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Topic: First crack difficulties (13 msgs / 430 lines)
1) From: Ken Knott
So I'm a bit confused about what I'm supposed to be hearing in regards to f=
irst crack.
Should I hear essentially, a minute or 1/2 a minute of furious cracking as =
ALL the beans crack?  Or will I just hear SOME of the beans cracking, but n=
ot all of them?  Are some of the cracks louder and some softer??
If you roast too slow, will they never audibly crack?
As mentioned, I've been working on my HG/DG method.  It's quite loud and in=
 a hood, so I think I may not hear all of the cracking.  But I certainly do=
 hear some of it.  =
Thanks in advance,
Ken
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2) From: Coffee
 From what I've hear in my Gene Cafe, first crack is more subtle. It  =
seems a bit slower, but i think it's just quieter and I'm not hearing  =
all of them. There is always a few outliers, but then it proceeds at a  =
pretty steady pace for a couple of minutes. A few minutes after first  =
crack stops, you'll here second crack begin. Second crack seems louder  =
and more rapid-fire. More like popcorn (just quieter). I know I'm not  =
going to get this right, but first crack sounds a bit more "hollow"  =
and lower pitched while second crack is sharper and higher pitched (if  =
that makes any sense).
The timing and duration is going to be different with different  =
roasting methods and different beans.
I've got other impressions about the sights and smells, but I just  =
tried to write them down and I'm getting the timing all confused...  =
I'm going to have to take better notes.
-Peter
On Feb 18, 2008, at 7:01 AM, Ken Knott wrote:
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3) From: Sean Rooney
This is my first post on the list.
My Gene Cafe is my third roaster.  It is much quieter than my previous  =
roasters (FreshRoast and iRoast) but I can barely hear first crack.   =
It took me a while to figure this out and stop over-roasting everything.
My impressions:  First crack is lower pitched and lower frequency  =
(fewer cracks per second).  Second crack is higher pitched and higher  =
frequency and louder and accompanied by smoke.  Second crack tends to  =
have more of a "furious" quality.
First and second crack may have no time between them if the  =
temperature is rising quickly.
good luck!
Sean
On Feb 18, 2008, at 10:17 AM, Coffee wrote:
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4) From: Jim Gundlach
Ken,
       The sounds of first crack can range from quite loud for almost  =
every bean through only a few being audible to all being inaudible.   =
The crack sound is an imperfect indicator of the expansion of the  =
beans that take place during roasting.  If you closely examine the  =
seam on the beans before and after roasting, the expansion of that  =
seam is caused by that expansion. If you look at your beans and see  =
that the seam is expanded on all the beans you know that first crack  =
is finished.  Then focus on the color of the parchment left in the  =
seam.  When it moves from tan to dark brown you are seeing a change  =
associated with second crack.
       I recommend wok or pan roasting over a quiet fire and hand  =
stirring so you can maximize the use of sight, sound, and smell to  =
learn as much as you can about the roasting process.  As you grow  =
older and if you expose your hearing mechanisms to too much loud rock  =
and roll, dragsters, tractors, and even chainsaws with missing or  =
defective mufflers like I did, you will learn to rely more on sight  =
and smell or even a thermometer.  I can now roast in the dark with  =
limited hearing relying primarily on smell and a sense of time.
      pecan jim
On Feb 18, 2008, at 9:01 AM, Ken Knott wrote:
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5) From: Mike Chester
Ken,
Unfortunately, there is no clear cut answer.  With some beans, the cracks =
are spread out while with others, they are more rapid fire.  In general, =
first crack sounds more like popcorn popping and is louder.  Second crack i=
s =
softer and sounds more like Rice Crispies in milk.  Some coffees have few =
audible cracks and others have a lot.  With some coffees, second crack =
begins before some of the beans have completed first crack. (This happens =
mostly with short hot roasts.)  There are usually some "outliers," that is =
a =
few beans will crack really early, well before the "real" first crack or =
well after it has finished.  Don't use those as an indicator.  They are =
beans that are somehow different than the bulk or they may have gotten stuc=
k =
near the heater or far from it.  With some of the louder roasters, you may =
not hear the cracks clearly.  There are other indicators of first and secon=
d =
crack such as smell.  Color is a poor indicator as different beans look =
different at the same roast level.  I am sorry to give such a vague answer, =
but the truth is that one batch of coffee is never exactly the same as =
another.  This is true even for the same variety, but is especially true =
with different origins and varieties. This is where the "art" of roasting =
comes in.  Experience is the only way to get better, but it sounds like you =
are off to a very good start.
Mike Chester

6) From: raymanowen
"...as ALL the beans crack?"
Watch out! If that happens, there'll be Hell to pay.
