HomeRoast Digest


Topic: Alpenrost & Sumatra (10 msgs / 434 lines)
1) From: Lance & Heather Chalmers
Hello All
I joined the list just a few weeks ago and I am learning a lot from you all.
I bought an Alpenrost about a month ago and am enjoying the roasting.  Until
now, I have not had the courage to try anything but the pre-packaged coffees
from Alpenrost, which have the recommended settings right on the bag.  (I'm
a real newbie at this!).  Today, I tried some bulk Sumatra that I purchased
from a local distributor.  I weighed the beans to 8 oz. and then I set the
Alpenrost for a setting of 10.  I have been reading the postings and it
appears that Alpenrost roasts quite high.  They didn't come out very oily,
nor as dark as my "sample beans" which I use to judge my coffee by.  Can one
of you Alpenrost owners give me some advice as to the setting for Sumatra?
I would appreciate any information.
Thanks!
Heather
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2) From: Kathleen Tinkel
 
Hi, Heather --
I've been using an Alp for nearly a year, and don't trust any of the 
settings. They seem to vary on my own machine from time to time, and 
from what I read here on the list, definitely vary from machine to 
machine. Local temperature and cleanliness of the roaster also have 
an impact.
I go by sound (the cracks), sight (I open the door and aim a 
flashlight at the rotating beans), and smell (the smoke -- changes in 
density and in odor during the course of the roast).
Trying to follow the roasting instructions on the two packets of 
SwissMar beans I got was especially disastrous -- resulting in little 
lumps of charcoal.
Now that I've roasted a lot of batches in the Alpenröst, I can sort 
of predict where the roast should stop. But I still listen, smell, 
and peek -- and get surprised every so often.
Furthermore, Sumatras are not all the same, and bean quality plays a 
role in how long your should roast. I'd suggest that you find a 
reliable source of green beans (our host Sweet Maria's is definitely 
reliable in that sense), buy 5 lbs of one type, and keep a methodical 
log of your roasts, tracking the cracks and cool cycles, to see what 
works best for you.
Although it is tedious, I'll show you my timings for the past 9 
months or so, with four different Sumatrans (all from Sweet Maria's). 
I was aiming at a Full City roast, stopping just before or early into 
2nd crack. Most of the time I hit it, at least approximately. I don't 
have tasting notes -- probably because none of these seemed really 
awful or wonderful.
08/31/00: Mandheling Triple Pick 99-00
    1st crack 14:00 | 2nd 17:20 | cool 18:35
    comment: medium dark
09/09/00: Mandheling Golden Pwani 2000
    1st crack  13:40 | 2nd 17:15 | cool 17:10
    comment: medium dark
09/22/00: Golden Pwani
    1st crack 14:30 | 2nd ??? | cool 16:50
    comment: none
09/30/00: Golden Pwani
    1st crack 14:15 | 2nd 16:50 | cool 17:35
    comment: cool weather
10/14/00: Triple Pick
    1st crack 14:05 | 2nd 17:05 | cool 18:30
    comment: too dark
10/25/00: Golden Pwani
    1st crack 13:50 | 2nd ??? | cool 16:50
    comment: none
11/10/00: Sumatra Blue Lintong Gr.1 99-00
    1st crack 14:00 | 2nd ??? | cool 18:20
    comment: lazy cracks; hard to hear
12/08/00: Sumatra Aged Pwani
    1st crack 14:00 | 2nd ??? | cool 17:20
    comment: trying for Full City or slightly less
02/12/01: Golden Pwani
    1st crack 15:00 | 2nd 17:50 | cool 18:20
    comment: soft cracks, hard to hear
04/25/01: Aged Pwani
    1st crack 14:00 | 2nd 17:30 | cool 18:35
    comment: hard to hear; quite dark, sort of gleaming
       (24 beans stuck in drum!!)
<Snip>
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3) From: Anthony
Hi Heather, and welcome.
