[Homeroast] My obsession history.
jbensen-0007 at xemaps.com
Wed Aug 15 01:50:18 CDT 2012
(Apologies for the long post. I was thinking about this topic over
the past day and what follows just flowed from my fingers before I knew it).
I started drinking good coffee when I lived in New York in the late
1970's when a roaster came to town (not Barnies, but similar and now
long forgotten). I used a whirly grinder and a hand-blown Chemex for
I first considered home roasting back in the mid-1980's after moving
to Florida, but there was no detailed info at that time. Two friends
at work and I looked into modifying some poppers and splitting a 150
pound bag of greens from an importer but chickened out when quoted a price.
In spite of not roasting yet I still bought fresh beans from local
roasters that were springing up, ground in a whirly and brewed in a
french press or electric drip (the Chemex broke in a sink accident
and was never replaced).
In 2004 I bought a Cafe Rosto from another vendor along with 15
pounds of greens. Funny story: The limited info on that other site
included the instruction to stop when you saw the blue roasting
smoke, which I initially took to be a recipe instead of a warning. I
never had a fire, but everything tasted like *$'s.
A year later I stumbled on Sweet Marias and never looked back. I
immersed myself in reading their site, bought an iRoast, drilled a
hole in the lid to fit a thermocouple, added a Variac and the journey
down the rabbit hole began. I discovered medium roasts, vac pots, the
Technivorm, Ibriks, mocha pots, the CCD, the Aeropress, the value of
a good grinder (Zass), then a good electric grinder (Maestro Plus),
then a better electric grinder (Rocky). That's just the abbreviated list.
In December 2010 my parents gave me an unexpected cash gift and after
over 5 years of continuous service and numerous repairs the old
iRoast was finally retired. In it's place is a Quest M3 fitted with
dual thermocouples connected to an old laptop running the Artisan
open source software.
This latest part of the grand experiment has proved to be both
frustrating and fruitful. For the first 6 or 7 months I felt like I
was learning how to roast all over again. The Quest offers tremendous
control, but it took time to figure out what to do with that freedom.
The past year, however, have yielded some of the best coffee I've had
the pleasure of drinking. Even the roasts that don't quite pan out
are still far better than anything I can get in town.
I sort my beans when they arrive to remove the broken, blackened and
bug-eaten ones. They are then stored in large mason jars. Prior to
each roast I go through Tom's notes plus any of my notes from
previous roasts. I look at my cupping notes for the roast profiles
tried so far and decide how to treat the beans this time. I usually
roast 2 half-pound batches of different beans at a time, but may do
more if I need to vac and freeze some due to heavy work or travel
schedules. In spite of being extremely busy I make it a priority to
find a couple of hours in my schedule to roast regularly.
At age 53 I've had 3 good careers so far and feel like I have at
least one more in me. I have been considering trying my hand at small
scale commercial roasting. Even if I decide not to take that plunge
the obsession will continue.
BTW: My spreadsheet of bean orders shows 395 pounds of greens from
Sweet Marias from April 2005 through today, of which all but 12
pounds have been consumed so far.
-- Jeff B.
At 02:50 PM 8/11/2012, Rayburn Robert wrote:
>I've been roasting coffee for a few years now...I roasted my first
>batch in our kitchen oven, very bad idea. I bought a hot air popper
>next, then went through 2 Fresh Roast machines. Christmas of 2011 I
>bought a Behmor and the obsession definitely kicked in. I roast a
>least 2 lbs per week, sometimes more. I like P3 with 1/2 lb. I've
>roasted approx. 50 lbs since I purchased the Behmor. Out of the 50
>lbs, there were approx. 50 varieties...all but 2 from Sweet Marias.
>I thought it might be interesting to see how obsessed the rest of
>you are. If you don't mind sharing, please post information similar
>to what I have just posted.
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