General Home Roasting Observations for FreshRoast Plus 8 Roasters revised 2/04

New- Download and Print this Tip Sheet in a Single Page .PDF Format.
Fresh Roast not roasting dark enough for you?
How to decrease the fan speed (make the roaster run hotter)
Roasting too dark? Some tips here

First ... A few general roasting thoughts...

  • Home coffee roasting is as easy as you want to make it, or as exacting and technical as you care to be. Pay attention to the process, especially toward the end of the roast where the coffee rapidly reaches the palatable roast stages: City (medium), Full City, Vienna, French (dark). The FreshRoast reaches these stages fast!

  • Coffee roasting produces a wonderful fragrance, unobtrusive with lighter roasts but smokier if you roast dark. Operating any type of stove hood fan helps if the smoke is too intense for you. You can roast on a porch or near a partially open window weath er permitting. But be aware that cold ambient temperatures might dramatically effect the roast, and could make the roast stall completely.

  • Roasting produces chaff. Chaff is a fine skin that detaches from the bean as your roast is agitated. Your roaster takes care of chaff, but if you are careless, you may have to do some sweeping. Empty the chaff collector between every roast and brush it out to get perfectly consistent results.


UPDATE 9/30/08 - The new shipment of roasters that arrived this month seem to be running hotter than before - that is what we gather from customers and our own tests on a couple of machines here. Roast times are faster - which is not exactly a good thing - not if it gets too fast. But the roasts are even - you may just want to rest the beans longer post-roast. I have noted the new roast times and other pointers below. - Maria

In a nutshell, here is the roasting process you will be observing:

My Freshroast Doesn't Roast Dark Enough!

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.
*Wet-processed coffees will roast to more even color that dry-processed, some, like Yemen and Harar should never be expected to roast to an even color. Even roast color is not a determinate of roast quality! We don't cup coffee with our eyes...

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!)

Yikes! My Freshroast Roasts Too Dark!
We have from time to time, and especially since the September 2008 shipment, heard from folks where the roaster is too hot, roasting too dark. In this case, the first thing to do is stop the roast early - at whatever the desired degree of roast.
You also want to consider the opposite of the things mentioned above - a high ambient temperature, higher than usual voltage, chaff or roast oils blocking up the chaff collector. If it is hot where you are roasting, consider roasting at a different time of day (or if doing multiple batches, let the roaster cool longer between batches). If you suspect high voltage, try using a different outlet in your house, or use an extension cord between the roaster and the outlet. If you have had the roaster a while, make sure that coffee oils have not blocked up the top screens on the chaff collector - also, consider opening up the base, and cleaning the slit-like openings that let air in to cool the base. Finally, try using less coffee, like 1.5 scoops. I know this is not ideal if you have limited time to roast and/or use a lot of coffee.

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