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

I did lousy in the roasting competition, which is justified, since even I didn't much like the roast I sent in. But doing badly in a competition is always the occasion for a little soul searching. So here goes.

Back when I PIDed my first airroaster in 2005, I put in a 13 minute profile of 4 minutes to 300; 4 more to 385, and 5 minutes to the end of the roast for espresso, 4 to the end for brew. This profile was an average of all the drum and air roasting profiles for which I had tasted coffee I really liked. TTI, which sold the PXR3 in those days, even had a part number assigned for those who wanted this profile preprogrammed.

I used this profile for all my roasting and cupping. For roasts finished between the end of the first and first pops of the second, it creates a massively sweet, caramel laden background taste, with the origin flavors out front, fairly clear, but laid back. Since it was one of the first detailed, DIY profiles disseminated on the web, and since it is very robustly tasty for different kinds of coffee and prep methods, it became popular with many other roasters, both home and pro.

However, high end coffee has gotten a lot more competitive, and people are trying to create cups that have more pop than you can get from this fault tolerant profile. So we have roasts that extend the period to the first crack and shorten the finish to retain more acidity and origin flavor. These roasts flirt with under-development. Moreover, if you don't have a great grinder and persnickety prep habits, forget about getting anything drinkable. And even when it is drinkable, it is frequently in your face aggressive.

This is all very praiseworthy, but just like wearing high heels to make your legs look spectacular, it's really not for me. After a few years of two and half minute finishes; I'm done. I just did the last batch of my sample roasts back on a four minute finish, and gasped at how warm and welcoming every cup was. Moreover, I had less trouble distinguishing between the cups -- when they aren't all screaming at the tops of their lungs, they are easier to hear.

So from now on, I'm leaving the high heel profiles to the super model roasters, and I'm going back to my comfortable slipper of a 4, 4 and 4/5 minute profile. I sincerely wish all those pushing the envelope lots of luck. I've gotten pissed at them in the past, for which I apologize. My annoyance was mostly because for me this latest roasting style has been a "this is good for you, it's the latest thing, so pretend to like it" experience. It is a legitimate way of roasting coffee; but it's not for me.
Jim Schulman
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TomC
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#2: Post by TomC »

Don't kid yourself Jim, you'd look great in heels :P

Just kidding. I think we all find our own method and it's rare to land one on target with multiple cupper's palates. For what it's worth, I think the pendulum is slowly but steadily shifting back to better developed roasts. I think for the last decade, anyone looking to make a name for themselves were aiming to be the lightest on the block, no hint of "roast", etc. After enough feedback that their product is lemon juice and battery acid, they're starting to learn that there should be a comfortable middle ground that doesn't suck your face into a vacuum when you sip it.

Run with that flag. I'm sure many will follow.

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keno

#3: Post by keno »

I would like to try this. A few questions: With the long development time I am assuming you are significantly slowing down the roast otherwise it would be very dark, so what temp are you typically hitting first crack and what temp are you dropping at? Could you post a picture of what the profile looks like? Also, what coffees do you find work best with this profile?

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bean2friends

#4: Post by bean2friends »

While I don't have nearly the experience you do Jim, I have had to remind myself of what I really like. And, in coffee, as in many other things, I like sweet caramel and chocolate flavors.
I like some spiciness and subdued fruits. But a tea flavor in coffee turns me off, as does watermelon and lemon to name a few. I'm sure I'll continue to try for some of these extreme fruit flavors from time to time. But, my taste in coffee tends to run to my taste in candy and ice cream. I guess I'm just a kid at heart.

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another_jim (original poster)
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#5: Post by another_jim (original poster) »

keno wrote:I would like to try this. A few questions: With the long development time I am assuming you are significantly slowing down the roast otherwise it would be very dark, so what temp are you typically hitting first crack and what temp are you dropping at? Could you post a picture of what the profile looks like? Also, what coffees do you find work best with this profile?
Pictures won't cut it. The color of the roast depends on the finishing temperature much more than the profile; you can ever do a Gulf roast this profile if you stall it for five minutes at 385F. The shallower the slope in the final segment, the lighter the roast.

