How to Profile Article: brain storming session - Page 12

Discuss roast levels and profiles for espresso, equipment for roasting coffee.
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another_jim (original poster)
Team HB

#111: Post by another_jim (original poster) »

If the air exit is Probat style, at the top front of the drum, measure at the top of the bean mass at the front of the drum. There you will (hopefully) get the air that has flown through the beans and that has equalized in temperature. Basically, probe position just above the door should work well.

I also believe in measuring the drum temperature (i.e. the hottest part of the roaster), since I find this much easier to control than the bean temperature. But most people seem to be able to live without it.
Jim Schulman

Ken Fox

#112: Post by Ken Fox »

another_jim wrote:On Ken's post: This is somewhat inaccurate. It's not about the professionalism of the roaster, but about the characteristics of the coffee. You can roast some coffees, for some uses, even on the poorest equipment. Harars, Yemens, and Brasils to a rolling second crack, or Indos to a Vienna or French roast, can be done with just about any roaster. Check the homeroaster's list from a few years back, and these will seem like the "best" coffees.
There are people here trying to help other people, and that is certainly to be commended. And, there is enough competence floating out there in the home roasting community that by seeking advice on a forum like this, you can certainly learn the basics of roasting and how to become a better than average home roaster.

But it is important to retain perspective. There isn't a person who posts on this forum who has what I would regard as serious roasting experience. Roasting in small batches with a home contraption, or something you heavily modified, over even a long period of time, is not even remotely similar to being a really good professional roaster. There are no "known entity" pros who regularly post on this forum. Some of the other forums on this website do attract some real pros, but other than an occasional tangential post (like a couple from Mike Perry about which of his greens might be suitable for SO espresso) there is no pro input here. And simply having read a number of long roasting tomes and having memorized portions of them is no substitute for real, actual, experience, and the knowable track record that might accompany that.

I'm certain that I've roasted more batches and more pounds of coffee than 98% of the people who post on this forum. I've sought input from pros and others I respect, and found some of the advice I've received to be useful, which I've integrated into my technique. Still, I would be very hesitant to give more than the most basic advice to people using equipment I am personally unfamiliar with, which would be the vast majority of things that people on this forum use or have used to roast coffee in. And simply having a common sense understanding (or thinking one has it) about how a certain type of roasting device works is no substitute for actually having used it a whole hell of a lot, before being able to really give useful advice that others could benefit from.

ken
What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

Versalab: maker and supplier of finest espresso equipment
Sponsored by Versalab
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another_jim (original poster)
Team HB

#113: Post by another_jim (original poster) »

This too is not quite inaccurate:
  • Doing the same thing over and over again in the same way, not paying attention and treating it as a chore, does not make it experience. Most commercial roasting is done like this. Ken himself has said most of his roasting is done like this.
  • The added experience of commercial roasters comes from sample roasting and cupping. Sample roasters are more bulletproof, but otherwise comparable in controls, batch size and operation to the better home roasters. Even at Green Mountain, where they use multi-million dollar industrial bowl roasters with perfect controls, all the sample roasting is done on the ubiquitous little Probats (albeit in a beautiful gang of six), profiled by hand. Their ace in hole is Lindsey Bolger, probably the best cupper on the planet. Quite simply, it isn't the roasting equipment, it's the person roasting and tasting.
  • Home roasters will become expert to the extent that they roast a lot of different coffees, cup them, and compare their roasts to the best out there. The best professional roasters have no problem selling their beans green and roasted, inviting comparison. Barry Jarrett used to, now Klatsch, Paradise, PT's, Terroir and some others do it too. Home roasters who regularly compare their roasts to these will soon become very skilled.
  • So becoming a great roaster takes more than just roasting, it takes careful analytic tasting, a willingness to roast a wide variety of coffees, and a willingness for potentially ego deflating comparisons. Most professional and amatuer roasters are unwilling to do this; but those who are willing become good.
Jim Schulman

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GC7
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#114: Post by GC7 »

Jim

That is a wonderful summary of what I believe more serious home roasters should try to accomplish or at least set as a goal. It's certainly a glass (more than) half full philosophy and given only a limited amount of time and money for our hobby certainly far far better then the gloomy advice/lecture from Ken.

