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Thread: I've spent the last month building my own coffee setup and now I need your help.

  1. #1
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    I was semi-gifted an atomic coffee machine.

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I traded a few mud crabs for an atomic coffee machine and I have subsequently become obsessed with making the entire coffee process. I have made an album for all that here: Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet .

    Now, I have bought some green beans from here (cheap Chinese beans to practice roasting), but i'm unable to get a good coffee from it.

    My my first roast was 35 mins, very mild, super weak (I had to deliver a second coffee [using bought rosted beans] to The Darling at work it was so weak) and the coffee was very transparent.
    Second roast was for 45 minutes, but the same results, the grounds were even the same colour.
    The third I roasted for 55 minutes, the beans matched my control (some oxfam roasted beans) and the grounds were identical, the coffee tasted nice, not amazing, but nice and the coffee is very transparent still, not the viscous black stuff I am used to.

    I am very green with roasting and don't really know what I'm doing. But what I can gather is that an hour is an epically long roasting time, could that be effecting it? Am I worrying about nothing?

    any help would be much appreciated.
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    I've spent the last month building my own coffee setup and now I need your help.

    I traded a few mudcrabs for a friend's non functional atomic coffee machine. I fixed it and have since been hooked on making coffee. So much so I wanted control over the whole process, so I built myself the rest of the components I needed. You can find more and pictures here: Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet
    Eveything works well, however the coffee is lacklustre.
    I roasted my first batch of coffee beans for 35 minutes; they looked alright, but ground quite transparent and the coffee was very weak and not very flavoursome. The next attempt was for 45 minutes, much the same, weak dull coffee. I then roasted for 55 minutes and the coffee grounds were darker and produced a more full flavoured coffee, but it was still very transparent and thin, not the dark coffee I am used to.

    It's not the machine or the grinder as I made good coffee between the trials, the only things I can blame are the roasting or the beans themselves. I have the Chinese beans from CS to practice with, they're small if that means anything, I'm not sure how they're meant to come out. The roaster is my home made jobby, it takes a long time, but I get the beans to an even roast.

    Any idea where I am going wrong?
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  3. #3
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Welcome to CS and congrats on your journey so far Franque!

    Your biggest problem is the length of your roast. The beans are being baked and loosing their flavors. You should be looking at a roast time in the 15 minute to a max of 25 minute range.


    Java "Another one hooked!" phile
    Toys! I must have new toys!!!

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    Sorry for the confusing double post, I didn't realise they need to be approved by a mod until after my second attempt.

    How can I bring my roasting time down? I could purchase a cheap popcorn machine or I could potentially modify my current roaster to use both elements (presently only using the top one) while the rotisserie is on.

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    Hi franque,
    What a FANTASTIC effort. Congratulations. Roasting is a trial and error learning process. Java is right with the roasting times. Try the 2 elements. Just keep on persevering. Not being able to see the bean colour while roasting makes it difficult to judge the roasting time. Can you buy some roasted coffee beans from Andy at CS to compare the colour? Well done on your coffee efforts so far and GOOD LUCK on your journey. Keep us informed.

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    Loving the descriptions mate!

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    Senior Member deegee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by franque View Post
    How can I bring my roasting time down? I could purchase a cheap popcorn machine or I could potentially modify my current roaster to use both elements (presently only using the top one) while the rotisserie is on.
    The problem with a popcorn popper is that without major mods it will speed your roasts up too much. If you have access to muddies, you live somewhere in the northern half of the country, and in warm climates, most poppers roast too fast even in winter, and way too fast in summer. They will reach first crack in four or five minutes, then roll straight into second, which is much too quick, and almost as bad as too long and too slow, even if you manage to stop before they are too dark.

    They are also quite limited in the amount of beans they can roast. Even with major mods I can only do 150 grams of greens - max, and without mods, about half of that.

    So probably best to try boosting the heat in your present set-up first, if you can do that fairly easily.

