To roast or not to roast

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

Postby faberic » Apr 20, 2007, 10:39 am

I discovered good espresso about a year ago, and now I'm thinking of doing myself a favor with home-roasting.
My question is: shall I do it or not? What I would like to do is to be able to try many kinds of coffee, so be able to try different things and learn more about coffee that way. But I don't want the coffee to be worse than the fresh coffee from the local coffee store (it's tasty and fresh, I like it).

So, with an I-roast 2 for example, can I improve my coffee with a little practice? And is the coffee ALWAYS improved by home-roasting in general?

The price of an I-roast 2 is the maximum I want to spend, so, is it worth the money and time, compared to the fresh coffee from the local coffee store which is just good enough for me, but from which I don't learn much about taste and coffee?

And the last thing I'd like to know: How long can I use the I-roast 2, I don't want it to be broken after a year or two.

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keno

Postby keno » Apr 20, 2007, 11:32 am

faberic wrote:And the last thing I'd like to know: How long can I use the I-roast 2, I don't want it to be broken after a year or two.



A dealer who sells the i-Roast told me to expect 1 to 2 years worth of normal use out of it. People who roast more than the recommended maximum often burn them out sooner. I did the math and it still turns out to be cost-effective figuring that green beans are about half the cost of roasted. You may want to consider purchasing the regular i-Roast (not the 2), it's quite a bit less expensive and not much different from the 2 (the 2 adds a bit more programmability, but in my experience the programming doesn't do what they claim -- not worth the extra $ or euros).

Cheers,
Ken

grong

Postby grong » Apr 20, 2007, 11:41 am

I use a Back to Basics popcorn popper, manual whirly-style of stainless steel. With a stove and ventilation, it allows you to roast up to a pound at a time, and it is pretty easy to learn how to follow the roasting profile you desire. It is inexpensive at around $50. Mine has been in use for over two years and is just breaking in. I regularly roast 13 ounces of greens at a time. It is fun and the coffee is wonderful.

faberic

Postby faberic » Apr 20, 2007, 11:44 am

keno wrote:A dealer who sells the i-Roast told me to expect 1 to 2 years worth of normal use out of it. People who roast more than the recommended maximum often burn them out sooner. I did the math and it still turns out to be cost-effective figuring that green beans are about half the cost of roasted. You may want to consider purchasing the regular i-Roast (not the 2), it's quite a bit less expensive and not much different from the 2 (the 2 adds a bit more programmability, but in my experience the programming doesn't do what they claim -- not worth the extra $ or euros).

Cheers,
Ken




What are the differences exactly? Are there any others having the same experience? I read the I-roast 1 is hard to clean sometimes.

ppopp

Postby ppopp » Apr 20, 2007, 11:58 am

Sweet Maria's does a good job of comparing the iR1 and iR2. I have the iR2, and now wouldn't even consider the iR1. The built-in profiles are too hot and fast for me, so I use my own. The iR1 won't memorize them, so I would have to reprogram them every time, which would be a real pain. The iR2 will let you program and save up to 10 custom profiles.

I think the chaff collector is improved on the iR2. The SM site explains this, I think. But the saved programs are reason enough for me.

About the entire process - start roasting your own and you won't look back. It's fun, easy, and let's you customize your roasts just the way you like them.
Peter

Know beans, know coffee. No beans, no coffee.

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Compass Coffee
Sponsor

Postby Compass Coffee » Apr 20, 2007, 12:06 pm

faberic wrote:So, with an I-roast 2 for example, can I improve my coffee with a little practice?

Probably not with a little practice but maybe with a lot of practice. To an extent depends on the quality of you local roaster. Quality of greens you roast will also be a factor. Not all greens by the same name (varietal etc.) are close to equal. Are you a good cook? Turning beans brown is easy, getting the very best from the bean extremely difficult and time consuming taking years of practice, or maybe a lifetime. Coffee is extremely complex and what's best roast for one bean one crop picking/processing etc. may not be even be best for the same dang bean next year or even same year different lot! OTH getting very good results is quite possible. But it won't be by just push the button and let the I-Roast do it's thing.

And is the coffee ALWAYS improved by home-roasting in general?

