I've been home roasting for six months now, and I've learned an enormous
amount through my participation in this list. What a terrific resource
Tom and Maria have created for us here!!!
I thought this might be a good time to jot down a few things that have
really helped me approach roasting--not so much the specifics of how to
roast, as much as some things that I think have helped in other ways.
1) Buy big. I mean, buy various beans in 5 lb or greater weights, along
with smaller lots, so you can have some beans to really learn on.
2) Don't be afraid to experiment with roasting profiles, method of
roasting, resting periods, and brewing styles. Some things will work out
well, others not so great. Chances are nothing you do will make really
terrible coffee if you are paying attention and using SM beans.
3) Find a way to document what you are doing--both in roasting and
tasting. It may not be entirely useful to me next year to have a good
record of my experience with Green Stripe, but it sure is handy now, as
I make my way through the ten pounds I do have, and it will be useful,
in a general way, as I develop a sense of what works well, and what
works less well.
4) Get close to the roasting process, if you can. I love my IR2, and an
appliance like that is a necessity in our climate, unless you have a
really good ventilation system indoors. That being said, the heat
gun/bread machine roasts I have done have been satisfying (I am not just
talking results) in a way that is just different than the less hands on
method of roasting coffee.
5) Learn from others, but trust yourself too. I always do the first
roast (or two)of any bean at Tom's recommended level. I listen carefully
to what other home roasters have to say, combine that with what I have
come to know about my own preferences, and then I try things that seem
to resonate with me.
6) Work within your budget, and don't get too hung up on the idea that
you can't have great coffee without breaking the bank. I know that if
someone gave me several thousand dollars, I could produce beans and brew
that would be better than what I am enjoying now, but it really is an
incremental thing. If you pay attention to what you are doing, you can
make truly great coffee without taking out a second mortgage.
7) Be generous--with your beans and with your knowledge. Even noobs and
demi-noobs (like me) can have moments of insight that are helpful to
other people, and if we sometimes get it wrong, well list discussion
will help clarify and correct. Nothing spreads the word about home
roasting more than sharing your beans. Do it enough, and you can even
create your very own real-life roasting community.
Anyway, that's my six month report (or rant)