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Thread: The Coffee Roaster's Companion

  1. #1
    STS
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    The Coffee Roaster's Companion

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Has anyone read this new book by Scott Rao? Worth buying?

    http://dailycoffeenews.com/2014/09/0...ers-companion/

    Sean

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    Scott normally does a pretty good job from what I have read of his other books, still geared more to commercial environments from all the reviews I have read from the UK and US forums

    Quote from a US forum
    "Having had some time to go through this book from cover to cover, I would say that it is interesting but not of significant value to the home roaster. It seems to be partly a sales pitch for his other books and for a refractometer! It is all about commercial roasters and I am not sure that even an owner of the big Gene would find it particularly useful. If you can't adjust everything from the speed of rotation of the drum to the speed of the exhaust fans then you probably won't benefit a huge amount from this book."

    Still believe from Scott's other books there will be some interesting reading to be had, I will report back once I receive my copy and read through it.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    He's gone down in my estimations since he left Happy Days though.

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    I think it's a very worthwhile book. I've read it only once and really need to go through it a couple of times to understand more, but after a couple of years of roasting I find that it encapsulates a lot of good information that I need to consider at my level of experience. There are precious few resources in this arcane part of the coffee world, so it's great to have some good solid information at hand in a relatively straightforward format. Posters on other websites have questioned some of the things that Rao has suggested, but there's plenty of factual stuff that is helpful and it's well cited.
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  5. #5
    STS
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    Quote Originally Posted by kwantfm View Post
    Posters on other websites have questioned some of the things that Rao has suggested, but there's plenty of factual stuff that is helpful and it's well cited.
    I've read his other books which I've got a lot out of, and there was similar mix of opinions on the blogosphere about them. From what I can see and from what I've previously read, Scott challenges some commonly accepted belief and practice which some people can find challenging.

    Sean

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    I think with all learning, gather your information from various sources that can legitimately support their own arguments for why they do things the way they do, trial, test, tweak that information so that it gets a result that sits well with your own style, thinking and equipment, whilst keeping an open mind as through the process you may adopt or discard new and/or old ideas. I always remind myself that there are many pathways to a destination and sometimes it isn't as simple as right or wrong.
    And at the end of the day with coffee, it's what we get in the cup that ultimately decides whether we got it right or not.

    Chester
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    Is it available to purchase in Australia or do you have to get it through he's website?

    Alternatively is there an eBook?

    Wouldn't mind having a read

  8. #8
    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brendogs View Post
    Is it available to purchase in Australia or do you have to get it through he's website?

    Alternatively is there an eBook?

    Wouldn't mind having a read
    His website answers all your questions. Google and ye shall find.

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    bought my copy from a specialty cook book store online out of Melbourne.

  10. #10
    Senior Member mwcalder05's Avatar
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    I have read this book and it's very in depth and resourceful for a small book. Is it for the home roaster? Depends on if you have got a pimped up HG or a popper and how far and in depth you want to go with your roasting.

    The key word of this book is 'development.' How can you get the best of your greens? Fully develop them. And how do you achieve this? This book attempts to answer this question. He answers it particularly focusing on the rate of rise of the bean mass temp. He also notes different quirks of different roasters such as differently placed probes, the different types of roasters and the limits of various roasters.

    For me, it was a very interesting read and re-read and probably more to come

    M
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  11. #11
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    For me this book was a revelation. It puts a lot of information that you have to scour the internet and this forum to find all in one concise easy to read hard backed book.

    I have changed my modified popper roasting profile thanks to what I read and the improvement was so much that a local guru cafe owner who tried a batch thought it was retail quality.

    I am getting so much more flavour out of my roasts now. The book was my best investment for home roasting to date.

    Bought from an online seller based in Sydney.

  12. #12
    Life-long Learner DesigningByCoffee's Avatar
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    Looks interesting. I'm quite keen to have a read.
    No matter what sort of setup you use, there should be some good food for thought in a book like this (and there are very few roasting resources around) whether you agree with it or not
    Keeping the discussion open and all that!
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by thewpguy View Post
    It puts a lot of information that you have to scour the internet and this forum to find all in one concise easy to read hard backed book.
    Good one line summary... absolutely agree.

