HomeRoast Digest


Topic: Suggestions for practice bean? (22 msgs / 441 lines)
1) From: Ken Knott
I'd like to order a 5 or 10 lb bag of 'something' from SM's to practice honing my roasting skills.  With so many beans, and little real idea of what I 'enjoy' I'm at a loss...
I'd like something that would be easier to practice with in the sense that the 'perfect roast' will be easier to identify in terms of flavor and appearance.  Also something where the knowledge gained might be widely transferable to many other beans.  And of course something that when finally roasted 'correctly' will taste sufficiently wonderful to be noticed as such.
Anyway, I'm sure there are other considerations in choosing a good practice bean, but just don't say... pick what you like... as I don't really know what I like right now having survived on starbucks and the like for far too long....
any and all advice will be much appreciated,
Ken
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2) From: Dave
On Mon, Mar 10, 2008 at 5:04 PM, Ken Knott  wrote:
<Snip>
It's not hard to roast good coffee. It takes time and skill to learn
to nail a roast where you want it, and develop the flavors you like.
I'd say read Tom's notes and pick a bean that is good at a wide
variety of roast levels. That way you can roast it, have good coffee,
and learn how the level of roast affects the flavors.
-- 
Dave
Some days...
It's just not worth chewing through the leather straps
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3) From: Vicki Smith
I'd recommend something that performs well at several different roast 
levels so you can get an idea how different the same beans can taste 
when roasted to different levels and still have something drinkable even 
if you go lighter or darker than you planned for a given attempt.
The proof will not be in how it looks, but rather in how it tastes. I 
have had some truly terrible coffee from beans (not mine of course ;) ) 
that looked perfect.
As to how much you buy, it depends on how you are roasting. If you are 
roasting in a popcorn popper, 5 pounds of anything will last you through 
a great many roasts, and you might as well buy a couple of one or two 
pounders to play with instead.
As for a specific bean, that is up to you. If you are a big fan of 
coffee, you probably already know what origins seem to float your boat.
I was BTW, at the same point you are now a few years ago. I found, over 
time, that between figuring out the roast levels, how long to rest them, 
etc, I was just better off buying beans that sounded interesting and 
winging it. I took great notes though, and quickly learned my own tastes 
and improved my technique.
And remember, it's only coffee (Vicki ducks again) so if you miss a 
roast level, you can always try something different. With that in mind, 
you really can't go wrong learning on a double sample pack.
vicki
Ken Knott wrote:
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4) From: Bill
Ken,
I would go for a "balance bean"... by that I mean a bean that is balanced
(duh!).  So that says central or south america.  I wouldn't go for a bean
with heavy body and low acidity, or one that has high acidity and low body.
 So... let me look at SM now...
so, just by looking at the pages, I'd look at a Guat, a panama, or a costa
rican.  I agree with Dave, I'd look for one that takes a variety of roasts
but that sounds appealing... I don't drink a lot of centrals now, but I
roasted a bunch at first to get used to it.  I think it's a good way to
really get to know a bean.
And like I said elsewhere, I'd throw a few pounders in to the order for
variety.  I'd go for an extreme coffee there, like a Kenya or an Indonesian,
just to balance out the central
HTH
bill
On Mon, Mar 10, 2008 at 6:04 PM, Ken Knott  wrote:
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5) From: Bill
Or one of the Huilas from Colombia... Tom recommends a wide variety of
roasts.  I think that would be pretty OK, too...bill
On Mon, Mar 10, 2008 at 6:26 PM, Bill  wrote:
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6) From: Robert Joslin
Ken
     If your method is drum roasting, I would suggest the Guat. Antigua
Finca Retana Yellow Bourbon.  I believe the current year crop is being
offered now.  This is a high grown, hard bean which produces a very nice cup
over a broad range of roasts.  I am just finishing up the last of a 10 lb
bag from 07 and am preparing to order some of the 08.  And if you are into
blending different roasts of the same bean, this one produces some
outstanding cups.
