☕ Coffee ☕: Ingredients, Roasting, Grinding, Brewing, and Tasting

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ba-brewer

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Hi everyone. After talking about wanting to try roasting coffee for the last 6 months I was gifted a Barwell roaster of and 10lbs of Ethiopian Limu for Christmas. I’ve only done 3 roasts so far but I can’t produce anything thats worth a damn. At this point I’m placing blame squarely on the person roasting and not on the beans or equipment.
Searching around I’ve found some suggestions as to how others roast but no “beginners” guide as to how to start off, what charge temps to aim for etc. I will say that low and slow to first crack produced a nice flavor of grass and cat pee (30 min). Could anyone recommend a good book or website to get me started in the right direction? For some reason google and duckduck keep funneling me towards green coffee extract.
I am not familiar with that roaster but it looks similar to the stir crazy base folks use to make UFO turbo oven roasters. I had a UFO roaster for a while it produced good coffee. If you after some more roasts you are not happy with the results maybe see if you can add a turbo oven to improve the roast.

What do you not like about the coffee you roasted and how long does it take you roast coffee?
If you roast too slow you bake the beans and not roast them. I believe the rule of thumb is you need to complete the roast in under 20min to prevent baking them. Too fast can can be a problem too. I personally like most coffee to hit first at about 8 to 9min with the roast completed to just before second crack at about 12mins.

Take a look at the sweet marias website that is where I got information to start roasting.
https://library.sweetmarias.com/category/roast/roast-basics-getting-started/page/2/
 

TallDan

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Hi everyone. After talking about wanting to try roasting coffee for the last 6 months I was gifted a Barwell roaster of and 10lbs of Ethiopian Limu for Christmas. I’ve only done 3 roasts so far but I can’t produce anything thats worth a damn. At this point I’m placing blame squarely on the person roasting and not on the beans or equipment.
Searching around I’ve found some suggestions as to how others roast but no “beginners” guide as to how to start off, what charge temps to aim for etc. I will say that low and slow to first crack produced a nice flavor of grass and cat pee (30 min). Could anyone recommend a good book or website to get me started in the right direction? For some reason google and duckduck keep funneling me towards green coffee extract.
Echoing what @ba-brewer said, 30min is too long for roasting a small batch of coffee. Something about your process is off, either you didn't give the roaster enough power, enough pre-heat time, or tried to roast too large of a batch. I don't know much about that roaster, but based on a quick look, i'm not sure that I would trust a single word from that website. For starters, you never want to "bake" coffee, baked coffee is bad coffee, it's considered a defect.

You didn't say anything about what your process was, so it's hard to say what might be going wrong, but here's some things that I would try:

* make sure the roaster is well pre-heated before you start (this goes for any roaster, i pre-heat my mill city for 30min or more before i roast)

* use smaller batches - i'd try in the neighborhood of 225g / 8oz, if that's around what you did, go smaller, like 125g

* do NOT go low and slow. Hot and fast is what you want, for small batches, like that roaster would be best at, look for 15 min or less, maybe much less

I got started with the information from sweet maria's, so that's the only place I can suggest to start. There's quite a few books out there, I haven't read any of them myself, but Scott Rao's books, particularly the recent "best practices" come highly recommended.
 

NGD

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Hey guys, thank you for the suggestions. Got busy today with kids/school etc. Finally had time to sit down and respond.

I am not familiar with that roaster off hand and would need to look it up, but I have to run out the door to pick up school materials for my kids. I'll try to jump back on and see what I can find or offer any suggestions I may have later today or tomorrow.
How do the roasted beans look? Are they oily for example? Can you upload some pictures? How much are you roasting at a given time? Are you hearing the first crack when roasting? Are you roasting inside or outside? The ambient room temperature I'm sure would play a factor too.
For my first roast I tried to roast 8oz. I just realized I screwed up in my notes by not taking the outside temp prior to hearing starting. I would guess it was around 45F. I started the roaster at 130C and let it warm up for 10 minutes prior to dumping the beans. The roaster has a vented lid that I kept on before and during the roast. The first batch of beans had a really wide range of colors. From cinnamon to what I would guess was full city. I didn't take many pics but I'll upload one from my cell. No oily beans but I assume given the inconsistent range of colors that 8oz was to large of a batch. I've done 4 batches now and each one has been smaller and the beans appear to be more even.

