HomeRoast Digest

Topic: Affordable Angstrom chart? (25 msgs / 498 lines)
1) From: Michael Vanecek
I was just over at the SCAA site and their selling their Angstrom "kit"
for almost $300 bucks. That gets you 8 color disks, a couple of
background sheets, a couple of petri dishes and a manual. I may be
wrong, but for that price by weight, Gold would be seem to be cheaper.
What kind of scam is that? Let's see - 8 little pieces of colored
plastic that couldn't cost more than a nickel apiece to manufacture even
with the "special" color, a couple of sheets that are most likely too
cheap to price, but let's be generous and give that a nickel apiece, a
couple of petri dishes - oh heck, let's say $5 each, and a book that I
couldn't find at Amazon which is probably a saddle-stapled manual -
let's be nice and say $15. $25 and some change product for $289? Is
their a more realistically priced source of Angstrom reference charts?
Why is theirs so outragiously overpriced? 

2) From: Michael Vanecek
Oops - make that Agtron Chart...
Michael Vanecek wrote:

3) From: Dave Clark
Michael Vanecek wrote:
I'd say it has something to do with the color correct printing process
that would be required to accurately maintain the proper color for
the charts, but that's just a guess... Still wayyyy to much $$$. I'd
buy 15 pounds of St Helena instead, and roast to the beginning of the 
second crack and enjoy... ;o)
Dave Clark                                             Austin, Texashttp://www.jump.net/~davec                            N 30d 27.526m
mailto:davec                                  W 97d 48.826m
     Time flies like the wind, and fruit flies like bananas.

4) From: Tom & Maria
Yep, thats the case, plus the research and dev. costs behind the project. I
have a set and its a fine reference point but visual color comparison only
gets you so far ---its best just to go for mechanical color analysis via a
photspectrometer. I cant afford one.
There was a recent article about using photoshop and LAB colorspace to
analyze coffee color. I never had time to delve into the article much, but
i intend to, and to post it on the web site...
                  "Great coffee comes from tiny roasters"
           Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting  -  Tom & Maria

5) From: Michael Vanecek
Sigh. I don't doubt that they expended much effort to research the
colors and make sure they were represented correctly. However, I've got
dozens of big fat reference books and textbooks on everything from
multimedia development to quantam string theory into which much research
and effort went into production and the most expensive of those hovers
around the $40 dollar mark. But then they weren't "specially" printed
for color accuracy. However even my books on holography with abundant
examples were not that expensive. And additionally, while reading the
Home Coffee Roasting book I got from Tom, I noticed on the inside of the
back cover four angtron/SCAA color squares. It's not eight, but I think
I only paid $15 for the book. So, for an additional $270 dollars I get 4
more color disks, a couple of sheets of paper, a couple of petri dishes
and a manual (though the book I have is a fine book, so the manual would
be unneeded)? That seems very, well, scammish to me. Harrumph - this is
a "special" kit we only sell to "professionals", so we price it
accordingly... - kinda snooty, and it severely reduces my opinion of the
SCAA... It's one thing to pay top dollar for the coffee we so much adore
- that's money well spent. But the price markup on the kit is simply
unjustified, even if it's in it's own gold-stamped leather case adorned
with lupaz and garnets. I can get a six layer 3"x4" pcb with a miminum
trace width 0.006", minimum hole size 0.012", minimum SMD pitch 0.020",
about 700 holes and about 1000 SMD pads - some high precision work,
manufactured for about $45 each even on a small run - what makes 8
pieces of colored plastic so special?
Well, in any case, I'm glad I got the Home Coffee Roasting book - the 4
color squares on the back cover is yet another tool in helping judge my
coffee roasting. I hope the SCAA can see fit to overhaul their
over-pricing practices - unless of course a large portion of the money
actually get's put back to help the near poverty conditions farmers have
to contend with, but somehow I doubt that...
Tom & Maria wrote:

6) From: Michael Rochman
ROTFL....me too.   
On 9 Sep 2000, at 13:48, Dave Clark wrote:

