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Thread: Quakers (especially in Harrar)

  1. #1
    Senior Member Lyrebird's Avatar
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    Quakers (especially in Harrar)

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    A high level of "quakers" seems to be a common thing in Ethiopian dry processed coffees and I've found CoffeeSnobs Harrar to be especially bad in this respect. I was disappointed with my first couple of roasts so I've taken to roasting it first and using the quiet times during subsequent roasts to pick out as many quakers as I can: I typically get about 5% of the roast weight.

    I thought the result was a great improvement but that could be all in the mind. As a test I kept the last couple of pickings aside and today I ran a comparison side by side with the Harrar from which they came.

    Same grinder and coffee machine settings, same brew routine etc etc.

    20.5 g of coffee in a 20 g VST basket, 10 s preinfusion then 20 s shot length, aiming for ~ 2:1 ratio (although the quaker shot ran faster so I ended up with ~ 2.5: 1)

    Interestingly I found no difference in extract level: both came out at 22.2% (using an Atago PAL refractometer). I wasn't expecting that, I thought the quakers would be much lower.

    The results in the cup however are chalk and cheese: the Harrar (minus quakers) had its usual fruit / chocolate / earth intensity. The quakers, well, thin grassy and acidic doesn't begin to describe the lack of pleasure in this cup. In the interests of science I tried a few sips but it was really a sink shot.
    Last edited by Lyrebird; 29th November 2018 at 04:00 PM.
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  2. #2
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    G'day Lb...

    That's been my experience too and probably that of a lot of other long time Ethiopian coffee aficionados.
    I've haven't taken it to the scientific levels of investigation that you have, but I have separated the "quakers" post roast and then brewed them separately as you did. Quaker brews are definitely not something to be savoured...

    Mal.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Lyrebird's Avatar
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    No, indeed not.

    I didn't say (but perhaps it's implied) that the Harrar is definitely worth the extra effort and the losses.

    To me it is the most complex and satisfying of the Ethiopians I have roasted (Harrar, Limmu, Gambela and Yirgacheffe: Andy's Sidamo is on my to do list).
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  4. #4
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    You could always sort out the quakers using a homemade destoner rather than sorting them all out by hand. Carefully adjusted, one would likely work wonderfully.


    Java "Fun with automation" phile
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  5. #5
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Yeah, automation is good but it isn't a chore to remove quakers from the small batch sizes that I roast. Perhaps if I was roasting batches measured by the Kilo, then I would be looking to do that...

    Mal.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Lyrebird's Avatar
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    Another option is a machine vision "dequakerer" ; I read somewhere about a coffee place that built one. It uses an AI vision controller, they simply taught it what quakers look like.

    Like Mal, I'll just continue doing it by hand for the quantities I roast.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Never knew those annoying little buggers had a name. Good to know.

    Now I know what I'm swearing at as I pick them out.
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  8. #8
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    whoa... for clarification before regurgitated Internet misinformation spreads.

    Quakers are NOT

    thin grassy and acidic
    Quakers taste far closer to sewage!
    (trust me, you will know when you taste a quaker)

    What you have in a dry processed coffee (could be from anywhere, not unique to coffeesnobs or Ethiopia) and is a mixture of densities as the beans were not floated in a water bath to separate the "sinkers" and floaters".

    Take one of the pale yellow beans from your roast and crunch it between your teeth, it will most likely taste like cornflakes and really not add anything detrimental to your cup.

    For the most part, if you are getting grassy flavours then your roast profile was too fast and the higher density beans were not roasted well. It's possible to average better across a dry processed roast but it does take practice to understand your equipment well enough to get a profile that works.

    It's for this reason we only ship something well washed and sorted with the Behmor roasters for people to learn on, roasting dry processed is beans is more advanced but the results can be amazing when you get it right.

    I'm drinking the same Harrar at home in the Brazen and it's excellent, no "quakers" and wasn't sorted post roast so has different coloured beans that don't hurt the cup.

    I don't know what your roast profile is but I suspect it needs some slowing down to allow the denser beans to develop further.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Lyrebird's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice. I thought "quakers" were simply underripe beans that failed to develop colour during the roast. The beans I pick out seem to answer to that description, they are smaller and with a rougher surface than the rest of the beans. The picked beans themselves don't taste that bad, the coffee they make is another matter. By "grassy" I meant a flavour like that in undermodified malt, not green grassiness like that of pyrazines.

    Re profile: here is the next to last Harrar, with the one before that used as a template.
    20181110-Harrar.jpg

    The most recent one was similar but I pushed it up a couple of degrees higher at the end. Unfortunately I don't seem to have saved the profile. Didn't like it as much anyway.

    For what it's worth I've also bought Harrar from you as roasted beans and it looked to have the same quantity of whatever we are going to call these light beans: I don't have a number as I didn't bother measuring it at the time.
    Last edited by Lyrebird; 29th November 2018 at 08:19 PM.