I am not familiar with that roaster but it looks similar to the stir crazy base folks use to make UFO turbo oven roasters. I had a UFO roaster for a while it produced good coffee. If you after some more roasts you are not happy with the results maybe see if you can add a turbo oven to improve the roast.

What do you not like about the coffee you roasted and how long does it take you roast coffee?
If you roast too slow you bake the beans and not roast them. I believe the rule of thumb is you need to complete the roast in under 20min to prevent baking them. Too fast can can be a problem too. I personally like most coffee to hit first at about 8 to 9min with the roast completed to just before second crack at about 12mins.

Take a look at the sweet marias website that is where I got information to start roasting.
Roast Basics - Sweet Maria's Coffee Library
While I'm not familiar with the UFO turbo ovens except from old commercials I think your correct. I've seen these roasters under a few different brands. This particular model doesn't seem to have a name. It's only 800 watts with some random model number on the back. I ran across a website using the turbo oven as an attachment with a 3" tall strip of Aluminum to help eject chaff. May go that route if I can find a turbo oven. First roast was likely baked. The chaff on some beans was glued on and first crack took several minutes to finish.

Echoing what @ba-brewer said, 30min is too long for roasting a small batch of coffee. Something about your process is off, either you didn't give the roaster enough power, enough pre-heat time, or tried to roast too large of a batch. I don't know much about that roaster, but based on a quick look, i'm not sure that I would trust a single word from that website. For starters, you never want to "bake" coffee, baked coffee is bad coffee, it's considered a defect.

You didn't say anything about what your process was, so it's hard to say what might be going wrong, but here's some things that I would try:

* make sure the roaster is well pre-heated before you start (this goes for any roaster, i pre-heat my mill city for 30min or more before i roast)

* use smaller batches - i'd try in the neighborhood of 225g / 8oz, if that's around what you did, go smaller, like 125g

* do NOT go low and slow. Hot and fast is what you want, for small batches, like that roaster would be best at, look for 15 min or less, maybe much less

I got started with the information from sweet maria's, so that's the only place I can suggest to start. There's quite a few books out there, I haven't read any of them myself, but Scott Rao's books, particularly the recent "best practices" come highly recommended.
I certainly mad the mistake of low & slow. Here is the layout of my first 2 batches

Batch 1-Outside temp Approx 45F, Size 8oz
TempTime
130C0 minutes
Increase to 140C8 min
Increase to 160C9 min
Increase to 180C20 min 10 sec
Increase to 200C25 min 44 sec
Stop28 min 32 sec
NotesUneven roast. Color ranges from Cinnamon to City+


Batch 2 Outside Temp Approx 45F, Size 4oz
TempTime
160C0 minutes
Increase to 180C4 min 30 sec
FC9 min 22 sec
Increase to 200C11 min 20 sec (Note: cracks more audible)
Stop16 min 10 sec
The second batch had much better aromatics and flavor but still way to earthy and kind of nasty. The first batch tasted I juiced grass my cat pissed on. I'll probably have to dump it unless I could roast it a bit longer. I'm guessing that a huge no-no though. My plan for next batch is to start at the 200C mark and rock it til first crack, then maybe reduce temp to 160C for a bit.

On the second batch I grabbed my IR gun and found the temps on the hotplace was all over the place. In some spots the hotplace was 525F. In others it was 340F. Chaff came off noticeably easier with the second batch.

edit: here is a pic from my first roast. Going off this I’m guessing 8oz was to much. I’ve since scaled back to 4oz and the coloring is more consistent.
41EF14A4-544B-401F-A4F8-9DE8C89001AC.jpeg
 
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NGD

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To add to my long winded post. Here are some reviews of the roasted version of the Ethiopian I have. Now I don't feel as bad.
Limu Reviews_Amazon.png
 

ba-brewer

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While I'm not familiar with the UFO turbo ovens except from old commercials I think your correct. I've seen these roasters under a few different brands. This particular model doesn't seem to have a name. It's only 800 watts with some random model number on the back. I ran across a website using the turbo oven as an attachment with a 3" tall strip of Aluminum to help eject chaff. May go that route if I can find a turbo oven. First roast was likely baked. The chaff on some beans was glued on and first crack took several minutes to finish.

View attachment 713451
The turbo oven on top of a stir crazy with a spacer is the UFO roaster I was referencing. Your times for the 4oz batch seem much better. It might be possible you dont need to add a turbo oven but it would allow you do larger batches. Maybe do a 4oz batch or a 8oz batch with the roaster set to the highest setting to see how fast it will roast.

