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New to Roasting. Fresh Roast plus 8 question
Hi everybody, I have been lurking around here for a while and just got a Fresh Roast plus 8 for Christmas. I have roasted about 8 batches of beans and had a question. I have noticed that most of my roasts, especially the medium roasts (stopped just after the end of 1st crack) are really lacking in the finish. I'm not sure what the flavor terminology is, body maybe? bass notes maybe? It is a very bright, origin heavy flavor up front but lacking the full flavor that I am used to drinking coffee from my local roaster. It is almost as if half of the flavor is missing, the second half. aftertaste? I don't know. I hope that makes sense to someone out there as I am not fully acquainted with the flavor descriptions.
Is this what I can expect from my Fresh roast plus 8? (not the new model) Or am I doing something wrong? My roasts are ranging from just after first crack (city) up to 2nd crack in full swing for 20 seconds or so (FC+ to Vienna).
If it helps in any way, my beans are: Ethiopia Yrg FTO, Columbia Popayan Supremo, Bali Blue Moon, and India MYsore Nuggets Extra Bold.
Thanks for any insight,
John Despres
Hi, Andrew.

Welcome! Great first post. There could be a couple things going on. The first could be two different roasters - your local roaster may be using a convection drum roaster as opposed to an air roaster as in the FR8. Air roasted coffee tends to be a bit brighter.

Secondly, how long are you resting your coffee after roasting? More resting time brings out greater body (that sort of "thickness" you can feel rather than taste) and more bass notes, chocolates, tobacco and so on.

I use an FR8 as well as my Gene Cafe, but it's been a while. I don't know how much coffee you have in your stash, but since the FR8 roasts small volumes, maybe you can do 3 or 4 batches of the same bean and brew them over several days, making notes as you go. You'll taste the flavors change as time passes. But I suggest you wit about 4 day before you start tasting. Try to roast the batches as similarly as possible.

Your City roast batches will be very bright, acidic (tangy, citrusy) coffee with fewer bass notes.

How fast are you reaching 1st? There's a way to slow the roaster down if you like. I'll post the URL if you're interested in tinkering.

You're off on the right foot here, Andrew. Keep the questions coming and someone will chime in.
Respect the bean.
John Despres
Fresh Roast 8, Gene Cafe, JYTT 1k, Quest M3, Mazzer Mini, Technivorm, various size presses and many more brewers.
Hey John, thanks for the info. My Local roaster is using a drum roaster for sure ( Craig at GR Coffee Roasters). I don't expect to get the same results of course especially right off the bat.
This mornings Ethiopian had a little better body after 4 days rest. Still quite bright. It was roasted for 6:25 total, not including cool down, 1st came at 3:20 and ended at 4:45. second came at 6:03 and I ended the roast at 6:25. not sure how accurate these times are. I can easily hear first crack so I am noting the time at the very first pop. A little harder to hear second so it may have started before I noted the time.
1st crack in my roaster is coming anywhere from 3:20 (ethiopian) to 3:45 (Bali Blue Moon) with the other coffees coming in between. I have seen the instructions o slow the fan down but not sure if i rally need to or not. We'll see I guess.
Next time I get a chance to roast, I'll go ahead and roast a few batches the same and try to find a good resting time over a few days. I am having to time my roasts for the mornings when my wife is at work as she is not fond of the smell. I'm in the basement roasting with the door closed and the window open between roasts but man, it is a lingering aroma! Me and the kids like it though!

John Despres
Of course, Craig at GR Roasters with the 8 pound USRC... He does a very nice job and I enjoy hanging with him and discussing the roasting and brew processes. His shop is in the same building as my studio.

Your times seem pretty much right on for a FR8 and it does make very good coffee, but stretching a bit is always a good thing. Fast roasts like that tend to roast the outside of the bean more than the inside. Your tasting experience my be related to a Full City exterior and maybe a City roast inside. Break open one of your bean and see if the color is the same all the way through. Also, next time you grind, lay a few whole beans on the ground coffee and see if the color is the same.

