HomeRoast Digest

Topic: Newbie Troubles (10 msgs / 267 lines)
1) From: David Brown
So I'm brand new to home roasting and have read a bunch on SW  
website. I purchased and i-Roast 2 thinking that would be the safest  
way to go.
I've been trying Tom's heat ramp programs, but my hearing isn't that  
good so I'm having trouble picking up where 1st crack ends and 2nd  
crack starts. I've reduced the batch size to basically split the  
sample packages in two at about 110 grams via a scale. I'm not sure  
this is a good idea as everything I have read so far pertaining to  
air roasters is that a smaller batch increases roasting times. Does  
this also apply with this roaster?
The program I used is as follows;
	stage 1: 350 for 2 minutes
	stage 2: 400 for 3 minutes
	stage 3: 460 for 4:30 minutes
I was roasting Bolivia FTO SHG EP Caranavi which the website  
recommended a City+ roast. I'm not sure, but based on the photos and  
what little I know, I think I hit an FC roast. The beans are just a  
shade or two lighter than dark chocolate. I was thinking a true city  
roast would be more of a milk chocolate color or am I way of base here.
The machine is pugged directly into an outlet so there should be no  
real power problems, other than normal Florida power woes . . .
Any help or advise would be greatly appreciated.
David Brown

2) From: Ross
The IRoast is a good place to start.  Here is my 2 cents worth from 
experience with the IRoast.  Further reduce your batch size to about 75gr 
about 1/2 cup, one of the scoops that came with the IRoast2.  That will give 
you more coffee to practice with and a more reasonable roast time.  I would 
suggest trying for a longer program like 350 for 4min, 380 for 2 min, 410 
for 2 min, 380 for 2 min.  Find out where first crack starts in that program 
(it will vary with your roaster, electrical source, and ambient 
temperatures) you want to continue to ramp the temp up until first crack 
then hold or reduce the temperature (reduce program temp)  actually you want 
to hold the temp or slow the rate of temperature increase (will require a 
reduction of program temp) and let it coast into 2nd crack or the degree of 
roast you want.
You are never going to get the program to be perfect all the time but try to 
hit some basic windows:
1.  Extend the time to first crack to somewhere in the 6 to 9 minute range, 
(I shoot for 10 min and never get there.)
2. Try to reach the highest programed temp before 1st crack starts and 
reduce the temp or hold the temp during 1st crack and on the way to 2nd, you 
will have to make an educated guess here, keep records.  The tendency will 
be not to reduce the temperature program soon enough or by enough degrees 
and the roast will continue to accelerate from 1st to 2nd in a blur. Hit the 
cool button and adjust next time.  If you have managed to get about 6 to 8 
minutes to 2nd crack don't despair it will still be good.
3.  Don't forget 99.9%  of IRoast roasts are terminated with the cool button 
because you just can't predict exactly when the roast will take off or 
finish so you always want to keep some extra time on the program just in 
case, I program a temp increase at the end for insurance and never use it. 
A note about keeping records, don't even bother recording the IRoast 
temperature it is totally worthless.  I wasted a lot of time and brain bytes 
trying to make sense of it, finally I got the 8in Cooper Thermometer from 
SM, drilled a hole in the chaff collector inserted it in the bean mass and 
everything started to come together.  1st crack will occur about 400 degrees 
every time when measured with the thermometer.  You then can use the 
thermometer to record your rate of temperature ramp up, refine your program 
and judge when to terminate the roast prior to 2nd if that's what you want. 
The IRoast temp readout is hot air, it's all over the place and is nowhere 
near the bean mass temp and not representative of it.
The standard problem is to guess wrong for the time to reduce the temp and 
the roast will accelerate too fast from 1st to 2nd, this has been my nemesis 
with the IRoast.  It is less of a problem reducing the temp program too soon 
because the beans continue to gather heat even when you drop the program 
temp.  It's almost impossible to stall a roast in the IRoast so be 
aggressive about reducing the program temp at first crack.
The key to good roasts in the Roast is slowing things down (try to get at 
least 6 minutes prior to 1st crack), slowing the rate of increased temp at 
the start of 1st, (practice and keep good records), and of course finding 
the roast level right for the beans and your palette.  Hit the cool button 
anytime after 1st crack based on sight (oil spots, or visible smoke is a 
good clue you have already waited too long to hit cool), smell (a sharp 
increase in aroma), time (2 to 3 min after first crack), good luck trying to 
get there .  Rest your coffee a couple days and taste it, try some 
further mods and taste again.  If my technique doesn't work for you try 
something else, above all have fun and enjoy the fresh coffee.