Dry or natural processed coffee can wide variation in color of beans, but I think you are right in assessing too much coffee in your roaster. If you do some looking at the UFO roasters people modify or create new stir bars to help mix and turn the burns.

I had bought some ethiopean coffee beans that were very catty once. Was thinking maybe a lion peed on that coffee shrub. In most coffee it is nice to have terroir come through, territory not so much. :)

A longer roast deeper into second crack may drive off some of the cattiness. The darker the roast the less terroir will be present.
 
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TallDan

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To add to my long winded post. Here are some reviews of the roasted version of the Ethiopian I have. Now I don't feel as bad.View attachment 713455
Ha! Well, if it's just not great coffee, it's just not great coffee. If you like dark roasted coffee sometimes, maybe this is one to roast darker. You won't taste much more than roasty flavors then.

Any chance you can roast in a warmer location? the 45F ambient temps probably aren't helping much.
 
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NGD

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Howdy everyone. First off a big thanks to you guys for your suggestions. I did 2 roasts last night and created something drinkable. Its certainly not great and a far stretch from the only other Ethiopian I've had but with enough bourbon it's palatable. There was still some of the grassy and pee flavor there but not nearly as prominent I think because I took the roast darker than I have been. The mouthfeel was also different. I'm not quite sure how to describe it but perhaps more rich and smooth.

Batch #3: 4oz
Preheat at 220C (428F) for 8 minutes, add 4oz beans and let it ride for 11 minutes. Tried a sample as soon as it was cool enough via pourover.

An issue that popped up is the roaster is heating way above 428 in some parts and not stirring enough. With my IR gun I measured 518 in one spot and 400 in another spot within a few seconds. I had a few beans reach FC at 4 minutes. I've been letting leaving the lid on during the entire roast. I also occasionally shake the roaster to try and disperse the beans more but I need to find a better way to agitate the beans while roasting.
ABD08D8C-7199-453B-A00E-AF4354D294DB.jpeg



Batch #4: 2oz
Preheat to 200C (398F). FC around 12min but very spotty. Increased temp to 220C at 16 min. Ended the roast at 22 minutes around 2nd crack (would that be SC?) Tried a sample as soon as it was cool enough via pourover.

This batch was a bit odd. I had a helper, kept no notes because my helper was chatting my ear off, so of course turned out better than my previous batches. about 3 minutes in I started using a wooden spoon to stir the beans. My helped decided she would take a break from playing guitar and help stir. This lead to us leaving the lid off until the 20 minute mark. FC was not nearly as audible as it has been. 2nd crack was more noticeable.

Things I've learned so far. I need to be far more aggressive with the heat initially as Ruint suggested yesterday. I should look into a UFO mod and a warmer place to roast, then take this bean darker than I usually like or "Meow".
depositphotos_214762956-stock-illustration-naughty-kitten-peeing-on-the.jpg

So now my question is, is there anything I can do to salvage some of these other sample roasts I've done or should I scrap them?
 

ba-brewer

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Drinking coffee right after roasting is not the best coffee to me, but that is up to the person drinking it.

Ethiopian and Dry process coffee in general I give a couple days to age before starting to drink. Those coffees I roast lighter and drinking too soon sometime taste a bit sour to me.

Central America coffee seems to be ready faster and I start drinking the next day.

I would give your coffee a few days to age before dumping if you don't like.
 

NGD

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I’ve been typically resting the coffee a few days while after vacuum sealing. This Ethiopian is washed, not sure if that makes a difference though.

Will try these latest batches again in a few days.
 

ba-brewer

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Generally washed coffee does not need additional rest time, but I allow lighter roasts to rest a few days. Coffee is similar to beer that it does change with time, but is much fast and a shorter shelf life, like two to three weeks.
 
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Ruint

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Nice NGD! Happy you have gotten acceptable coffee to drink. Now we start the "tuning" of your roasting. I am still not impressed by how that machine agitates the beans. I like that it keeps them moving, so they won't stay in a hot spot for long, but, it doesn't turn them over much. That is where you can use that wood spoon or even a spatula to help. If you diy and have a handiness to you, you can modify your roaster to accomplish the better agitation, as ba-brewer mentioned.. 20 minutes is long for a small batch. Your machine says it can do 500 gram batches, which is just a little more than a pound. You can wait on doing 1 pound batches. Do half that. Keep it there for 10 to 20 more roasts. This will make you learn your roaster better. I would still ramp the heat up higher to start. Not trying to boss you either, just giving suggestions that would help you further. It sounds like you have come a decent ways forward from where you were!!! Typically you want yellowing at or around the 4 minutes mark, mallaird reaction for the next 4 minutes, culminating when the beans first crack and let that go on as long as you prefer. At about 12 minutes you would or should be entering into second crack. I normally drop mine somewhere in the midst of 1st crack.
 