Regardless of the method, the most important consideration is:  How does
it taste to you?  Suggestions for roast settings on any machine are just
that, suggestions, which can be used as a starting point.  You may (will)
find that you like a particular coffee lighter or darker than your initial
experiments.  
That's part of the fun of this hobby.  Nothing is set in stone, and it's
all open to interpretation.  If you like it, then it's "right."  (Some
may differ on this point.  ;-)  )
Shameless plug:  Tom wrote an excellent article in April's issue of "Tiny
Joy" about roasting techniques and how to achieve good results.  
Anthony
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4) From: coffenut
Heather,
I know this is all new to you right now and using the settings on the Alp
may appear to be the easiest way.  I'd suggest that you learn to time your
roasts according to 1st and 2nd cracks no matter what the Alp setting would
be.  In my opinion, the settings are useful only if they closely correlate
to your desired roast level with a given bean.  If they do not, then you
have to interrupt the roast at the point that you desire by pressing the
"Cool" button.
There is an inherent problem with Alp owners telling each other what setting
to use for a given bean.  That problem is due to the variety in heater
calibration among different Alp units.  I could tell you to use a setting of
6 for Sumatra and you may find that it would be an under or over-roast
condition on your Alp.  Bottom-line, the units aren't equal enough to be
able to trust/share settings from one unit to another.
On Tom's website, he gives suggested roast levels for all the beans he
sells.  I find that his advice is usually right-on for my roast tastes.
Most Sumatra's are Full City or Full City+ on Tom's list of those beans.  On
the AlpenRost, a good starting point to get to Full City would be roughly
2.5 to 3 minutes past 1st crack.  This isn't absolute with every bean, or
every Alp, but it gets you in the ballpark.  Use the 10 second rule for
determining 1st crack which means when you hear the very first bean snap,
count to 10 from there.  If other beans follow within that 10 seconds, 1st
crack has started.  Otherwise it could be a false signal from a bean that
was lodged in the drum and cracked early.  With experience, you'll get the
hang of this.  Also, take notes with your roasts (bean type, time to 1st
crack, 2nd crack, etc).  This will help you as a reference for future roasts
of the same bean.  Use a timer that counts up and use it to note when the
cracks occur for a given bean.  Also invest in a digital scale so you can
weigh your beans to 8oz (Tom sells a good one on his site).  Using a scale
will help give you consistency in your roasts and can be used for a lot of
other things too.
Lastly, get your beans from Sweet Marias...this is a biggie!  It makes a
difference when you can trust that your starting with good quality beans and
Tom really cares about the product.  The best Sumatran bean that I've tasted
was the Triple Pick that Tom stocked last year...I should have bought 20lbs.
Have fun and welcome.
Coffenut  :^)
<Snip>
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5) From: treynolds
On the correct setting for a given machine, i.e. Alps, etc., I would beg
everyones' pardon to mention that voltages DO vary from local to local, even
by a slight amount, and that even within a home, perfomance will vary
depending on the circuit being used and all the other stuff that's running
on that circuit at the time...
For me, roasting with a Poppery 1 or my Fresh Roast, my three key criteria
are:
1. Sound
2. Color
3. Time
In that order.
Time varies with the number of roasts, more roasts in a session, less time
is required, so time is NOT a good variable to key on unless the machine is
used once, and allowed to cool between roasts.
The key for me really has become sound.
I'm sure that there will be some differing opinions on this, but that's what
seems to work for me.
I'm convinced that this is the downfall of some of the larger roasters:
They can't hear the roast (the machine is too loud...) and,
They set the roast for a specific time, roast after roast.
Tony Reynolds
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6) From: Greg Scace
 
Hi:
I've been roasting a fair amount of aged Sumatran that I got from Sweet 
Maria's.  For my particular Alp, I set the Alp to 10, then I do the following:
1)  I note when I hear the first snapping sounds (first crack), and record 
the time in a notebook.
2)  I  record when I begin hearing the second crack, which sounds more 
brittle, like toothpicks breaking.