7) From: Kathleen Tinkel
I work in the publishing industry, so feel bound to comment on this
First: The SCAA is attempting to show subtle real-world variations
realistically in artifical CYMK* color. The CMYK gamut is severely
constrained - those of us with normal color vision do not see anything like
so narrow a range of colors.
Second: In order to hold even these feeble tolerances requires careful hand
work at every stage from film to separation to plate to press, and then on
the press. This is as far from your $15 trade paperback as commercial
offset printing comes - closer to those $75 books printed in Switzerland
showing paintings or other fine art. Speaking of the Davids book, 
only the cover is full-color, and the author reminds us that it does not
accurately represent the SCAA tones.
Third: All printing expense is front-loaded. A trade paperback (with all
B&W pages, mind you) like Davids's book on coffee roasting costs $15/copy
because they printed 15,000 copies (I'm guessing - but that's the magic
number these days). How many kits can SCAA sell? A thousand? Two thousand?
Very uneconomical runs in the printing business.
Fourth: Trying to match someone else's specimens is semi-futile anyway.
You'd be better off roasting, grinding, and scanning known quantities of
your own, printing them on a dinky inkjet, matching that to the real
samples, compensating, reprinting, and making your own test swatches. IMHO,
of course.
* Color descriptions:
C = Cyan (pale warm blue)
Y = Process yellow (which has a greenish cast)
M = Process magenta (sick-looking intense pink)
K = Black 
If you want a sobering look at the accuracy of offset-printed colors,
compare any ordinary reproduction to the real thing for Caucasian skin,
Black skin, green grass, or any sort of red or yellow flower in a

8) From: dork
Color Charts, accurate or inaccurate, are probably utterly useless
as a method of fine-tuning bean roasting.
If we are going to get all wrapped around the axle about achieving
the ultimate, perfect, repeatable control of our roasts, we will
have to look somewhere besides color-matching for a method that is
sensitive enough to get us there. Color matching, even against a
dead-on accurate chart, is pretty crude stuff.
Kathleen Tinkel, in her recent post, described in lucid detail the
barriers to finding an accurate chart in any printed piece.  The
lady knows whereof she speaks; I have done my time eyeball to
eyeball with angry printers trying to get artwork reproduced with
even approximate color fidelity.  They do require some urging, and
they NEVER quite get it.
But even if we did somehow acquire a perfect chart it could
provide at best only a very coarse indication of a loose
approximation.  That won't do. Remember: we are fanatics. Control
freaks.  We want control of the roast.
Where there is a will there is almost always a corresponding
won't. The "won't" with trying to achieve fine control through
color matching is pretty formidable.
We will have to look elsewhere. Here's why.
Color memory. We cannot remember a color accurately, even for a
matter of two seconds. Accurate color memory is ephemeral, in all
of us, at any age. This means we would have to lay a bean directly
upon a color chip to determine whether we had a match.  
Do that while we are processing? 
Lighting.  Any change in lighting changes perception of color.
Reflections.  Adjacent objects reflect their hues upon the
subject, changing its apparent color.
Ms. Tinkel is right on another score, too.  If you DO want a
chart, you should make your own.  By the time you have done that,
you will know how to use it to defeat some of the barriers listed
above. Whether you can make a chart that can be put on a web page
with any accuracy is another can unopened.
This brings us to the question of a starting point.
I recommend the book "Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green" by Michael
Wilcox.  My volume is an old one, but I was delighted to discover
this morning that it is still in print, in an updated edition.
This thin volume contains more useful information on color than
all the considerable array of other books on the subject that add
only weight and dignity to my bookshelves; 20 books uncracked for
20 years.
On the question of color memory:  Mr. Wilcox demonstrates to my
utter satisfaction that I can not retain enough color information
to ensure a match in the length of time it takes my eye to scan
across a 3 x 4 inch rectangle.  Of a dozen swatches in an array,
the two that match must be drawn out and placed side by side to
make sure. How you gonna do that with a hot bean, huh?
Beyond that, though, the book provides all the information and
instruction anybody, pro or beginner, would need to make a very
fine custom color chart, using acrylics, poster paints or oils.
It is probably worth doing.  But don't expect color matching ever
to provide fanatic, lint picking, anal retentive accuracy as to
what a roast is doing.
For that you need Zen. Or something.
Happy roasting,
Tom & Maria wrote:

9) From: Michael Vanecek
Well, you may have a point there. It's indeed possible they're using
something beyond regular offset cmyk too - such as actual paint-chips.
It's just from the look of the ad - 8 paint chips, 2 sheets of paper, a
couple of petri dishes and a manual for $289 kinda, well, shocked me.
I'm not looking for exact color match, just a general match. It's not my
only desired tool for judging the coffee, but just a minor
classification helper - which is why almost $300 bucks seemed kinda off
the wall for me. But if Tom likes it and feels he got his money's worth
then maybe I'm just cheapy. I'd be satisfied with the offset printing
like on the book - if I was looking for 100% accuracy I'd get a lab put
together... :) Are there any books that have all 8 colors? I also plan
to do your #4 suggestion too - I feel the more different ways I have to
analyze my coffee the more I'll get to know the coffee and the more
consistent I can be with roasting.
Kathleen Tinkel wrote:

10) From: Spencer W. Thomas
dork wrote:
You can't do it with "a bean."  The Agtron chips are designed to match the color
of the GROUND coffee.  As most of have probably seen, the color on the outside of
the bean is usually NOT the same color as the grounds you get from it.  And you
can't do it during roasting, because the color will continue to develop into the
cooling phase.
So the chips are really only good for figuring out what to do NEXT time.  If this
roast came out too dark, you can do the next one a little lighter, or vice-versa.

11) From: Kathleen Tinkel
"Paint chips" would also be expensive in small runs. Circles? Die-cutting?
Ouch again.
Dork made good points about color memory. Beyond that, color matching is
normally done under controlled lighting conditions - using lights of
controlled temperature in the absence of ambient lighting. I'm not sure
many of us would want to get into that. (In fact, I wonder how SCAA members
use their high-precision chips.)
But it would be useful to have even feeble reproductions of all eight of
the SCAA chips - and I tried to see how close I could come to the four in
the book using Pantone or TruMatch swatches but didn't have much luck. 
Your notion of paint swatches was an interesting idea - take the book to a
paint store and see what you could do. If we could come up with a set of
Benjamin Moore (or similar) formulas that came close to the chips, we could
share the formulas (or even painted sheets).
Such samples should make it easier to discuss roasting details with others.
It would enable you to tell us you roasted Golden Pwani to color
such-and-such and really liked (or loathed) it, and it would help us
understand what you had done
And it should help make good roasts easier to reproduce - assuming one
tends to roast the same beans and can control the environment properly.
I've been thinking of more direct controls. I wish there were a little port
in the end of the Alp, for example, so I could insert a long-handled spoon
to check the roast mid-stream. (I could probably just open the door, but I
have no idea what effect on temp that would have, and it would be hard to
reproduce reliably.)
It was easier with the FreshRoast - if I turned off the overhead light and
peered at the side of the roasting glass with a good flashlight, I could
monitor the color fairly well (not to the degree you're looking for,
though). But I do miss being able to monitor color and presence/absence of
traces of surface oil.
Just rambling. 

12) From: Dave Huddle
My roasting set up includes a Black & Decker VersaPak Snakelight
pointed at the Hearthware Precision  or FreshRoast chamber.   Sure
helps me to see what's happening inside.   Since the battery is always
being recharged when not in use, the light output is constant from one
use to the next.   (I bought this flashlight primarily for use in
Dave    Westerville, OH         just 25 minutes from SweetMaria's

13) From: Kathleen Tinkel
That's a good idea. I gave one of those Snakelights to my husband - maybe I
could borrow it next time I'm using the FreshRoast.
The Alp, though, remains a blind box...