Happy Roasting
Josh
On Mon, Mar 10, 2008 at 7:04 PM, Ken Knott  wrote:
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7) From: Sean Cary
what are you roasting with?
Sean
On Mon, Mar 10, 2008 at 8:04 PM, Ken Knott  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
Sean M. Cary
Major USMC
Tempus Fugit, Memento Mori
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8) From: Paul Helbert
On Mon, Mar 10, 2008 at 8:32 PM, Robert Joslin  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
I think I can tell the difference between the taste of coffee and that of
chocolate.
-- Paul Helbert
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9) From: Rich
And that is a very good question.  It does make a difference.  Ken, have 
you picked a method?
Sean Cary wrote:
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10) From: Tom & Maria - Sweet Maria's Coffee
I would expect good results, even in "practice" roasting ... so 
consider that it might be good for gifting etc. A great choice would 
be the reasonably priced, brand new on the list lot from Matalapa 
Estate, El Salvador. If you really want to focus on one coffee, a 
good high grown Bourbon lot is ideal. All roasts will be good, but 
you will definitely coax out different flavors at different degrees 
of roast, and different profiles. It's an ideal coffee for this...
I don't believe in buying bad coffee for tests. You dont learn much 
and it's sorta a waste of time since the goal is to learn more about 
good coffee. You'll never get a good cup from a old baggy coffee, or 
one that doesn't have much character to start with. I mean, if you 
want to learn to drive a classic stick shift car, you wouldn't go 
practice on a early '80s Plymouth or something ... you get a nice 
affordable MG that might actually yield some FUN. Ok, not the best 
analogy but you get the picture.  Tom
<Snip>
--
                   "Great coffee comes from tiny roasters"
            Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting  -  Tom & Maria
                      http://www.sweetmarias.com                Thompson Owen george_at_sweetmarias.com
     Sweet Maria's Coffee - 1115 21st Street, Oakland, CA 94607 - USA
             phone/fax: 888 876 5917 - tom_at_sweetmarias.com
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11) From: Bill
Ken is using a GC with a HG backup.bill
On Mon, Mar 10, 2008 at 6:50 PM, Rich  wrote:
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12) From: Ken Knott
beat me to it.. thanks...  :)
Ken
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13) From: John Despres
Practice with whatever you want. Look over Tom's notes - there are tips =
there as to the degree of roast. Choose one with wider roast degree, =
something from City to Full City +.
Go ahead & get your 10 pounder, but while you're at it get a sample =
pack. Once you're excited about the roasts from the 10, go to your =
stash, choose something & roast on, roaster!
John
Ken Knott wrote:
<Snip>
ning my roasting skills.  With so many beans, and little real idea of what =
I 'enjoy' I'm at a loss...
<Snip>
 the 'perfect roast' will be easier to identify in terms of flavor and appe=
arance.  Also something where the knowledge gained might be widely transfer=
able to many other beans.  And of course something that when finally roaste=
d 'correctly' will taste sufficiently wonderful to be noticed as such.
<Snip>
e bean, but just don't say... pick what you like... as I don't really know =
what I like right now having survived on starbucks and the like for far too=
 long....
<Snip>
e.com
<Snip>
<Snip>
-- =
John A C Despres
Hug your kids
616.437.9182
Scene It All Productions 
JDs Coffee Provoked Ramblings =
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14) From: Seth Grandeau
Ken,
I'm going to go against the crowd here.  I recommend you pick a bean with a
very clear and easy to hear first crack and one with dramatically different
tastes as you roast it.  I think you'll learn more easily and see more
clearly when you hit it and when you don't.  My current favorite in this
area is IMV (Ethiopian Idido Misty Valley).  First crack is very clear and
sounds like popcorn going off.  At a city roast, you get delicious blueberry
(after a few days rest).  Start to go a little darker, and you lose
fruitiness.  I have really enjoyed learning how to roast this bean and now
that I'm starting to hit it, I'm loving the results!  In fact, I have a
mason jar of it resting that should be perfect toward the end of this week.
Of course, you can always balance that with other beans that are at the best
darker roasted.
Good luck and happy roasting!
