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Pan roasting- what are the limits, or am I missing some kind of technique?

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  • Pan roasting- what are the limits, or am I missing some kind of technique?

    Hello,

    New user here. Just been into this home coffee and home roasting thing for a month or two now, and am determined to keep everything simple and low cost as I explore various aspects of coffee. I'm much more interested in understanding the process rather than diving into the gear end of things for now.

    I've been pan roasting at home. I seem to be hitting a hard limit- each roast tastes largely indistinguishable from the others and has generally been drinkable, but simple and lacking in body. Better than supermarket coffee, but not anywhere as complex as specialty roasters.

    So I am wondering, is this simply a shortcoming of this roasting method, or am I doing something wrong?


    So more info:

    I am roasting with a wok, medium flame giving a surface temperature of around 250-260C (using an IR gun). Using two spatulas at the same time for more constant bean agitation. I started off with a flat pan and a whist, and decided that was a mistake- the flat pan makes it harder to even agitate all beans constantly, and a metal whisk is so noisy that it can drown out the noise of cracks (certainly second crack).

    Once roasting is done, I'll cool down fairly rapidly by pouring the beans between two colanders through a fan breeze. Seems to work effectively, though it has the unforunate side effect of blowing chaff all through the kitchen (I have to do this indoors).

    Roast times typically run from 8-14 minutes depending on depth of roast (stopping anywhere from halfway between first and second crack, or going up just into second crack).

    Roasting 120g per batch, getting about 13-15% weight loss.

    Degassing 1-5 days after roasting.

    Been through 2kg of green beans so far- all African. Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Ugandan Bugisu, Tanzanian Peaberry, Rwandan Hingakawa.


  • #2
    Here's a photo of my latest attempt. Not sure how useful photos are for troubleshooting, but I may as well try. Tanzania Peabody, first crack from 7:15-9:30, then I stopped the process just as second crack started at 12:30.



    Huh, just noticed that weird mutant one in the lower right. Gotta toss that one.

    Comment


    • #3
      I haven't roasted this particular bean but have roasted many P/berry batches and some Tanzanian 'normal' beans over the years.
      Your batch above definitely appears underdone to me and not far past 1st-Crack in my view. The very wrinkly appearance of the beans is the give-away; if they had have gotten close to 2nd-Crack then the beans should have a plump, smooth appearance.

      Don't know if this is much help to you at all. Have you tried roasting in a Popcorn Popper? Very easy to do and pretty decent results most of the time...

      Mal.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for the observations.

        ​​​​​​I'll retry with a longer roast time I guess, to at least see if there's a visual change. I was wondering if my pan temperatures night be off, but the timing of first and second crack events seems roughly inline with what I read about on the net.

        I do want to get to the bottom of what's going on with the pan method, one of the main motivations is that I want to understand the process and technique involved, it's the journey rather than the destination.

        I will also plan to try a heat gun, as that also appears to be a very hands-on method, but that can wait a while. I'm not in Australia these days (Hong Kong) and have never seen a popcorn maker for sale out here.

        Comment


        • #5
          As a new active pan roasting learner, I had the same question from the very beginning. I saw some Ethiopian coffee ceremony videos. They all roast coffee with pan or even a thin metal plate. Coffee ground is made from a mortar and brewed right away. I think these basic tools should provide nice coffee.

          I started with Ethiopian natural beans from Coffeesnob. Very uneven roast at the beginning but I never set my expectation that high.

          Pan roasting, or frying as Andy suggested, only provides heat from the bottom. If beans are agitated too much, they never get proper time to heat up even at high wok temperature. Is it possible the 250C is your wok temperature or at least the bean inside temperature is much lower than this?

          When use wok to roast chestnut, some salt , sugar or metal sand are mixed together. It gives perfect roasting. I haven't thought of proper heat medium used for coffee beans yet.
          Last edited by zw359; 1 week ago.

          Comment


          • #6
            The 250-260 figure is definitely the pan temperature, it's what I measure if I sweep aside the beans for a moment and use an IR gun on the pan. I have no idea how to measure internal bean temperature with the tools at hand, so am not even trying to guess.

            It's a single layer of beans, I'm deliberately limiting the amount so that each bean has constant contact with metal, even if the contact side changes frequently. I guess I could try a slower agitation.

            Comment


            • #7
              My pan and bean surface temp difference is about 20c. If you don't mind too much about uneven look of the beans, you may try to roast to the darker side.

              Comment


              • #8
                Firstly, if wok roasting was the perfect method then your local "specialty roasters" would be doing it too.

                ..but that's not to say you can improve what's in front of you and you will be able to get a very good roast in a wok.
                These 'aint CoffeeSnobs beans so I can't guess the quality to know what's possible but similar to zw359 in the other pan thread, from appearance alone it looks too fast.

                250-260C seems too hot, I would lower it to 200-210 and take your time. Your roast above looks pretty even but the leathery surface suggests it was too rapid for bean expansion and development.

