Espresso! My Espresso!
Improved Roast Profiling
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2010 - All rights reserved
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am easily bored with any activity that I feel I have either mastered or have reached the pinnacle of my ability (marriage being the exception). I usually last about 6 years when that takes place (marriage being the exception). Sometimes it necessitates a change of scene and others complete abandonment (ditto). I have been around the coffee scene for over 9 years, and one thing I have learned in that time is how little I know and how much there is to learn. I still feel like a novice in this enterprise.
THE NEW PROFILE
• Start the roaster as always using maximum time and maximum temperature as the programmed points.
• Allow the roaster to go through its preheat mode and drop in the beans at around 250 F.
• Time goes by, and as the temperature rises and hits about 285 F. I begin lowering the heating element's power. The rate of temperature increase dictates how much to lower the heating power. The goal is to get the roaster's environmental temperature to level off around 300 to 310 F. or so. It is important to not let the temperature go down- you want the rate of rise to dramatically slow, or level off for a while. It takes a little practice but it is not that difficult once you learn the way your roaster reacts.
• Hold the temperature at that point until the beans have gone through the drying phase. You will know that by watching the beans' color. They will go through the bright green phase, and then start to turn beige and then tan. Your goal is to anticipate this change, and just before the beans get into the tan phase you will want to turn the heat back up to 100%. The theory here is that an electrical heating element has a bit of lag, and as soon as the coffee is 'dry' you want to begin the ramp up to the final roasting phase. So you are trying to anticipate the point at which the beans are dry enough to finish the roasting process.
• If you have a bean probe you can more accurately anticipate first crack which will begin at about 395 to 400 F. depending on the accuracy and placement of the probe. Just before first starts, or as you hear the first click, turn the heat down. As first become active you can turn the heat down to around 50%. The beans will become exothermic through the Maillard reaction and the additional heat in the roaster and element will be sufficient to finish the roast in most environments. Once again, your goal is to get around a 1½ to 2 minute time duration between the end of first and the beginning of second.
• Eject at the point you desire. For espresso I eject about 10 to 15 seconds into active second. For other brewing methods a bit earlier depending on the coffee being roasted, of course. As an example, Colombian can be excellent for drip if the roast is stopped midway between first and second, depending on the rest of the profile.
I believe that this profile brings out a more balanced flavor, a smoother taste overall, and gives more definition to the intricacies of the varietal flavors. Give it a try and let me know what you think.