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My first two batches I vacuum sealed for 3-4 days prior to trying. Second batch smelled like chocolate and citrus with a hint of earth. Wish the flavor matched the aromatics.

@Ruint No offense taken at all. Thank you and everyone else for the advice. These last two roasts were far and away better. I’m tempted to tinker with the agitating arm. Found some great suggestions online. Already eyeballing the next roaster though. I’m hooked!
 
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Welcome Ngd! Now run! 😁

Looks like some fun coffes pshankstar. Didnt have time to read but sounds fun, the flavorings. Maybe use htb whiskey method with some flavored spirits like chambord or kahlua. Iirc is it a couple tablespoons soaked into the greens and roasted, some grand marnier would be nice. Just spitballing some ideas.

As you know I wont jump on any old deal anymore but bodhis sale on their Ethiopia dp ardi peaked my curiosity. The other one the yirg I got 5 pounds of on black friday and iirc it was good, not sure if it is the one I liked at Christmas. Well the price for 20 pounds brought it down to near 5.5 a pound from 8.5. Was a dollar more per pound for shipping. So I went all in. Roasted it tonight. Awesome toast in the dark freezing rocky mtn air. No charge, cold naturally buffering the roast slowing the drying just right. Hope it's good.
 

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These flavor additions arrived today. I need to buy some decaf beans and I’ll look into a cheap beans to play around with these flavors. I’ll report back once I have some batches under my belt.
 

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Wow, I think it's been two months since I have been on this page. Didn't get any coffee toys for Christmas; it sounds like I "have everything I need"....not sure how accurate that is, but whatev.

My next roasting related project is to fix up my exhaust situation. I have been getting a horrible backdraft into my roaster. I looked into it a bit and apparently the guidance from Aillio shifted towards recommending roasters are NOT connected to a vent. I don't know when that changed, but it must have been in the last couple years since I first rigged mine up. I am also struggling with condensation forming in my vent during the roast (hot vented air mixing with cold outside air) and dripping into/onto my roaster, which is not good. So I'm working on an inline fan and all that jazz.

Other than that, roasting has been good and the little side gig has been fun. The money I made in 2020 was about double 2019's, with more people working from home and the word of mouth thing. It's a fun hobby with a little money on the side, it basically pays for my other hobbies (mainly fishing/boat work).

I've been asked to send three 12 oz bags with an espresso grind to a co-worker's friend. This will be the true test of the Vario's motor.... :eek:
 

HarborTownBrewing

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Got about $140 in exhaust material headed my way; with any luck I can work on it in the next few days. Bought a Cloudline S4 exhaust fan which will be my booster fan. Going to have to get a little creative with how everything is rigged up in the basement. I'll be sure to post some pictures once I get it running.
 

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Finally pulled the trigger on a manual espresso machine. Got a flair classic. I thought for sure I was going to have to upgrade my grinder, but my slightly modified baratza encore does the job. Quality of the shot is impressive considering the price. A solid value option that I'm satisfied with.
I took my "rat rod" roaster for a spin the other day...basically a rotisserie motor and drum directly over my brew burner....
The results were not impressive.
Bought a bracket to mount so I can try roasting inside my Weber gas grill instead...will report back after first roast!
 
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bkboiler

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I think I got what's called the classic.
I think solo is a pressurized portafilter and classic is unpressurized.
I didn't want to spring for the metal tamper and pressure gage.
surprisingly the plastic tamper is more than adequate! First time that's ever happened for me in all the espresso machines I've had!
 

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Well I got the exhaust system rigged up and took it for a spin last night. It is a huge improvement in getting smoke out of the house, night and day difference. Previously I was relying on the internal roaster exhaust fan to push air out and it was competing with outside air trying to come back in. I also installed some backdraft dampers to prevent that from happening.

It's nothing pretty but will work just fine until I finish the basement next year or whatever.

Once I do 4 or 5 roasts back to back, I'm sure it will be even more helpful.

