[Homeroast] Homeroast Digest, Vol 27, Issue 10

Allon Stern allon at radioactive.org
Sat Apr 10 22:29:43 CDT 2010

On Apr 10, 2010, at 7:32 PM, Mary Shue wrote:

> Can someone explain to me the desirability of prolonging the first crack?  I
> know (at least for me) avoiding the second crack is good but what exactly
> does the second crack do that screws up the taste, or is it the temperature
> of the bean that screws up the taste that just is reflected by the 2nd
> crack?  Thanks for indulging me.  Mary in A2

I wouldn't say that avoiding 2nd crack is necessarily desirable. Sometimes I skip 1st crack and start out with 2nd ;)

Seriously, though, let's remember that roasting is COOKING. Stuff happens during the roast, and an often overlooked ingredient in many recipes is TIME. Extending certain times during the roast gives sugars time to caramelize, allowing flavors to develop that might otherwise be missed.

Also often overlooked is the momentum that a roast develops. If you start a roast fast, you'll finish it fast. Let me give a couple of examples, using HG+DB roasting....

If you start roasting on high heat, and hold the gun close, you may not hit 1st crack until 9-10 minutes, but you may find 1st crack runs right into 2nd, or at the least, you don't have much time after 1st, even if you back off the heat at that point in time. You have momentum, and even if you try to slow down, you'll find it hard to control.

Alternatively, you can start with a few minutes of warm-up (I start most of my roasts on low power - around 3-3.5 minutes, usually the chaff starts loosening around then), then turn up the heat, but back off the gun. 1st crack may start around the same time as in the fast example, but progresses longer, then ends. Then there are several minutes (which can be stretched by backing off heat) until 2nd crack, if you are going that far. I usually hit the 1st snaps or so of 2nd for espresso, though I also do light espressos.

I've heard that you don't want to go more than 5 minutes between 1st crack and end of roast (EOR) or you'll deaden the flavors.

Have fun with the learning process. Roast, rinse, repeat.


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