Experience great professional coffees before you start home roasting - Page 2

Postby lparsons21 on Sun Jan 07, 2007 8:03 pm

I agree with the premise, if we are talking about blends. I haven't mastered that particular art yet other than my accidental blends. Some of those have been tasty.

But for SOs I totally disagree. I like lighter roasts to emphasize the particular coffees nuances and characteristics over the roast flavor. I tend to roast to a lighter level than even Tom at Sweet Marias recommends. Usually I roast just into, through or barely finished 1st crack depending on bean.

The only thing I take further than that are the espresso blends, and those I take into but not through 2nd crack.

I have tried various roasters and find most of the ones I've tried roast darker than I care for. And there is the difficulty if you like lots of different kinds throughout a week. I drink at least 4 different coffees each week by roasting small amounts. Amounts that wouldn't make economic sense if I wanted them fresh in small quantities, shipping would push the price up to unacceptable levels.

So for variety and freshness, I don't think you can beat roasting your own. But you do have to be willing to fiddle until you find the roast that is the sweet spot for a particular bean or blend.
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Postby pauljolly65 on Sun Jan 07, 2007 9:12 pm

mrgnomer wrote:I think if a professional micro roaster has made the investment in equipment, experience and ingredients they should produce a product superior to an amateur's. Roasted coffee is pretty volatile, though, and the edge on freshness would go to the home roaster.


I agree. There is a local roaster nearby with great equipment & they've been doing their thing for the last 7-10 years. However, their espresso is swill...in part b/c they start with bad beans. (I've bought greens from them before and had no luck getting an interesting shot out of them.) But roasters who have good equipment, whose experience is not measured merely in time but in attention to detail, and who start with the best available beans are far more likely to produce roasted coffee that is better than what I can make.

That said, I (and the rest of us homeroasters) have one advantage on all of them: we always know how fresh our coffees are, and that aspect can't be beat by an out-of-town roaster. I've had some good Espresso Forte from Peets that turned lame within five days. I've also had some excellent Hayes Valley roast from Blue Bottle that turned in about the same amount of time. Yet I avoid that problem with my coffee by roasting enough for a few days at a time. (That said, I've had the Hairbender at Ritual Coffee in SF and it was very good, while the espresso pulled at the Blue Bottle shack downtown is incomparable in my taste.)

My two cents...

Cheers,
Paul
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Postby swines on Sun Jan 07, 2007 9:20 pm

Marshall wrote:I voted "no." This will come as no surprise to anyone who has read my responses to home roasting evangelists on alt.coffee.

I think the proportion of home roasters who really know how to roast and have the equipment, real estate and patience to do it right is quite small.


Based upon what statistics? If it's all about what you "feel" as opposed to facts, then certainly no one can argue with you. I only personally know two people who roast coffee at home - both are dedicated, have the equipment, and spend the time to learn how to roast properly.

More than that, what is your definition of doing it "right"? Why do you even care if someone wants to home roast? Some people bake, others garden, etc. - and some people like to roast coffee. Why is it any of your business what they do in their free time for enjoyment?

What I see over and over again are people whose only reference points have been mummified supermarket beans, then buy a little air roaster, enjoy their first fresh beans and conclude that their four-minute roasts are the pinnacle of the roasters' art.


You're awfully arrogant in your assumptions. I have several friends who go out of their way to purchase beans from two local coffee roasters. We give them home roasted coffee every so often, and by consensus, here's the facts bucko - our single origin roasted coffees hold up and compare equally to ANYTHING they get from the local roasters.

I will never forget the SCAA Homecoming a couple of years ago, where a new home roaster from San Diego with a Fresh Roast flew into a tizzy, because Marty Curtis dared suggest professionals with commercial equipment might do a better job of roasting.


They can also do a worse job of roasting. I've had really stinky coffee on more than one occasion from a "professional" roaster. Over roasted, dark, dripping with oil, etc. - yeah, that'll prove what you can do with commercial equipment - ruin large batches of beans faster. A stunning accomplishment by any measure.

You see it over and over again on alt.coffee, where some beginner asks where he can buy great coffee, and the missionaries immediately jump in to tell him he won't really experience good coffee until he home roasts.


And this makes all home roasting people over bearing jerks?

I have the utmost respect for people like Ken Fox and Jim Schulman, who have devoted serious time, thought and money to putting out a professional-level roast. But, frankly, I am wary of anything that might encourage more novices to home roast before they experience great professional coffees.


