HomeRoast Digest


Topic: Pyrolysis, scientific debate, etc. - my bottom line (147 lines)
1) From: Kevin DuPre
Ok,
Looks like I opened a can of worms on this one.  There
are some things that the world will never understand.
What goes on inside a coffee bean during roasting is
probably one of them.  I can claim that I've seen
graphs from a gas chromatograph immediately following
roasting and then the same types of graphs from the
same roast batch 6, 12, and 24 hours following and the
chemical compound "fingerprint" profiles in them are
different, indicating that a reaction has occurred and
continues to occur.
Now of course, one could argue (and I'm sure that
several will) that a gas chromatograph is a
destructive test and it is not possible to test
EXACTLY THE SAME BEANS as in a previous test, which is
true.  Does that make the results invalid? Probably
not, if all you want is consistency or to "see" that
something inside the bean is changing.
Do I want to publish a report to be peer-reviewed by
world renowned Ph. D.'s who have dedicated their lives
to writing documents such as "Endothermic and
Exothermic Behavior of dried Coffea Arabica While
Subjected to Temperatures Sufficient to Induce
Thermodynamic Reactions and Trigger the Onset of
Peptides, Alkaloids and Other Stimulant Compounds in
Order to Study Increased Electroencephalic Activity in
the Human Brain During Waking Consciousness?". Not
really.
My understanding of the coffee roasting process so far
 and my philosophy for home roasting can be reduced
to:
Green beans are approximately 50% of the cost of
roasted. At my wife's and my average consumption rate
that results in a savings of approximately $260 per
year after the cost of the roaster is factored out and
accounting for shrinkage - this means I can still have
my coffee but I can spend the other $260 on something
else!
Home roasted coffee is superior to pre-packaged even
if locally roasted and consumed within a week (and I
have had a local roaster roast while I wait and
package it for me to go while I watched).
I measure the beans and log my roasts in order to
consistently reproduce good results - it makes me feel
as if I have some level of control in future roasts -
more than anything I'm curious about how ambient
conditions affect the roast, but I don't have enough
experience to draw any conclusions.
I pour green coffee into the roaster and watch it
magically transform before my eyes due to a process
that most of the world is unaware of and much of the
remainder does not fully understand. I can make it
happen in 5 or so minutes, or I can drag it out with
my recent "heat throttle" modification. If I'm not
careful I can turn it into charcoal so the
neighborhood kids can draw on the sidewalk. Most often
times, wonderful smelling and tasting brown roasted
beans come out.
The temperature is a lot more difficult to control
between 1st and 2nd crack, and I deduce with my
simple, though inquisitive mind that something else
besides roaster heat must be going on.  Does it seem
to me that it's the result of an internal reaction,
chemical or otherwise? Probably so - makes sense to
me. Can I unequivocally prove it with hard scientific
evidence? No. Will my life be incomplete because of
it? Hardly. So I roast and I enjoy.
I see beauty in the roasted bean as a result of this
seemingly magical transformation. I can look at the
cooling tray of roasting beans and see a work of art
when so many other people will say "it's just coffee".
It's NEVER "just coffee".
I can't resist the temptation to squeeze the valvebag
only an hour later, into which the fresh roasted beans
have been packaged and sealed just so I can see my
creation continue to unfold its personality (hint:
there is still something going on inside the bean
because it doesn't smell the same way it did coming
out of the roaster). If I couldn't have the coffee,
the smell would suffice :)
I also can't wait until the following morning so I can
have coffee that most other people aren't privy to and
many never will be.
What do I think about most after my wife and kids? the
taste of a great cup of espresso, coffee, or a
cappucino - in that order.
I enjoy roasting when I am simply a facilitator of the
roasting process and the recipient of its results.
I enjoy the reactions of my friends when they have
been privy to know what good coffee (from my roaster)
really tastes like.
Coffee is a simple pleasure of life.
I feel privileged to know what I know, to learn what I
am learning and to be able to roast my own to
contribute to that knowing and learning and share my
experience with others.
I am more than happy to share what I have learned, but
largely unequipped to enter into scientific debate,
despite the fact that I worked in a research lab for 5
years.
Coffee is but one facet of my life, though an
important one, but there are many more to be
experienced.
So I will limit what I post to sharing and discovery
and leave the debating to those better equipped (and
who posess the stamina to do so at length) because I
don't :)
Life is short - enjoy the [homeroasted] coffee!
=====
--
Kevin DuPre
obxwindsurfhttp://profiles.yahoo.com/obxwindsurf"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes -- Marcel Proust"
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