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    I gave this book a read over the weekend, it's very good for the home roaster and I'd even say professional roasters might get a tip or two out of it. I personally enjoyed reading it, I guess as previously stated having all the information in one complete book was great. I didn't need to troll through endless posts on the internet to get biased opinions from faceless people.

    I'd definitely recommend every roaster beginner or professional to have a read. I'm positive there are tips and tricks in there that would assist anyone. I'm going to be doing a few test roasts tonight and base them along he's theories and compare results.

    Thumbs up from me!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by brendogs View Post
    I didn't need to troll through endless posts on the internet to get biased opinions from faceless people.
    Not so sure about this statement, over the years, particularly early on in my roasting attempts I found the internet, Coffee Snobs in particular to be an invaluable resource, certainly got me on the road to successful roasting quick smart.

    Regarding Scott's book, keep in mind the qualifying quote ” focusing on “light-to-medium roasting of specialty coffee processed in a batch drum roaster in 8-16 minutes.”

    Like most things in life, roasting can be as simple or as complex as you choose to make it, many people seem to think complexity is a recipe for success, however I would suggest the opposite is the case, in my opinion the only thing achieved by over complicating a process is that there are more variables to deal with along with more chances of something going wrong.

    My first batches were done in an aluminium bowl with the aid of a heat gun and a wooden spoon, they turned out fine, nowadays I roast weekly batches of 750 grams in a Coretto and have literally hundreds of roasts under my belt.

    Keep it simple = no tears.

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    Quote - Regarding Scott's book, keep in mind the qualifying quote ” focusing on “light-to-medium roasting of specialty coffee processed in a batch drum roaster in 8-16 minutes.”

    Yelta is correct in that statement is made, however having just received a copy and had a good read through it, probably more correct is that it focuses on first crack plus development and stays away from second crack roasting styles, from a commercial thinking very few roasters even get close to 2nd anymore. I know that is different for some home roasters though. The book never advocates super light roasts and states in the first few pages that cinnamon roasts are undesirable to most people.

    It isn't a bad read, a lot of good information all in one place as stated in an earlier post, ground braking stuff, No but it will remind you to look at the importance of every moment of the roasting process and offers some solid foundation knowledge, combined with some good bean chemistry knowledge, then add a strong understanding of your particular choice of equipment and it will all help you move your understanding of the roasting process and your skill set to another level.

    The book is predominately directed to commercial drum type roasting but sure it can equate to all roasting styles. I'm happy with what I read and a handy resource to help keep on track when combined with all my other roasting reading.

    Chester

    Chester

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    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic_couple22 View Post
    "... from a commercial thinking very few roasters even get close to 2nd anymore."
    On an absolute tonnage basis I would have to disagree with the above statement. I think you will find that most of the big boys still happily take their roasts to 2nd and beyond

  18. #18
    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    I think you might be right Vinitasse.

  19. #19
    TOK
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic_couple22 View Post
    Quote - Regarding Scott's book, keep in mind the qualifying quote ” focusing on “light-to-medium roasting of specialty coffee processed in a batch drum roaster in 8-16 minutes.”..............from a commercial thinking very few roasters even get close to 2nd anymore.........Chester
    "Medium" is very relevant for most commercial roasters in Australia as it generally refers to that cinnamon colour that is found in NORTHERN Italian style espresso roasts. The quote is VERY broad....light to medium.....8 to 16 minutes....very broad, so I wouldnt look into it as saying anything specific about anything.

    And of course, I wouldnt read too much into what you read on the www about what "commercial" roasters are doing. Real commercial roasters dont say much.