The reason the roast is fault tolerant is that at this length, the inside of the bean is within 5 agtron points of the outside. If you drop the roast when it smells good (using the air vent or tryer, your pick), with this roast length you are pretty much guaranteed that what you smell is what you'll get. No raw greens in the middle.

If you stretch it out longer than this, the roast will get flatter and then more astringent. This is basically an attempt to get a predictable, laid back roast that will still has a good acid pop at intermediate roast levels.
Jim Schulman

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Randy G.

#6: Post by Randy G. »

another_jim wrote:Pictures won't cut it. The color of the roast depends on the finishing temperature much more than the profile; you can ever do a Gulf roast this profile if you stall it for five minutes at 385F. The shallower the slope in the final segment, the lighter the roast.
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farmroast

#7: Post by farmroast »

the 4-4-4/5 approach was quite a big step, back in its day from the many stories we heard of much longer roasts. I've never stopped occasionally doing them, they have a quality and comfort to prepare to be appreciated. And for some lots might be still the best approach.

The recent trials with these lighter roasts is a serious challenge. When you miss even slightly it's compost. But when you hit it is a experience that can also be highly appreciated by many. Many shops serve light roasted failures and when you happen upon one it certainly is a powerful turn-off.

I guess I wish many shops would read what jim just wrote. Most of their customers would greatly appreciate it. And I'm also very excited with what a few are starting to achieve in light roasts. These roasters are also talking and sharing thoughts and experiences. Something we all here have understood the value of all along.

It seems the recent competition had some great results at several levels. I just think this has to be a good thing for the future.
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jalpert

#8: Post by jalpert »

TomC wrote:After enough feedback that their product is lemon juice and battery acid.
Ugh, Verve.

I'm young and got into specialty coffee because of the Third Wave. Yet I find my tastes on occasion gravitating toward the chocolaty, caramel-y flavors Jim is describing. Not too much, but there is a balance. Like that Brazil we did for the roast & learn with Chris Schooley a number of months back.

Frankly it reminds me of what is happening in craft beer. IPAs got popular as the defining trend of the craft beer uprising, and then it progressed to where it seemed like there was a race to see who could make the most undrinkably strong double IPA. Now you see more and more pale ales and session IPAs - we haven't abandoned the style, but we have toned it down a bit to where it's actually sustainable.

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Balthazar_B

#9: Post by Balthazar_B » replying to jalpert »

FWIW, I have a strong predilection for chocolate/caramel blends (in candies as well as coffees), and I happen to find that Verve's Sermon blend makes for a superlative experience: deep chocolate bass notes, caramel in the midrange, and a hint of Ethiopian fruitiness dancing in the highs. IMHO their roast level for this blend could barely be better.
- John

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CoffeeRoastersClub

#10: Post by CoffeeRoastersClub »

another_jim wrote:So from now on, I'm leaving the high heel profiles to the super model roasters, and I'm going back to my comfortable slipper of a 4, 4 and 4/5 minute profile. I sincerely wish all those pushing the envelope lots of luck. I've gotten pissed at them in the past, for which I apologize. My annoyance was mostly because for me this latest roasting style has been a "this is good for you, it's the latest thing, so pretend to like it" experience. It is a legitimate way of roasting coffee; but it's not for me.
Jim, I am just getting into doing profiles with an air roaster I have. If I am reading your profile design correctly, you are saying 4 minutes to 300F, 4 more minutes to 385F, then if roasting for espresso 5 more minutes to desired roast level (whether it be city, city+, Full City, or dare I even say Italian Espresso Roast); or the last leg if drip 4 minutes to the desired roast level (again whether it be city, city+, Full City, or Italian Espresso Roast). I reference the particular roast levels as they are ones I commonly use.

Len
"I'll quit coffee. It won't be easy drinking my Bailey's straight, but I'll get used to it." ~TV show Will & Grace