HomeRoast Digest


Topic: stash crash (23 msgs / 767 lines)
1) From: Douglas Hoople
Hi All,
A glorious thing has happened to me in the past week.
I went to pick coffees for a major roasting session today, and found no end
of coffees in my stash that I REALLY wanted to roast.
You may or may not recall, but for a few weeks, while I was trying to figure
out what I was doing wrong, I was essentially roasting a single coffee, the
Sulawesi Toraja Sapan-Minanga, varying just about everything I could to
re-learn the basics of how to roast coffee.
Last week, though, believing that I had broken through, I roasted the
Sulawesi Toraja, the Sulawesi Enrekang, the Colombia 'Dos Payasos,' the Bali
Blue Krishna Kintimani, and the Kenya AA Ndaroini. Not only that, but I've
been working through the latest roast pairing, the Costa Rica Helsar Organic
Naranjo and the Whatemala San Jose Pinula - La Trinidad.
It turns out that I had, actually, broken through, and I've spent the last
few days in heaven, drinking some of the best coffee I've drunk in my entire
life. Instead of one vagrant good cup a month, I've drunk about two dozen
really superlative cups in one week. I'm in heaven! This is what I got into
home roasting to achieve, and it's actually come to pass!
So today, I needed to roast again, and I had to pick what to roast. That's
when I realized the amazing beans that I have in my stash. So many beans so
little time!!!
Just in Brasilians alone, the Daterra, the last of last year's Ipanema
Tree-DP, a single remaining batch of the Cachoeira (!), a pound of the Jacu
Bird that I've been afraid to even try.
My sentimental first fivers, one each of the Ethiopian Koriatie, one a DP,
the other a WP. This coffee is the one that helped me discover that
civilians don't necessarily buy into the 'fruity Africans.' Also, a bit of
the wet-process Kebado, which I remember really liking when I last roasted
it in October of last year.
Back to the Western Hemisphere, the Whatemalan DP Oriente, the only coffee I
had that turned out nice in the depths of the slump. I ache to roast that
again.
But this week, I got bitten by the blending bug, and I discovered the
utility of a body bean, namely the above-mentioned What La Trinidad, but
also the body-only Sumatra Lake Toba, and the Sulawesi Enrekang, which sits
in the halfway point between blender and complete SO.
Believe it or not, I think I have a definite opinion on all of the above
coffees, and my stash includes them all. What a privilege it is to be
paralyzed by the abundance of choices about what to roast next.
Sorry, this is probably a really self-indulgent and embarrassing post, but
I'm in COFFEE HEAVEN!!!
The slump is well and truly over!
Doug
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2) From: Les
Thanks for the good report!  Congratulations on the breakthrough!  You
have clearly stated why I am a homeroaster too!    I am enjoying a
stunning blend of an Ethiopian Dry Processed and a Yemen this morning.
 Tomorrow I will go the other direction and enjoy a fine smooth subtle
Guatemalan that is resting.
A fun and never boring hobby.
Les
On Thu, Mar 19, 2009 at 11:44 PM, Douglas Hoople  wrote:
<Snip>
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3) From: Douglas Hoople
Hi Les,
I'm glad you chimed in just now, because I started that post with the
intention of echoing yours of the other day. All those beans in my stash,
and my realization is that I've arrived at the saturation point you were
describing. I'm going to be months in roasting everything I've got, and I'm
afraid I'm going to have to put a moratorium on buying for now. Otherwise,
I'll be even more oversupplied than I am already.
So the next time another "must buy" bean comes up on the board, for the time
being, at least, I'll have to exercise restraint.
But instead of complaining about my crashing stash, I wound up entering into
that rhapsody about what a great thing it is to have all these coffees and
to be able to make a vast variety of great cups essentially on demand!
What a fantastic thing. This turned out much better than I expected!
Doug
On Fri, Mar 20, 2009 at 7:25 AM, Les  wrote:
<Snip>
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4) From: Bob Hazen
So Doug....  Did you determine what caused the slump?  And a way to stay out 
of it?
Bob
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5) From: raymanowen
"...have to put a moratorium on buying for now."