    Regardless, sounds like an interesting read. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinitasse View Post
    On an absolute tonnage basis I would have to disagree with the above statement. I think you will find that most of the big boys still happily take their roasts to 2nd and beyond
    Sorry Vinitasse I should have said "specialty coffee roasters", I agree the biggest players still in that 2nd crack realm.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    With respect to the whole lighter 3rd wave roasting profiles versus the more established (old school?) second crack darker roasts I can certainly appreciate the ideal behind the lighter roasts... the retention of varietal character and terroir notes. However, while the concept is a noble one, I do feel that as quaint as the idea is, it simply does not work in the predominantly milk driven world of espresso based coffees that defines the VAST majority of serious coffee consumed here in Australia. The acidity of these lighter roasts simply does not work with milk and it takes a more developed roast profile to soften up the coffee enough to be truly complimentary to the milk it is most often served with. To use a wine analogy (occupational hazard for me I'm afraid) Beaujolais' Vin Nouveau could be considered the "light roast" of the wine world. These wines are released for consumption as soon as primary fermentation has completed and there is no question that they exude varietal character in spades!!! To put it simply... they taste like grapes. However, most of us have come to expect more from the wines that we enjoy and rather than drinking fermented grape juice, we prefer to drink wine... wine that is the net result of allowing grape juice to fully develop into wine. Open vat wild yeast ferments, full malo, lees stirring, extensive barrel maturation, etc... all help such wines to build character, body and complexity and I can promise you that ten years down the road you will have long forgotten the Vin Nouveaus of the world but those fully developed blockbusters you have encountered along the way will stick with you forever. I definitely know which I prefer to drink and the same goes for my coffee.

  22. #22
    TOK
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    Yes its important to think as clearly as possible about all this stuff because it is easy to get the wrong impression for lots of stuff written on the www. Particularly because a lot of stuff in coffee forums is not directed at the area in Australia where most of the coffee is consumed, which is the cafe market where regular northern italian style espresso is the product of choice.

    So if a few people in forums say that pithy 5 ml espressos are the go, when others read that they have to be able to interpret it correctly (which is in general terms that it actually ISNT the go at all...just in some small circles...unfortunately it is easy to gain the wrong impression).

    For the rest of it. Take care with generalisations such as the term "commercial roasters". Everyone that roasts coffee and sells it for a profit is a commercial roaster. Anyone that is serious about their business and their livelihood is competing in the greater market and trying to grow, because without growth your business goes nowhere (unless of course it falls under the classification of "hobby" roaster....).

    Also I ask, what does the term specialty coffee roaster mean? It's been argued around the traps from time to time, but in real terms I put it to you that it means small business roasters. And its a funny thing that a lot of people that buy small roasting machines and start roasting are to the contrary, not very experienced in the field (so a contradiction to the term "special" or "specialty").

    Also people seem to forget that coffee roasting is a profession and a business, whether it is deemed to be specialty, or novice, or large or small or whatever. You could be the best coffee roaster in the world but if you cant run a coffee roasting business properly (based on your coffee roasting) to win clients, what have you achieved in the greater scheme of things?

    There are big boys and there are little boys but they are all commerfcial roasters, competing with eachother, trying to steal clientelle off eachother by whatever means possible and playing musical customers, year in and year out. Some choose to differentiate themselves from others by using the "specialty coffee" or "specialty roasting" thing to their advantage. That's usually when the size of the business is small. As the business grows, for some reason the market dictates that you have "sold out" and are going over to the big bad "commodity" side of things.....

    There is a lot to coffee roasting, and a great deal of it has to do with business models and plans. Real quality is a just a small part of it and often it is the "perceived quality" of a brand that is used for market differentiation. What is really in the bag doesnt necessarily matter, and most often the price of the bag and whatever a client can screw out of a supplier is the real lowest common denominator that in the end wins over a client and is a reflection of the "quality" that is presented to the coffee drinking public.

