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Thread: Roasting basics for pros

  1. #1
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    Post Roasting basics for pros

    Hi everyone,


    This is my first post in this very informative forum. Iím going to open a coffee shop with an in house roasting.


    What is the basics of roasting? I know that first I need to preheat the drum. However, could you please give me more details on the temperature for preheating and for how long i should preheat.


    Secondly, most roasters finish at around 15 minutes (drum ones), how should the roasting progress towards then second or before the second crack in terms of drum heat and air flow stuff.


    I know it is quite subjective but I need a starting point to understand. Do I start very high temperature and then slow down at some point. Could I have some figures please.

    I have searched for similar topics but couldn't find any. Btw, I'm hilghy considering the Giesen W6A. I'm also considering the Probatione 5, however, Probat did not respond to any of my emails which is very cheap.



    I appreciate all opinions and thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Coffee Nut fg1972's Avatar
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    Hi there, welcome to the forum.
    It's a bit hard to answer your questions as they very generic and most of them will depend on lots of other factors.
    The basics,
    Preheat the drum, how long and to what temperature? depends on the machine, batch size, probe placement, your target profile. You could start with your approx target end temperature and see how you go.
    Roasting progress, there is no right or wrong, maybe try and aim for 1st crack at around 9 - 11 minutes and adjust your temp / air flow accordingly
    How long, how fast and slow is something you're going to need to work out based on your scenario. Unfortunately this requires skills that need to be acquired by trial, error and experience, initially temps are not that relevant. it's more about sight, smell, sound and time.
    If you are seriously wanting to learn how to successfully roast coffee, you'd probably need to be experimenting yourself and or looking at some kind of coffee roasting course or hooking up with an experienced roaster to learn the basics.
    Hope this helps, let us know how you go.

  3. #3
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    This book should help you a lot:

    https://www.scottrao.com/new-product...ters-companion

    As mentioned by fg1972, try to find a roasting course, go and visit other roasters and ask if you can see how they work. If you are learning, a small roaster (sample roaster) with good control will be very useful to try, fail, experiment, learn and improve without wasting large quantities of beans.

    you will also find different approach of roasting Not every body does it exactly the same), it is then up to experience, targeted taste, available green beans...

    Then you need time... and with coffee, years later you will find that you are still discovering and learning everyday and there is still so much more to learn.

    Have fun!

  4. #4
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    Thanks a a lot for the replay,

    I'm planning to experiment my self. However, i thought there would be some starting guides (standards). As for the training, most of them are very expensive. I contacted Toper for the purpose of buying a 5kg roaster and join a course. The course in their website is 5000 Euros, which includes a coffee introduction and 2 days roasting.

    The problem, this definitely won't give me an advantage in learning. It is only a 2 days course, what will i learn in two days expect the very, very basics that i could learn for free.

  5. #5
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    Thanks a lot Big for the recommendation,

    I will definitely read this book. You have mentioned that it requires years of learning. This is for sure and applies to a lot of things.
    In my situation, i want to produce good quality of coffee trough roasting on a potential Probat, Toper or Giesen.

    I thing it is not hard as many people thing it is, even tough i haven't roasted my whole life. The courses for these type of stuff are really very expensive. I'm in the UK for the mean time, doing a Masters Degree in a very reputable University which is quite expensive and for a whole year, it is much cheaper than joining a roasting course in the SCAE nonsense.

  6. #6
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    Meshaal,

    My first post too on this forum. This is a great group of enthusiasts for sure. I've been home roasting about three years intensively on my own designed and built equipment. In that time I've only bought roasted coffee a few times. For the first year the coffee I made was horrible, but I drank it to understand what was going on. In the second year I thought my coffee was fairly good, but sampling to friends that gave honest feedback resulted in tweaks to my process. Now I'm on a good level of roasting that I like to think is a little better than most. My story is different since I'm not using a commercial roaster, but I can certainly say it's not easy to roast great coffee out of the gate. A good analogy is baking bread, and there are parallels for sure. If you decided to start a bakery today, how long would it take for your bread quality to match an artisan bakery nearby? Having all the right tools would certainly be needed, but some of the skills aren't entirely obvious. You will need to make mistakes and try various techniques that may or may not workout.

    There are many unknown factors in your situation, so it's difficult to give advice. Looking at it from a business, a coffee shop and a coffee roasting operation are two vary different business models. To make money roasting coffee you need volume. A coffee shop doesn't consume that much coffee. A good roasting site needs cheap floor space and is noisy. A coffee shop needs customer parking and a good location. If your idea is to draw customers into a coffee shop because you roast, that's secondary to a lot of other things. A good coffee shop might use 8 pounds of coffee per day. I roaster can turn that out in 15 minutes to an hour. The roast master can't be helping customers while he's roasting. So marrying these two businesses is really tough.

    That said, I do appreciate coffee shops that also roast. If you want to roast, I'd do that off hours. Check your local regulations on smoke abatement, etc. If you have space get a 2-3 kg reputable machine, preferably cast iron drum. Find someone to run it for you part time and learn from them.

