HomeRoast Digest

Topic: New Roaster help requested (9 msgs / 346 lines)
1) From: Eric Fesler
Hi all,
My name is Eric Fesler and I purchased a HWP a week ago and am nearly
through the supplied 8- 1/2lb bags of beans (how'd I manage to use 4# of
beans in one week???).  I need advice in lots of different areas but
specifically I want to ask about coffees to purchase.  My HWP from SM  came
with the following:
Guatemalan Organic SHB Finca San Rafael
Peru Chanchamayo Corona 18+  (roasted not yet cupped)
Colombian Medellin Excelso Bolivar
Tanzanian Flatbean AA
Papua New Guinea -Mile High Estate Grade A
Sumatra Mandheling DP Grade 1  (roasted3x and cupped 2x)
Brazil Cerrado -Monte Carmelo   (roasted not yet cupped)
Dominican Rep. -Montana Verde Estate
At this point the only one that has really impressed me was the Columbian
roasted very light, slightly into first crack.  This is odd because I have
been drinking Peets (mostly Major Dickason blend and Sulawesi) for years and
these tend to be quite dark.  Perhaps if I had really gone about it
systematically I could have found the correct roast for each of 8 kinds of
beans in 3 tries each but I don't think so.  Not sure 8 kinds of different
coffee is the best way to start off a beginner.  As a side note, Major
Dickason is such a mouth full of flavor blend that it may have numbed me.
The Columbian roasted very light yielded a flavor I had not expected in a
coffee.  Very pleasant, in the nose and on the tongue, although the acid
level was quite high.  The pleasant flavor cut very well thru cream which
dulled the bite.
Anyway, I want to get a reasonable amount of a fewer number of coffees.  I
know I want some of the Colombian Medellin and I think I want some Sulawesi.
I also feel I should get some decaf so I can get more roasting practice
without cupping myself out of my own skin.   I am interested in advice on
both the decaf and the straight beans.  For some dumb reason I ordered some
Kona from a non-Sweet Marias source so I don't need any Kona.  I figure 1 or
2 kinds of Decaf and maybe 2 or 3 kinds of regular in addition to the
All advice is apreciated.
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2) From: Eric Fesler
Sorry to reply to my own message but I should include that I am brewing by
drip (temp seems to be about right at 200degrees) I have a french press but
have never used it for coffee (only tea).  I have also used the basket
(conical) on my automatic drip to manually drip.  Filters are cheap bleached
paper but it doesn't seem to bother me yet.

3) From: John Roche
If I was you, or what I would do now looking back. I would pick only 2
beans. 1 decaf and one reg. I would roast them up and down the curve, ie.
city to French to get a feel for the process/roaster/bean. If you liked dark
roasts from peets you might want to try say a Sumatra. But I almost never go
drip so YMMV. 
I would stay away from blending for awhile. I would slowly expand to more
beans from different regions etc.
my 2 cents.
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4) From: Monty Harris
Hi Eric,
My first experience with home roasting was very much the same.  Based on
the fact you like Major Dickason's blend which is very dark you may be
roasting your own beans too dark.  I was doing the same and I find that
much of the flavor diminishes at darker roasts and I ended up using a lot
of coffee to get the flavor burst.  I recently started roasting much
lighter and now find the flavor I want and I'm not using as much coffee as
I was with the dark roast.
My last roast was five batches in my HWG of a Costa Rican Terrazu something
or other (I'm at work).  I roasted and listened very closely to each batch
and threw the roaster into reverse (cool) as soon as I heard the second
crack start.  I'm sitting here finishing the last cup of that run and every
pot tasted great.  
You didn't mention your brewing method and that makes a big difference! I
use two methods for brewing standard coffee.  Most of the time it's the
Utopia vac pot but if I have the time I'll use my Chemex pot which I got
for the low low price of $4 at the Salvation Army Store.  I threw out my
Mr. Coffee early in the game because it just does not do justice to throw
well roasted coffee into something that does not produce a repeatable
As to decaf, my experience is that it roast at lightning speed and I find
it harder to get the roast I want.  I don't roast that much decaf so that
too may change with time.
Best Regards!
At 08:52 PM 4/30/01 -0700, you wrote:
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5) From: Steve
I also use an automatic drip and paper filters. What I get tastes great
every morning. Occasionally I use a French Press but it takes a bit long for
mornings before work.
I just ordered a vac for weekend fun.
I think everyone has gone through the question of what beans to try next. I
recall not too long ago a lawyer posting how crazy but fun it was and how
obsessed one can get.
What I did was start with the beans I enjoyed the most from retail, the
Indonesians, Sumatra and Sulawesi. Then I read through Tom's descriptions to
find other beans that were close. I read his description about Yemen and hit
the jackpot!
For my favorites I will order at least 5lbs. Occasionally I get enticed by
one of his descriptions and try something new. Since buying green is quite a
bit less than roasted retail, price is irrelevant.
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6) From: floyd burton
Eric I would suggest trying some of the brighter more acid africans.
Ethopian Yirgcheff is my fav and I also like all of the Yemeni beans.  The
latter beans when roasted have a whole range of colors so using the
first/second crack noise is key.  I like my coffee very bright so I stop the
roast just before the second crack.  When I on occasion let it get away and
get oil on my beans, I never quite like those roasts as well.  It is all
individual taste.  If and when Tom gets some more St. Helena beans, try
those.  In my opinion they have a "burgundian" complexity - only special
friends who can tell the difference get to taste those.
Also when roasting I would suggest doing multiple roasts on the same bean
slightly changing the roast stopping point.  Take notes and in this way you
can figure out your own sweet spot.  Nobody can tell you what tastes best
but we can give you some clues as to how best to discover your preference.
have fun

