General Home Roasting Observations for FreshRoast Plus 8 Roasters revised 2/04
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Never leave the room while you are roasting coffee, even though the roaster has a timer/cooling cycle.
Built-up coffee oils in the roaster are of no real consequence until they impede visibility or become a fire hazard. (In fact, a professional drum roaster requires hours of roasting initially to properly "season" the drum.) Do not clean your roaster too often... but do remove all the chaff from the top between every roast and SOAK THE ENTIRE CHAFF COLLECTOR ASSEMBLY IN DEGREASER PERIODICALLY TO REMOVE BUILT UP OILS- REDUCED AIR FLOW CAN OVER HEAT ANY ROASTER AND KILL IT.
Batch size is critical in any roast process: if the amount of coffee you put into the roaster varies, the roast will vary too. Smaller batch takes longer to roast, larger batch can roast faster (opposite of what you might think...) Ideally, it is best to roast by weight, not volume. (If you want to roast by weight, we offer an accurate digital Salter brand scale for this purpose). But following these instructions for batch size by volume works just fine : the ideal FreshRoast Plus batch size is 2 rounded 43 cc scoops which equals .14 Lb.. or 2.25 ounces or 64 grams.
The FreshRoast instructions are adequate. Read them. This "tip sheet" is not meant to replace their instructions.
In my tests a setting of "4.5" produces a City (medium), "5" is a City+ roast, and "5.5" to "6" produces a Full City (dark-medium) roast - up to the start of second crack. "6.5" is a Vienna or light French roast. Expect the first crack to start around 4 or so and finish about 5 or so. Expect the second crack to start around 6 minutes. (Note that these times vary by coffee, and by voltage). 6 minutes is a good starting point, but be aware that dry-process coffee, which has more chaff, raises the heat of the roaster and takes as much as 1 minute less to roast! By the way, "Espresso" is not a specific degree of roast . I prefer blends for espresso roasted at 6 on the FreshRoast and allowed to rest 48 hours in an airtight mason jar. Roast times are dependent on your line voltage, so you will need to experiment to establish the exact roast settings that work for you. Changing to a different plug on a different circuit can effect roast times too. Also, consecutive roasts without letting the roaster cool to room temperature will speed up and/or make roasts turn out a bit darker. IF THIS IS TOO DARK - the first thing to do is to stop the roast earlier. You can also try reducing the size of the batch - we used 1.5 scoops and it was Full City on a 8 min setting. IF THIS IS NOT DARK ENOUGH - you can first try using more coffee- 2.5 scoops. If this still does not work - there is a modification for the fan speed you can try if you want - that page is here.
No home roaster is designed to roast continuously! Wait for the machine to cool before doing another batch
I prefer to dump the coffee into a stainless mesh colander after the cooling cycle completes, just to get the coffee away from the warm metal/glass surfaces. When the coffee is room temp. I transfer it to canning jars. Coffee is better after 12 hours of "resting", which allows the CO2 to de-gas from the coffee. It is at its flavor peak at 12-72 hours. When you open the jar, you will know what I mean!
FreshRoast has a manufacturer's warranty and Registration Form is available at http://www.freshbeansinc.com. Call them directly at 805-501-7731 phone or email <[email protected]> if you ever have a mechanical problem with the roaster, or need parts like the glass roast chambers.
NOTE ON ALL AIR ROASTERS: All air roasters use the beans to trap the hot air, so while it may seem counterintuitive, more beans will actually roast darker and less beans lighter. A too small batch may mean that the hot air blows past the beans and does not roast them at all.
All the roasters can be sensitive to fluctuations in the power supply, so it can be helpful to check the voltage available at a the outlet you are using if possible. Also, do no use the roaster with an extension cord if possible, this can reduce the voltage available. Do not use a GFIC (an outlet with a reset button) or a circuit with a dimmer switch on it - these can creat line noise that the machines are sensitive to.
No home roaster is designed to do serial batches!
All home roasters need to cool before roasting another batch. This also
improves consistency. Wait 20 minutes or longer - is the roaster feels cool
to the touch - then if is safe to run another batch.
|Here is a picture of the correct batch capacity in the glass roast chamber of the FreshRoast. Note how this amount of coffee is MUCH lower than the "Fill To" band on the roaster!!! (On the Freshroast Plus 8 the "Fill To" text was removed - good riddance because it caused confusion...)|
|Here is a picture of a 1/2 cup scoop filled filled with coffee to about 1/4 inch below the rim. Tim at Freshroast prefers that you use the 43cc scoop that comes with the roaster though. You use 2 rounded 43cc scoops per batch!|
|City Roast - about 4.5 minutes||
Vienna/Light French Roast - about 6.5 minutes
French Roast - about 7 minutes
|Notes on these pictures: All these were taken with my Nikon camera the exact same distance away, but I had trouble with low lighting and used a fill-in flash, which makes some pictures have more highlights/glare. It makes all the roasts look lighter and more red-yellow color saturated than they would if you where standing right beside me looking at the coffee samples at the time. The fresh roasted coffee would look much darker to your naked eye. The coffee is Organic/FT Guatemala Huehuetenango from the Asobagri Co-op, 2002 - it roasted a bit more uneven - other coffees may appear more even..|
In a nutshell, here is the roasting process you will be observing:
For the first minute the bean remains greenish, then turn lighter and emit a grassy smell.
The beans start to steam as their internal water content dissipates.
The steam becomes fragrant. Soon you will hear the "first crack," an audible cracking sound as the real roasting starts to occur: sugars begin to caramelize, bound-up water escapes, the structure of the bean breaks down and oils migrate from their little pockets outward.
After the first crack, the roast can be considered complete any time according to your taste. The cracking is an audible cue, and, along with sight and smell, tells you what stage the roast is at.
Caramelization continues, oils migrate, and the bean expands in size as the roast becomes dark.
At this point a "second crack" can be heard, often more volatile than the first. Small pieces of the bean are sometimes blown away like shrapnel! It can be more difficult to hear than the first crack though.
As the roast becomes very dark, the smoke is more pungent (oils burn against the hot surfaces of the roast chamber) as sugars burn completely, and the bean structure breaks down more and more.
Eventually, the sugars burn completely, and the roast will only result in thin-bodied cup of "charcoal water."
First ... have you tried increasing the batch
size? Try 2.5 level scoops, and set the timer to 8 minutes. As long as
the coffee agitates after the first 20 seconds or so, and develops
fairly evenly in color*, there is nothing wrong with increasing the
batch size. What this does, essentially, is trap more heat in the roast
chamber because it is more difficult for the hot air to exit the roaster.
It effectively raises the roast temperature across the board.
|Check out this photo comparison:
If this doesn't work, consider a couple other things: low ambient temperature affects the roast. If you are roasting in your garage in a Minnesota winter, you will have problems no matter what. Move your roasting operation to a warmer location in the house. Secondly, use of extention cords lowers voltage to the roaster. Third, try a different outlet ... some outlets/circuits will have lower voltage due to the distance from the supply box, and other appliances running on them.
Now, time for surgery: In less than 5 minutes, you can alter the fan speed on the Freshroast. A slower fan speed will result in a darker roast, because the machine won't be blowing as much heat out of the roaster, essentially. It might mean that you have to cut back slightly on the batch size, because a lower fan speed will mean less bean agitation. But if you make this adjustment and still see good bean movement at the start of the roast, and if the roast color in the early stages (yellow, light brown) is even on a good wet-processed coffee, then no need to reduce batch size. Anyway, here are the easy instructions for adjusting fan speed on a Freshroast. (You can also use this to increase fan speed slightly!)
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