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  • Help appreciated

    Hi all,

    Well Im the proud recipient of my first ever lot of green beans (oh, the slippery slope.... ) and Id appreciate any help on making the best of them. Not especially from a roasting point of view, plenty of info about on that, Im more looking for advice on blending or otherwise. I know absolutely *nothing* about blends, varieties, origins (other than the generic arabica/robusta stuff).

    Ive got the current starter pack, so if anyone can offer suggestions on what (if any) blends I could try of these, and whether any such blends can be pre-blended prior to roasting etc Id be exceptionally grateful!
    I generally drink/make a mixture of espressos and milk-based drinks, so something with a bit of body to cut through the milk would probably be the go. If it helps at all, St Alis Blend X rather appealed to me when I tried it a while back.

    Feels strange and kinda exciting to be a complete newbie again at something coffee-related!

    Cheers,

    Dennis

  • #2
    Re: Help appreciated

    Howdy Dennis, and welcome to the sledding club! (Watch that first step, its a doozie!)

    Being that youve not roasted before might I suggest you try roasting single origins as a start? This will aquaint you with the flavors of the different coffees and will allow you to more easily roast and figure out the process. Different beans roast at different rates and roasting up a blend can be can lead to some issues. Better to eliminate as many variables as possible until you become more familiar with the roasting process and your equipment.

    Start out roasting single origins and tasting them. Then make up blends post roast. Roast the beans as SOs and then blend in small lots until you find a combination you like.

    Java "The roasting fool" phile
    Toys! I must have new toys!!!

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    • #3
      Re: Help appreciated

      Thanks Java, I stumbled across another post too which indicated that at least two of the varieties I have should do well as a SO brew, so Ill definitely give that a go to start with.

      Cheers,

      Dennis

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      • #4
        Re: Help appreciated

        Gday Dennis,
        Following on from Javaphile, I would recommend you keep a log of how you roast it, what you notice as it roasts, ambient temp, cooling method etc. Dont forget to add what it tastes like. All these factors will effect the end result. Lets assume your first roast is perfect, in order to repeat it, you will need to replicate those conditions as best you can. Likewise if it turns out shite, those are the conditions not to be repeated. ;D

        Dont be afraid to burn the bejesus out of at least one roast so you can see what happens if you get distracted. Good luck.

        Boris

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        • #5
          Re: Help appreciated

          Thanks for the info guys, much appreciated.
          Im going to have a go with either the Sumatran Mandheling or the Kenya AA Grade, any suggested roast levels for either of these that you think bring out the best in them?

          Cheers,

          Dennis

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          • #6
            Re: Help appreciated

            Dennis,

            I would suggest you keep a record of the weight you roast and time it.
            Write down the timings when you reach 1st crack and 2nd crack.
            Depending on how much you roast, you might also identify rolling 1st and 2nd cracks.

            I find the Sumatran is nice just on 2nd crack. Maybe 10-20 seconds plus (I usually do 700g green at a time). However, the current batch I have found is a little uneven when I roast (might be me), so I have been letting it go a bit longer.

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            • #7
              Re: Help appreciated

              Being a newbie too, and just finished my 4th roast in two days, I am in the same boat. My question is- after tasting all four newbie origins and loving them- I cant really discriminate taste differences. I jsut love them- even straight up out of the cooling tray. Any of you coffee heavy weights know any links to tasting tutorials or similar?
              Im just gunna keep on roasting- and typing in all the details into my new spreadsheet...Hopefully Ill pick up taste nuances as I go along.

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              • #8
                Re: Help appreciated

                Having one of those tasting flavour wheels are helpful if you can actually put words to what youre tasting. Familiarise yourself with fruit flavours, dried fruits, nuts, etc. When you do a cupping, compare what you taste in the cup to what youre familiar with. If it tastes like a combination of lychee and dried apricots, with a hint of cedar aromatics, then thats how youd describe it.

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                • #9
                  Re: Help appreciated

                  Hi:

                  Here is a good quote from papalui from several months ago on the Yemeni Ismaili.

                  Originally posted by papalui link=1125014357/0#5 date=1126006025
                  Not chickenshit! But nice lovely recently passed cowdung with some earthy compost thrown in for good measure

                  Wonderful!!
                  Who needs a friggin tasting wheel?

                  ;D

                  Grant

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                  • #10
                    Re: Help appreciated

                    Obviously hes familiar with those sorts of flavour notes.

                    Wet socks, dishwater, bilge, it all makes you wonder just what sort of extremes people are going to, to familiarise themselves with different flavours.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Help appreciated

                      Dennis:

                      I think Java is right SO is the way to go although really it doesnt much matter.

                      I think coffee is a personal thing so I would start with SO roasts and just see which combinations might suit.

