So you want to start roasting? How good are your coffee greens? - Page 2

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

#11: Post by BodieZoffa »

Trjelenc wrote: Man, either you live in a coffee desert or I am a pitiful home roaster. I'm constantly getting batch brews from local roasters that just floor me. I'm happy with 80% of my roasts, but when I taste some of these professional roasts, it's like I'm tasting an extra dimension compared to my own coffee.

And to tie it back to the original post, I always wonder if the beans that some of these places use are much better than Sweet Maria's and Happy Mugs offerings that I'm buying. I never have found damage like above, but I'm curious if it's a similar quality taste-wise.
Well for years I bought from many heavily mentioned artisan roasters and some were quite good and some weren't worth having the free samples they provided. Different strokes for different folks...

These days so many get caught up in the burr chase, etc. to obtain their expected notes when my main focus is sourcing quality green I know I will like and dial things in exactly the way I want during roasting. I average around 2,000 double extractions yearly and have been at this maybe 15 yrs now so I do know exactly what I like and how to achieve that. I used to think roasting was a bit of a stretch to do at home, but been at it over 6 yrs now and still look fwd to every batch and will not waste $ on buying roasted when I get what I like, when I want it and save $ in the process. Granted it's not for everybody to do at home, but easily on par with what's available commercially once you get things dialed in.

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mkane
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#12: Post by mkane »

Out on the coast in CA in the town of Pt Arena, there's a roaster who uses a Diedrich and his coffees are the best I've ever had, pour overs. He is my benchmark. Pronominal to say the least.

As a home roaster and constantly changing suppliers, different types of coffees. Nothing is ever dialed in on the roasting front at home.

luvmy40

#13: Post by luvmy40 »

BodieZoffa wrote:Personally have never been truly impressed with much of what I've bought roasted from ANY company and have NEVER been impressed with espresso from ANY shop. Some things can be done far better at home with complete control start-finish. People should never doubt themselves and just make it happen!
There are two, somewhat local to me roasters that have a couple wonderful roasts that I thoroughly enjoy. From my espresso machine. I wouldn't buy a shot from either of their cafes. Pure garbage in a demitasse.

That said, I usually buy the cheapest Brazil and Nicaragua or Guatemala greens available from Coffee Bean Corral and have not found a lot of flawed beans. The occasional split or tiny dark bean. Not enough to make me look at higher priced beans.

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Randy G.

#14: Post by Randy G. »

I know what it is like to buy green from a so-called professional only to get burned by being sent a second-rate mislabeled blend. I bought a natural from a different seller and the beans stank and was told by them, 'that's the way they smell,' and that there was nothing wrong with them. It was so bad I have gone out of my way to avoid naturals even since. I have tried a number of suppliers and most have been quite good. I currently am buying from a seller that has the best smelling green that I have ever experienced. Whether they buy carefully or store carefully or have a good turnover and purchase accordingly I do not know.

But it's food. Others may delight in coffee that smells like old garbage stored in an armpit. Other home roasters still buy from the seller that ripped me off.

There are roasting appliances that are becoming available that do make roasting a lot easier. Scan the barcode on the bag of greens with your phone, wirelessly connect to the roaster, and hit start. Just like my car is equipped with a five-speed, millenial anti-theft device, the new generation of home roasters will be able to roast excellent coffee at home with no more thought than putting it in "D" and stepping on the gas- heck! The car even stops itself if you get too close to another car. Why can't a roasting appliance be that smart? And we all know that just about any home roasted coffee beats what is stacked on the shelves at Costco!

Sure, the coffee may not be as good as the best available, but just about any loaf of homemade bread is going to be superior to a loaf of Wonderbread.

And, ya. I am in a mood today.
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mkane
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#15: Post by mkane »

Well then real roasters twist knobs.

Rickpatbrown

#16: Post by Rickpatbrown »

BodieZoffa wrote:I personally don't buy into the 'professional' thing as that simply means someone gets paid for what they choose to do, never a guarantee they excel at it. For many years I bought roasted from lots of artisan commercial setups and some were quite good, some were just average for my taste. I will never buy into the theory that the commercial guys do it better as roasting is the same as espresso... if you have the skill set and capable equipment you can achieve anything you want/expect and do so consistently. I also don't buy into the 'certified' system as that simply means someone is following rules set before them to an 'established' standard. I question most of things in life like that as there is more than one way to reach the desired end result and choose to not follow what others do. Long ago I knew if others could roast and get excellent results I damn sure could and things just took off.