Have fun!

Respect the bean.
John Despres
Fresh Roast 8, Gene Cafe, JYTT 1k, Quest M3, Mazzer Mini, Technivorm, various size presses and many more brewers.
Wow! Actually double WOW!

"1st crack in my roaster is coming anywhere from 3:20 (ethiopian) to 3:45 (Bali Blue Moon"!!!!

Man that is superfast! Can't imagine those space age speeds during the roasting process. I roasted Bali Blue Moon in my Gene Cafe last nite and first C came at a leisurely 13.02. Started out for first five minutes by only letting temp rise to 300 for first five minutes. I HAD temp lowered to 451 at first C and this allowed stretching out til 16:30 before hitting Cool. Wanted to stay away from 2nd C.
Last batch I did like this taste was awsome. The reason? John Despres' advice. Streeeeeeeetch the crack and hit cool at verge of second crack.

If I was roasting with FR8 what would I do? Talk frquently to John Despes and take careful notes on how to streeeeetch the process......clearly those beans are not roasting evenly inside.
He is definitely a GC expert and since he also operated an FR 8 that means he is quite accomplished with that machine.

Thanks again John for all your advice on GC.
And John FYI, roasting at 9PM in the dark last night, standing outside in the snow with an ear to the exhaust of the GC, had to peck on the window as signal for Judy to lower the temp at first crack. Am very serious about streeeeeeetching! Ha ha
I think stretching the time to 1st crack will help considerably. I am roasting on the FR8's predecessor, the FR Plus. Right about the time I joined this group, I realized that I was not doing my beans justice. A lot of shallow and grassy or burned tastes. First, I felt I needed bean temperature. I drilled a small hole in the top of the chaff collector, and stuck a thermometer down there (0-550 deg.) I set up a stop watch to keep track of the time, and I experimented, by manually controlling the heater on and off, twisting the timer to cool for 2 sec, back to heat for 6 sec, watching the thermometer. I was able to get 1st crack out beyond 8 minutes, and then control where I wanted to stop, based on the thermometer, the time, and a bit of visual inspection. Way too hands on, but I proved one thing - it mattered. Three days rest, and I had "real" coffee, equal to or better than the best I had ever smelled/tasted.

Way out of warranty, I opened up the FR+ and was able to split the fan and the heater. I put the fan on a Radio Shack transformer front ended by a standard dimmer, and the heater on a switch. I measure my voltage with a Kill-o-watt (P3 International), because different voltage will cause the heater to vary in intensity. I can now roast to any profile by speeding up or slowing down the fan, watching the thermometer. When I can afford a bigger batch size roaster, I can always use this as my sample roaster set-up. YMMV, but that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it! :)

Edited by jsfarq on 01/06/2010 12:39 PM
hi again and thanks for all the input. I cut into a few beans and do have a uniform roast all the way through. Haven't ground any up and compared color to a whole bean yet though. I'm all for slowing down the roast if needed but i'm not much of a technical type to do all the mods you have done jsfarq. Gene, I do plan on picking johns brain as much as I can as well as everybody else here. I am very new with only about 8 roasts under my belt so I have the time and willingness to learn. I have had my eye on the Gene Cafe roaster since my interest began in home roasting and will most likely move to one in the near future. I wanted to make sure that this would be something I thought I would stick with so I went with the less expensive avenue to get into it. So far, the strange joy I get from watching those little beans tumble and turn and change and smell, tells me this could be a new great hobby for me for a long time. I'll just keep at it, and soak up all of the knowledge.
On a side note, today when I popped open the jar with the Bali Blue Moon roasted Jan 2, it smelled like cocoa. nice!
I use an iRoast2 and I would emphasize John's comment about letting the beans rest for several days, maybe a week, before grinding. You might also roast several batches in one day and leave them differing lengths of time to see what difference maturing them makes. Experiment and you'll learn a lot!
I love home roast!

Capresso Infinity
CCD, French press, Aeropress, TechniVorm
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