                      The important thing is probably to make some tasting notes on each SO and then do the same when you start to blend.

                      At the moment I have a Ethiopian Limmu/Indonesian Java blend and a Limmu/Kenyan blend. Typically you might blend an African bean for the chocolatey flavours with an indonesian bean which tends to provide body. Im increasingly going for flavour and just blending on flavour rather than any other consideration. My Limmu/Kenyan blend I think has the edge on the Limmu/Java blend for drinking enjoyment.

                      Grant

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                      • #12
                        Re: Help appreciated

                        Well I bit the bullet and had my first go with 100g of the Kenyan.
                        Did it outside (30+ degrees) and in full sun, which in retrospect wasnt too smart as the roast rocketed through the stages (I was only thinking about smoke and chaff mess)!

                        First crack was 2:18 and basically I had rolling first/second crack for the rest of the (short) time that the roast progressed (probably less than a minute more), at which point I suddenly realised that it was starting to look dark and had a mild panic attack :-)
                        At that point my popper turned itself off (didnt know it had a timer, or perhaps it overheated!). Come to think of it Ive not tried turning it back on since, so perhaps it died lol. Anyway, I completely forgot to check the time at that point, but just dumped the beans and started cooling them.

                        The result is not too bad it appears, given the frantic nature of the process. Not the most even roast I could imagine, no doubt due to the short time, but the average roast level looks like something reasonable. And nothing is black, nor oily :-)

                        Ill rest it overnight and try some tomorrow, hopefully it will taste ok!

                        Thanks again for all the advice and encouragement.

                        Cheers,

                        Dennis

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                        • #13
                          Re: Help appreciated

                          Sounds like the thermal fuse cut out. It usually comes back online in about 8-10 minutes. There are mods that you can do to remove that thermal protection, but I keep it intact. Mine usually cuts out after Ive stopped the roast. You need to find the threshold for your popper with chimney. Theres a wide range of max batch sizes depending on popper make/model. Ive pushed 160g with one, and the other does 150g without fail.

                          Outside in the heat is a bad place to be roasting with a popper, with ambient temperature turbocharging your roast and causing it to finish in under 4 minutes. I do all my roasting in the garage, where the temp is slightly lower, and with a fan, I have a bit of airflow. Ive drilled a few small holes in my poppers, but have seen no real appreciable difference. If the poppers draw air in, its from higher up, not near the bench, where theres not a whole lot of available air.

                          I push 6-8 minutes with all my roasts, which is good for a popper. You really need to find a way to extend the roast. A chimney is the first step if you dont have one already.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Help appreciated

                            Yep,

                            The chimney mod is one of the best and simplest mods you can do on a popper for probably the biggest return on time and money invested. Most of us here who use poppers tend to go for the really tall Heinz Special Soup tins or equivalent. Just cut the top and bottom out with a can opener then cut from the bottom to the top about two-thirds the way up. Just be careful of the sharp edges that you have now created when fitting the tin to the popper .

                            All you need to do then is squeeze the bottom of the tin so that it overlaps slightly and push into the top of your popper. It wont push in all that far, on mine (a Mistral) it only pushes in about 25-35mm but once in, it is quite solidly secured. Once youve got this done, you should be able to increase your batch size to anywhere from 120-150 grams a go, as the chimney probably adds to the "draught" effect created by the fan and pulls more air through. It also helps to keep any errant beans from being ejected during the latter part of the roast when the bean activity can become quite hyperactive.

                            Anyway, its worth a go and will only cost you the price of a can of soup and about five minutes of your time, definitely worth it ;D,

                            Cheers,
                            Mal.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Help appreciated

                              Thanks again to everyone for their tips etc. Thought I should report back on the results so far
                              The Kenyan didnt taste too bad at all, considering the turbo roast. I have absolutely zero experience in cupping and have never (knowingly) tasted a SO coffee before, but the first thing that struck me about the Kenyan was a a really bright (?) almost effervescent kind of taste at the front and sides of my tongue. Subsequent reading leads me to believe this is acidity, for which it seems Kenyans are renowned? If so, Im quite excited to have tasted and identified a characteristic. If not, then I need to keep tasting...

                              Anyway second roast (actually third, I overloaded the popper for the actual second and got a mess...) was 100g of the Panama Panamaria. This time I did it in the garage out of the sun, and it was a cooler day. Much better result with a distinct first and second crack. Took it about 5-10 seconds into second crack and emptied it out as a rolling crack was getting going. Much more uniform than the first roast, dark with one or two little oil flecks appearing. About what Id been aiming for, as Id read somewhere that Panama varieties tend to have a nice sweetness if taken to a reasonably dark roast. That ones resting for a while longer then well see how it goes!

                              Cheers,

                              Dennis

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