It is far more involved than just turning green beans brown, but quite doable with determination and patience. I source quality green from a handful of reputable sellers and have not yet received anything I'd consider trash by any means. I built my setup to give me infinite control of temperature/agitation, airflow to a decent level, have it setup to give me constant visual/smell to pick up on development changes in real time and I control it all manually. No lame software doing the work for me as I take a seat of the pants approach and observe every second of every batch. Is every batch perfect? Of course not, but on a scale of 1-10 the typical batch is say a 7, an occasional batch an 8-9 and once in a green moon a solid 10. I will gladly say that I clearly save $ roasting my own for my fairly heavy consumption. All said/done my setup has long paid for itself and just the cost of green at this point. I don't buy into the 'well time is money so count your time involved too' as if I wasn't roasting I'd be using that time for other things, so not like that should really be considered when it's something that is a part of life you look forward to. Not a hobby for me, but a daily lifestyle and that's how I roll! Only regret is not starting it sooner than I did and I never plan to buy roasted coffee again.
Are you saying you are the best roaster in the country? It's a statistical improbability, but hey, maybe! There are professionally trained individuals who spend 40-60 hours a week sourcing/roasting/brewing coffee for decades.

You're telling me that you can roast better than https://store.georgehowellcoffee.com/co ... enya.html# ?

Please send me your coffee and your green sources? I'd love to learn!

I do agree that most of the professional coffee I drink is borderline offensive. I think ita just that the margins are so slim for running a business, finding a market, educating and cultivating it for speciality coffee ... ain't nobody got time for that. It's easier to serve cheap, sort of ok coffee with minimally trained staff. But there are some real talents out there.

The absurd amounts of beans available was very difficult for me to navigate as a new roaster. Just looking at Sweet Marias... there are dozens of origins with multiple processes and yearly harvests. How could you ever find what you are looking for by randomly buying? And add learning to roast at the same time? AND do it all with just internet information and no one to SHOW you how to roast or brew or what good coffee is supposed to taste like?

I wish there was a better way to benchmark our experience as home roasters. Take BodieZoffa for instance ... while I might be suspicious that he/she is the best roaster in the universe, I'm sure he can source/roast/brew some mighty fine espresso. How do I get to experience his knowledge in a way that is as simple as reading forum threads?

Scott and Paolo had the coffee roasting defect kit. I thought this was a great idea. I think we could all learn from clear lessons of detective coffee.

But seriously, Luca .... that coffee looks nasty. I got some pretty bad stuff from a forum member a little bit ago, but it's still drinkable.

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luca (original poster)
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#17: Post by luca (original poster) »

The point of the post

I'm not disputing that any one of you may be perfectly satisfied with what you are roasting and buying, and I'm sure that plenty of you are and that you routinely benchmark against other stuff. But the problem is more when people spend money influenced by what we are writing online about how great home roasting is, if those people don't share the same subjective preferences that we do. For example, I spent a long time trying out the kaffelogic and I kept on downloading peoples' filter and cupping roast profiles. At their suggested end points, I usually found the roasts unbelievably and unfathomably dark for filter coffee, like, to the point where I would think "wow, that's pretty dark", if someone presented it to me as an espresso roast. (Now that's not a knock on the kaffelogic machine itself, since there are many adjustments that can be made to totally change the roast profiles, and it's equally true that you can incinerate coffee on pretty much any roaster.) I wasted a lot of time and coffee going down those rabbit holes.

What I'm saying is that if you're looking to start home roasting, be a little sceptical of what people write, try to work out their context for what makes them recommend something, and consider how you're going to get green coffee with a quality and style potential that you understand. Because you're going to roast something and it's going to taste bad, and you're going to need to figure out if it was bad because of the way you roasted or because of the green coffee, or both, and you're going to have to work out how to improve it. And if your green coffee was never capable of delivering the results you expect, you are going to waste a lot of time and money before you fix that, unless you're going in with a plan.

