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Confusing First FreshRoast Attempt
MJSykes
I just attempted my very first home roast using the FreshRoast SR500 kit I received from SweetMaria's. Having read much of the advice on their website, I disregarded the SR500's instructions. Instead of using 130 grams of beans, I loaded the canister with 91 grams of "Costa Rica Heisar ? Nancy", set the fan to maximum and the heat to medium, and hit the start button. Since I chose a relatively light load, I expected the beans to be hopping but they weren't, so I switched the heat to low after about 50 seconds and gently tilted the unit several times until the beans were moving better. My plan was to end the roast as soon as 2nd crack began.

The beans began popping at the 2 minute mark, which surprised me. The pops were sporadic, however, and stopped after 10-15 seconds. I then switched the heat back to medium and eased up on the fan to maintain moderate movement. The popping picked up again at around 3 minutes and continued for the next couple of minutes. The popping was slowing down during the 5th minute and I was unsure whether I was hearing the first crack or the second; I thought I heard some relatively quiet cracks. I hit the COOL button at about 5.8 minutes of total roasting time. The beans were a dull medium brown.

After cooling the beans, I weighed them again and found they had lost 15.4% of their mass. Inspection revealed several scorched beans which I removed. I couldn't resist trying a cup. I finely ground a scoop of beans and let the grounds rest about 15 minutes (an attempt to accelerate the de-gassing process) before using them in my Aeropress. The sour taste made me think I stopped the roast before the 1st crack was finished and the pops that I heard at the 2 minute mark were probably the scorched beans that the maxed out fan (and my tilting) failed to agitate.

I decided to re-roast the beans after everything had cooled. It didn't take long before the beans were popping again. The loudness made me unsure whether I was hearing 1st or 2nd crack until I noticed the beans had begun glistening. After cooling and examination, I figured I probably reached the Vienna roast level. When I compare them to store-bought Starbucks Vienna roasted beans, my beans are a bit lighter in color but much shinier (perhaps because the Starbucks beans are old?). Close inspection revealed small craters on the surface of some my beans as well as the Starbucks beans, which I assume occurred during 2nd crack.

Is it possible that my first roast attempt (5.8 minutes) was adequate and the sour taste was due to not letting the coffee rest?

Does the SR500's fan do a better job agitating larger quantities of beans?

Is it unusual for the 2nd crack to be as loud as the 1st crack?

Do glistening beans always mean that a dark roast level has been reached?

Regards,

MJS
 
Bonsai Doug
Hello!

As I do not know much about the beans you were roasting, I can't say very much about your roast.

1st crack is loud and sounds like a branch snapping. 2nd crack is quieter and sounds much like rice crispies crackling.

What I can offer is my experience with the SR 500 after about 40-50 lbs of quarter pound roasts.

In general, this works well for me:

I prefer to stretch out drying time. Why? Not even sure, other than it produces a better tasting cup of coffee; to me personally.

Beans and roastings vary due to many factors, but in general, here's a rough estimate on a routine roast:

4 "cups" of beans using the measuring cup that came with the roaster (about a quarter pound)
2-ish minutes on low heat/high fan 'till beans are uniformly yellow
2-ish minutes on med heat/high fan 'till beans are uniformly tan/light brown
Then high heat with constant fan adjustments to keep the beans moving, but not jumping, 'till I hear the first, 1st crack.
Then stay on high heat/low fan 'till roast is completed.

My preference is to roast right up to the point when 2nd crack just gets rolling; beans have a very noticeable oil sheen; probably FC/FC+. Anywhere from 7-ish to 12-ish minutes for total roast time, depending on everything from the bean being roasted to the ambient temp in my garage.

Hope this helps a bit.
FreshRoast SR500
Baratza Virtuoso Preciso
Gaggia Classic
Chemex & Hario V60 pour-over
 
MJSykes
Thanks for your response, Bonsai!

I was surprised the SR500's fan was not strong enough to get 90g of beans moving. Perhaps I'll try removing the top of the chaff collector assembly and stirring with a chopstick until chaff starts flying.

It seems most SR500 users start on low heat and end on high heat. Do you think starting on low and ending on medium heat is less effective?

Regards,

Mike
 
Bonsai Doug

Quote

MJSykes wrote:

I was surprised the SR500's fan was not strong enough to get 90g of beans moving. Perhaps I'll try removing the top of the chaff collector assembly and stirring with a chopstick until chaff starts flying.

Sometimes, with wet/heavy beans, I simply remove the chaff collector, grab the roasting chamber handle, pick it up off the unit and shake the beans around. Doing this once or twice during the first 30 seconds or so should do the trick.

Quote

It seems most SR500 users start on low heat and end on high heat. Do you think starting on low and ending on medium heat is less effective?

Not sure; never tried it. If you're shooting for a lighter roast than me, I'd guess you'd be fine. Never really measured the temps at med. or high, but my guess is med. should be enough to get you to, and then through, 1st crack.
FreshRoast SR500
Baratza Virtuoso Preciso
Gaggia Classic
Chemex & Hario V60 pour-over
 
MJSykes
For my next roast, I'll try starting with low heat and jumping to high heat like most people. How long does the first crack usually last?

The coffee I made from my glistening beans was not bad; it definitely tasted less burnt that my Starbucks beans and I could still taste some (pleasant) acidity. Guess I didn't screw up as badly as I thought. Grin
 
MJSykes
BTW, I did another roast and found that your shaking technique was more convenient and more tidy than stirring the beans. I was surprised how quickly tiny bits of chaff began rising from the beans.
 
Bonsai Doug

Quote

MJSykes wrote:
How long does the first crack usually last?

Tough to answer as not all beans roast the same. Using my "routine" roast profile above, I get the very first snap starting around the 6-ish minute mark. 1st crack is usually done within the next couple of minutes.
FreshRoast SR500
Baratza Virtuoso Preciso
Gaggia Classic
Chemex & Hario V60 pour-over
 
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