                Pan roasting, or frying as Andy suggested, only provides heat from the bottom. If beans are agitated too much, they never get proper time to heat up even at high wok temperature.
                errr... not really what was meant in the other thread. The reference to pan frying was cooking the outside of the bean too fast.
                * Agitation is good - makes the roast even.
                * The right amount of heat is good - needs to be about roasting (lower heat for longer), not searing, or stir-frying or baking (lower heat for a really LONG time).

                As a new roaster the very best thing you can do is to sacrifice some beans



                Roast them through the colour stages from green to black and oily (do it outside or have a bean ignition plan in place like a lid for the wok to smother a fire)
                It will give you a far better idea of the process.

                You can even roast a bigger batch and remove beans at different stages to try them later. It will give you a better idea of what it is you actually like and how to get to that point.

                I would also suggest not starting with dry processed African beans as they can have a very narrow window where they are great. Instead a well graded and washed Peru, Indian or Colombian and learn with a few kilos of it.

                Chopping and changing beans when you are learning adds variables and confusion, you need a simple process, constant heat, good agitation to get a "baseline" then experiment with more complicated beans.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Andy View Post
                  Firstly, if wok roasting was the perfect method then your local "specialty roasters" would be doing it too.

                  ..but that's not to say you can improve what's in front of you and you will be able to get a very good roast in a wok.
                  These 'aint CoffeeSnobs beans so I can't guess the quality to know what's possible but similar to zw359 in the other pan thread, from appearance alone it looks too fast.

                  250-260C seems too hot, I would lower it to 200-210 and take your time. Your roast above looks pretty even but the leathery surface suggests it was too rapid for bean expansion and development.

                  Roast them through the colour stages from green to black and oily (do it outside or have a bean ignition plan in place like a lid for the wok to smother a fire)
                  It will give you a far better idea of the process.

                  You can even roast a bigger batch and remove beans at different stages to try them later. It will give you a better idea of what it is you actually like and how to get to that point.

                  I would also suggest not starting with dry processed African beans as they can have a very narrow window where they are great. Instead a well graded and washed Peru, Indian or Colombian and learn with a few kilos of it.

                  Chopping and changing beans when you are learning adds variables and confusion, you need a simple process, constant heat, good agitation to get a "baseline" then experiment with more complicated beans.
                  Hey, thanks. Yeah, I realise that it's not the best or most repeatable method, but it's simple and I didn't need to get any new tools to start out, and I am desperately short of space here- popcorn machines or bread machines do appeal, but I would need to find somewhere to store them.

                  I'll definitely try the lower pan temperatures, that's something dead easy and concrete that I can do.

                  And yes, in hindsight I realise that buying a wide spread of beans in small quantities wasn't the best way to go about learning to roast. It's been interesting even with the ones that I have that they respond to heat quite differently. Fortunately, also an easy thing to address now that I've just run out of green beans. I'm ordering from overseas anyway, as retail sources here are in the vicinity are around $20-100 a kilo (I kid you not, pricing for some things out here is bonkers), so will look into the practicality of having something shipped from Oz.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Green beans in Hong Kong? You should give Glory Coffee in Kowloon a call. Jason and Gloria will also be able to point you to a source of local poppers too I expect.

                    ...or you could get a Hello Kitty one from 7-11

                    Click image for larger version  Name:	1118-barcode-hello-kitty-popcorn-marker.jpg Views:	0 Size:	105.9 KB ID:	849414

                    ...I'm sure you'll find a more normal one but boy, this is cute.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Andy View Post
                      Green beans in Hong Kong? You should give Glory Coffee in Kowloon a call. Jason and Gloria will also be able to point you to a source of local poppers too I expect.

                      ...or you could get a Hello Kitty one from 7-11

                      ...I'm sure you'll find a more normal one but boy, this is cute.
                      From my background reading, I had gotten the impression that only certain popper designs would work - something about angled hot air vents versus to ensure that the beans stay mobile, versus hot air blowing through a simple mesh screen - or are they all pretty much the same? If they are all much of a muchness, then it makes sourcing much simpler and the kids also get a popcorn machine. And yes, I've seen some local Hello Kitty options, and my daughter would love one

                      I tried pan roasting again yesterday, following the suggested 210-220 surface. It lengthened the roasting time hugely- first crack occurred around 12:00 instead of the usual ~6 minute mark and even then I had to gradually ramp up the temperatures to around 240 to get it rolling. I ended up with quite a lot of very uniform, light coloured beans amongst the darker ones, I am wondering if these are what people call 'baked'. e.g. the ones in the upper right of this photo:

                      Click image for larger version

Name:	KMlbZ2O.jpg?2.jpg
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                      Well, I've now exhausted my first stock of beans. I'll get in touch with Glory Coffee, otherwise I think I've found a workable way to ship across from Australia.

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                      • #12
                        Please see post #8 again... you really need to sacrifice some beans so you better understand the development cycle.

                        These still look too lightly done, or too fast for the amount of heat... the leathery surface is the clue.

                        Stop reading, and burn some!

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                        • #13
                          I must admit, I've never roasted a batch so fast that that leathery skin appearance dominated the overall result.
                          Learn something every day...

                          Mal.

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                          • #14
                            Keep good roasting. I guess the taste would be ok with some milk added?
                            Anyway, i haven't thrown my roasted beans away

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