  10. #10
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    Quakers taste far closer to sewage!
    (trust me, you will know when you taste a quaker)
    Yes, this is the sort of offence to the senses that I thought quakers were meant to describe. Used to be called "stinkers" when I first started out roasting at home and thought that "quaker" was just an evolutionary change in terms to describe the same thing. This was when most of the "useful" information on coffee roasting was found by trawling through Usenet. No coffee websites back then...

    Mal.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    A bit more on Quakers and other bean anomalies - https://royalcoffee.com/green-coffee...isual-defects/

  12. #12
    Senior Member Lyrebird's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    Quakers taste far closer to sewage!
    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    Yes, this is the sort of offence to the senses that I thought quakers were meant to describe. Used to be called "stinkers" when I first started out
    I thought quakers and stinkers were different things with different causes: underripe cherries in the first case and fermentation faults in the second.

    The resource CafeLotta posted appears to agree with this, as do several others. I can find nothing that states that quakers have the attributes Andy has given, if you know of a good reference that would be handy.
    Last edited by Lyrebird; 30th November 2018 at 02:41 PM.

  13. #13
    338
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    I thought this was going to be a thread about a religious order operating in Africa

    In this extremely politically correct world just wondering if it still appropriate to name an undesirable bean after a minority religion?
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Lyrebird's Avatar
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    No-one knows where the name came from, it's not necessarily from the Society of Friends.

    One entertaining theory is that the beans were so named because they are non-conformists.

  15. #15
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    My source was coffee farmers, who typically don't know what the Internet is and certainly don't read English websites.

    Of course the reference above lists quakers as "rancid toasted peanut aroma".
    ...a flavour far from my cornflakes.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 338 View Post
    I thought this was going to be a thread about a religious order operating in Africa

    In this extremely politically correct world just wondering if it still appropriate to name an undesirable bean after a minority religion?
    Is this still politically correct?

    Quaker.jpg
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  17. #17
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CafeLotta View Post
    Is this still politically correct?
    Given some of the descriptors contained in some of the articles referred to in several posts above, it could very well be the origin of the term...

    Mal.

  18. #18
    Senior Member woodhouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 338 View Post
    I thought this was going to be a thread about a religious order operating in Africa
    ...in a 'home roasting - tips, tricks, and ideas' forum?
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  19. #19
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodhouse View Post
    ...in a 'home roasting - tips, tricks, and ideas' forum?
    Well, despite being teetotallers, the Quakers got heavily involved in brewing and selling beer...figuring that it helped reduce consumption of hard liquor. Maybe they thought coffee was an even better option?
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  20. #20
    Senior Member Lyrebird's Avatar
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    John Cadbury started as a tea, coffee and chocolate merchant, so it's possible.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Lyrebird's Avatar
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    Whatever we are going to call these little buggers, the batch of Harrar I roasted today is the worst yet: 21 g of the pale-beans-that-I-think-answer-the-description-of-Quakers-but-Andy-doesn't out of 500g green weight, so more than 5% of the yield of usable beans*. One good thing is that this is enough to run a direct single batch comparison which I'll do once the good beans outgas later in the week.

    And no, I don't think it's my process, a batch of Limmu done immediately afterwards yielded ~2g of pale beans, so about 1/10th the quantity from the Harrar. I use similar roast profiles on these two beans. On the other side of the equation, when I bought Harrar as roasted beans from Andy they also had a high proportion of pale beans.



    * With 16% (80g) roasting loss the 21g of pale beans means the final weight of usable beans was ~399g.
    Last edited by Lyrebird; 28th January 2019 at 09:45 AM.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    I roast a fairly wide variety in my Coretto, 750 grams of green about every 10 days and see very few quakers, most roasts none, every now and again I find the odd one or two, though its a rare occurrence.

    I've been home roasting for about 11 years.

  23. #23
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    I .... see very few quakers, most roasts none, every now and again I find the odd one or two, though its a rare occurrence.
    In my experience, Ethiopian beans, especially naturals, do contain a higher number of quakers than other origins.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Interesting! over the years the Ethiopian beans I've roasted are Sidamo naturals Ardi, Gambella sundried, Biftu Gesha sundried, Gambella naturals, I imagine sun dried qualify as naturals, have never experienced a problem with quakers, being a naturally frugal person I would certainly have noticed if there had been, to be fair, have never roasted Harrar.

    This AM I roasted 750 grams of Ethiopian yirg special prep with 10% Robusta, (I know not natural processed) the slight unevenness is down to the Robusta, regardless turned out pretty much as I wanted.

    Will make a point of including some Harrar with my next order and give them a go.
    Yigacheffe.jpg
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  25. #25
    Senior Member Lyrebird's Avatar
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    Update to this: I've just done my first batch of the Bensa Sagara and they're almost as bad as were the Harrar.

