"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2023 - All rights reserved
E-mail me at EspressoMyEspresso@gmail.com
Lowering Rate of Rise (in importance)
Thursday, January 26, 2023
all text and photos and other content, unless otherwise noted, ©2023 - All rights reserved
| I had just finished roast number sixty-one on my Santoker R500. If you have not read my previous blog chapter here, it is a gas roaster capable of around 700 to 750 gram roasts. I can accomplish a good 700 gram roast in about eleven minutes to a solid second crack. That sixty-one roasts makes an average of about 2.8 roasts per month, although all were not for personal consumption.
Gas roasting compared to roasting on an electric, resistance-style heating element roaster is a bit like the difference between Little League and stepping up to the plate in the majors. Itr was a real eyeopener when I started out. In a quality gas roaster the amount and distribution of thermal energy as well as control of that heat makes roasting a lot more.. well, interesting. I personally like the greater response to the user's manipulations of the controls. But at times it can feel like it responds too fast, partcularaly when you begin using gas, like the first sixty roasts or so.
Through that 60th roast I had monitored and graphed the bean temperature rate of rise (BT RoR) on every roast I had done. I persevered but I never got a good, steady RoR decline as I had heard was desirable, and the 'flick' [as I understand it, and fairly sure I am likely using that term incorrectly] was always fairly uncontrolled. You have likely seen it (whatever it is called)- the sudden drop in BT RoR, then an equal and quick rise shortly thereafter. On the graph it looks like an inverted speed bump along the way. On that 60th roast I decided to give up on graphing BT RoR for my next roast. No matter what I did I never quite got the hang of using RoR to any great success. If anything, trying to monitor RoR seemed to be more of a distraction than a useful guideline. I felt that since I have hit my thumb on every nail I drive on this job, it is time for me to pick up the screwdriver.
As you likely know, sixty roasts is just a part of my roasting experience. I have roasted on Hottop roasters for about fifteen previous years (2003 through 2018) and used every model they have ever produced. A estimate conservatively at around one thousand roasts for personal use on Hottops. Add numerous gift of coffees, testing, and more beyond my personal use. Twenty-two years of home coffee roasting is a lot of beans- I will leave that calculation to you. While the number of kilos of coffee roasted is not all that impressive, the number of roasts represents a lot of experience and learning. I wanted to try to trust myself.
I had made that decision, and just after that 60th Santoker roast was completed is when the topic Why RoR is a bad reference for ... [webinar] appeared on Home-Barista.com. How interesting was the timing of the post of this topic at that moment. Regardless as to what they stated on “Seinfeld,” there are big coincidences. I started watching the webinar video and about five minutes in I felt like I was an average sixth-grade student at a graduate college calculus lecture. I turned it off, head swimming, but was still committed to not graphing BT RoR for my next roast.
So I left the little RoR data window in place in Artisan as a mere reference but removed the RoR tracking on the graph and began roast number sixty-one. It was a cold and windy day, and even being sheltered just inside the large opening of my garage, the Santoker's warm up took longer then usual. The high temperature in my unheated garage had been in upper 40s. I had anticipated that, but still, it was a bit chilly just standing there.
Around the beginning of 1st (or maybe a bit after) I glanced at the RoR value occasionally just to give me an idea as to where the roast was headed. I tried to keep it in the area of around 16 to 22 or so, but purposely used the graphed BT primarily. I even mostly ignored the ET temp graph line as well. My concentration was mainly focused on the bean temperature graph alone.
It appears that based on event timing, separation of 1st and 2nd, color and aroma, I completed one of the the best roasts I have had on the Santoker. Not that any previous roasts have been bad. They have all been very drinkable. Over the next week or so as I begin brewing from this roast I will know for sure, but this morning the extractions showed promise.
But if for no other reason, the elimination of the RoR from the real-time graph made the roast process more relaxed and satisfying for me than any previous one from this roaster. Maybe it was just applying my experience which increased the 'Zen' of the roasting experience by not creating the distraction and tension of RoR. Just turning off one channel of 'brain noise' certainly made me relax. But I like my 'screwdriver' approach a lot more than hitting my roasting thumb over and over to no avail.
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