Advice on Crash & Flick with Electric Roaster - Page 3

Discuss roast levels and profiles for espresso, equipment for roasting coffee.
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#21: Post by Almico »

cjhacker23 wrote:I am, thus far, unable to **control** my roaster. This is my first step. I would like to make my roaster do what I want it to do, taste aside. Because what does it matter what this particular roast tastes like, if I can't replicate it, or control my output from batch to batch? Also, I would like to be able to produce a classic Rao-inspired curve as a baseline roast. If I can reproduce that, and cup it, and find it lacking in some way, **then** I will tweak. Because at that point, I will be able to steer the roast purposely in a certain direction, if that makes any sense.

In other words, I think folks may overestimate my level of proficiency. I still don't really know what I'm doing! :D
Yes yes yes.

Learning to make your roaster do what you want it to do is paramount. Learning to get a particular coffee to do the same is also, but less so. While learning your roaster, stick with one coffee.

The first step to learning to control your roaster is to sort out how to accurately measure and record as many parameters as possible. Nothing else really matters until you do this.

To your original question: I am not a proponent of "if it tastes good to you then it is fine". One of the most important things I have even read on this forum or any other was from Eric, "It might be good if you do that, but it could be better if you do this", referring to getting a nice declining RoR. That one sentence changed both my coffee life and my life in general. Once I started making the coffee do what I wanted it to do instead of what it wanted to do, my coffee quality went up so dramatically, that, green for green, I would put it up against anyone's. Of course I am biased, but I have a customer base in the 1000s that would agree.

The only way to know if fixing that crash and flick would make your coffee better is by eliminating it and finding out. No, pretty curves don't guarantee a great roast, but ugly ones are almost certainly a bad one, or at least one that could have been better.

Most crashes occur due to carrying too much heat into 1C, not too little. Try reducing power 45s before 1C and leaving it alone until 45s after. If the coffee crashes, reduce the power a bit more on the next roast. Don't try to "steer" a roast by turning the power knob up and down. That is a recipe for a bad roast. Turning the heat up and down during a roast is a no-no.

I am not in the camp that believes an electric roaster reacts slower than gas. Sure you can just shut the gas off abruptly and electric heating elements take longer to cool down, but you never do this is the real world. Small changes are the order of the day. I have a gas roaster, but the drum and faceplate retain so much heat that turning the gas off does almost nothing to the bean temp for a full minute. You have to figure out the thermodynamic properties of your particular roaster and learn to work with it. If your roaster retains heat well you can get a way with fewer large power adjustments; if it doesn't, more frequent smaller changes are better. Coffee does not like abrupt heat changes during a roast. One big heat push in the beginning to get the beans charged up and then a gradual decrease as the roast progresses is a good way to go in the beginning.

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cjhacker23 (original poster)

#22: Post by cjhacker23 (original poster) »


Thank you so much for this detailed reply--and for the validation of my goals here. Also for the great piece of practical advice about mitigating the crash that I will definitely try next time I have an opportunity to roast. Sadly, that won't be for a while, as there's no room left in the freezer! (My wife opened it this morning to look for something and literally a dozen ziplock bags of coffee came raining down on her!)

It seems like I'm just feeling around in the dark with roasting. There's the Rao and Hoos book, and of course this community, but so much of the learning curve seems to be equipment-dependent, and there isn't much out there specifically for the M6. In retrospect, I think I should have just bit the bullet and invested in a 1k gas drum roaster, as there's so much more applicable info out there for the generic 1k gas model. I just liked the "simplicity" of being able to plug in and go. And the option of easily picking it up and just moving it somewhere else--maybe even indoors (winter roasting) with some heavy ventilation. I don't know. My guess is that once I figure out this thing, I'll be happy with it and you'll see me on this forum in a few months evangelizing about how amazing it is. :D

Oh, and I have been pulling shots with the batch of that first curve I posted, and it tastes quite good. Bittersweet chocolate, roasted nuts. No obvious defect notes (paper or vegetal notes). So, seems like I'm on the right track?

cjhacker23 (original poster)

#23: Post by cjhacker23 (original poster) »


Okay, done! I just bought a Phidget controller and downloaded Artisan onto an old laptop. Now I am currently reading through your excellent Quick Start guide. I don't know why I thought this would be complicated. Seems like Artisan and I will get along just fine. :)

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#24: Post by mkane »

Keep smoothing at a minimum.

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#25: Post by CarefreeBuzzBuzz »

cjhacker23 wrote:Michael,

Okay, done! I just bought a Phidget controller and downloaded Artisan onto an old laptop. Now I am currently reading through your excellent Quick Start guide. I don't know why I thought this would be complicated. Seems like Artisan and I will get along just fine. :)

Now my red wine is that much better!! Carpe Diem.
Artisan Quick Start Guide

cjhacker23 (original poster)

#26: Post by cjhacker23 (original poster) »

Keep smoothing at a minimum.
I assume you mean for the delta curve? I have wondered about that. What are the pro/cons about smoothing? My worry is that if the curve is too jumpy, I'll get too reactive in my decision making, whereas if I keep some smoothing on, I'll be less inclined to over-steer things.

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#27: Post by Brewzologist »

Smoothing algorithms introduce a time lag. How much lag depends on degree of smoothing. With too much you could be responding to a need to change power that should have occurred earlier had you known about it.

It's true that the lines are jumpier with less smoothing, but within a roast or two you get used to it. Note you can apply smoothing after a roast to make it look nicer if you like.