    As a conclusion I would like to share with you what always seems to happen atleast once during any visit to a coffee expo here in Oz. You stop to look at a stand. While you are trying to determine what the standholders are really "selling", the hipster behind the machine engages you in a one sided conversation about how fantastic his coffee is. He virtually forces you to try one of these coffees, which happens to be a very lightly roasted high grown highly acidic single origin from some farm with a very romantic name, that he puts through his espresso machine to produce a 5 to 10 ml "espresso", hands it over to you, watches you cup it, and follows up with "isnt it fantastic?".

    At once this shows that the standholder doesnt understand
    a) where the greatest majority of the business in coffee industry comes from
    b) that their style of roast does not suit espresso
    c) that their style of roast doesnt suit the majority of cafe business
    d) that their "espresso" was not an espresso
    e) that this style of coffee would have been better brewed (and therefore much better appreciated) by some method other than espresso
    e) that by continually harping on SO's they are losing the expertise required to blend coffees

    Is this "specialty coffee" or "specialty coffee roasting", or just what a small section of the industry would like you to believe in order to draw market to their business? The www helps this scenario along...

    I've digressed. This book sounds like an interesting read, and I urge people to read it with eyes open.

  23. #23
    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    What's in a name??

    Lot's by the look of things. Since my transition from wine grape production to commercial coffee roasting I have seen

    some parallels in how words are used to influence how the consumer market thinks.

    It was during my time growing grapes that the word 'premium' gained and then lost it's currency. Now it's a common word seen

    even on cask wine; it has become just a marketing term and does not relate to quality at all.

    Is the same happening with the word 'specialty' in the coffee market?

    The term 'specialty coffee' was coined ( in 1974 by Erna Knutsen) to differentiate a quality of green bean from the general coffee bean commodity trade and to create

    a market for these beans. They are normally high quality, well sorted and clean, have provenance (ability to trace back to source),

    shipped in grain pro, or similar, to preserve quality, do not ship via Hamburg but more directly and generally arrive at the end

    market fresh and, for the most part, are worth drinking.


    But does that necessarily give the roaster who purchases such coffee the right to call themselves a 'Specialty Roaster', giving a slight twist

    to the term 'specialty coffee' that transfers to the roaster and in doing so promote themselves incorrectly to their market?

    I for one don't call myself a 'Specialty Roaster' (even tho' I purchase in the Specialty Coffee market)........ boutique? maybe;

    micro? maybe; small? nah.... doesn't sound good.

    Specialty Coffee is not the property of roasters who are clustered in and around city CBD's and who seek to elevate themselves

    with terms like 'new wave', 'third wave' or 'specialty', nor do most roasters who roast on gear of less than 20kg capacity cater

    to the (mostly) inner city market.

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    Cool

    I roast on my hottop and make my brother pay for the greens. Does that make me a Micro Roaster?
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    Slightly strange question- I am wanting to know the size/weight of this book. I have asked a friend to bring a copy to me (in Cambodia) but said friend has luggage restrictions. Any rough guess would be great, no need to bust out the calipers. Thanks

  26. #26
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    26 x 19 x 1.3 cm
    552 grams
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    Quote Originally Posted by ASchecter View Post
    26 x 19 x 1.3 cm
    552 grams
    Thanks for your help

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    Just received my copy today. Am very much a newbie roaster having only done around 30-40 x 250g roasts in the Behmor plus since early June. My current roasting knowledge comprises solely of internet research and speaking to the occasional commercial roaster so I'm looking forward to seeing how/if I can improve what ends up in the cup.

  29. #29
    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    I've been struggling with wording feedback on my impressions of the book.

    I'll wait til you've read it zz....... Looking forward to hearing what you think.

  30. #30
    Senior Member saoye's Avatar
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    It really is geared towards the drum roasters and as some already mentioned is biased towards lighter roasts. It gives insight into some set rules that Scott Rao lives by when roasting but also acknowledges that they are only recommendations as there are really no hard and fast rules to roasting (although some fundamentals apply). it's a good reference and it confirmed a few things for me that I'm on the right track with my drum roaster . Is it worth the $$ ? that is for the individual to assess. Has it drastically improved my roasts...no...but I feel a little more confident in what I am already doing.

