The First Roast of a New Coffee
The usual goal when you approach a new coffee bean, is to roast it to the level where it best showcases the taste of that particular origin. But how do you know what that roast level will be?
The first question: are you about to roast a “natural process” or “washed process” bean?
Natural processed beans are more delicate and susceptible to scorching if you ramp up heat too quickly, or let the final temperature get too high.You rarely want to take a natural processed coffee all the way to the 2nd cracks, and if you do, it is JUST into the 2nds.A good roast will highlight the fruity undertones and sweet aftertaste.
Here’s the breakdown:
Too acidic, try 10 to 20 seconds longer
Too sour, try 20 to 30 seconds longer
Not complex enough, try 10 seconds shorter
Bitter tastes, try 20 seconds shorter
Burnt taste, try 30 seconds shorter
Continue to tweak improved future roasts a few seconds in either direction until you have achieved the perfect balance. Keep your notes, even on roasts that are mediocre, or even if the coffee tastes terrible!Write down that it tasted terrible.In the future, you will have notes that remind you what DOESN’T work.
Thermometers are not always accurate, and the bigger problem is that the thermometer is likely to be confused by the temperature of the air around it, which is higher than the actual temperature of the bean. Commercial roasters have one thermometer that displays the air temperature, and a second that is buried in the coffee beans.The air temperature is useful for knowing how quickly your heat is rising, but the bean temperature is really the only one that is useful for predicting the cracks and for knowing when to end the roast. Ideally, your thermometer probe should be buried in the moving coffee beans.When I provide suggested ending temperatures on the bean profiles, I am always referring to the BEAN temperature, and even at that, it may not be calibrated at the same level as your thermometer, so always trust the audible cues over everything else.