The Longest Day

Discuss roast levels and profiles for espresso, equipment for roasting coffee.

Do you homeroast?

Yes
87
74%
No, but I'm interested
21
18%
No
9
8%
 
Total votes: 117

Abe Carmeli
Team HB

Postby Abe Carmeli » Jun 23, 2005, 3:22 pm

We all have those days that seem to never end. At times it is trouble at home, at others, maybe waiting for the cable guy to show up. Lately, most of mine are of a different kind altogether. If you think you are a freak, hang on; this one may help you feel a little better about your coffee obsession.

I have three roasters at home. Two fluid bed air roasters and one drum roaster. Most of the coffee I drink I blend & roast myself. It is labor of love, and if you are a person who enjoys the road as much as the destination, you may find the experience very rewarding.

Occasionally, when I get caught up in the pace of living in New York, or have an unexpected party of friends over, I will be behind on my roasting schedule, and end up without coffee. What is the problem you ask? You have three roasters, so take 20 minutes, roast a batch and you're good for another week. Well, there lies the problem: Most blends require a few days of rest after roast to degas and mature before they reach their peak. I have tried it out of the roaster at various times, only to learn that I prefer it on the 4th-5th day.

So here I go: roast a batch, and wait. It is like watching a kettle boil for four days. On most occasions, I put it at the back of my mind and go on with my life. There's nothing I can do to speed up those beans, so why ponder? But every once in a while, on a full moon, my coffee gene kicks in, and waiting for the 4th day to arrive is all I think about.

Last week I had my roasting emergency. An unexpected party on Monday left me beanless on Tuesday. I rush to roast a batch before I go to work. Done! On my lunch break I stop by Whole Foods and pickup a 3 day old Mokah Java. It is going to be Americanos for me for three days.

The days pass, it is now Sunday morning, 9:00 a.m. and I'm having breakfast at home with a friend. We planned a bike ride to visit a Native American Powwow. You look a little distracted she says, what's going on? It's those beans, I say. What beans? The coffee beans I roasted on Tuesday. They are going to be ready in five hours while we'll be miles away. Abe, this is not the moon landing; you do not have to watch it live. They'll be here when we come back.

She had a point, but how could I explain it to her? She never roasted a peanut in her life.
We hopped on our bikes and made it to the powwow by 12:00 p.m. It was a very festive event. Many Native Americans in costume, dances and songs, Native American crafts, hundreds of people around, and I am lost in thought. I was watching it all as if I were not there. With all that commotion around me, all I could think about was those darn beans.
Abe Carmeli

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HB
Admin

Postby HB » Jun 23, 2005, 6:17 pm

Abe Carmeli wrote:All I could think about was those darn beans.

True confession: I won a Zack & Dani roaster at the SCAA conference in Atlanta and I've never used it. In fact, I loaned it to Peter Guiliano as a sample roaster months ago. Now I read your post and Mike Walsh's An Aficionado's Guide to Espresso Blending in the same day. The guilt pangs return... shouldn't I be interested in homeroasting?

What's motivating you to spend the time roasting your own coffee when there's (presumably) professional roasters who will do it for you? Is it the cost, flexibility, or the pleasure of crafting your own stuff? In other words, what am I missing out on?
Dan Kehn

Abe Carmeli
Team HB

Postby Abe Carmeli » Jun 23, 2005, 6:44 pm

HB wrote:What's motivating you to spend the time roasting your own coffee when there's (presumably) professional roasters who will do it for you? Is it the cost, flexibility, or the pleasure of crafting your own stuff? In other words, what am I missing out on?


I guess the bottom line answer is "I like it". But to be more specific: Every roasting session is an experiment in coffee, and a creative outlet for me. I try to go through life intentionally creating memorable experiences. Those roasting sessions are little surprises that wait for me at the end of those four days.

As a kid I loved birthday parties. I loved them mostly because they offered a small bag of cookies and candy to all the guests. In there, mingled with the goodies, there was a little surprise: usually an action figure, or a little toy. This is my adult attempt to recreate that experience. When you are roasting new coffee, experimenting in creating a new blend, you don't know how it is going to taste. There is a lot of suspense in that game, and the payoff is huge when you hit your mark. It is a great process of discovery.

Espresso freedom is another aspect of it: Just like I wouldn't want to eat in restaurants every day, I don't want to be served by roasters every day. There is very little room for innovation that way.