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    I just went and bought a popcorn machine (woolies had them for $5). My first attempt turned my house into a smoke box (I didn't realise how hot it was and was distracted by an evacuation). My second attempt was a bit better, I did it outside.
    However the roast was a little uneven, some of the beans looked over done, border on char, but mostly they looked good.

    I ground them down and chucked them into the atomic to test them. The first drips were quite transparent, but as the pull(?) continued it darkened up and I even got some crema for the first time with my atomic. I turned it into a latte and was quite happy, though the flavour was quite dull, but that might be from brewing straight away(?).

    i still think I will fix my other roaster.

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    Hi, money being tough and if your roaster still doesn't do the trick , you could try just using a wok and stirring a lot , preferably with a heat gun as your heat source ( used ones are cheap )

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    I've rewired the roaster and it now takes 25 minutes to roast. The roast looks good, nice and even and a nice colour. I ground it down and brewed a coffee. Still quite transparent at first, but (a little bit of) getting crema and the taste is good.
    any idea how I can get it to be darker? Is that important?

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    Senior Member deegee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by franque View Post
    I just went and bought a popcorn machine (woolies had them for $5). My first attempt turned my house into a smoke box (I didn't realise how hot it was and was distracted by an evacuation). My second attempt was a bit better, I did it outside.
    However the roast was a little uneven, some of the beans looked over done, border on char, but mostly they looked good.

    I ground them down and chucked them into the atomic to test them. The first drips were quite transparent, but as the pull(?) continued it darkened up and I even got some crema for the first time with my atomic. I turned it into a latte and was quite happy, though the flavour was quite dull, but that might be from brewing straight away(?).

    i still think I will fix my other roaster.
    Maybe I should have been a bit more specific about how fast a popper can turn beans into charcoal. After they reach first crack you have to be ready to act fast to turn off the popper and start cooling. It also helps to cool them as fast as possible when you take them out of the popper.

    Re your question about brewing straight out of the roaster - most beans improve with a few days rest between roasting and brewing. Some need a week or more.

    My experience with the Chinese beans is very limited - I have only done two roasts with them, and that was only four days ago. One was a medium roast, the other was a bit darker. I think they both need more rest time. They are still a bit flat and a little edgy for my taste.

    When you next buy beans I would suggest trying the Peru Seca de Selva. I have found them very forgiving and easy to roast. They can be roasted light or dark, and drink well from two or three days after roasting.

    As to colour, yes, it matters. the colour is an indicator of the depth of the roast and of the flavour you will get from the brew.

    How to get your beans darker is simple in theory - - you need more heat. If you have been able to rewire the oven to run both elements on the rotisserie cycle, you may be able to figure out a way to do this. You don't want to leave them in there for longer - baking the beans too slowly or for too long will make the taste flat and lifeless. It would be better if you could get them darker and do it in about 15 to 20 minutes.

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    Thanks for your reply. But the colour of the pour is still confounding me. Even with the charred popper coffee the coffee was rather blonde.

    I did did manage to get my roaster working with both elements and have taken my roasting time down to 25 mins, I might be able to further decrease that

    Peruvian will be my next purchase.

  13. #13
    Senior Member deegee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by franque View Post
    But the colour of the pour is still confounding me. Even with the charred popper coffee the coffee was rather blonde.
    Not sure about that, but then I'm not at all familiar with the Atomic. The only thing I can suggest is that maybe the grind needs to be finer to extract more colour and flavour from the beans. That's only a guess, but it's all I've got.

    If you can increase the heat in your roaster so that it roasts hotter and faster it will probably be better.

    You would have heard first crack, and probably second too, in the popper, but are you hearing any cracks when you roast in the oven ??

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    I can't hear anything due to it being behind a door and constantly rolling on tin.
    As for more heat, I don't think I can.
    As for finer grind, the grind works perfectly with store bought roasted beans.

    This morning I produced some very yummy dark coffee by mixing 2/3 home roasted China beans and 1/3 store bought roasted PNG beans.

    So many questions, so many variables.

  15. #15
    Senior Member deegee's Avatar
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    OK that eliminates a couple of things, but I have a couple more questions.