I'm sure. Bull -ro
Got Grinder?
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6) From: Douglas Hoople
Did you determine what caused the slump?  And a way to stay out of it?
Yes!
I started roasting on the iR2 last June, and spent half a year obliviously
happy following simple profiles that didn't try to do anything special,
mostly just a steady rise from start to finish. Most importantly, once in
first crack, these profiles would just motor through without attempting any
kind of stretching between 1st crack and EOR (End of Roast). The roasts were
adequate and I didn't have any real complaints.
And then I joined this board and started paying attention to the advice here
about gaining control of the profiles and stretching things out, both before
1st crack and then between 1st and EOR. I also started reading raves
about flavors and qualities in morning cups that were obviously beyond what
I was tasting in mine.
That's right. My roasting hit the skids because I was taking advice from
members of this list! :-) I wanted some of what they were all talking about!
Actually, this is about to get very long, and also very likely not that
interesting. In a nutshell, a lot of members here talk especially about how
slowing things down after 1st crack helps in "developing the flavors."
My problem, of course, is that I didn't know what I was doing. As long as I
used the simple profiles, I was fine, but as soon as I tried to manipulate
my profiles, I started running into trouble.
Although I had read that "stalling the roast" would lead to undesired
"baking," I didn't have a clue how to measure that. And I was stalling
bigtime. Since I didn't know what a baked roast tasted like, and I didn't
know how easy it was to stall a roast, I just blundered into it, and got
stuck there.
I didn't help myself either when I started with HG/DB, ostensibly to improve
my levels of control. The problem with HG/DB is that there's no temperature
feedback, so everything is guesswork, and I was guessing wrong.
It was only after I returned to the iR2 and the bean mass thermometer that I
was able to measure the curves. I could measure what was going on as I was
*attempting* to take control.
The list may have gotten me into trouble, but it got me out of trouble, too.
I posted my temperatures on the iR2, including a critical 10 degree drop
after 1st crack got underway, and the feedback was instantaneous... that
would be more than enough to stall a roast.
So I played with the iR2 until I got a profile that actually did most of
what it was supposed to, and I watched really closely to see how it
progressed. Once I had a sense of what was happening on the successful
roasting sessions, and armed with the knowledge of how easy it is to stall,
I returned to the HG/DB, this time with a definite idea of how it was
supposed to go.
It's hard to describe, but the first few times I roasted HG/DB, I can
remember thinking that I didn't have a clue what I should be looking for.
Now, I feel like I know what I'm looking for and that I understand how the
roast is progressing.
The proof, though, is in the cup.
The one thing I can say is that I've now roasted about a dozen batches since
getting this figured out, and they've all been consistently great. I'm just
amazed at how nice, how varied and how complex my cups have become.
For the record, when I roast HG/DB, using 1 cup of beans in a 32oz bowl, I
start out taking a luxuriously long time to get the bean mass to
350F, around 8 minutes or so. I actually suspend the heatgun about 2
inches above the rim of the bowl, which is much more than most descriptions
I've read. I do this because Mike (just plain) quoted MiKe in saying
that one of the major phases is the one from 300 to 350, and that stretching
that out is part of getting sweetness in our roasts. From 350 to 1st crack,
I lower the heatgun, but it's still an inch above the rim. The roast seems
to stick just before 1st crack, so to get over the hump, I briefly drop the
gun to about 1/4 inch below the rim, but once first crack is underway, I
raise the gun again to an inch above. This last raising gives me the 1st
crack to EOR stretch, and I have to play with it, but right now, it's about
3 minutes between 1st and 2nd crack. I think it could be longer, but at 3
minutes, at least I know it's not stalling.
One last thing about HG/DB... to avoid hotspotting and stallspotting, it'e
important to keep the gun moving, and to try to constantly pass the whole
surface of the bean mass. I'm pretty sure that some of the stalling was
because I wasn't careful to keep the gun moving, and was letting some of the
periphery beans cool. The HG/DB guides are relatively silent on the topic,
and one of them appears to even recommend that the heatgun be left
stationary. Go figure.