    It terms of roasting coffee, you can heat up beans really fast and turn them brown. That doesn't make them good, necessarily. In the beginning, you want them to heat up to below 160F without drying them out, so on a drum you pre-heat. In my opinion this is where they develop. Then it's a matter of heating them evenly without scorching to the level you like. As you approach your final temperature they can't tolerate rapid temperature change because they are less dense (past first crack), so you reduce heat. Once they stop evolving moisture which has an effect of cooling them due to evaporation, they also gain heat much faster. Because different origin beans are different sizes and density, plus the atmospheric conditions (level of humidity) change even throughout the day, you need to key on specific aspects of your equipment to understand when these bean changes happen and possibly predict them to happen and make changes to the inputs. Consider that computer profiling a roast is not repeatable. So that's why it takes years to master coffee roasting.
    Dimal, greenman, shewey and 1 others like this.

  7. #7
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    Great post JR, very informative. Welcome to the forum.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustRoasted View Post
    Meshaal,

    My first post too on this forum. This is a great group of enthusiasts for sure. I've been home roasting about three years intensively on my own designed and built equipment. In that time I've only bought roasted coffee a few times. For the first year the coffee I made was horrible, but I drank it to understand what was going on. In the second year I thought my coffee was fairly good, but sampling to friends that gave honest feedback resulted in tweaks to my process. Now I'm on a good level of roasting that I like to think is a little better than most. My story is different since I'm not using a commercial roaster, but I can certainly say it's not easy to roast great coffee out of the gate. A good analogy is baking bread, and there are parallels for sure. If you decided to start a bakery today, how long would it take for your bread quality to match an artisan bakery nearby? Having all the right tools would certainly be needed, but some of the skills aren't entirely obvious. You will need to make mistakes and try various techniques that may or may not workout.

    There are many unknown factors in your situation, so it's difficult to give advice. Looking at it from a business, a coffee shop and a coffee roasting operation are two vary different business models. To make money roasting coffee you need volume. A coffee shop doesn't consume that much coffee. A good roasting site needs cheap floor space and is noisy. A coffee shop needs customer parking and a good location. If your idea is to draw customers into a coffee shop because you roast, that's secondary to a lot of other things. A good coffee shop might use 8 pounds of coffee per day. I roaster can turn that out in 15 minutes to an hour. The roast master can't be helping customers while he's roasting. So marrying these two businesses is really tough.

    That said, I do appreciate coffee shops that also roast. If you want to roast, I'd do that off hours. Check your local regulations on smoke abatement, etc. If you have space get a 2-3 kg reputable machine, preferably cast iron drum. Find someone to run it for you part time and learn from them.

    It terms of roasting coffee, you can heat up beans really fast and turn them brown. That doesn't make them good, necessarily. In the beginning, you want them to heat up to below 160F without drying them out, so on a drum you pre-heat. In my opinion this is where they develop. Then it's a matter of heating them evenly without scorching to the level you like. As you approach your final temperature they can't tolerate rapid temperature change because they are less dense (past first crack), so you reduce heat. Once they stop evolving moisture which has an effect of cooling them due to evaporation, they also gain heat much faster. Because different origin beans are different sizes and density, plus the atmospheric conditions (level of humidity) change even throughout the day, you need to key on specific aspects of your equipment to understand when these bean changes happen and possibly predict them to happen and make changes to the inputs. Consider that computer profiling a roast is not repeatable. So that's why it takes years to master coffee roasting.


    Thank you very much for the reply,

    I agree with you in almost everything. However, I thing if someone lives something, it won't take a lengthy time to understand what he really likes.

    I'm not planning to roast my own coffee. Of course, that is not easy, specially for a person who has never roasted before. I'm, however, planning to employ a roaster to manage the Roasting. Still, I want to understand my business.

    I don't want to just employ someone without observation or supervision. I'm thinking of looking any someone from the Philippines, at least with an acceptable salary rather something else.

  9. #9
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    Hi Meshaal,

    Search under YouTube for Mill City Roasters.

    They have a collection of educational video sessions on roasting and the skills behind it. I too am new to roasting and found their videos highly educational and informative.

    Good Luck with your business venture..

  10. #10
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    Yes they are good. However, i thing they tend to do more lectures than real roasting. The Coffee Roaster's Companion by Scott Rao is giving me a very wider knowledge, even though I'm in the fist page. I thing it is a very good place to start.

  11. #11
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    Behmor Coffee Roaster
    Quote Originally Posted by Meshaal View Post
    Yes they are good. However, i thing they tend to do more lectures than real roasting. The Coffee Roaster's Companion by Scott Rao is giving me a very wider knowledge, even though I'm in the fist page. I thing it is a very good place to start.
    Scott Rao has a blog on his site (the information is usually a bit deeper than the book). I have read much on many coffee professionals sites I also find valuable, search for things like roasting theory. I would also recommend that you check out Sweet Maria's library (on their website) and some their videos on YouTube would also be helpful.

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