I'm just about to order some redline espresso for the first time along with some of their greenline beans to roast and compare. I've been meaning to try this blend for a while and I think today's blizzard is inspiring me.

germantown rob

#115: Post by germantown rob »

I need to read this thread a few more times though it is not the funnest thread in the world, still it has great info.

There is so little out there to find on just basic profiles and at times I have wondered if men in black suits keep it that way. 2+ years with my Hottop B and some time with a point and shoot Behmor and a few hundred pounds of greens plus what ever I have been able to find here and there on getting the most out of my beans has been a great education. I am just a babe in the woods and yet I feel those that have great info hide behind the equipment issue instead of just giving info on how to get the most out of a particular bean or type of brew it will be used for. All equipment will have it's pros and cons and they will all behave slightly different from each other for many reasons but what does this have to do with getting the most from a bean if taking into account what the equipment is capable of doing.

I will be getting a 1kg Diedrich or Topper this summer, now I will have the equipment and there will be no excuse other then me. Where are the profiles being talked about if I have the equipment? How many people are really going to spend close to 10k on their home roast setup? I really don't believe that the equipment makes the out come better, tons of pro commercial roasters prove this everyday. The small percent of pro roasters that take roasting to it's extreme still are in business and need repeatability to keep their customer base, a home roaster only has to please a few mouths. So after I get my new equipment can I only speak to those that have a Topper or a Diedrich about what they do? I just don't buy that.

Jim, I really hope you can get your profile Article finished so that the mass amount of new roasters as well as us experienced novices can get more from our roasts. I do believe there is advice that translates to the varying equipment that will aid many to roast a better bean and keep the pros on their toes so that they have to advance their quality.

Ken Fox

#116: Post by Ken Fox »

germantown rob wrote:I need to read this thread a few more times though it is not the funnest thread in the world, still it has great info.
How can you be sure that this thread contains "great info?" On what do you base that conclusion?
germantown rob wrote:
There is so little out there to find on just basic profiles and at times I have wondered if men in black suits keep it that way. 2+ years with my Hottop B and some time with a point and shoot Behmor and a few hundred pounds of greens plus what ever I have been able to find here and there on getting the most out of my beans has been a great education. I am just a babe in the woods and yet I feel those that have great info hide behind the equipment issue instead of just giving info on how to get the most out of a particular bean or type of brew it will be used for. All equipment will have it's pros and cons and they will all behave slightly different from each other for many reasons but what does this have to do with getting the most from a bean if taking into account what the equipment is capable of doing.
Actually, the equipment talked about here for coffee roasting, other than similarly designed commercial drum roasters, is hugely different, varies enormously as regards the capability of controlling roast parameters, and has such variation in the ways that temperature can be monitored that we could as well be looking for pointers on cooking salmon from a pastry chef.
germantown rob wrote: I will be getting a 1kg Diedrich or Topper this summer, now I will have the equipment and there will be no excuse other then me. Where are the profiles being talked about if I have the equipment? How many people are really going to spend close to 10k on their home roast setup? I really don't believe that the equipment makes the out come better, tons of pro commercial roasters prove this everyday. The small percent of pro roasters that take roasting to it's extreme still are in business and need repeatability to keep their customer base, a home roaster only has to please a few mouths. So after I get my new equipment can I only speak to those that have a Topper or a Diedrich about what they do? I just don't buy that.
Congratulations on your upcoming purchase. Please report back to us in a couple of years. If you really believe that this sort of purchase isn't that important, then why are you contemplating making it? If you really think that people posting here, using the sorts of equipment they have available, are going to be able to teach you very much about how to use completely different equipment, I hope that you will disprove this idea to yourself, from your own experience. Your time would be much better spent visiting the roasting operations of several commercial roasters you admire, and watching them roast coffee in person, asking appropriate questions as the opportunity permits.

