Any opinion on the freshroast plus, David? We probably drink 30 to 40 oz of (liquid) coffee a day. I am trying to decide if I should drop the cash on the Behmor, modify the airpopper, or go in between.
If beans turn shiny in the roaster they are way beyond done and into char burnt. Even Starbucks darkest roasts don't get oily shiny until a week or more out of the roaster. The oils are not even released until there has been a violent rupturing of the cell walls within the beans. Once a coffee beans oils have been pushed to the surface the shelf life of that bean may be measured in hours as opposed to days because that oil will go rancid fast. Also there is then nothing to contain the volatile aromatics of the coffee so the coffee will lose any specific character that it had in those oils. The only thing left is roastiness. A flavor that many people have come to accept as the sign of good coffee in this country.Sometimes the second crack is very slight. With the hot air popper I use it's not subtle at all and is very distinctive. With my Fresh Roast I have to listen closely. Generally the first crack is very noticeable and you hear slower and louder "pops", or cracks. The second crack is quieter and faster, sort of like Rice Crispies. If you have trouble hearing the second crack, watch for color changes. IMO, once the beans turn shiny (oily), they're overdone. Some people like certain beans this way but only just shiny and not any more than that or they're burned. Another thing to look for is smoke. When the beans just start to smoke, they're done.
I prefer almost all my roasts to be in the Full City to Full City+ range. IMO, most of the lighter roasts have a grassy taste. I don't like darker roasts at all. As you say, they taste burned.For auction tasting we actually roast at what we have come to call Ethiopian style. It is lighter than the lightest City and is often pulled from the roaster mid first crack. This is definitely an acquired taste but it is an excellent way to judge auction lots. It often tastes like grass tea with some dirt thrown in. But you also taste all of the things you see mentioned in bean descriptions such as at Sweet Marias.
In case you can't tell I am a crusader for roasters going with lighter roasts these days. I believe the American palate is ready for such a thing. I love light roasts because they celebrate the bean.