3)  For Sumatran, I continue roasting until second crack starts going 
really fast, then stop by hitting the cool button.  I record the elapsed 
time of the onset of fast cracking and my finish time.
I get a few specks of oil on the surface of some beans after they rest for 
a day, but there is very little surface oil overall.  I find that roasting 
Sumatran very far into fast second cracking loses a lot of interesting flavors.
I also don't use the timed settings on the Alp.  I've never gotten to the 
end of a "10" roast.  I always hit the cool button manually, timing my 
roasts with a kitchen timer and referring to previous roasts as a 
guide.  I've noticed that my Alp has gotten "hotter" over the 
months.  Roasting Sumatran coffee to the same degree of roast takes about 
45 seconds less now than several months.  I don't believe that this has 
anything to do with ambient temperature as I roast indoors.
The aged Sumatran that SM sells has a fair amount of peaberries in it and 
reaches first crack pretty early (somewhere around 13 minutes into the 
roast, I recall).  I think this is because the peaberries  stick in the 
perforations on the roasting drum and don't get agitated around.  Since 
they are constantly exposed to the radiant heat from the heating elements, 
they crack really quickly.  These stuck beans get pretty charred, so I'm 
careful not to dump them into my finished batch.
-Greg
  At 07:18 PM 5/3/2001 -0600, you wrote:
<Snip>
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7) From: JKG
I'm in complete agreement on sound being critical. With my
Poppery I, the plastic cover has become so discolored that
color is more of a "hmm, how do they look?", after the beans
have cooled.  Time tells me when to start paying close
attention to the sounds of the roast.  I can usually putter around
the garage for 4-5 minutes before beginning the vigil.
I was scrounging for a back-up Poppery I today at the thrift stores
and was somewhat disheartened to see very few air poppers of
any type available. Maybe I've just hit an unlucky streak, but there
seem to be fewer air poppers floating around out there.  On a
curious note, I found a "Jack Daniels" air popper that was made
by West Bend.  It's basically a WBII, but you have to look carefully
(on the bottom) to see that it's made by WB.
Guess there's whiskey drinkers out there that enjoy making air
popcorn.    I didn't buy it because my wife is getting peeved at
all of the "WBII back-ups" that have been accumulating in our
basement.  Now if I had found a "Jack Daniels" Poppery I,
I might have been tempted to put it on a trophy shelf...     :-)
JKG
<Snip>
criteria
<Snip>
less time
<Snip>
machine is
<Snip>
that's what
<Snip>
roasters:
<Snip>
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8) From: Kathleen Tinkel
 
Hi, Heather --
(I thought I'd sent this last week, but it never showed up, so I'll 
try again. Apologies if it's a duplicate. . .)
I've been using an Alp for nearly a year, and don't rely on any of 
the settings. They seem to vary on my own machine from time to time, 
and from what I read here on the list, definitely vary from machine 
to machine. Local temperature and cleanliness of the roaster also 
have an impact.
I go by sound (the cracks), sight (I open the door and aim a 
flashlight at the rotating beans), and smell (the smoke -- changes in 
density and in odor during the course of the roast).
Trying to follow the roasting instructions on the two packets of 
SwissMar beans I got was especially disastrous -- resulting in little 
lumps of charcoal.
Now that I've roasted a lot of batches in the Alpenröst, I can sort 
of predict where the roast should stop. But I still listen, smell, 
and peek -- and get surprised every so often.
Furthermore, Sumatras are not all the same, and bean quality plays a 
role in how long your should roast. I'd suggest that you find a 
reliable source of green beans (our host Sweet Maria's is definitely 
reliable in that sense), buy 5 lbs of one type, and keep a methodical 
log of your roasts, tracking the cracks and cool cycles, to see what 
works best for you.
Although it is tedious, herer are some of my timings for the past 9 
months or so, with four different Sumatrans (all from Sweet Maria's). 
I was aiming at a Full City roast, stopping just before or early into 
2nd crack. Most of the time I hit it, at least approximately. I don't 
have tasting notes -- probably because none of these seemed really 
awful or wonderful.