On 3/11/08, John Despres  wrote:
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15) From: Sheila Quinn
Very good point! There is no satisfaction in roasting bad coffee because 
it isn't something you'd want to drink anyway. When there's no reward at 
the end, and nothing worth sampling, it kind of defeats the purpose. If 
you buy something that can take a wide variety of roasts, you'll learn a 
lot and likely not ruin any of it.
I started with a double-pack sampler, which was great because I like 
variety. I think I would have been bored if I'd ordered ten pounds of a 
single type of coffee.
Sheila
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16) From: Rich
Tom is spot on.  Ken should buy 10# of one of the Yellow Bourbon beans 
because he drinks a lot of coffee and you have to really work at ruining 
a yellow bourbon bean.
If you are roasting coffee in 3 to 4 oz batches then the sampler would 
work except for this problem, that by the time you find one you really 
like, it is Sold Out....  Now if you are roasting in 1 pound batches 
then the sampler will work good and you probably can get more of what 
you find you like.
Sheila Quinn wrote:
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17) From: Ken Knott
Thanks one and all.  I'll give the Yellow Bourbon a shot.
I didn't mean to suggest that I was looking for 'cheap' beans to practice with.  Rather more along the lines of what was suggested; working with a good bean that would be hard to ruin.  I intend to drink every last bit of it, good or bad. 
However, I think I'll go for a 5# bag....
Thanks again!
Ken
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18) From: Les
Since the master has spoken, I hesitate to give my advice.  However after
checking all of Tom's offerings I chose the *Colombia Huila Valencia *to
learn roasting on my new USRC roaster.  I picked this coffee for 3 reasons.
(1) It was less than $5.00 a pound (2) It has an amazing latitude of roasts,
so it is difficult to ruin a roast, and (3) I knew I would be giving away a
good portion of it because of roasting too much for my personal
consumption.  Most people are familiar with the classic Colombian flavor.
Oh and lest I forget, I really like a good Colombian coffee.  So why not
roast what I like.  I found the latitude to be excellent.  I both "under"
and "over" roasted this coffee as I learned the profiles.  Even these roasts
were good to drink.  So here is another great coffee to learn on.
Les
On Tue, Mar 11, 2008 at 10:17 AM, Rich  wrote:
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19) From: Rich
The reason for the 10# bag is that if you find the great roast and fall 
in love with it you will still have some left to tide you over till the 
next crop.  I just finished off a 10# bag of Brazil Pedra Grande and 
want more, nope - Sold Out.  1lb of green coffee lasts 4 to 5 days here. 
  So 10# lasts about 1.5 month.  YMMV
Ken Knott wrote:
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20) From: Eddie Dove
"Tom is spot on."
Yeah ... I hear he comes close once is a while.
Do note that Tom qualified Bourbon with "high grown."
Eddie
-- 
Stop telling God how big your storm is.
Instead, tell the storm how big your God is.
Home Coffee Roasting Blog and Referencehttp://southcoastcoffeeroaster.blogspot.com/On Tue, Mar 11, 2008 at 12:17 PM, Rich  wrote:
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21) From: raymanowen
"...it's only coffee"
Tom didn't get the word- he's wasting a lot of time and effort in deference
to people that misteakenly shun the likes of DDonuts, *$, McDreck and the
Greepy Gazebo Truck Stop.
Must be my roast and double this morning had nothing to do with coffee, and
why was I so happy to find my tamper... -ro
On Mon, Mar 10, 2008 at 6:23 PM, Vicki Smith  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
"When the theme hits the bass, I dance the Jig!" - -Virgil Fox at the Mighty
Wichita (ex- NYC Paramount) WurliTzer- 1976
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22) From: Floyd Lozano
Thanks to the time he spends, you don't have to grieve if you ruin the
coffee.  You just go buy more great coffee and keep trying til you get
it right ;)  I only grieve if I find that I only bought 2lb of a
coffee, didn't roast it for 6 months, then try it out only to find
that I love it and now it's out of stock!
-F
On Fri, Mar 14, 2008 at 2:30 AM,   wrote:
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