7) From: John R. Ross
I have been roasting since last summer and
began when I found a PopperyII for $2.50
and by ordering a sampler from Sweet 
Marias,I found I had to begin ordering 
certain coffees in 2 lb. quantities,
experimenting with different roasts 
for different brewing methods ie I 
have a pump espresso maker, and a 
growing assortment of other devices.
I have found Sumatra Mandheling, Guat Hue 
Hue Tanango, Ethiopian Harrar, Kenya AA,
Brazil Monte Carmelo all to be 
indispensible but have still in the early 
stages of learning and expanding my
F'rinstance (for espresso) I just added 5#
Uganda Organic Bugisu after consuming 
2 lbs a month ago that I took thru its
paces in blending this with that 
-- this roast with that roast and
arriving  at a kind of specification 
with optionals for roast and blend to
further refine -- 
F'rinstance, I roast
Harrar in two batch lots one just past
1st crack and the second batch just
into 2nd which combined blend well 
with the Bugisu and also in another
epresso blend with a Guat (City) 
and a Mandheling (Full City/Vienna)
and my dual roast Harrar (I throw 
in some Indian Kaapi Royale
robusta (for crema).
I have a list of coffes I like but have
yet to explore completely that include 
Sulwesi, Aged Java (which makes such a 
nice change of pace in a vacuum brew 
-- it makes people look up and knit 
their brow and comment "unusual,"
"intersting" or "is something is 
wrong..." as they squint their eyse
slightly, trying to decide if
they like it or not.
I just picked a few varieties and began
experimenting -- reading SM's reviews are
a BIG help, once you get an idea what 
you like -- that Tom uses words like 
"complex" "rich" "chocoloty" "body" 
in reference to the coffees you like
and the words  "wild" and "hidey" or
"clean" "acidy" "fruity" for ones you
have tried and were not excited about. 
Then I would try another coffee from the 
same place -- Yirgachefe led me to Harrar
which I found I "prefer" for blending
(but the Yirga I roast for single variety
brewing in vacuum/Press and drip.) 
All in an arbitrary and unscientitfic
kind of sprit of experimentation.
You have the right start: get 5# of 
the Columbian and start out roasting 
a bit darker and a bit lighter!
You got time and the whole of it, you'll 
be drinkin' GOOD coffee!
PS I still go out and buy Major Dick...at
Peets every once in a while.
----------original message- - - - - - - - - 
and cupped 2x)
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8) From: Steve D
Yeah...Tom's descriptions. The man's got a way with words when it comes to
describing coffee. Thats about the best advice one can give to a new
homeroaster as far as "which blend"....read Tom's descriptions. You'll soon
learn to trust them. I feel sure other long time customers will tell you the
same thing. His descriptions are "right on". - Steve D.
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9) From: Robert Cantor
I would get at least 2 pounds of whatever you get so you can try different
roasts and enjoy a few.  Maybe three pounds early on.  Try mixing Kenyan
with Sumatran, and maybe get one coffee from each region - the one that
sounds good to you, then get different coffees from those regions so you can
tell the differences and similarities.  By then you'll know how Tom's tastes
(and therefore his notes) relate to yours and you can tell from his
descriptions what you'll like and what might be interesting to try.
Bob C.

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