 18, 2014, 4:29pm
Subject: Best choices for City+
 

I tend to roast around FC as I like things a little bitter. Sometimes I find City+ a bit light tasting. Nevertheless, I think I'm probably missing out on some flavors and am trying to explore more City + roasts.

I have a bunch of beans from different continents. Any gen'l guidelines as to which beans will shine at City+ vs FC?

I realize Sumatrans usually are better a little darker so I figure they wouldn't usually be in the running.

I have some Yergs, a Yemen Haraazi, various central and Latin Americans, Kenya Chania bourbon, a Sulawesi Tana Toraja, and SM Ethiopiques to name a few.
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Burner0000
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Posted Wed Feb 19, 2014, 6:41am
Subject: Re: Best choices for City+
 

BarryR Said:

I tend to roast around FC as I like things a little bitter. Sometimes I find City+ a bit light tasting. Nevertheless, I think I'm probably missing out on some flavors and am trying to explore more City + roasts.

I have a bunch of beans from different continents. Any gen'l guidelines as to which beans will shine at City+ vs FC?

I realize Sumatrans usually are better a little darker so I figure they wouldn't usually be in the running.

I have some Yergs, a Yemen Haraazi, various central and Latin Americans, Kenya Chania bourbon, a Sulawesi Tana Toraja, and SM Ethiopiques to name a few.

Posted February 18, 2014 link

Ethiopian's are great at an American - City+ roast. They are delicate tho.. I recently roasted some Yircacheffe to Full City and pretty much toasted most of the bean characteristics.. :(
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boar_d_laze
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Posted Wed Feb 19, 2014, 10:41am
Subject: Re: Best choices for City+
 

I think I've got a pretty good idea of what you're trying to say and what you're going after -- but the term "bitter" is somewhat confusing.  

Something else confusing -- and it's not your fault, it's just plain confusing -- is that compared to C, which is the end of 1stC; and FC which is the first few snaps of 2dC; C+ covers a lot of territory.  

Still another ambiguity -- again, not your fault -- is that power, airflow, and total development time (regardless of finish level) has a lot do with how the roast comes out.  Sadly, you can undervelop at FC and bake at C+.

In general, FC has more dark notes and roast tones than C; but even for a C+ slotted by time and temperature exactly in between C and FC, not by much.  Or it could be a lot.  Depends on the coffee.    

If you want pinpoint accuracy on C+ finishes (and you really do), you need a BT probe set up for real time readout.  Sights, sounds and smells can do it for you at C and FC, but C+ is a continuum.  

You can learn a lot from your greens vendors.  

More than any other retailer, Sweet Maria's offers information and advice on different finish levels for the coffees they sell.  Even if you're using something they don't sell, you can find guidance by looking at their finish advice on stuff in the same micro-climate.  

I could make some generalizations or even a few specific remarks about some of the coffees you've listed, but you're not me and our tastes might differ by quite a lot.  

The real answer is to start sampling for best finish.  Roast two or three samples to whatever finishes interest you and cup them.  (IIRC the smallest sample you can do evenly in a HT is about 80g.  Call it a 100g to be safe.)  Because your BT probe (if you have one) won't be accurate with loads that small, the best you can do is try to keep your time to 1stCs (first crack start) the same for all samples, and within your typical range for your usual profiles.  That is, if you usually plan your times to 1stCs somewhere between 9 and 10min, you'll want to try and hit 1stCs for your samples at right around 9min, and then keep the ET steady all the way to Drop.

Obviously your ET readout is going to help you adjust heat and airflow as you go.  A lot of pros who use open-throat sample roasters try to keep a constant ET.  I didn't start doing that kind of sampling myself until recently and don't know if that's the best strategy for an HT or not.  Just do the best you can to hit the time to 1stCs.

Speaking of equipment, your grinder is plenty good for your non-espresso brew methods; and even for SCAA or COE style cupping, although inconvenient and messy.  However, a Preciso can't provide the separation and nuance in espresso that complex and lively coffees offer at their ideal finish levels -- no matter how you roast.

Rich
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Frost
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Frost
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Posted Wed Feb 19, 2014, 11:58am
Subject: Re: Best choices for City+
 

You can thank (or blame ) Tom Owens for the 'sub' designators City+ and Full City+. I believe he invented them.  I think it is a good idea to better cover this huge range of roast levels.

City, at the completion of First Crack, the lightest roast for palatable completion.

City+, with a bit more finish, smoother bean surface, finish 5-10F above City.

Full City, The quintessential Medium Roast. Full finish, not entering second crack.

Full City+ The first snaps of second crack, the first mark of dark roast notes.

I don't think of any dark roast bitters in Full City, only on entering second crack.

You will see roast profiles with finish times (start of first crack to completion) in the range of 1 to 5 minutes.
This range is wider than the deep blue sea. 15-30 seconds change in finish time will produce remarkable taste differences, as will a change in finish temp of 5F.  

I would suggest one of your light roast experiments is to roast a light City with a fast finish.
Get a cup with in your face dry astringent, (like the white of grapefruit peel) This is a dry mouth feel lingering finish.  Just learn to recognize this 'flavor' when is shows up more subtle in light or fast finish roasts.
This is the 'bitter' mark of a (too?) light roast. It is distinct from the 'sour' or acid of a lighter roast.
Edit: astringency is also a mark of under-ripe beans.

