HomeRoast Digest

Topic: not quite newbie questions (6 msgs / 337 lines)
1) From: Zara Haimo
I'm a bit hesitant to post a couple very basic questions in the midst of the
more serious debates on this list, but would
greatly appreciate some advice from those of you with more experience
roasting and brewing.  I've had my HWP for about 3 months now, ever since I
had a fabulous cup of coffee at a friend's house and he showed me how easy
it was to roast at home.  I used to live on Peet's coffee, but now find that
I'm roasting much lighter and really liking it after years of thinking
darker was better.  Here are my questions:
1.  I simply can't hear the 2nd crack with any of the beans I've roasted
over the combined din of the HWP, the vent fan on my stove, and the rattle
of the beans tumbling inside the roasting chamber.  I've been trying to
roast until I just see the beginnings of oil on the surface of some of the
beans, but think I am inadvertently going to far into 2nd crack as there are
chipped off places on many of the beans and more of a charred taste than I'd
like.  Any suggestions for how I can stop a roast just before 2nd crack, but
not too soon?
2.  My old Cuisinart all-in-one coffee maker with built in whirly grinder is
convenient since I usually make coffee in the morning before my brain kicks
in, but the coffee it makes is not on a par with the beans I'm now putting
in it.  I'd like to get an automated machine (for the convenience and mess
reduction) that will make cafe cremas (I used to work in Switzerland and
still dream of the fabulous coffee - and pastries - we had every day at
work) and occasional espressos.  I've done too much research on the web and
am now totally confused about the relative merits of various machines and
the importance of getting a non-aluminum boiler.  Is there a perfect machine
that I'm overlooking in my analysis paralysis?
3.  Last and not least, while the hot coffee freshly brewed from my home
roasted beans tastes terrific, I don't pick up all the subtle flavors until
I let it cool off to room temperature.  Since I usually brew more than I can
drink at once I always have some cooler coffee to drink later, but lately
I've been letting all my coffee cool off before drinking it and have been
enjoying it more.  Has anyone else found that they taste more when the
coffee has cooled off or did years of drinking the battery acid coffee at
work destroy my taste buds?
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2) From: Henry C. Davis
I am not even remotely an expert, but
as to 1) if you are watching for oil on the beans it is my
experience with the hearthware that you have roasted darker than
you seem to be intending to. I roast as much by smell and color
as anything, and hearing second crack is harder than first with
the HWP unless you can get your head *above* the roaster, and
then you interfere with the exhaust fan - or get your hair in it.
Get a burr grinder, it makes a difference even with drip brewing.
You can get good coffee with a whirly grinder, but you get better
coffee from the very same bean and roast with a burr grinder. I
didn't really believe it until I tried it.
I leave 2) to the folks raving about cafe suisse/cafe crema since
I do drip and press and cold extraction
3) you are not imagining things and your tastebuds are not out of
whack. Many of the complex coffees are not as revealing until
they start cooling off in the cup a bit. I find this is really
most true with bright Central Americans, but also more earthy
coffees to some degree. Like resting after roasting, there is
plenty of room for dispute, but I am very sure you taste
different things when comparing right from brewing vs a few
minutes cooling in the cup. I still like hot coffee, I just don't
automatically dump stuff that has been sitting in the cup for a
while like I used to in years past.

3) From: Jim Schulman
I'm not an expert, but here's my 2 cents:
1. With the HWP, you're at a the start of a rolling second when the beans 
look like milk chocolate. They should have the slightest sheen, but no more 
oil then that. If you've hit it, they'll be dry by the time they've cooled, and 
they'll oil up again in about three days.
2. Good superautos like the Solis 5000 are ideal for easy cafe cremas, 
capuccinos, etc. that will be better than anything except the most meticulous 
preparation on a good quality espresso machine and grinder. They're 
expensive, but no more so than many good manual espresso + grinder 
setups. I'm not an expert on these machines, but I the Solis and Saeco 
superautos' aluminium thermoblocks and brewing components are reputed to 
be reliable and easy to maintain. Check the reviews at coffeegeek.
3. One of my best friends, whose parents were coffee roasters in Munich, 
likes his coffee cool. He's an acid hound, and prefers Kenyans and Costa 
Ricans. With the Ethiopians or Indonesians I like, my feeling is that hot is 
better. I was at a tasting at a good Chicago roaster, and they tasted the 
samples twice, once hot for aroma and body, once cooled down for the acid 
and flavor. So if you like bright coffees, it makes sense to prefer a cooler cup.
Jim Schulman
On 30 Apr 2002 at 22:42, Zara Haimo wrote:
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4) From: Larry Palletti

5) From: Brian Ray
^I'm a bit hesitant to post a couple very basic questions in the midst of 
more serious debates on this list^
zara - never be hesitant and q's are never too basic.  also, i assume that 
your description of these debates as serious was said with a certain amt of 
good-natured irony :-)
i can't help with the cafe crema q's but i'm happy to share my experience 
with the hwp.  i usually kick off the kitchen vent when the 1st crack ends 
to eliminate some of the noise and that helps with hearing the second crack 
in some beans.  others it's just plain hard to hear.  when i first bought 
the hwp i bought 2 lbs of tom's least expensive coffee and played around 
taking batches to different degrees of roast and that helped me establish a 
general time frame that's worked fairly well.  every bean is a bit different 
but there's usually not a significant time gap in when the 2d crack begins 
so once you get a sense for the approximate range you can manually stop the 
roast at about the same amt of time after the end of the 1st crack if you 
haven't heard any snaps yet.
as far as coffee cooling and tasting better, i've found the same thing to be 
true, although i usually find different characteristics emerge if i drink 
the cup at different points as it cools (which i always do since i have no 
happy roasting! (and drinking)
in columbus
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6) From: Don Staricka
At 10:42 PM 4/30/02 -0700, you wrote:
Most people who complain that they can't hear second crack eventually learn 
how to do so unless their hearing is defective in some way. The sound is 
quite distinct once you know what to look for. You might consider 
purchasing a Pelouze thermometer from Tom and positioning it so that the 
tip is buried in the beans but not quite touching the bottom of the 
roasting chamber. Make sure to calibrate the thermometer first in boiling 
water to verify that it is accurate.
In my HWP, second crack begins around 445 degrees. Full-fledged second 
crack occurs at about 450. Temperatures vary a little with the types of 
beans. Peaberry beans crack much sooner. The temperatures that I have 
noticed agree with those that I have seen published for the different 
degrees of roast. One reference is the book by Ken Davids on home roasting.
If you want to stop just before second crack you would press the Cool 
button at about 445 degrees. Use this as a general guide. Your own 
experience may be different. And remember to check the calibration on the 
thermometer occasionally. The Pelouze can be very fickle. (Or invest in a 
more heavy-duty thermometer).
This is what you would expect. That is why certain foods are best served at 
room temperature while others are served chilled. Wines and cheeses are an 
example of this. Foods with a strong flavor are served chilled in order to 
diminish the strength while those with a more delicate flavor are served at 
room temperature. Our sense of taste is more sensitive at temperatures 
close to our natural ambient temperature.
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