I guess this got a bit long, and I'm not sure I answered the question, but
it does leave a few clues. At least, I hope it does.
Doug
On Fri, Mar 20, 2009 at 7:50 PM, Bob Hazen  wrote:
<Snip>
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7) From: miKe mcKoffee
Great post. 
miKe
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8) From: Bob Hazen
Great post, Doug!  It's great to hear that you figured out what was going on 
and fixed it!  Especially since you found the answer via quantitative means. 
I guess it just tickles my engineering mind.  One of our mantras is "if you 
don't measure it, you can't fix it."  Actually from the op-ex world, but 
it's true!   I suspect some newbies encounter these subtle problems unawares 
and simply give up.  Others get an early taste of success and for one reason 
or another give up without recovering the recipe.  Hearing the tale of how 
you found your way again is heartwarming and benefits all of us.  Thanks for 
sharing the story.
Bob

9) From: Joseph Robertson
Doug,
You are the essence of what this list is all about. Experimenting and
sharing results. Then laying it out in terms that we all can
comprehend. Your coffee journey has been fun to follow. Thank you for
such careful notes and records and being on this list with us.
Cheers,
JoeR
On Sat, Mar 21, 2009 at 12:59 AM, Douglas Hoople  wro=
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-- =
Ambassador for Specialty Coffee and palate reform.
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10) From: Brian Kamnetz
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11) From: Douglas Hoople
THANKS, everyone, for the really positive feedback!
Wouldn't you know it, though? I've had to have irony and baked goods for
breakfast! :-)
On my very first cup after taking the victory lap above!
The now-unmistakable taste of baked roast.
On the Sulawesi Toraja that I roasted 2 days ago, the one that took 8
minutes to get to 350F. It hit 1st crack outlier at 16:20, 1st crack rolling
at 17:15, and finished at 2nd crack rolling at 2020.
Two lessons here, both of them cliches, both of them cliches for a reason:
1) if a little is good, a lot is not always great. I'm probably stretching
everything a bit too far.
2) Bob's mantra, "if you don't measure it, you can't fix it"
I've started taking careful notes, and I have my notes from last week's
batch, as well as notes for this week's batch. As I've brewed up, I've tied
the cups I'm drinking back to the notes for the roasting session, including
(very terse) comments about how it evolves during the resting process. That
makes a huge difference in returning to a known baseline.
Today's cup isn't so bad, really. It's only a hint of baking. But I like
last week's cups so much better. My notes give me a way of edging back in
that direction!
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12) From: Allon Stern
On Mar 21, 2009, at 3:59 AM, Douglas Hoople wrote:
<Snip>
I leave my heatgun stationary - I move the beans instead :)
-
allon
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13) From: Douglas Hoople
"I leave my heatgun stationary - I move the beans instead :)"
You must have the beans in pretty close to constant motion, though, mustn't
you?
Doug
On Sat, Mar 21, 2009 at 12:08 PM, Allon Stern  wrote:
<Snip>
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14) From: Brian Kamnetz
I constantly move my heatgun (which is easy to do because my heatgun
is suspended with a cable), AND constantly stir the beans. The greens
are ~ 1 inch deep, so if I didn't stir them only the top layer would
receive direct heat from the heatgun, and all the rest would be
shielded.
I hate having to quit stirring in order to get an IR temp reading,
because I think that when I stop stirring the top beans are gaining
heat at a much greater rate than are the beans underneath.
Brian
On Sat, Mar 21, 2009 at 3:24 PM, Douglas Hoople  wrote:
<Snip>
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15) From: Michael Irrera
I, too, move both gun and beans. I've found that I like a whisk better  
than a wooden spoon, though it gets pretty hot (Ove Glove takes care  
of that) -- gun in one hand, whisk in the other.
And with a thermocouple probe in the beans (fed through a hole in the  
colander holding the beans), there's no need to stop stirring.