Your new roaster, with effort, will offer you the kind of results that only a few here can dream about. This does not mean that it will come without effort. Good luck.

ken
What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

happytamper

#117: Post by happytamper »

Dear Ken,

Home-barista is a fantastic source for information and has helped many people in their hobby however serious they are. I find many of your comments, in a number of threads, negative and/or condescending and thoroughly unhelpful. Though it is fun to see a guy like you go over the top at times and makes for interesting forum reading, I think many of us would prefer comments that are encouraging and constructive rather than unsupportive and elitist.

Sincerely,

A home coffee roaster/barista.

Mitch
Mitchell
LMWDP #77

ECM Manufacture: @ecmespresso #weliveespresso
Sponsored by ECM Manufacture
Ken Fox

#118: Post by Ken Fox » replying to happytamper »

Dear Mitch,

A comment like that should be sent as a PM or an email.

That having been said, you have to take what you can get from those who try to give you information, giving as much weight to them as you think their opinions merit.

If you think it is at all likely that you are going to get consistently great results from a typical home roasting appliance, then you should enjoy those results and not need to seek reinforcement or encouragement from anyone else. If you think it is likely that anyone who is not very familiar with your own particular device can give you specific information that will result in your roasts improving, then that is fine too.

If on the other hand you actually want to learn how to roast, rather than to feel encouraged, then you are going to have to put a lot of effort into it, yourself, and only the most general pieces of advice will prove to be truly useful, unless they come from someone with a whole lot of experience on your own particular device.

I wish it was easier than that, but it just simply is not.

A number of years ago I had a conversation with a well regarded professional, who used to run a cafe and to roast professionally. He was very active in the online coffee community at one point, although not recently. In my conceit as a new home roaster I asked him what he thought of home roasting results. He said most of them were "better than coffee that the home roaster could buy in a can at the local supermarket."

That's a lot more depressing than anything I've written here :mrgreen: And I don't actually agree with it, as I find it too negative. But from the viewpoint of a real professional who knows more than most of us do, I think it is closer to reality than the opinion held by many home roasters concerning their results.

I'm going to leave this discussion because I don't want to offend anyone further.

ken
What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

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farmroast

#119: Post by farmroast »

I see the standards of what people compare are from many sorts of modified classic drum roasters. Do they roast beans the best? If that is the fact then Ken is right and the Quest might be the only home machine with a close chance. So something roasted with different heat types will be different.
I think this forum section may not YET have all the right answers to the finer knowledge of roasting but the group effort keeps us moving forward. And it's all archived. We also have a dedicated moderator who just wants us all to get better, a major key.
One limitation I've heard from Pro roasters that makes them jealous of we can do as home rosters is having to keep a style consistency of a generally small selection. We get to roast anything we want anyway we want all the time.
LMWDP #167 "with coffee we create with wine we celebrate"

Jimbo

#120: Post by Jimbo »

Jim,
The following things would have been very helpful to me when I began home roasting (in 04), and are things I have not seen elsewhere:

1. A simple troubleshooting chart that relates defects in coffee taste to mistakes in roasting:
e.g. An extended roast time causes a flat dull taste.
You've tried to start this discussion multiple times above, but approaching it from the defect -> cause direction might be better for extracting this information and then using in your article.

2. What are we trying to duplicate at home? Go through the steps used by professionals once selection is complete. In other words, what steps are taken by the pros to identify the production profile? This could mean roasting multiple batches, slowly adjusting things, and judging results. As many have stated, maybe this is not feasible for home roasters, but would be helpful to understand how much is involved.

3. Tasting. What is good? Any gauge testing in an industrial environment depends on this. In our case, we are putting as much care and detail as possible into our roaster, profile, and measurements, only to check things with our palates that are mostly undeveloped when we start home roasting. To control the process, we need to get a circle drawn around the whole thing, which includes measurements on what's coming out at the end.

My goal was always to roast the best coffee I could with my setups, for my friends and me. So, to me the discussion on whether I can really taste and appreciate good roasts is completely my own problem. Things I can do to improve this will always be welcome! Thanks for your help.

Jim