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Diagnosing roast help

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  • Diagnosing roast help

    Hey CSers

    Just wondering if anyone can give me some help with general guidelines to fine-tuning my roasts (or big tuning if required). My first ever roast has a slightly bitter/sharp taste, that is different from being underextracted. Are there some general guidelines that you folks can give me, ie sour=...., this taste =..., that taste=...., etc and how to rectify generic problems? Just very general hints to point me in right direction.

    and yes, I have been trying to search the forums. I have found lots on setups and the roasting process, but cant quite work out how to diagnose what I"ve done.

    For the actual info on what Ive done:
    Ive just done my first ever couple of roasts (Brazil pulped), in my journey into home roasting. I bought the $15 target popper. I dont currently have pics, but the batches were both roughly C1 @5:40 and C2@11:45. I believe this is a larger range than people normally get on the poppers, but I pulled the beans at about 12:10 or thereabouts. The beans werent overly dark or burnt looking. I havent got my CS card yet, but I"d guess somewhere around a CS9 (obviously laptop screen isnt a perfect match for printed card)

    Anyhow, Ive tried them both, giving them 3-4 days rest since roasting, and both have a similar taste. Not undrinkable, but just a funny taste that I cant quite diagnose myself with my lack of knowledge.

    Hopefully someone can help me!!

  • #2
    Re: Diagnosing roast help

    You are asking us to diagnose your taste buds online!
    ...big ask!

    Green = Hay / Straw
    Sour = lemon / unripe green apple
    Underdone = Woody / Cardboard
    Bitter = aspro / grapefruit
    Burnt = Chargrill / Ash

    Attach a picture of the roast, it will help CSrs give you some clues.

    If I had a guess I would say that what you thought was 2nd crack might have been late 1st crack.  12 minutes in a popper seems pretty long but it is cool outside so that would add time to the roast.

    Best bet in a popper is to sacrifice a roast, take it way too far, black and oily... then you will know what too far is and can back off a little.  Its pretty common to roast too light when you start .

    PS: C1 and C2 is hard to read for other newbies, please use the extra key strokes for 1st and 2nd. 
    Less TLAs = easier to read.


    • #3
      Re: Diagnosing roast help

      Thanks Andy

      Your descriptions will come in handy, Im sure. Thats a good idea about taking a batch all the way to charcoal to see what it looks like and how long it takes. Ill do some more batches over the weekend and see how I go. Ill put up some pics if I have any probs. (and thats a good suggestion about the acronyms!)



      • #4
        Re: Diagnosing roast help

        Hi Penguin
        Hope you dont mind me jumping in on your thread but Im at the same stage as you.
        Target popper &
        Starter pack

        First attempt
        80gm Ethiopian Gambella Sundried
        Ambient temp in workshed 16 deg
        1st C didnt hear it
        2nd C didnt hear it
        Pulled the plug at 19 mins
        Looked like CS6 at best and tasted (aft 4 days) underdone - woody/cardboard Thanks Andy for those descriptions.

        Read on here (another thread) that the Ethiopian Gambella Sundried were hard to roast, so I thought thats it its not me its the beans. Ill come back to them after I have some success with :-

        Second attempt
        100gm Columbian Volcan Galeras Supremo
        Ambient temp 17 deg
        1st C didnt hear it. I should mention that my wife came to the door at that critical stage and asked what I was doing. To which I replied roasting coffee beans. She just said "Why".
        I will lock the door for future roasts.
        2nd C I heard some tinkling sound at about 23 mins.
        Pulled the plug at 25 mins.
        Looked good about CS9. I thought it would taste like ash so I tried it (aft 4 days) with 50% Espresso WOW and it was fantastic ?????

        My next attempt will be Brazil Pulped Natural and I will stick to it until I have some idea of what the hell im doing.
        Penguin I hope you keep posting so I can follow along.
        I havent had so much fun since I dont know when.



        • #5
          Re: Diagnosing roast help

          Hello Penguin and Hotcoff.

          Welcome to CoffeeSnobs and home roasting.

          I haven’t used a Target popper. I have used several brands and now use a Breville Bratz.

          I don’t think you are getting it hot enough. I use about 170 grams and get a loud first cracking every time. More coffee slows down the air flow and increases the temperature.

          I stir with a wooden spoon and use a tapered salmon tin as a chimney.

          My early roasts were under done.

          Happy roasting.



          • #6
            Re: Diagnosing roast help

            Originally posted by 674457575C7A61504B46444B250 link=1337254295/4#4 date=1337410611
            I haven’t used a Target popper. I have used several brands and now use a Breville Bratz.

