Coffee Roasting - Our view

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Coffee Roasting-Our View
Try arrange a meeting with 3 or even more persons (even 2 persons will do) whose profession is a coffee roaster and ask them this 2 questions: What is a perfect roast and What makes a roast perfect. 2 similar questions with supposedly different answers, then you would probably hear many different answers and it would become such a lengthy discussion.

For those who roast at home for hobby (we call these people: home roaster hobbyst), these questions may not matter much because as long as the person/and his family who roasted the coffee enjoys the coffee, it will be a perfect cup each time. But there are some who are always eager to find out the truth and facts about roasting and always in search of better way of roasting coffee and worst, there are some who think and boast the coffees they roast are worlds best,  I tell you this: you are chasing your own tail!

Fact is this: there is no such thing as perfect roast for every one as every one's pallette is different. BUT if you enjoy roasting on your own with anything from a saucepan on your stove to a fancy Hottop roaster, every coffee you roast is made perfect! (Forget the very first few batches the time you learnt roasting, they sux, yes I must agree :D ) If you enjoy every cup of it, it is made PERFECT! 

With all that, there are actually 2 scientific facts in roasting process
1. Coffee will eventually crack or pop (2 times) over a certain heat and time
2. Coffee is like other food things, heat them too long, they will burn and charred.

I won't discuss about these in detail because I am pretty sure that when you actually browse my green coffee bean listings and read this guide, most of you already know how to roast coffee beans and there are numerous websites all over the net about roasting coffee, so I just want to share here my view, again without giving much details that already overly available about roasting your coffee bean at home.

Without going too much in the "BS" of coffee roasting, my personal view and approach have never been far from these:

1. See them well
2. Smell them well
3. Hear them well
4. Log them well

And most importantly:
5, CUP them well

See Them Well

Look and learn at their colors changing from green to brown to dark brown to dark if you are a first time learner. BUT AVOID LIKE A PLAGUE DARK BLACK Coffee color, I don't really care about the taste, it can burn your house! If you fancy a sweet delicious chocolate bar like me, the Lindt 60% dark chocolate color is the most dark you can go.

The color can change rapidly from the time you hear the first pop, so watch that glass window carefully and observantly and if your roaster is so fancy you can take some sample out, take a sample out every 10 seconds and LOOK! And if you have a color guide, compare them without a blink.

Smell Them Well

This is easy for those lucky enough to own a roaster that you can take sample while you roast. You want to smell a sweet candy/ sugar cane caramel smell aroma coming out from the sample. You can differentiate the smell better and better with experience and you will know what kind of smell you are looking for. It is sweet hot lolly smell. Or if you want, you can try put a table spoon of sugar on a spoon and heat it on a small undirect flame from your stove. The smell of the sugar heated up will be similar.

If you dont have a roaster that fancy, well, too bad...nah...just kidding! You can smell them when you dump them to cool them. But this will become a trial and error, Key is to roast in small quantity. It will be easier for you and save you some green beans too. The sweetest smell from a roast batch is usually the best one.

Hear Them Well

This is easy. They pop yes. When you heat up coffee beans as long as the heat temperature in the roasting chamber goes up steadily (no staling or stagnant) you will hear them pop. The first pop is very audible (true some green beans dont sound as loud but they do pop). This is when caramelization starts, the sugar content in the coffee burnt, the caramel smell starts to emerge from the smoke, the moisture content gradually disappear and the coffee beans start to expand, then if you let the roast continue, it will lead to the 2nd pop which sounds a bit sharper but somewhat not as loud as the first one. This is where the coffee bean body or cellulose start to crack and split, more sugar burnt, more moisture gone and the outer layer of coffee beans start to carbonise. The time from first pop to the second pop is varied from coffee to coffee from roaster to roaster and of course from person to person operating the roaster.

The crack times become a very un ending subject discussed in every good coffee roasting forum websites, this is where all the "BS" comes out and making things even more difficult to understand for a newbie roaster. Some do try to be a scientist or scientist wannabe in explaining his or her theory over a coffee roasting process while most more experience roasters choose to be quiet and enjoy his/her own methods and findings. My advise to you is this: Don't let these discussions overwhelm you in your coffee roasting journey. You will eventually know what to hear and when you have to call it. Keep on experimenting and logging your experiment. (next one!)

Log Them Well

This is nothing other than a good old note book with a decent pen that you enjoy writing to. Take note on everything, 1st crack time, 2nd crack time if applicable, dump time, start temp, preheat temp, day, time of the day, ambient room temp, humidity, green bean weight, post roast weight, and if applicable, bean temp. The notes that you take will help you alot in determining whats best coffee for you. Design your roast log neatly easy to read, and be persistent and diligent!

Cup Them Well

After roast you need to cup them! Try cup them in 10 hours and 24 hours after roast. I mean cup them not espresso them or latte them. CUP them properly. What is cupping? It is like making a long black. A good proper cupping is about 8 gram of course ground coffee to 150 ml of water. Pour hot water slowly over the edge of the cup and let them soak and SMELLLLL that awesome magical aroma! Wait 3 min and start slurping. Feel the taste note, feel the sweetness, and record them. Ask yourself this: Do you like the body? Do you like the sweetness? Is it bitter? Is it acidic? Is it balance? Is it clean? Don't worry about other things yet such as floral or "that" fruit taste. The main idea is this: Do you like it? If you do, wow, congratulation, you have roasted your perfect cup!!!

Another thing you can do: Come to Sweet Yarra Coffee roastery and talk about your finding and taste our coffee too. Feel free to ask questions, email us!

Cheers!
Ivan
Roastmaster Sweet Yarra Coffee
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