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Topic: Help a poor newbie understand cracks (7 msgs / 182 lines)
1) From: Don Munsil
Hello all,
I'm new to coffee roasting - I've been using a Toastmaster popcorn popper
for about 2 months now. I have Kenneth Davids's book, and have devoured
every net resource I can find, but I'm still a little unclear about what
"first crack" and "second crack" mean. I can hear the cracks, and I can hear
the difference between first crack (louder and less frequent) and second
crack (faster and quieter), but it's unclear to me if "first crack" is a
moment in time or a period of time.
In Kenneth Davids's roast chart, and in the discussion in the book, he
appears to generally refer to "First Crack" as a point in time, when the
roast becomes palatable. But on the Sweet Maria's web site, Tom will say
something like "I like to roast this coffee about 10 seconds *into* second
crack," which implies that the "cracks" are a period of the roast, and not a
single point in time. Other people talk about "rolling 2nd" and similar
phrasing, that makes it sound like the cracks are a range of time.
Frankly, it makes more sense to me to think of "first crack" as a period of
time, when you get the louder, slower cracks. Because if you time things
based on the very first "pop" sound you hear, you're basing your whole roast
on the first bean to crack, which might just be a very dry or small bean. Or
am I misunderstanding? Seen as a point in time, is "first crack" actually
when the cracking gets going full speed? Or when it peaks?
The other issue that comes up is that on some coffees, there is a quiet
period after first crack stops and second crack begins. On other coffees,
they blend into each other seamlessly, such that it can be hard to know when
one ends and the other begins. I sometimes have been listening to the cracks
and suddenly realized that I'm no longer hearing first, I'm well into second
and I frantically stop the roast before it gets too dark. I'm getting better
at judging from smell as well, but it's just too dark under my range hood to
see down into the roast chamber and judge the color well.
In any case, if anyone can offer thoughts on how to interpret the phrases
"first crack" and "second crack", I'd be in your debt.
Best regards,
Don
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2) From: jim gundlach
On Thursday, January 2, 2003, at 04:46 PM, Don Munsil wrote:
<Snip>
For a single bean it is event that occurs at a single point in time, or 
if you are thinking about both, two points in time.  However if you 
have a batch of beans the events will be distributed over time.  So for 
those of us who look at roasting a batch of beans we can observe two 
durations, when the first and the second cracks are occurring.  Since 
both tend to be normally distributed, the rolling is at about the 
middle of each.  Different beans offer different crack profiles.  Some 
offer a clear quiet time between them and others have the second start 
before the first is finished.  It also varies by the way of roasting.  
I have taken to roasting each new bean in the wok so I can learn the 
bean's crack profile.
Jim Gundlach
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3) From: Oaxaca Charlie
 Good answer to a good question, Jim
Charlie
--- jim gundlach  wrote:
<Snip>
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4) From:
It took some time for me to figure out too.  I finally understood second
crack when I took one roast all the way to charcoal.  That was when I
actually *hear* it for sure.
It kind of goes like this.  - - - first crack = CRACK...  CRACK...  CRACK
Sometimes with 5-10 seconds between the first few of them.  Then it gets to
"rollling" first crack as in CRACKAKACKAKAKAKAKAKAKA then slows down and
quiet time.
Then 2nd crack, same as above only crack... crack.... crack.... (the best
description I saw was when somebody compared it to Rice Crispies) much
quieter than 1st. ---rolling kind of gets to crackleackleackleackle acle.
Then after that, if you keep going for a while it becomes BEEP BEEP BEEP
BEEP, or however your smoke alarm goes.
The bottom line for me was to waste a couple of roasts to find out what was
what.
KenR

5) From: Michael Horowitz
Don - at this juncture, your best friends are:
1. a Maglight or a stronger light over the stove.
2. a long handled spoon, like an ice-teaspoon
AFter the first crack stops, scoop out a teaspoonful and look at the beans,
then put them back. Repeat in 10 seconds. When the second crack begins,
begin sampling at 5 second intervals and when the slightest drop of oil
appears on any one bean, pull the plug and dump the beans into the chilled
turkey roaster you had ready. Shake the chilled roaster to insure all the
beans are on a single layer and then continue to shake gently. That will
chill them down. Or you can use two collanders. - works for me! - Mike
(about 6 weeks ahead of you)
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6) From: jim gundlach
On Thursday, January 2, 2003, at 07:00 PM, 
 wrote:
<Snip>
Learning often ruins some of the raw material.  I know I've wasted a 
few roasts.  I've baked a couple trying to stretch the profile over a 
wood fire, and burnt more than one listening for the second crack that 
I swear never came.
Jim Gundlach
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7) From: David Lewis
At 2:46 PM -0800 1/2/03, Don Munsil wrote:
<Snip>
As you say, first and second crack generally refer to periods of 
time. Consistency is what you're after, so that you can learn about 
roasting. First crack is slower and more variable than second. I 
generally throw out the outliers, as you suggest; I regard the crack 
as having begun when I hear two or more cracks within a few seconds 
of each other. Another important cue is smell: after first crack, 
there will be a period when the smell is somewhat acrid, what Barry 
Jarrett refers to as "grabby." Then the roast will rather suddenly 
smell sweet as the sugars begin to caramelize. That's really the 
first point at which you'd normally stop even a City roast. Hope this 
helps.
	David
-- 
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or 
that we are to stand by the President right or wrong, is not only 
unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American 
public."
     -- Theodore Roosevelt
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