Subjective expectations

I said in my first post that no doubt y'all will say that you have never seen green that bad, and several of you have gone on to say that. I also made the point that green being that bad is not the point; the point is what level of confidence do you have that the green you are getting is of the quality that you expect? I'm not saying that you ought to expect any particular quality level or style; that's for you to decide. There are plenty of commercially successful coffee blends that I've tasted that had in them the same aftertastes that I experienced from the pictured super defective coffees, so clearly people don't find them so objectionable that they won't spend money on them.

Extreme examples

I chose the visible defects to show y'all as the extreme examples because there is no taste subjectivity involved in talking about them. Of course, as I foreshadowed, there are a million other things that can go wrong with green, to a greater or lesser extent. Or perhaps not even things that go wrong, but things that influence the cup profile in a way that you may not like. For example, are you confident assessing if your green coffee has suffered from premature fading/bagginess, or if it's past crop?

I'm not saying that you can or can't get coffee of a particular style or quality level as a home roaster, either, I'm just saying that I think you ought to have realistic expectations. A lot of green sellers will give you fairly little information about the coffee, so it's not as if they are really creating expectations that it will be especially high quality; a lot of it may be your own conjecture.

Professionalism, style and consistency

It's totally true to say that "professional" coffee roasters are variable, and I'd argue further that variation in style isn't a problem, but variation in consistency is. So if you guys are getting results from local roasters that suck, but they consistently suck in the same way each time, then they're kind of good roasters, because they're delivering to the taste (and cost) preferences of particular consumers. Suck being your subjective opinion. However, if they suck in different ways each time (eg. if you buy filter roasts from them and sometimes they are underdeveloped, sometimes much darker, sometimes baked and sometimes exactly how you want them) then that's probably way worse.

I guess it's always going to be possible to find some commercially available coffee that is pretty dreadful, so people are probably fairly going to be able to say they do a better job at home, which kind of renders the whole statement meaningless. To make any sense of it, you have to know whether the benchmark is relevant to what you want to achieve.
espressotime wrote:Question should be why aren't the pro roasters with there probats etc better ?
Of course I have bought really nice coffees from roasters that tasted amazing. But like I said 90% of them don't convince me.
I agree, and my experience is similar. One thing that I'm careful to do, though, in my own mind is to differentiate between whether I hated someone's coffee because of roast or because of green. The significance is that if they had a great roast with green that I hated but that I can appreciate why they bought, then I might like their roasts of green that is a combination of region/process/variety that I typically enjoy. I trade a lot of samples with friends, so they have often bought stuff that I would never buy in a million years.

Reputatable sources

Of course y'all are going to say that you buy from reputable sources, but I guess I'd say that it's not hard to create the appearance of being reputable. You buy from an importer, copy/paste their information into your webpage and you'll probably get reviews from some home roasters that buy from you and are happy.

Price

I suppose that, in addition to benchmarking, one thing that home roasters could do to work out what to expect from their suppliers is to dig up whatever publicly available wholesale spot prices to roasters your local importers publish. Add a margin to those for your retailer and that should give you an idea of the minimum you should expect to be paying to get similar quality to the list you looked at. Certainly if the prices you are paying are similar or lower, you might raise an eyebrow.
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OK31
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#18: Post by OK31 »

So I came to this post excited about having ordered my first batch from Sweet Maria's only to realize I may not accomplish what I want and what I will accomplish may subjectively in my head be or not be what I was looking for. Basically I'm just as confused as when I got here and now don't know if I should or shouldn't be discouraged.

Rickpatbrown

#19: Post by Rickpatbrown replying to OK31 »

Be couraged, my friend! Go bravely into the rabbit hole that is home roasting. There is a lot of good info on these boards. Dig in. If you persist, you will find what you're looking for. I have not gotten any gross batches of coffee from Sweet Marias. I've gotten boring ones, but that's mostly me.

Capuchin Monk

#20: Post by Capuchin Monk »

OK31 wrote:So I came to this post excited about having ordered my first batch from Sweet Maria's only to realize I may not accomplish what I want and what I will accomplish may subjectively in my head be or not be what I was looking for. Basically I'm just as confused as when I got here and now don't know if I should or shouldn't be discouraged.
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