Experience great professional coffees before you start home roasting - Page 4

Discuss roast levels and profiles for espresso, equipment for roasting coffee.
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RapidCoffee
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Postby RapidCoffee » Sat Jan 27, 2007 2:10 am

TimEggers wrote:All I can say is that my home roasts never did taste quite right (for espresso only). It may be my espresso technique, but it was probably my roast.

Marshall took some guts to say what he did...and frankly based on my own experiences I couldn't agree more.

Tim, with your extensive home roasting experience, I'm surprised to hear you say this. I've always taken it as a given that professional specialty roasters produce a significantly better roast than I do at home - but that's not always been my experience. When my home roasts are "on", I enjoy them every bit as much. I do find that the pros are more consistent at roasting, and better at crafting interesting espresso blends.
____
John

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Martin
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Postby Martin » Sun Jan 28, 2007 3:26 pm

TimEggers wrote:All I can say is that my home roasts never did taste quite right (for espresso only). It may be my espresso technique, but it was probably my roast.
Marshall took some guts to say what he did...and frankly based on my own experiences I couldn't agree more.
Well said.
(toss some of those arrows my way)

"Experience great professional coffees before you start home roasting" That's good advice from Marshall. He doesn't say "how much" experience is required before allowing oneself to homeroast. But I think that there's an unspoken sub-text, which is this: If you are after, consistently, the best coffee, and if you are not a premier homeroaster of, perhaps, Jim's caliber, don't homeroast at all." IMO, this view is firmly rooted in Marshall's unique and admirable experience, and is hardly worth arguing about.

Marshall gets around; he's one of the best resources for referrals to cafes serving high quality coffees----nationwide, it seems. For example, it might have taken me another year to have discovered Cafe Luxxe, even though it's a 5 minute drive. Marshall's key point, I think, is that we must "calibrate" our roasts and tastes in order to even have a clue if we are drinking high or low caliber coffee. But such calibration is iterative: taste some of the best, then do a lesser quality roast at home; then go to a great cafe; then adjust your shots; and so on. That's good advice for home roasters, but not an argument against homeroasting.

A corollary to Marshall's advice might go out to the home barista community. "Please rest your experiences for 48 hours (or days!) before you post them as if they were spectacular advances to blending, roasting, tamping, or whatever. You are totally sold on Pan Roasting? See me in six months. You tried 11% robusta? Do another few roasts and report then. And so forth. Obvious exceptions are people like Marshall and Jim whose discussions are consistently worth reading and reliable. But they and a few others have set (or climbed) a high threshold. All the rest of us are newbies.

Martin

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TimEggers
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Postby TimEggers » Sun Jan 28, 2007 6:17 pm

RapidCoffee wrote:Tim, with your extensive home roasting experience, I'm surprised to hear you say this. I've always taken it as a given that professional specialty roasters produce a significantly better roast than I do at home - but that's not always been my experience. When my home roasts are "on", I enjoy them every bit as much. I do find that the pros are more consistent at roasting, and better at crafting interesting espresso blends.
____
John


Hello John,

I'm surprised to hear this from you! I consider myself to know very little about roasting. Sure I have tried and enjoyed a few methods of homeroasting, I have yet to better understand the process and fundamental changes of the bean during the roasting process. I am still learning and the wanting to learn more lead me to build my soup can roaster (so I could pull samples, take more-or-less accurate bean temps and have control over the entire process).

Having said that I have had several great shots from home roasted beans (specifically Sweet Marias green blends). I have found however that while attempting to better understand and control the variables of pulling a shot the added variables of the home roast made it even more difficult. In short (if it's not to late) I am of the opinion that a typical budding home barista is better serving themselves (as well as their own progress) by using a high quality, professionally roasted established bean/blend. That will elimate a set of variables from a system of already mounting variables.

I love home roasting and I love pulling shots from my roasts, but as I stated above I believe that home roasting is perhaps best left alone (or for press/drip) until the person pulling the shots has aquirred the skills to become a solid home barista. Only then should they begin to fold in the added variables of the home roasted bean (I won't even add the skill needed to properly blend single origin coffees).

I recall when I first began home espresso I was using small lots of home roasted beans (all with different roasts for sure) and I could not form a consistent shot. How many professional baristas adjust there shot techique to a specific roasted lot? I would guess most of them. Being a truly good barista takes skill and talent, same for roasting, these may be best apart from one another during the learning phase otherwise how will the barista know it's their shot or the roast that's off? Let alone they won't (I don't at least) have the skill to know what to change in the shot pull to better dial in the roast.

1. Learn to be a good barista (while learing the skills to taste/cup)
2. Start home roasting
3. Learn the skill of blending properly roasted single origin coffees (best to start with a GOOD preblended commercial green blend)
4. Have fun!