Carl Staub talks about this 'balancing act' in this article:

http://www.sweetmarias.com/roast.carlstaub.html

You are degrading the astringent with a longer or hotter finish, but you are also caramelizing more sugar(less sweet) and burning away precious flavor volatiles. Other roast flavors develop during this time too. Strike the ideal balance for your bean and taste.

I like City+ for many dry process and pulp naturals. Any coffee with good floral or fruit character and moderate acidity is a good candidate for light roasts.
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Frost
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Frost
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Posted Thu Feb 20, 2014, 12:09pm
Subject: Re: Best choices for City+
 

There is something else that occurs somewhere between a light and a dark roast;

The peak of aroma and flavor intensity.

There was a chart on the Sivetz site (no longer, can't find it published elsewhere, I have a copy, but copyright.) It charts the range of roast, %bean expansion, %weight loss, finish temperature, relative roast time, and 'Aroma and Flavor Intensity'.   (curiously missing are first and second crack.. user to fill in and adjust relative points on all parameters.)

I think it is an important consideration in deciding ideal roast degree, as it is this delicious and intoxicating aroma unique to coffee that defines the character of coffee. An intense aroma fills the room. Even those who 'don't like coffee' love the aroma of good coffee. For me, the elusive 'ideal roast' would be at or near this peak while all the other cup qualities; sweet/acid/bitter balance and body, with little or no astringency or other defect... all coming together at the same time in the roast.  It's no wonder roasting is so complicated and difficult to get just right.

Entering second crack marks destruction and decline, you are passing this peak.
You may be very close to this peak just out of first crack, but other cup qualities may need more development.
My experience for my roasting generally puts this aroma and flavor peak in the City+ to Full City range.

This does not help to explain the many tons of coffee that are burned beyond recognition each year.
It is what started me home roasting so many years ago.

There simply is no accounting for taste.
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BarryR
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Posted Thu Feb 20, 2014, 3:58pm
Subject: Re: Best choices for City+
 

Thanks for the excellent replies.
One thing I can do with the Hottop (but haven't wrapped my head around yet) is eject a small qty of beans at various intervals (using the "emergency eject" button).
It won't start cooling them but I could do that in a colander. Just coordinating everything could get rather tricky without 7 hands.
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oldgearhead
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oldgearhead
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Posted Fri Feb 21, 2014, 8:13am
Subject: Re: Best choices for City+
 

My two-cents worth:
You might have too many different kinds of beans. WP,DP, SHG, & etc. We consume only 5 kilos per month, but I purchase 5-10 kilos of each bean,
because it takes a bit practise to 'draw out' the flavor my wife and I like. Furthermore, the crops change each year; My sensory receptors thought the 2010 corp of 'Natural Process' Panama Elida was much better than the 2011. But maybe my taste changed?

oldgearhead: DSC_0095.jpg
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boar_d_laze
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Posted Fri Feb 21, 2014, 8:51am
Subject: Re: Best choices for City+
 

oldgearhead Said:

Furthermore, the crops change each year; My sensory receptors thought the 2010 corp of 'Natural Process' Panama Elida was much better than the 2011. But maybe my taste changed?

Posted February 21, 2014 link

Really nice to see you.

I'm not sure about "much better," but I agree with you that there's quite a difference between the two years.  

I blend Elida Natural with one of two really good Antiguas (either Covadonga or Cafe Femenino), and a Central American honey for our primary blend, "Beautiful Friendship."  Linda and I like how the Elida Natural holds up to FC for pre-roast blending as well as the way it adds very specific berries without any sourness.  The 2011 crop had fewer berries than the 2010 with a little more tendency towards acid; the 2012 wasn't as good in those respects as 2010 either.  

In 2011 and 2012 we tried replacing with the Elida with one of Costa Rica Helsar de Zarcero, Cerro Paldo, El Salvador Mercedes, or  San Francisco Natural -- but absent the berries, the blend wasn't at all the same.  And -- as you can probably infer from the length of the list -- we never liked any of them enough to settle on one, but liked all of the enough to keep mining very similar veins.      

We're very happy with the 2013 harvest, and have 20lbs to hold us until the 2014s come in late Spring.  Given how much BF blend we go through and give away, that should be just about right.  

Elida Natural is one of those beans which retains its essential varietal/terroir characteristics all the way through C+ and FC; and a really great counter-example for the central premise of the thread.  

Rich
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BarryR
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Joined: 21 Nov 2010
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Roaster: Hottop KN-8828B2-K
Posted Fri Feb 21, 2014, 7:36pm
Subject: Re: Best choices for City+
 

oldgearhead Said:

My two-cents worth:
You might have too many different kinds of beans. WP,DP, SHG, & etc. We consume only 5 kilos per month, but I purchase 5-10 kilos of each bean,
because it takes a bit practise to 'draw out' the flavor my wife and I like. Furthermore, the crops change each year; My sensory receptors thought the 2010 corp of 'Natural Process' Panama Elida was much better than the 2011. But maybe my taste changed?

Posted February 21, 2014 link

Actually, I've recently been buying beans mostly in 5 lb lots so I can fine tune the roast. I did get an 8lb sampler with my roaster, but I'm holding off on those until I have a feel for the roaster and what levels / profiles I want to aim for.
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