08/31/00: Mandheling Triple Pick 99-00
    1st crack 14:00 | 2nd 17:20 | cool 18:35
    comment: medium dark
09/09/00: Mandheling Golden Pwani 2000
    1st crack  13:40 | 2nd 17:15 | cool 17:10
    comment: medium dark
09/22/00: Golden Pwani
    1st crack 14:30 | 2nd ??? | cool 16:50
    comment: none
09/30/00: Golden Pwani
    1st crack 14:15 | 2nd 16:50 | cool 17:35
    comment: cool weather
10/14/00: Triple Pick
    1st crack 14:05 | 2nd 17:05 | cool 18:30
    comment: too dark
10/25/00: Golden Pwani
    1st crack 13:50 | 2nd ??? | cool 16:50
    comment: none
11/10/00: Sumatra Blue Lintong Gr.1 99-00
    1st crack 14:00 | 2nd ??? | cool 18:20
    comment: lazy cracks; hard to hear
12/08/00: Sumatra Aged Pwani
    1st crack 14:00 | 2nd ??? | cool 17:20
    comment: trying for Full City or slightly less
02/12/01: Golden Pwani
    1st crack 15:00 | 2nd 17:50 | cool 18:20
    comment: soft cracks, hard to hear
04/25/01: Aged Pwani
    1st crack 14:00 | 2nd 17:30 | cool 18:35
    comment: hard to hear; quite dark, sort of gleaming
       (24 beans stuck in drum!!)
I hope some of this helps.
KT
<Snip>
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9) From: Paul Goelz
At 04:35 PM 5/7/01 -0400, you wrote:
<Snip>
It did show up.  Quite a while ago.  Are you by chance having the same sort of missing post problems that I have been fighting this last week on nearly every other list EXCEPT homeroast?
Paul Goelz
Rochester Hills, MI
pgoelz at eaglequest dot com
Videoastronomy, model helicopter and music (UnFest) web site:http://lists.sweetmarias.com/mailman/listinfo/homeroast">http://www.eaglequest.com/~pgoelzhomeroast mailing listhttp://lists.sweetmarias.com/mailman/listinfo/homeroast

10) From: Michael Vanecek
 
It really depends on your taste. There's no quick answer. I'd avoid the 
preset settings and start roasting by ear/time and smell. You will find 
your education in coffee very quickly enhanced. I and a great many of 
our peers roast by crack timing and smell and some by peeking at the 
coffee - though that's a little hard to do with an Alp. I've found that 
with my units and with the coffee I prefer, I can set a time of about 3 
minutes past first crack as my initial basis and then depending on bean 
size and the time it took to get to first crack, and my desired roast 
level, alter the time. Ambient conditions being equal, small bean 
coffees will achieve first crack faster than large bean coffees. Three 
minutes past first crack on the smaller bean will result in a slightly 
darker roast than that of the large bean coffee, even though the large 
bean coffee was roasting for longer prior to first crack. For a medium 
roast like full city, I'll shave off some time for a small bean coffee 
to perhaps 2:30 to 2:45. On a larger bean coffee, I'll tend to stick to 
3:00 minutes give or take based on prior experience with that coffee. I 
buy in 5 pound increments, so by the time the bag is about finished, 
I've usually got that coffee figured out. I like my coffee sans the oily 
sheen - medium roasts are my favorite. You may prefer a darker roast. In 
any case, invest in a good multi-lap stopwatch. I picked one up from 
RatShack for about $25. You'll have to experiment a lot and go through 
some coffee before getting to that "just right" roast for your 
preferences - taking notes will help narrow it down. What was the 
ambient conditions, type of coffee, time to first crack, time you 
pressed the cool button, etc... I've stopped using the preset buttons on 
the units altogether and am able to produce much more consistent roasts 
than what the presets can do. Hey, it was enough to spoil my wife - and 
she was pretty dedicated to Folgers...
Have fun,
Mike
Lance & Heather Chalmers wrote:
<Snip>
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