---


Martin,

Excellent thoughts. Very well said.

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Martin
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Postby Martin » Sun Jan 28, 2007 8:13 pm

TimEggers wrote:Martin,
Excellent thoughts. Very well said.

Tim, Thanks. The really scary part is that I'm actually starting to think that I know something about roasting and pulling shots. If I start using words like "swill" or "crap," please let me know (offline) that I've gone over the edge. And no, I don't disagree with Marshall, even though I think he's wrong.
:P
Martin

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Postby DaveC » Tue Jan 30, 2007 2:45 pm

Home roasting is just a great way to gain more knowledge about coffee. It helps to have good kit, but it does not really matter if you can't afford an expensive roaster, there are cheaper alternatives. Are the home roasts as good as the "professional" roasts...who cares, who is to say whats right and wrong. If you like the taste of your roasts, great, keep roasting, keep improving. There is something a bit special about drinking a coffee that you have produced from green bean to cup.

Are all professional roasts great...no, neither all all home roasts. Is it difficult to roast, no, the 80/20 rule applies and 80% of the flavour/quality whatever can be got from the bean quite easily, with only basic skills and experience, prehaps getting all of that last 20% is an "art"

In some respects I agree with what you say Marshall, but only from a perspective of informing yourself about coffee...I see it as no reason to delay the interesting and exciting journey of home roasting. In some respects it's like home wine making!

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Postby jason_casale » Tue Jan 30, 2007 6:46 pm

Boy marshall I could not agree more to me you are preaching to the choir.
When I first started I mail ordered every different espresso and filter coffee from micro roasters I could.
I think I probably have tried at least 30 plus micro roasters for espresso and filter coffee. It gives you reference point for what you are shooting for.
I do not think I started home roasting for that 1st year and a half.
Then when I did it still took a while to get things roasting properly.
Then I moved to larger gas roasters another change all together.
Took about a year to get comfortable and skilled enough to operate one of those properly.
And I am still a novice. Learning from more experienced small batch roasters I respect and know on a personal level.
Good post and good point.

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Postby mrgnomer » Sun Feb 11, 2007 1:45 pm

To find out for myself what I hear being talked about I ordered some Intelligentsia Black Cat, Kid O's and Reserve La Tortuga. It arrived 4 days past roast. The pulls and coffee from all of them are very good. Better than the average roast/blend I've put together but not better than my best blend, I'd have to say. My roaster is a fluid bed as well. If I upgrade to a radiant heat drum I wonder if my roast quality will improve as well.

The La Tortuga is better than anything I've done for drip coffee, though.
Kirk
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Postby timo888 » Sun Feb 11, 2007 2:40 pm

SL28ave wrote:... I think that many great (and essential in many cases) coffees will do just fine when shipped across the country.


On the issue of freshness when ordering mailorder...

I have had excellent coffees that made their way to PA from as far away as WA. It takes 3 days via USPS Priority to cross the country, though maybe as long as 8 days via UPS (no Saturday delivery). For roasters located on a coast who wish to cultivate customers on the opposite coast, USPS Priority is a better shipping choice, IMO.

Also, I would encourage roasters to offer more half-pound bags. We drink on average 4 singles per day, give or take; let's say dosed 10g each to make the calculation easier. At that rate, a single 16oz bag can be opened for as long as 11 days. If we have more than one blend going at a time (e.g. a morning roast and an after-dinner roast), that pushes the number of days the bags have been opened to three weeks (22 days). It would be better to have four half-pound bags than two one-pound bags.

Regards
Timo

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Postby pauljolly65 » Fri Mar 02, 2007 10:13 pm

I just got a pound of Sweet Maria's Liquid Amber (Tom roasts once a week and sells the roasted coffee in addition to the greens). I wanted to continue comparing my homeroast with what's out there. OK, I also wanted to see just how good a roaster Tom Owens is :lol: !

Oh man, it's so much better than my coffee that it's not even funny :oops: . I've got lots of friends who insist that my coffee is the best they've had, and they're probably right, but this was a real clear glimpse of just how far I have to go with my espresso roasting. The Liquid Amber is so smooth with a staggering body and excellent (but muted) high notes. It's give me something to aim for, and will hopefully keep me from becoming too complacent in my own roasting.

Good advice, Marshall. I'm keeping at it.

Paul

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Postby Cathi » Sat Mar 03, 2007 3:04 pm

I've been contemplating jumping in to homeroasting for about 6 months or so but continue to hesitate. For now I'll stick with supporting professionals. I can tell the good stuff from the horrid, but still have a looooong way to go. While I wouldn't discourage anyone who's interested in roasting at home, I think that trying what the pros have to offer can only help you in your journey.