The last aspect of it is what I would call Total Espresso: Without roasting, you miss out on one important aspect of espresso. Roasting offers you to become more intimate with the beans. It is like saying, yeah, I knew you when you were green, we go back a long way :wink: .
Abe Carmeli

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another_jim
Team HB

Postby another_jim » Jun 23, 2005, 10:27 pm

Very poetic, Abe!

Simple fact; the time spent by the average middle class American homeroasting puts the cost up at around $20 -$25 per pound. Double that or more for professionals or other upper middle class careers.

So, if home roasting is a chore rather than a pleasure, it's not a good idea to do it; buy your coffee "cheap" from a master roaster :lol:

You have to be a bit of a control freak for highline home espresso; so the idea of doing your own roasting, blending, "can I get the cherries, there's some processing ideas I want to try" and finally "if only I could grow those trees in this spot." The quest for ulitmate control over every variable never ends. But that's not a reason to homeroast, just an abyss.

It has to stay fun.

I like to try new things to keep it fresh. I tend to alternate between trying new coffees and blends, and then trying new technologies or profiles for roasting.

Right now I'm waiting for bits and pieces from McMasters-Carr for my latest idea -- variable roast chamber insulation. That way I can keep the same profile for bean temps, but at different supply air (aka source temperatures) ramps. I'll see if lower is always better (as most gurus maintain), or if some beans do better with higher temperature air blowing in (i.e. a bigger temperature spread for the beans during the roast).

Abe Carmeli
Team HB

Postby Abe Carmeli » Jun 24, 2005, 11:34 am

another_jim wrote: and finally "if only I could grow those trees in this spot."


LOL, Jim, is that where I'm headed? I have a big terrace, but man, I don't think I can fit a coffee tree in there.
Abe Carmeli

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another_jim
Team HB

Postby another_jim » Jun 25, 2005, 1:37 am

I was thinking of smuggling out some Harar shoots and growing them in Antigua. Your porch just doesn't have the right "terroir" sorry :wink:

The new insulation arrived. So far, the cooler one can roast the better.

Abe Carmeli
Team HB

Postby Abe Carmeli » Jun 25, 2005, 8:24 am

another_jim wrote: The new insulation arrived. So far, the cooler one can roast the better.


Sweet. Please let us know how it turned out.
Abe Carmeli

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Compass Coffee
Sponsor

Postby Compass Coffee » Jun 26, 2005, 3:51 am

HB wrote:What's motivating you to spend the time roasting your own coffee when there's (presumably) professional roasters who will do it for you? Is it the cost, flexibility, or the pleasure of crafting your own stuff? In other words, what am I missing out on?

Many reasons, a couple freshness, quality control and variety. I may be a bit extreme but have around 60 different greens. Almost never drink the same cup back to back be it SO or blend, how boring!
Mike McGinness, Head Bean (Owner/Roast Master)
http://www.CompassCoffeeRoasting.com

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TUS172

Postby TUS172 » Jan 01, 2007, 2:00 pm

I know I am really late to this thread but hey I'm new in town...

another_jim wrote:Simple fact; the time spent by the average middle class American homeroasting puts the cost up at around $20 -$25 per pound. Double that or more for professionals or other upper middle class careers.


I am assuming that you are counting time as money and you have "tongue in cheek" :wink: during that quote. My free time is just that, free. I guess I have spent around 300.00 total on my home built roaster and roasting drums(3). Then of course there is the cost of propane and the minute amount spent on power for the motor drive and green beans (including shipping)... Other than that I think its a great hobby, a learning experience, sometimes frustrating but for the most part very rewarding, and it is always an adventure. I agree with 'poetic' Abe on all his points.

Mine is not fancy but it gets the job done in pretty good fashion.
Image
Bob C.
(No longer a lever purist!)
LMWDP #012

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iginfect

Postby iginfect » Jan 01, 2007, 3:22 pm

I home roast out of necessity. There are no local roasters and the regional "roaster"(Chris' Coffee) has only one choice. My inlaws in Carboro, where I visit every Dec., have multiple sources of fresh roasted beans, almost all from Counter Culture, so why bother? We had some great espresso there. Dan need not roast, he has one of the best roasters in the country and my understanding is that he is there every Fri. a.m.

Marvin