3) From: David Brown
Thanks a bunch for the input. I'm a little hesitant to break out the  
drill just yet but that may be exactly what is required. I'm going to  
try and turn up the hearing aide (my wife) and see if she can hear  
the 1st crack ending better than I can.
Thanks again for the advise.
David Brown
On May 17, 2007, at 2:26 PM, Ross wrote:

4) From: Ross
I was just like you, reluctant to take a drill to my new IRoast, whish I had 
done it sooner.  All you need is one little hole in the metal chaff cup and 
one in the screen on the lid, the IRoast will not notice those little holes 
even if there is no thermometer in there.   Get the thermometer you will 
be glad you did, your coffee roasting will go from voo-doo guesswork to a 
logical process.  If you do it and need pictures let me know, you just mark 
the chaff cup so you can install it the same way each time and the holes 
line up.  I stuck the probe through a small piece of cardboard (it floats 
under the gage and deflects the hot air coming out of the chaff cover) then 
insert the probe through the cover and the metal cup and down to the bottom 
of the beans then lift it off the bottom just a bit.  It is a real nice set 
up, easy to insert and remove much easier than trying to install a flexible 
probe.  If you have spent much time trying to calculate the IRoast temp from 
the input air you will really appreciate the difference.

5) From: David Brown
Thanks Ross, I've got a pretty busy weekend but I think I may do it  
next week. Seems that there is a pretty good supply of parts and  
about the worst that can happen is that I may be forced to drink  
Barnie's coffee . . . I already have the thermometer as I was  
originally intending to go the pop-corn route.
Thanks again for all of the help.
David Brown
On May 17, 2007, at 5:23 PM, Ross wrote:

6) From: Jeffrey Dobrowski
David Brown,
             Welcome to home roasting.  While I have never used the  
iroast I have purchased the bolivia you are talking about.  I have  
personally found that it seems to be best roasted at maybe just past  
city.  Right at the edge in my opinion.  The color is light brown  
with dark streaks in it.  It is a clean cup and very delicate and it  
loses that if roasted too long.  If it tastes dry and boring it was  
probably roasted too long.  I use a heavily modified poppery 1 so i  
cannot lend you my profile because it just wouldn't work but what I  
can tell you is for me 1st and second crack were distinguishable  
without good hearing.  I noticed that first crack can linger a while  
with this coffee but once it reached between 420-426 it was basically  
over, then about 15 or so degrees later it hit second crack.  Also  
this bolivian seems to have a sweet spot.  A little darker roast  
profile and you get almost nothing out of it.  A little lighter and  
it is tangy and raw tasting (which isn't always bad).
good luck

7) From: Jeffrey Dobrowski
Also dave you may still wanna go the popcorn route.  It seems much  
simpler than what you iroasters all explain.  I have a fully  
controllable popcorn roaster that does everything I need it to.  It  
has a variac on the fan an on/off for the heat, a cooling bin I  
designed that any idiot could make and it cools any roast in 30-60  
sec., a digital thermometer, a glass chamber plus more and I got all  
this for about $130.  I can roast in as little as six minutes (which  
I never do) or in as many as 20 (which I also never do).  It takes  
almost nothing to get used to and in about 3 roasts you have a great  
idea of what you'll get almost every time.  I don't think anyone can  
say they get all roasts down the first try.

8) From: David Brown
Thanks for the reply. I took the profile Ross sent me and have had  
pretty good success. The profile is a slow heat ramp and it seems to  
allow me to hear the 1st crack a lot easier. It seems like I just  
need to use a little more patience with roasting, along with all of  
life's other endeavors.
Thanks for the note on the popper, several of my friends are starting  
to take an interest in this as well.
David Brown
On May 21, 2007, at 3:39 AM, Jeffrey Dobrowski wrote:

9) From: David Brown
Missed this one. We tried the Bolivia I roasted and my wife is in  
love with it, I just ordered 5 pounds of it. I roasted it on a slow  
heat ramp to what I think is just past city. I tried another small  
batch to FC and it was nowhere near as good.
Thanks again,
David Brown
On May 20, 2007, at 5:53 PM, Jeffrey Dobrowski wrote:

10) From: David Schooley
There is no need to drill. Here are some instructions I put together  
a while back for a semi-permanent thermocouple installation into an  
iRoast. One nice thing is that the TC will always be in the same  
place for consistent temperature measurements.
On May 17, 2007, at 2:36 PM, David Brown wrote:

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