-AdkMike
On Mar 21, 2009, at 3:34 PM, Brian Kamnetz  wrote:
<Snip>
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16) From: Douglas Hoople
I started suspending my heatgun just this week, and can recommend it. Most
importantly because it keeps the height consistent, but also because it's
just easier. For example, I can give it a nudge, and for the 3 seconds it
takes me to jot down a reading, it's still moving randomly. I secure the
line to a cleat on my porchpole, which makes height adjustments quick and
easy.
I do also stir, but not constantly. Just enough to keep the mass mixed.
Hmmm... I just drilled a hole in the bowl and have fitted it with a
thermocouple. The art advanceth!
Doug
On Sat, Mar 21, 2009 at 12:34 PM, Brian Kamnetz  wrote:
<Snip>
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17) From: Brian Kamnetz
AdkMike,
I've had a thermocouple for a couple years, that I got from SM:http://www.sweetmarias.com/prod.roastkits.shtml  about 1/4 down the page
but don't know whether this is the entire equipment I need (e.g., is
this just the reader, and I need a probe to hook to the wires, etc.)
or how to use it. I've been meaning to take it, along with my roasting
bowl, over to the USC (the Other USC) engineering dept to see if
someone could tell me what I have and what I need, if anything, to
measure temp in my beans. Maybe in May....
Brian
On Sat, Mar 21, 2009 at 3:51 PM, Michael Irrera  wrote:
<Snip>
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18) From: Bob Hazen
Brian,
It appears you bought the thermocouple and meter Tom has been selling for a 
while.  If so, you have what you need to take temperature measurements. 
Just plug the connector on the thermocouple wire into the meter and turn it 
on.  You should read room temperature.  If you want to read "finger 
temperature" just put the bead that's on the end of the wire between your 
fingertips.  Put the bead in ice water or boiling water to see those temps. 
Thermocouples are just a pair of different material wires that develop a 
very small voltage that's temperature dependent.  Your meter is calibrated 
to measure that voltage and display temperature.  All the action happens at 
the end of the wire where the two wires are welded into a bead.  You can buy 
probes from places like www.omega.com that may be better suited to probing 
the bean mass, but they all work the same under the hood.  There are a 
number of types (J & K for example) and they have to match your meter.
Bob

19) From: miKe mcKoffee
Sulawesi try targeting start of 1st 12 to 13min max, 16min + to 1st
definitely on the way long side.
miKe 
<Snip>
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20) From: Brian Kamnetz
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21) From: Douglas Hoople
1st at 12 to 13min max is definitely a better target. Checking back on my
notes, my roast of last week actually got to 350F at around 5:30, and
rolling 1st at 10:15, and that turned out to be one of the victory lap
batches.
BTW, the Sulawesi Toraja Sapan-Minanga, when roasted well, is a beautiful
coffee as a single origin brewed in a vacpot. There's a streak of sweetness
in it that's heavenly when it makes its way to the front.
On Sat, Mar 21, 2009 at 3:30 PM, miKe mcKoffee  wrote:
<Snip>
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22) From: Douglas Hoople
Scrambling to do a bit of triage here. Hot off the roaster, it's not always
easy to taste what the coffee will be like, but one thing I've discovered...
if you've baked your roast, you can taste it hot off the roaster.
Just finished roasting the baseline Sulawesi again. Reached 350F at 5:00,
rolling 1st at 12:15 and stopped the roast at rolling 2nd at 16:00.
I can already tell roast is much better, and it's not baked at all. Looking
forward to tomorrow morning's cup!
Again, repeating from earlier, the lessons are:
1) if a little is good, a lot is not always great. The big stretch was not
great.
2) if you don't measure it, you can't fix it. With notes, it took only one
roast to recover from a slip.
Doug
On Sat, Mar 21, 2009 at 5:02 PM, Douglas Hoople wrote:
<Snip>
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23) From: Allon Stern
On Mar 21, 2009, at 3:24 PM, Douglas Hoople wrote:
<Snip>
Yes, I agitate the beans by shaking/flipping the basket they're in.http://www.radioactive.org/pix/IMG_0489.jpghttp://www.radioactive.org/pix/IMG_0490.jpg
I don't usually use the thermocouple - it was an experiment the time  
I took these pictures.
-
allon
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