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Topic: Alpenrost roasting times (3 msgs / 122 lines)
1) From: David O. Desmarais
    I have done 34 batches on my Alpenrost. I have a Capresso espresso 
machine (actually the combination machine) that I use every morning I am 
home to make sort of a latte (half steamed milk, half espresso, whatever 
that is called!). Recently, I have found a blend that I really like that 
is about 60% Brazil, 20% Kenya and 20% Ethiopian Sidamo.
    My question is about roasting times for a "Full City" roast. SM 
recommends a full city roast for the Brazil. I roasted to 18:05 which 
got it into 2nd crack fully. I don't think, by looking at the roasted 
beans, they are "full city". This is the problem with the Alp; you have 
to experiment with good coffee! Is there a "target" roasting time chart 
to let me know if I am in the ball park?
    The reason I am sensitive about this is I bought a pound of Kona and 
roasted it. I think it tasted over roasted. It would be nice to have a 
target number to hit the "recommended" roast level.
    I keep detailed notes about each roast. I wiegh out the coffee on an 
electronic postage scale (8 oz.). . I roast in my kitchen which has 
essentially the same air temperature. I clean the unit between each 
roast so the reflectivity is the same. I let the unit cool for about a 
half an hour between roasts if I do multiple batches. As much as 
possible, I minimize variables. I would imagine that anyone who uses an 
Alp to roast does essentially the same so a target number should be 
available.
    Thanks for your help.
David O. Desmarais

2) From: Prabhakar L Ragde
David Desmarais writes:
<Snip>
This is the problem with ALL coffee technology. You buy it to get a
better result, but you can't get a better result if you use inferior
materials. So you use the good stuff, and see it die any number of
horrible deaths. Once you get it right, you won't regret the "waste",
which amortized over the useful life of the device is pretty small.
--PR, wrestling with a new Elektra Micro Casa a Leva, and trying to
  keep this in mind himself
(PS I don't own an Alp, so can't help with your original question.)

3) From: Michael Vanecek
Actually, it doesn't matter what roaster you use, you still have to 
experiment with good coffee. I've done over 250 roasts on my first Alp, 
and it's still a bit of experimentation on first-roasts for any batch of 
coffee I get. However, going by the cracks, smell, smoke, and time 
really does help - coffee is very communicative as to its level of 
roast. It's just a matter of learning it's language. Like morter - 
usually the first shell is off. However by the results of that first 
shot, the second has a greater chance of being dead on. Same with your 
coffee. All else being equal - ambient temp, bean lot, blend ratio, 
etc... you're well on your way to a spot on roast. Heh - doesn't help if 
you've only two roasts of coffee available tho...
I like my Kona on the light side. I'm familiar enough with my Alp that I 
can usually hit it pretty close the first time and dead on the second 
time. Getting darker, tho, seconds become even more critical. It's not a 
cheap hobby. But if you roast a *lot* of less expensive coffee, chances 
are you'll have better luck with the more expensive coffee like Kona.
Now...all that aside, my numbers are useless to you. There's many more 
variables involved. First, no Alp is identical. Heck, no roaster is 
identical. Second - even differences in elevation can make a difference. 
Differences in ambient tempurature, humidity, where Jupiter is , 
etc... Not to mention the differences in the bean. My Kona is probably 
different from yours - different plantation, different lot, whatnot. 
Heck, even the difference of whether or not you clean out all the chaff 
between roasts in multiple roasts makes a difference. The only thing to 
compare is the general approach to getting that "perfect" roast.
Finally, not only is the roasting totally variable between two people - 
but brewing differences too! And additive differences, like steaming is 
also very variable. It's a wonder we can compare notes at all! :)
There are general rules here and there to get things started, but once 
started all the rest is very personal - does it taste good to you? Does 
it require more roasting, less roasting, more extraction, less 
extraction, more steaming, less steaming, etc... No set of numbers or 
time I give you will help - especially since you're already well into 
working out your regimen. The best thing to do is keep experimenting as 
you are - methodically and in baby steps. Familiarity with your roaster 
and environment will usually allow you to achieve a close initial roast 
- be it City or Full or whatnot. The same goes for the next correction 
roast. I'm assuming you've ditched the preset buttons and are going by a 
stopwatch and other senses here. If not, ditch the preset buttons and go 
by a stopwatch and other senses (sound, smell, smoke - oooh...lotsa 
's's). On critical roasts with very limited supplies, I'll also peek 
under the hood sometimes when I'm close too. Not quite like taking a 
sample from a real roaster and depends on quality of light, but it does 
help. Just don't lift the lid up very much and don't keep it up for long.
But the best ballpark chart is Tom's reviews. The rest is 
experimentation and satisfaction...and personal preference. After all, 
you're not wearing Tom's tastebuds and he's not wearing yours - you may 
like it lighter or darker than he likes it. It's a good starting point, 
but also develop your own personal preferences for it too. If you roast 
something to Full City and think it's lost too much varietal character - 
then lighten it up the next roast.
Cheers,
Mike
David O. Desmarais wrote:
<Snip>


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