  31. #31
    Life-long Learner DesigningByCoffee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chokkidog View Post
    I'll wait til you've read it zz........
    Wake up Chokki! Having a Narcolepsy moment …

  32. #32
    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    Hahaha! Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    good pick up zzzzzz.....I think I actually zzzzzzzz fell asleep more zzzzzz than onzzzzzzzzce when i wazzzzzzzz

    reading it zzzzzz.

    Time for a nap. Cheerzzzzzzz Matt

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    Quote Originally Posted by chokkidog View Post
    I think I actually zzzzzzzz fell asleep more zzzzzzz
    Story of my life with 2 little kiddies...

    zz

  34. #34
    Life-long Learner DesigningByCoffee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zingzing View Post
    Story of my life with 2 little kiddies...

    zz
    Hence the love of coffee

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    I’ve finished reading this book and overall it was beneficial to further my understanding of roasting and I’m glad that I bought it. In general I found it to be prescriptive and informative, although I was hoping that it would go a little deeper in some sections.

    Without giving away the content of the book, the key highlights for me were:
    1. Understanding roast development – i.e. the roast curve, rate of rise and what happens during first and second crack
    2. Heat transfer and the importance of a high temperature gradient at the start of the roast
    3. Impact of processing methods and bean density on roasting strategy
    4. How the acidity, aroma, body and bitterness curves evolve throughout the roast

    The brief chapter on cupping and way to blend was also a little bonus.

    Being a home roasting with a Behmor without the objective measurements of a bean probe to plot the roast profile and rate of rise, it will be difficult to implement much of what I've learnt. I’m happy with my roasting results so far and if nothing else this information will help me make changes with a greater understanding of the anticipated and actual results.

    Hopefully this doesn't lead to roaster upgraditis.
    Last edited by zingzing; 22nd October 2014 at 06:27 PM. Reason: format

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    Let me guess, OP

    Isn't this a book by Scott Rao?

    I've gotten the "Professional barista's handbook" and i can say it was well worth my $45...,

    I can tell you're satisfied with the book, although i don't own that book.. i do know they're great stuff......

  37. #37
    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    Mystifying.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by chokkidog View Post
    Mystifying.
    You're far too polite.
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    I'm very interested in the book. Where can I buy it from? I'm located in Melbourne.
    Thanks.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by hyperwave View Post
    I'm very interested in the book. Where can I buy it from? I'm located in Melbourne.
    Thanks.
    G'day hyperwave.

    coffeebooks.com have it. The site is an Aussie one and it's about $60 + post.
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  41. #41
    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    Books for cooks also have it. They're in Fitzroy or Collingwood.

    My copy coming up for sale shortly.

  42. #42
    jmc
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    Dymocks in Collins St have it for #39.95

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmc View Post
    Dymocks in Collins St have it for #39.95
    I gave Dymocks a call and they say they absolutely do not have it.
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  44. #44
    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    Welcome to CS, Nicolas.

    Thanks for the homework........

    My secondhand price still looks good!

  45. #45
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    I did a few roasts on the weekend, the first after reading this book, and was really happy with the (visual) results as they will be resting for a few more days before I taste.

    Essentially I was able to implement
    - Consistent preheating and charge temperature (using the sidewall temp)
    - Higher heat applied in the first few minutes for denser and washed beans (100% then reduced to 75%) and less heat for naturals and beans that tend to run away

    One step closer to repeatability.

  46. #46
    Member frasertr's Avatar
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    I saw Scott Rao I Perth last week. He's awesome but pitched at commercial roasting. Not much applicability Fir my behmor

  47. #47
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    Cheapest price for this book in Australia....

    Behmor Coffee Roaster
    ... would have to be via Sensory Lab: commercial link removed per site posting policy $55 + free shipping (well, to a Victorian address, although you might get lucky!)
    Last edited by Javaphile; 20th April 2015 at 02:49 PM. Reason: Commercial link(s) removed



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