14) From: Michael Rochman
Dork, ditto on the time spent at the printers. 
There ~are~ standard PMS colors and you can mix for a variant. 
Try printing the exact PMS color, let alone the variant. 
And, when it differs, the printer will more than likely blame the paper 
stock or the quality variance of the ink. 
Moral: Printers don't internalize. ;->)
So, where does this leave us?  I think you guys have all pretty well 
covered our possibilities, including the fact that the charts are for 
ground coffee. 
All of those facts are enough to stop me from trying to color match 
On 11 Sep 2000, at 9:51, dork wrote:

15) From: Michael Rochman
On 11 Sep 2000, at 9:51, dork wrote:

16) From: Michael Vanecek
Excellent idea. One person's Full City may be different from another's -
a more specific but admitidly still general reference would definately
aid in communication and general appraisal of a roast. Please realize
that I'm not looking for an end-all this is Law written in stone method
- that's impossible with coffee - I'm accustomed to testing things
against several criteria to narrow the margin a little and I think a
color-chart, even if it's average and not optically perfect, would still
be a useful reference tool. Now if I can get my hands on the other four
colors, I can visit the nearest hardware store and see how close they
can come...

17) From: John & Carolyn Abbott
How hard would it be to take a couple of beans from a roast and encapsulate
them in clear plastic - like small ice-cubes. Now you have a perfect example
that will not age.  Or am I missing something really important here - being
a novice and all?

18) From: Kathleen Tinkel
We need to find someone who has all 8 of the tiles to help.
Or someone needs to roast a bunch of coffee to different roasts, grind them
up, schlep those to the art or paint store (enduring all manner of strange
looks!), and figure it out from the ground up...

19) From: Todd Smith
I've tried the paint store routine with no success.  There aren't that many
variation of browns available in my opinion.  I tried Sherwin Williams,
Sears, and Benjamin Moore.   It seems that someone should be able to come up
with an 8-color wheel that comes reasonable close to the Angstrom tiles.
As been pointed out, this would not be an exact comparison, but a relative
one.  Sure there are differences in lighting and color perception, but we'd
all be referencing a similar sample.
If someone could even come close to the 8 tiles on a photo-quality inkjet
printer, one could make a "standard" that we all could reference.   Maybe
Tom would offer to sell them to the members of the this list.    Maybe we
could get Tom to roast some beans to what HE thinks are representative of
the color tiles and sell them as a reference point.
I think we are making this too exact.  Coffee roasting is an art... not a
science in my book.
So that's my opinion...

20) From: Robert Cantor
I still think there must be a few brown things sold world-wide that we could
use - some wrapper or book cover or somethings.
Bob C.

21) From: DonaldO763
I still think there must be a few brown things sold world-wide that we could
use - some wrapper or book cover or somethings.
how about the Great American Chocolate Bar -- your basic Hershey's wrapper -
should equal about a full city roast
Don o

22) From: John & Carolyn Abbott
Wow - I was thinking a full city was a lot lighter than a Hershey wrapper.
OK - I'm buying some books :O)

23) From: Scott Jensen
I have three of the tiles, 45, 55, and 65.  Which for me is the most usefull
range, I rarely roast outside of those parameters.  I will lend them to you
or someone else if it will be of any help.  Alos all the tiles may be
ordered from the SCAA individually for the price of $15.00 each, ask for
replacement tiles!  This would seems like a reasonable cost to me, and it
was worth it for me to have the authentic tiles.
Scott Jensen
----Original Message-----
From: Kathleen Tinkel 
To: INTERNET:homeroast 
Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 8:16 PM
Subject: Re: + Affordable Angstrom chart?

24) From: Don Staricka
That is very interesting. If you can get 8 individual replacement tiles for 
$120, why is the entire package so expensive?
How do you go about ordering replacement tiles?
At 09:49 AM 9/14/00 -0500, you wrote:

25) From: Michael Rochman
Scott, thought a set of 8 goes for a couple of hundred????    Mike
On 14 Sep 2000, at 9:49, Scott Jensen wrote:

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