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First Crack Smoking Experience

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  • First Crack Smoking Experience

    Have you ever tried to do a google search for "experience" "smoke" and "first crack"? Very little coffee related information for some reason...

    I'm currently roasting using the ghetto roaster technique posted elsewhere on this board: Basically a gas burner heat source with the hot air chimneyed via a metal canister to a wire basket (manually agitated with a whisk). The coffee is therefore predominantly air roasted, with a small amount of conduction from the mesh basket.

    The fine basket mesh means that during the initial browning stages, the chaff is either carried away on the air currents, or falls through to the bottom of the chimney, so there is very little smoke from burning chaff.

    I'm hitting a very clear first crack (between 5 and 10 minutes depending on manual control, currently aiming for longer roast times as per Andy's advice on the Mexico el Triunfo Arabigo). First cracks are apparent to my ears for one to two minutes. Second crack is less clear, to the point where I'm not 100% I'm getting into it. Based on colour, the beans look like a medium roast to me, and I'm finding that I'm pulling just as the beans start to give off (what I believe) to be smoke. The resultant coffee has the chocolate note I'm looking for with but with a slight hint of carbon. I don't know whether this is coming from the surface or the interior, but there is little surface charring obvious on the beans. I believe origin characteristics are still present as the various greens produce different tasting coffees. There is none of that "green hay" smell left, but also not a lot of the wonderful aromal I associate with walking into a commercial coffee roaster.

    So, if I may draw on the experienced roasters in this forum:

    - Is this smoke or some other sort of vapour released after first crack is complete?
    - Does it's appearance indicate internal scorching or something else bad?
    - Is the small amount of surface scorching enough to produce a noticeable carbon taste?
    - Am I panicking and pulling the beans too early?
    - Am I likely to be going too fast, or too slow?


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    Thanks

    Matt

  • #2
    Hi Matt
    By the sounds of it, and the colour of your beans, you may well be pulling the roasts just before 2C. There is a substantial giving off of smoke just before 2C… There are also sometimes a few early cracks at this stage, before the real 'rice bubbles' stage begins.

    If you are getting a burnt taste, it could be from the beans scorching from too high a temp input or too close to the flame. Can you increase the length of the chimney raising the basket? Or reducing the flame? Or put a 'camping toaster' mesh over the flame to diffuse further? I'd be dropping your heat and trying to slow the rise to 1C by a few more minutes - 10 would be the very minimum IMHO.

    All the best
    Matt II

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    • #3
      Can't really help with your question but the thread title had me guessing what I was going to find when I clicked on it hehe.

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      • #4
        Matts advice is pretty sound, i would start there.

        As for the thread tittle....can I suggest a MOD changes it slightly? If you Google it, its now number 4 search result with errr people talking about their first time actually smoking crack.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Steve82 View Post
          As for the thread tittle....can I suggest a MOD changes it slightly? If you Google it, its now number 4 search result
          with errr people talking about their first time actually smoking crack.
          Yeah...... strange company we keep... ;-) and I for one don't want my crack smoking device confiscated and go up

          on charges of possessing crack smoking paraphernalia........ whether it's my first or second time. ;-)

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          • #6
            On a similar note, I was on the phone to a customer the other day talking about an order and the conversation was as follows: "Hi Shawn... yes I'll be able to deliver on Thursday. Will you be going with the usual 6 kilos or do you think you will be able to move a few more this coming week? Ten kgs? Sure I can do that. Do you prefer the small bags or should we stick with the usual bricks?"

            You should have seen the looks on the faces of the people around me

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            • #7
              And then I rode off on my motorcycle... just doing my bit to reinforce certain stereotypes

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              • #8
                You should be getting first crack at around 191-193c but bean temperature is perhaps impossible to read with the method you're using. Personally, once you drop your beans to begin the roast you'd want to make sure you're not dropping at too high a temperature to avoid scorching/tipping. I find a safe temp for this is around 10-20c below first crack temp. Then at your TP you want to bring your beans to FC at a rate between 8-12c per second. They'll be sweet!!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by theaussiebean View Post
                  Then at your TP you want to bring your beans to FC at a rate between 8-12c per second. They'll be sweet!!
                  Or maybe per minute? That'd be a 20 second roast - not so sweet

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Steve82 View Post
                    As for the thread tittle....can I suggest a MOD changes it slightly? If you Google it, its now number 4 search result with errr people talking about their first time actually smoking crack.
                    Um.. yeah. I meant to raise an eyebrow, but I'm surprised that google picked it up and ranked it so highly.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DesigningByCoffee View Post
                      If you are getting a burnt taste, it could be from the beans scorching from too high a temp input or too close to the flame. Can you increase the length of the chimney raising the basket? Or reducing the flame? Or put a 'camping toaster' mesh over the flame to diffuse further? I'd be dropping your heat and trying to slow the rise to 1C by a few more minutes - 10 would be the very minimum IMHO.
                      Thanks very much!

                      I tried inserting a "simmer pad" that was available at my local kitchen shop for $7, but it took out too much heat, and the beans browned but didn't get to first crack. At least I know that in principle a mesh will work. I might attack it with a drill to slowly increase the flow and see what happens.

                      I did another roast without preheating and starting out with a minimal flame. It looks better. I'll report on how that goes after it's had a few days to settle.

                      I'm unclear on how much surface oil is likely to be present at CS10. Should the beans be shiny at that point, or does the surface oil suggest having gone too far?

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                      • #12
                        Most roasters here will say that by the time you get shiny beans - you've gone too far
                        I tend to drop most beans just at the beginning of 2nd crack or just into it (mainly central americans). But all dependent on taste really!

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