    Are you pre-heating the oven before you put the beans in ?. If not, would it be possible to do that ?.
    This might speed things up a bit. Not sure if it would raise the temp by much, but it might.
    Too bad it doesn't have a third element .

    Are you cooling the beans quickly at the end of the roast ?.

    "So many questions, so many variables." So true !!

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    My 25 minute roast was using a semi-preheated oven. It was freshly used, but the elements were off when I put in the tumbler, I might be able to cut like 5 mins off the time maybe.

    I'm not cooking them as such, just passing them from bowl to bowl to remove skins.

    should I spritz them?

  17. #17
    Senior Member deegee's Avatar
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    Probably not. I'm not inclined to get the beans damp, though some do use mist cooling methods. Back when I was using a popper without any mods, I poured the hot beans back and forth between two buckets in front of a fan to cool them.

    Did you do any mods on the popper, or did you just use it straight from the box ?. The main one is to discard the original popper top section and use a tin can as a "chimney" instead. There are a few other simple mods that will slow things down a little bit.

    Have a look at http://coffeesnobs.com.au/home-roast...eshooting.html
    Also be sure to check out the links in this thread

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    Quote Originally Posted by deegee View Post
    OK that eliminates a couple of things, but I have a couple more

    "So many questions, so many variables." So true !!
    Since you're working with new equipment, I'd suggest getting your grinding and brewing dialled in with pre-roasted beans.

    By this I don't mean supermarket beans, but beans from a specialist roaster, roasted within a week or two.

    Once you've got your coffee singing on your gear with those beans, then start working on your DIY roast and try to work towards similar results.

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    Spewing! My (only) local roaster has litterally shut shop yesterday for a month.

    As for fine tuning my equipment, unfortunately there isn't a lot more I can do (besides the roaster), I am already at the finest grind on my grinder and my atomic doesn't allow for much experimentation.

    I cleaned my seals today and it seems to be doing better and it produces quite a nice drop if I blend with store bought beans (I haven't tried my fresh roast alone with clean seals).

    A lot more things to keep track of than I expected.

    I might be able to pick up a better grinder next week as I am visiting Perth for a day or so. Going to gumtree it.

  20. #20
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    My roasting quandaries.

    I have just started roasting my beans, I've purchased 2.5kg of the Chinese beans from CS and about 500gms each of a nicuraguan and a PNG bean.

    I'm roasting the beans in a modified convection oven with a rotisserie. It takes 20-25 minutes to roast.

    The issue I am having is that the shot is very blonde, but gets a little darker as the pour progresses a few seconds, but still not very dark.

    I made a Chinese/nic/PNG blend that gets a bit darker than their single origin counterparts, but I did take it (accidentally) to the brink of burned. Although the darkness of the beans, the blend is full flavored and certainly palatable, though when turned into a latte the mouthfeel was rather watery and not the typical silky latte I am used to.

    If I blend in a store bought bean/ground, the pour gets back it's delicious darkness. It doesn't need much, I added less than 1/3 to this morning's coffee and it was perfect.

    Does led resting time affect this? I roasted the PNG and Nic coffee yesterday and the Chinese about a week ago.

    I'm brewing in an Atomic.

    Thanks for your help and advise.

  21. #21
    Member dan110024's Avatar
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Quote Originally Posted by franque View Post

    The issue I am having is that the shot is very blonde, but gets a little darker as the pour progresses a few seconds, but still not very dark.

    ....

    If I blend in a store bought bean/ground, the pour gets back it's delicious darkness. It doesn't need much, I added less than 1/3 to this morning's coffee and it was perfect.
    Generally the coffee pouring out will be a nice caramel colour. This is what you're talking about, right? This is especially true when it's fresh with loads of crema. And your coffee is no doubt fresh!

    Old, stale coffee will come out black. If you're buying the roasted coffee from a typical supermarket it could very well come out on the blacker side of things as it's rarely less than a few weeks old.


    That is one awesome imgur thread too. I can't believe how cheap you've done it. Well done!



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