I'm worried about the Fresh Roast- every bean in the batch could come from
the same branch and I might have to duck glass shrapnel. They could all
crack at once and take out the F/R...
Cheers -RayO, aka Opa!
On Feb 18, 2008 8:01 AM, Ken Knott  wrote:
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-- 
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Wichita (ex- NYC Paramount) WurliTzer- 1976
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7) From: Brian Kamnetz
Ken,
You might enjoy looking over Tom's recent roasting posts:http://www.sweetmariascoffee.com/roastmaster_blog/The posts regard the coffees that SM sells roasted, but contain lots
of little tidbits of interesting things about roasting in general,
roasting a specific bean, etc.
Brian
On Feb 18, 2008 10:01 AM, Ken Knott  wrote:
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8) From: Bailey Blanchette
Just my experience, but if the 'drying period'is too long, first crack is
limited. First crack is essentially water turning to steam and 'popping' the
beans like corn kernels. more or less, anyway.  If the starting temp of my
Gene Cafe roasts is low, or I don;t allow the heat to build fast, then I
will miss frist crack altogether, or only experience a few outliers.  With a
higher starting temp, I can generate a full rolling first crack. depending
on the bean as well.  second crack is the actual degradation of the
structure of the bean. sounds like rice krispies to me.  I can alwys get a
scond crack regardless of the bean.
I have begun to use color more than sound when roasting in my Gene Cafe, as
I like a lower ramp to heat, which slowly dissipates the moisture from the
beans.  There are only a few beans that will still provide a serious first
crack. YMMV
On 2/18/08, Brian Kamnetz  wrote:
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9) From: Ed Needham
With a small roasting batch of a half pound or less, there will be fewer 
cracks to hear.  When I roast a 5 pound batch, there's never any doubt when 
first or second crack is in process.  Sometimes, if I roast in my Hearthware 
Precision, I can hear the cracks better from across the room than standing 
right next to the roaster.  Some have said they can hear the cracks by 
listening through a towel paper roll.  Some of it may be a touch of hearing 
loss when the cracks are next to impossible to hear.
*********************
Ed Needham
"to absurdity and beyond!"http://www.homeroaster.com*********************

10) From: Ann McCann
Pecan Jim,
Thanks for those words! This is a great thread for me.   I'm new to
roasting; use a pan and a wooden spoon (just like Lynn did!).  My hearing:
rock and roll, farm tractors and the above mentioned chainsaws have taken
their toll.  I go by color and smell (if you can make caramel, you can roast
coffee in a pan), some by noise.  Maybe I don't hear first crack that well,
because I've always wondered where first crack stops and second begins.  I'm
off to roast some Sumatran right now!
Ann
On Mon, Feb 18, 2008 at 8:09 AM, Jim Gundlach 
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11) From: Brian Kamnetz
On Tue, Mar 4, 2008 at 10:37 AM, Ann McCann <2newfies> wrote:
Maybe I don't hear first crack that well, because I've always wondered
where first crack stops and second begins.
Ann,
When I first started roasting I had a lot of trouble with first and
second crack running together. I was using a popper, which is much
different from pan roasting, but I'm wondering if the same thing may
not be happening to you. If it is, I'm guessing that your roast temps
are too hot, and the roast is progressing too rapidly. In the popper,
the end result was that the exteriors of the beans ended up oily and
burned, and the insides were still green, so that the end result
always tasted burned, and often tasted grassy and thin and sour as
well (from the green center of the beans), and the result was
undrinkable.
Brian
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12) From: Ann McCann
Thanks Brian - It's good to know I wasn't alone.  After roasting two batches
this morning,  I discovered that what I was calling first crack was actually
second  (I should have roasted a batch under Lynn's guidance)  Between the
dogs and NPR as background noise, I just wasn't hearing the softer, lower
pops.  I thought the popcorn sound (you must get a good echo in the whirly
pop!) was first!  And I was feeling weird that I never took my roasts to
second (so I figured they must run together and I reached second without
realizing it!)  Heck, if I had, I'd have reached the ultimate goal of third
crack!  So far, we've enjoyed everything I've roasted, and I haven't come
near the charred experience.....but I'm glad I saved my India Anokhi with
the hopes of reaching a higher level of skill.
Maybe I should check a temperature sometime - but don't tell my pastry
teacher, who would keel over at the thought.  He always told us that if we
relied on a thermometer for something "It don gun be RIGHT!"
Ann
On Tue, Mar 4, 2008 at 10:44 AM, Brian Kamnetz  wrote:
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13) From: Lynne
Mmmm - caramelllllllllllll... (said in a 'Homer Simpson-Donut voice).
Lynne
:P
Ann McCann wrote:
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