            I don’t think you are getting it hot enough.
            Are you running the popper at full heat capacity, if so it would suggest the popper hasnt got enough power to do effective coffee roasts.
            When I started roasting on a Black and Decker popper many moons ago the beans were turning to charcoal after 5-6 minutes, reaching 20-23 mins sounds like the Target popper hasnt got comparable heating capacity as others on the market :-/


            • #7
              Re: Diagnosing roast help

              OK - Third attempt
              100gm Brazil Pulped Natural
              Ambient temp 17 deg
              1st C loud and clear at 4:35 and finished at 6:28
              2nd C again loud (sharp sounding crack) at 11:27
              Pulled the plug at 11:28
              Looks like CS9/10

              These are similar times to Penguins

              The thing I did differently to my 2 previous attemps is I put the popper in a cardboard box with a piece of masonite covering 50% of the top.
              Barryd I think you are definately correct I wasnt getting enough heat.
              Greenman the popper is 900w and that is low compared to others. The cardboard box kept the temp around the popper warm and without it I may have had times similar to my two earlier attempts.

              I have taken a couple of pics and will post them as soon as I find out how to do it.


              • #8
                Re: Diagnosing roast help

                Greenman is right that the target popper hasnt got comparable heating as the other poppers however that is its strength also. In order to reduce your roast time you need to roast a minimum of 100 gms at a time. The drawback is that you will need to continue to stir the beans for two to three minutes until the beans tumble adequately by themselves. I usually roast 110 gms at a time on this popper.


                • #9
                  Re: Diagnosing roast help

                  They dont get hot enough. My brother has one and his gets to second crack with the Peru at about 16 min. I have one also with the same beans and same ambient temp went to 32min with no cracks!!! I increased the batch size to 150g and it was only just hot enough to reach 2nd crack after 30min. I put the same beans in my breville popper and it reaches 2nd crack after 4.5min.

                  Basically the target poppers are only just hot enough. Given the natural variability in these things some will be great and the others will be too cold.


                  • #10
                    Re: Diagnosing roast help

                    I get consistent second crack around 9 minutes on these poppers. Sorry I should say popper...Ive only owned the cant guarantee they all are as good


                    • #11
                      Re: Diagnosing roast help

                      My unmodified  Breville popper is rated at 1100-1200W.

                      You will have to experiment to find out the amount of green beans needed for a good roast with the 900W Target.

                      With my Breville, I fill it up to the bright screw inside the chamber which is about 170 G. I get great results.



                      • #12
                        Re: Diagnosing roast help

                        I too own one, and worked ok during summer. However last time I tried roasting with it in cold wintery Tasmanian afternoon I could barely reach 1C despite upping my batch to get greater heat mass. Gave up on the popper and getting far far better results with an old breadmaker and heat gun I had lying around.

                        Plus roasting for a week now takes 15 minutes rather than 4x15min batches with 5m min cooling then resetting etc. Took about 90 mins to fill up 2 bags enough for a week of coffee consumption.


                        • #13
                          Re: Diagnosing roast help

                          I finally got some time on the weekend to do another batch, although I had to do it outside on a shared balcony (were a bit limited in a 2br apartment in Sydney) and the sun was setting. I sat there with a torch, got 1st crack at about 6min, intended on going to charcoal as per Andys suggestion, but had to stop at about 21 mins when I got in trouble for stinking the place out and giving my wife a headache with the noise. I dont think it got to second crack. Tonight, Ill compare it to the other beans I did last time, but I dont think its all that dark. It was only 14deg outside though.

                          So, being in a second level 2br apartment in Sydney, my options for roasting are limited. I cant stink out the house, and apparently the popper is too noisy outside... What do you other guys in similar situations do? (I did do my second batch in the kitchen, holding the popper out the window with a fan blasting out as well, but I couldnt even hear a thing with the noise). Im sure theres much better options for noise, but what about the smell?? I really dont want to bite the bullet and give up on roasting till we get a house...


                          • #14
                            Re: Diagnosing roast help

                            I feel for you Penguin, I really do. Even with a house I find the roast smell still somehow gets into the house, despite all my efforts.
                            Are there any oil on your beans? Thats one sign of having passed or reached second crack other than colour. Are you using the tin can to extend the channel? This helps raise the heat also.


                            • #15
                              Re: Diagnosing roast help

                              I havent put a tin can on it yet, but suspect I will have to do so. I recall reading in one of the threads here that a lot of the cans are lined with something that I wouldnt really want to consume. I cant quite remember what that was though. Ill have to find a safe can.

                              As for the smell, I was wondering if I would have to rig up some sort of exhaust fan or something like that (dont quite know in a rental though).

                              Maybe Ill have to find a quieter option and either put it next to the window with a fan, or even take it down to outside the shared laundry for a quick roast...

                              I only had a quick look at the beans last night, and dont know if I recall seeing oil on them yet. I was a bit distracted by annoyed wife, so very quickly packed it all up.