  26. #26
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    The plot thickens!

    My latest roast, 750 grams of Ethiopian Gambella Sundried is very uneven, certainly not Quakers, however a good percentage were much lighter than I'm accustomed to.

    My roasts are normally very even, was quite surprised at the way this batch turned out.

  27. #27
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Happy Birthday to a 12 month old thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lyrebird View Post
    I've just done my first batch of the Bensa Sagara
    That's the very same Bensa Sagara that just won a Bronze medal milk based and Silver medal in espresso in Australia's biggest roasting competition and I didn't remove any of those light beans before or after roasting.

    Again, the light colour beans you are seeing will most likely not add any bad flavours taints to a coffee. Pull one out, chew on it, tastes like cornflakes or at worst like the bran in sultana bran.

    The gotcha with internet regurgitated misinformation is that it keep perpetuating, some might call quakers cereal flavoured beans, others rancid peanut flavours the difference is vast and the term annoyingly ambiguous.

    If light coloured beans give you an OCD twitch then sit there rocking back and forth while removing them or better still don't buy any of the wonderful natural or dry processed beans as without density sorting in water tanks during processing you will always get density variation in the roaster.

    It's possible to remove the higher density beans with a finely tuned destoner but as mentioned, it's a fairly pointless exercise if drinking coffee was your goal.

  28. #28
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    The plot thickens!

    My latest roast, 750 grams of Ethiopian Gambella Sundried is very uneven, certainly not Quakers, however a good percentage were much lighter than I'm accustomed to.

    My roasts are normally very even, was quite surprised at the way this batch turned out.
    As a matter of interest, this roast turned out to be very good, regardless of the lighter beans, in fact I suspect they added to the complexity of the brew.

    No more grumbles from me about Ethiopian naturally processed beans.

    Andy! its a shame you deleted post #27, it was very informative.
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  29. #29
    Senior Member Lyrebird's Avatar
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    Echoes of a debate that comes and goes in the wine industry. Some think that picking at a range of ripeness levels gives a range of flavours that increases complexity. Some think that getting the fruit evenly and optimally ripe will allow the vineyard to show its best and a good vineyard will give a complex wine. I am firmly in the second camp but there are winemakers I respect who are in the first.

    Similarly, I prefer my Ethiopians with the Quakers removed but you may prefer the coffee with them included.

    A chacun son goût.
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  30. #30
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quakers (especially in Harrar)

    What you guys are seeing are NOT quakers. A natural processed Ethiopian is a good place to find a quaker, but if there were any present it may be at the level of 1-2 beans per kilo, not 5% of the roast. I know Andy buys a variety of different types and grades of coffee, but if he’d ever ended up with a coffee that contained 5% quakers he wouldn’t sell it and he would never buy that coffee again. I have no doubt that you are getting different colouration of roasted coffee, this is part and parcel of roasting a natural processed coffee, but let me repeat - they are NOT quakers. There are two things that could be causing the unevenness you see in the roasted coffee. The first and most likely is coffee that hasn’t fermented evenly due to the processing method. No matter how much attention a natural process coffee gets its almost impossible to generate perfectly even fermentation due to the very nature of how it’s done. The second is different ripeness levels. The lighter beans could be less ripe than the rest. This doesn’t necessarily make them un-ripe and it definitely doesn’t mean they’re quakers. The Royal Coffee article that was linked above contains some good info but assumes a level of knowledge. In saying that it does give some of this detail and it contains a big clue in this photo that they posted -



    If you want to know what content of quakers the Harrar you have contains (if any) then roast a small test batch past second crack. Any quakers present will still be light and orange-yellow while everything else will be very dark and oily. I’m not saying you won’t find one, but it won’t be 5% of the roast.
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  31. #31
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Well said Leroy...

    Mal.

  32. #32
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Andy! its a shame you deleted post #27, it was very informative
    It's back, but only because I thought I deleted it fast enough for no one to see it. You were speedy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    As a matter of interest, this roast turned out to be very good, regardless of the lighter beans, in fact I suspect they added to the complexity of the brew.
    BINGO, glad you "get it". We select coffees not on appearance but how they taste. At the end of the day that should be everyone's goal, not how pretty a roast it is.

    The Golden Bean is a great coffee competition because the judges only get the wet coffee, they don't see the beans or the grinds which can add a level of opinion prior to tasting. I don't care how ugly, I care how good.

    bensa.jpg

    Took a snap of the cooling tray today. Lucky if there are 1:100 or 1:200 (someone else can count them) light coloured beans and again, they don't hurt the overall flavour (as blindly judged last month in a 1600+ entry competition).

    I suspect that if someone is getting different results with the Bensa then their roast profile might need to be modified, most likely stretched out. A fast roast of anything with varying densities will result in a very patchy roast.

    ...don't blame the bean!



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