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Thread: Dark Roast

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2005

    Dark Roast

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I stop just about all my roasts just either side of second crack (ie between first cracks of second and just into rolling second crack).

    My home roasted dark roasts have been unsatisfactory. Are there any tips for doing a dark roast - beans that favour dark, a particular roasting style.

    The only decent dark roast coffee I think Ive had was at Maltitude before Andrew sold up.

    Is anyone roasting dark?

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2005

    Re: Dark Roast

    I went over to the dark side for a while, seeing how far I could push the roast, but at the end of the day, I realised I was losing too much of the beans character, and all my roasts tasted the same, whatever the beans involved.

    The challenge, I believe is to develop skills in roasting lighter....I saw a good article recently on this which I will try to find..

    I find that a Costa Rican Tarrazu lends itself to quite a dark roast; also PNG Sigri...I tried various Brazils, thinking that their mildness would enable a bit of development, but no..they just develop a charred taste after second crack...

    The profile I use is to cut the heat for about a minute at first crack, (make sure the bean temp is still increasing), then bring the heat full on to push the bean into second crack and beyond - If thats what you want to do :-?

  3. #3
    Avi is offline
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2004

    Re: Dark Roast

    Hi AlMac,

    My range of roasts are similar to yours. For espresso I tend to roast from Full City+ to a Vienna Roast, based on Sweet Marias (SM) description of the roast process -

    The specific point is entirely dependant on the coffee origin/blend. I am currently working on a Brazil-based blend, and Ive discovered that Brazils dont like darker roasts at all. As stratford noted, they taste charred and ashy. So this blend is stopped at what SM call Full City+; i.e. I stop the roast a few seconds after I hear the initial crackling of the 2nd crack. This is well before the rolling 2nd crack, and seems to suit this blend perfectly. I was going for bright and fruity, which is precisely what Ive ended up with.

    As a counterpoint to stratfords roasting curve, I do the opposite:

    1. I remain on low heat (with my heatgun) for the first 5-7 minutes of the roast. At this stage the roast is at the "Light Brown" stage from SMs roast guide above.

    2. I now increase the heat to the high setting, and take the coffee into a rolling 1st crack.

    3. As soon as the 1st crack starts to roll, I drop down to low heat. As the first crack is exothermic, the inherent momentum of the roast keeps the pace cracking (pardon the pun) along.

    4. I maintain a low heat setting until I reach the desired roast-point.

    As to which origins taste good dark? Well, in the danger of making wild generalisations, Ive found Indonesian and Indian coffees to drink beautifully at the rolling 2nd crack, and even a little beyond. In my experience most East Africans prefer lighter roasts, and reach their peak before the rolling 2nd crack.

    But ultimately your palate is king. Every man and his dog appears to have a theory on the perfect roast point. But its all in the taste, and no one can tell you whats gonna taste best for you. Only you can do that.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2005

    Re: Dark Roast

    Good post Avi!

    There are certainly more ways than one to skin a cat ;)

    With my profile, I have to make sure that the process doesnt stall, and this can sometimes be a danger, particularly with low ambient temps, and certain beans...



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2004

    Re: Dark Roast

    Hi Roasters

    Interesting thread. I have not had a lot of luck with dark roasts. If any of my beans have as much oil on them as Atomica dark then it tastes ashy. In the early days had to throw out a couple of kilos because of this.
    I have used a Makita variable power heat gun over the last year(only because I dont have a suitable alternative to roast 600gms which is my standard roast).
    A big help was to add a temperature device to the HG setup. Over the last 6 months since I added the temp device I have noticed how you ramp up the heat seems important. You can get the same colour roasted beans roasted in the same time, stopped at the same point but get there in many different ways with varying tastes.
    Over winter I went through a bad patch where the beans looked very evenly roasted and stopped at the precise time but taste was very ordinary, nearly gave up.
    I changed from my gentle heat start to a preheated system with a lot of heat first off and vigorous stirring till things got to about 120 then even heat to first crack. At first crack I back off a little with the heat till the finish. As the air temp can easily go backwards *I only back off a small amount after 1st crack. Taste seemed to improve dramatically with this technique.
    No doubt different beans react to different heat applications. As a home roaster it is hard to get enough experience to sort the many variable factors out.
    Also interesting that this technique is the exact opposite to Avis.
    To me the limitations with heat guns are you a blasting beans with a very hot high velocity air stream for short periods until they come around again in the stirring process. Very different from the lower velocity hot air in the barrel roaster. (Apparently heat transfer from the metal surface is not as significant as the hot air). Average heat transferred to the bean may be the same but how it gets their is different.
    Sorry got off dark roasts a bit. * :(Getting expertise and great coffee with home made roasters is challenging. *:)

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2005

    Re: Dark Roast

    I developed my burner off at first crack profile in an attempt to emulate the profile used by the Hot top (which gives a consistently great result, and lets face it...the Chinese INVENTED coffee roasting, didnt they ::)?), and I found that when the beans are well established in first crack, the process continues for a while, and the bean temperature continues to climb at a reduced but steady rate. Cutting the burner at this point for between a minute and a minute and a half, then bringing it back on gives me the result I am after.

    I dont have a snazzy graph, unfortunately :-[ but the roast ends up OK.



  7. #7
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005

    Re: Dark Roast

    Behmor Coffee Roaster
    Its a case of to each his own, I guess. But having ventured *to the dark side briefly, I am now attracted back into the light.

    The taste is superior, and the texture of the grind, for want of a better word, is "fluffy". Dark roasts also tend to produce shards which the grinder ejects at great speed, creating a mess on the bench.

    After much experimentation, Ive settled on the following *method for my barbecue drum roller:-

    Preheat barbecue with 3 burners on high until thermometer placed on the grill plate adjacent to middle burner reads 230C. *The drum will be directly over the middle burner.

    Turn side burners to lowest setting, leave middle one on high.

    Insert *drum with 250 grams of beans into place, and set stopwatch.

    Note the lapsed time when the first series of cracks occurs. Not the very very very first single crack, but *when theres a number of cracks *in succession. This might be about 15-20 secs before rolling first crack. *It also takes place around the 12 minute mark.

    Keep roasting for further 2mins 30 secs.

    Remove drum and empty perfectly, evenly roasted beans into colanders for cooling.

    Never fails.


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