Absolutely not. There are many excellent Artisan roasters roasting high quality greens with superb results. Can an experienced serious home roaster who can control their roast profile match their results, IMO sometimes yes sometimes no. And I say this as a 99% home roaster for home consumption 6+ years.

The price of an I-roast 2 is the maximum I want to spend, so, is it worth the money and time, compared to the fresh coffee from the local coffee store which is just good enough for me, but from which I don't learn much about taste and coffee?

Who can say if it will be worth the money, and just as or more importantly the time and effort, to you. For me home roasting is enjoyable and rewarding beyond just the cup. There is much to be learned about the bean home roasting. I love the different smells of the roast through it's progression. Sometimes the smell of 1st crack progressing is about enough to make me swoon. :lol: But I'm also an avid hobby chef and enjoy many forms and styles of cooking. If you're a microwave kind of "cook" you probably won't find home roasting for you.

And the last thing I'd like to know: How long can I use the I-roast 2, I don't want it to be broken after a year or two.

Nobody wants their toys (tools) to break! :wink: But they come with a 1 year warranty not 5 or 10 year warranty for a reason IMO. A multiple thousand dollar commercial roaster I'd expect to last a lifetime, multiple lifetimes even with proper maintenance, but not a sub $200 home roaster much akin to a popcorn popper. Could they be made much more durable? Sure, for a much higher price.
Mike McGinness, Head Bean (Owner/Roast Master)
http://www.CompassCoffeeRoasting.com

FredtheWhale

Postby FredtheWhale » Apr 20, 2007, 4:59 pm

Home roasting is definitely an art. Depending on how you choose to do it, it can be more hands-on or more mechanical, or automated. I roast with a heat gun and greatly enjoy the process and product. It was a low cost of entry and I have a lot of control over the roast.

Mike is correct. It can take a lifetime to master, just like pulling a good shot. I haven't been roasting a long time, but I've really learned a lot about coffee through the process.

If you choose some of the alternate methods like and air popper (~$10) or heat gun (~$30), you can make a quick investment to see how you like doing it and whether it's how you want to spend your time.

RonTheMan

Postby RonTheMan » Apr 20, 2007, 10:06 pm

You should be doing home roasting. Home roasting will ensure that you have the freshest beans possible. When I bought some beans from my local coffee house, I was told that their beans were fresh. Upon reaching home, I found a date on the bottom which was dated 10 days ago!

The other advantage you get from home roasting is the you can roast the type of beans you wish at the roast level you desire. Personally, I prefer a dark roast for certain beans and a lighter one for others.

Also roasting will let you learn more about the different type of beans and is extremely fun. My current roast machine is an air popper.

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another_jim
Team HB

Postby another_jim » Apr 21, 2007, 2:47 am

As Mike says, even a beginner's home roasting will beat out most intermediate coffees; but it won't be close to what the best roasters are putting out until your knowledge of coffee and roasting gets into their league. That can take a good deal of time and effort.

Will it save money? Not if you don't enjoy it -- roasting a pound of coffee at home takes around an hour, sometimes more, depending on your setup. So your "wage" is roughly $12 roasted minus $5 green, or $7 per hour, a sub-minimum wage.

The real benefit of home roasting is that there's no better way to learn about coffee. You can roast the same bean to different colors, or compare two very similar beans, say two Huilas or Sidamos, or taste the same coffee day after day and see how it changes. This is not something that's easily done with shop roasted coffees.

My advice is to consider home roasting as an important and enjoyable part of being a coffee hobbyist; rather than a quick way of getting either cheaper or better coffee.
Jim Schulman

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TimEggers

Postby TimEggers » Apr 21, 2007, 8:54 am

another_jim wrote:Not if you don't enjoy it -- roasting a pound of coffee at home takes around an hour, sometimes more, depending on your setup.



Well yes and no, in the RK Drum for example I routinely pull off 5 lb batches in less than 25 minutes. My typical roast is 2-3 pounds in 15-19 minutes (one batch). Air roasters will have dramatically less throughput yes as you note, but there are methods that can yield larger batches of just as high quality roasts.

Home roasting is a lot like cooking, can the culinary pros crank out better cuisine than me? Yeah, but I love my meals all the same and it won't keep me from cooking!