20210224_160837.jpg
 

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Awesome HTB! Are you going to set up a brewing area there too? No reason why you couldn't if you are going to revamp things later on. Anyways, that's a nice little setup you got going on!!
 

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Well the basement is a blank slate which is both good and bad. I have been thinking of installing a small bar down there with kegerator and a sink, and adding in a small stovetop for brewing, but not sure what I'll do yet (currently my roasting setup greatly, greatly exceeds my brewing setup, I'll admit).

I will be doing the entire basement build myself so given the labor savings, I can make it into just about anything I want. I'll probably be asking you all for your input when that time comes!
 

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I've considered putting a coffee bar in my dining room or basement. It could free up a bit of kitchen counter space (and that's some prime real estate in the house!). The basement was more of a consideration when I was thinking about a bigger espresso machine. With the decent, the dining room seems a little more logical, and would fit into how I use
 

HarborTownBrewing

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That's a nice setup @Ruint ,nice to have a dedicated space for everything.

I just fired up the roaster. I put a pond filter pad on my vent intake to catch oil and debris before it goes into the inline fan, and noticed all this oil on the filter after just 3 roasts. Kind of disgusting thinking about how much of this I've breathed in over the years.
20210227_103126.jpg
 

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Since my last posts about new ventilation, things have not gone too smoothly here. I was three pounds in to a five pound order when my roaster started cycling out of roast mode mid-roast and was unresponsive to adjustments I was making on the control panel. The first time it happened I thought it was a fluke, so I dumped another lb of perfectly good green beans in and the same thing happened. I was able to hobble through two lbs of roasts I owed someone, but was bummed the roaster wasn't working right (and did waste some coffee in the process).

I reached out to Aillio and they started helping me with the troubleshooting. I BELIEVE what happened in my case is, something heavy fell and hit my roaster control panel one night. I believe it damaged it, just enough for it not to work quite right...some of the time. Never the less, there are some pros and cons to the electric roaster, one of the cons being the number of components that must work properly. Fortunately Aillio was very helpful with troubleshooting and diagnosing this 3 year old roaster.

I have a new control board (and IBTS temp sensor!) on the way and hoping that does the trick. As of now, the roaster is a very finicky, very expensive paperweight and honestly roasting isn't too fun when things don't go according to plan. I'm sure in the next two weeks I'll be back to normal operations and will be enjoying it, but man it's been a rough week trying to figure out what the heck is going on with this machine.

I do want to give a shout out to Aillio; they exceeded my expectations on customer service with this issue. After taking some of the actions they recommended I had two good roasts and declared to them my problem had been solved. They took a look at my roasts on their server and thought something wasn't quite looking right, asked me to try again, and sure enough on my third roast I had another issue. It was a good catch on their part and I'm glad they encouraged me to try another test roast before wasting any good coffee.
 

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Not that I like what you went thru HTB! I've had some issues with the different f/w upgrades where the machine was just oblivious to any control input commands. You're right, very frustrating! The support that Ailio has given is second to none, and if you haven't joined the slack account, I highly recommend it. A little bigger community that is very knowledgeable on the "operating correctly parameters" of the bullet.
 

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I have been very leery of any and all updates on mine until more recently. I ran Roastime 1 (obsolete for about 2 years now?) until January and only upgraded to Roastime 3 last week because tech support needed me to. I'm very much the late adopter with just about everything in life haha.

Good tip on the Slack account. I was on the Facebook Aillio page but I quit FB cold turkey almost a year ago and honestly miss the info from that page because there were so many knowledgeable people who posted there.

Since I'll be getting the IBTS sensor soon I'll have to relearn the preheat temps and whatever else. Time to print an updated manual, too...apparently they have updated it in the past three years. Like I said, late adopter here....
 

NGD

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Can you guys stop talking about the Aillio.

I'm in deep enough with buying far more coffee than I can roast over the next 4 months and the SO isn't buying the "Well obviously I need a larger roast capacity" argument. I seriously eye'd selling my Mtn Bike for an Aillio and a few 50lb bags but quickly realized that me all hyped on caffeine with no way to burn it off was a no-go. I can only run so many miles on middle aged knees.
 

TallDan

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:) I sold my mountain bike last summer when bikes were out of stock everywhere and I had barely ridden it since I got it years prior. Got more money for it than I really should have. My cheap road bike has been getting it's miles though, I live close to a paved bike path, so it's convenient to get out for a quick ride, and there isn't a lot for places to ride a mountain bike nearby.
 
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