Yeah, novices at anything should quit first and not try something new...
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Postby jrtatl on Sun Jan 07, 2007 9:32 pm

Wow, it sounds like you don't even home roast, yet were deeply offended by Marshall's opinion and observation. For the love of God, please lighten up.
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Postby HB on Sun Jan 07, 2007 9:49 pm

swines wrote:Yeah, novices at anything should quit first and not try something new...

Not at all. Marshall said (emphasis added):

Marshall wrote:But, frankly, I am wary of anything that might encourage more novices to home roast before they experience great professional coffees.

Sounds like good advice to me.
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Postby swines on Mon Jan 08, 2007 12:57 am

jrtatl wrote:Wow, it sounds like you don't even home roast, yet were deeply offended by Marshall's opinion and observation. For the love of God, please lighten up.


I guess you missed all the really big smiley emoticons I wanted to put in my answer specifically for people like you. And, I do home roast so you're wrong in your assumption. In fact I've been to roasting schools and seminars, have used professional roasting equipment, and have done coffee profile development. The roaster I use gives me results pretty much equal to the larger equipment.

I just don't understand why someone home roasting should offend Marshall as much as it apparently does. Using the same logic, I guess you could make the case that no one should home brew beer until they've sampled every micro brewery available first because the micro brewers have better equipment and more experience.

If you're having fun, and enjoying good coffee - that's what counts. Not what I think or what Marshall thinks.

If buying coffee gets you the results you want that's okay by me. I prefer to roast my own as I think I have better choices available (there are currently 20 different coffees in my coffee storage) - just waiting for me to pick the one to roast next. While I don't have 20 year's experience - I will in another 15. But, I won't get there unless I roast my own coffee. I sample coffee whenever I travel. If a coffee is exceptionally good, I may purchase a 1/2 pound to take back so that I can look at the roast more carefully, cup it, and make notes on it. I regularly visit with a local roaster and sometimes bring him a roast of something he's never tried (Australian coffee for example).

What offended me in Marshall's post is his simplistic categorization of people who home roast. Yes, I find that as offensive as you have found my post. Lighten up? How about you taking your own advice?
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Postby cafeIKE on Mon Jan 08, 2007 1:50 am

Marshall wrote:I voted "no." ....

I think the proportion of home roasters who really know how to roast and have the equipment, real estate and patience to do it right is quite small


Using that logic, we don't need H-B, CG, or a.c either.

The vast majority of espresso machine owners don't know sh!t from shinola
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Postby Marshall on Mon Jan 08, 2007 2:55 am

cafeIKE wrote:Using that logic, we don't need H-B, CG, or a.c either.

There are already lots of home roasting forums and mailing lists. I thought putting another one here was just a distraction.


cafeIKE wrote:The vast majority of espresso machine owners don't know sh!t from shinola.

You said it, not me. :D But, for similar reasons, I am always urging people to calibrate their palates at a top notch (you can call them "third wave," if you like) coffee shop. I think way too many home baristas give up on truly great espresso and rely on milk drinks and americanos. If they spent a little time at a serious espresso bar, they would understand what the holy grail is.

People are always moaning about how far they live from a decent coffee bar and how the only "good espresso" within X miles is in their own kitchen. In point of fact, a lot of them only know their home brew is a lot better than the local commercial swill and have no idea how theirs compares to the very best. But, if you are serious about this art (and if you are reading this forum you are probably serious enough for your family and friends to think you have a screw loose), it is really worth a little pilgrimage.
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Postby luca on Mon Jan 08, 2007 10:22 am

Hi guys,

I've got to say that I think that this thread is a bit all over the place. Somehow it seems to have become "home roasting VS professional roasting." I'm pretty sure that Marshall was actually trying to advocate a way of getting the most out of home roasting. To try to contribute something new to this thread, let me just point this out: (Good) Pro roasters talk to each other, send each other samples, buy their competition's coffee surreptitiously, go to seminars, etc. In other words, they learn from each other, both when they're just starting out and on a constant basis. So why wouldn't you want to do that if you were home roasting?

Cheers,

Luca
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Postby SL28ave on Mon Jan 08, 2007 1:50 pm

Perhaps in agreement with Marshall, I largely disagree with the often stated notion that home roasting is the way to go because it's fresher than professional roasts. I don't only disagree with this when the coffee drinker has a local roaster to get beans from. I think that many great (and essential in many cases) coffees will do just fine when shipped across the country.

Both home and professional roasting can be OK! Roasting is damn tough, though. And at times there are expressions of coffees that only pros will have.
"Few, but ripe." -Carl Friedrich Gauss
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