Hi, if you found your way here you’re either 1) A beginner 2) curious. Both Great things, and both those things will help you understand this roaster and how to roast on it. Life is full of beginnings, it’s exciting and a little scary but with a little time and effort you’ll feel like you’ve got the hang of it. I will try to be as through as possible but I will drop early (that was a funny pun…you’ll get it soon enough) from time to time. So feel free to ask questions about things you don’t understand. Please refrain from asking generalities. I cannot tell you if there is a god or not or if your child will grow up to be a famous swordsman with two left feet. The more specific your question the more accurately I can answer you to the best of my ability. And to others, please chim in, I hope this thread can be part of a community effort to grow and inform those of us that are new to the roasting world. Personally I try and take a very scientifically motivated approach to exploring, questioning, and understanding through trial and error. Yes this way takes time, a lot of effort and some amount of money. But if you try this approach I am sure you will come out better for it. What I won’t do is give you the answer. I am not getting paid for this, in fact it is the opposite, I genuinely want to help and thus I am writing this. In this thread I will try to describe how and the way I started and approached this roaster. And it is my hope that you list some things that helped you on your journey so that others can learn from you.
How I approached this roaster was by first and foremost reading blogs, forums, articles, journals and books by coffee ameaturs, professional and researchers. You can stop at blogs, forums and articles and produce coffee that you would happily brag about. But you have to read the information out there, understand the lingo and test your theories. A lot of information written on western vendors websites are geared towards drum roasters, that is fine, the basic concepts are the same. We are just using a different tool, granted with slightly different results but not drastic enough that a new rule book needs to be writtten.
Secondly, I suggest buying preroasted coffee from a coffee shop or online vendor that is reputable for having very good coffee. You don’t have to give up your secret Cafe du Monde with hickory stash. But you should buy really well known great tasting coffee and try to brew it to get the flavors they list. The point is 1st up your brewing game 2nd taste what coffee can be.
3rd. Learn what ‘cupping’ is. Roasting (especially) with this machine is about consistency and repeatability and having a truly consistent way to taste the coffee that limits the variables to just the coffee you are using and profile you used. http://www.scaa.org/?page=resources&d=cupping-standards, https://www.coffeechemistry.com/quality/cupping/cupping-fundamentals
Forth, there is a saying called “paying your tuition” and that is about the costs associated with learning something new. There are going to be a lot of times that the coffee you make is undrinkable. That is ok, if you get frustrated, take a break drink that $$preroasted coffee or hang out with tea for a bit and come back when you are ready to roast. 5. Just because a coffee didn’t come out well does not mean you should throw it away. Somebody grew, picked, processed, weighed, sold and bought those beans. Either roast those failed attempts in the oven to a dark brown and save them to season your grinder or compost them, there should be no “trash” option.
- Go to “cuppings” held by your local roaster (they are free), rub shoulders talk to baristas and roasters, try and shadow a roaster be a part of your local coffee community.
6.5) when roasting, take notes. The more prolific your note taking skills are the more observant you become and the easier it is to reference and learn from your previous roasts.
To be continued…