Here in Wisconsin, we got so excited about melting snow and increasing sun… only to be hit with more bleak winter weather this week.
The seasons are shifting, the first flowers are appearing, and we know that the worst of the cold is behind us; but even in the springtime, mornings are often dreary, damp and chilling. Recently, I have fallen in love with our new tea blend – Smoky Grey, a mix of soft and subtle Earl Grey and Lapsang Souchong teas – because it is really warming and invigorating, especially in gloomy weather. We mix up Smoky Grey right here at BCT, and we are eager to share the pleasant cheerfulness of this unique blend with everyone.
Earl Grey tea is typically served with lemon, not milk like all other British teas. But some folks also like it with milk, especially steamed milk like a latte. They often add vanilla and lavender flavors and call this scrumptious beverage a London Fog, an appropriate name because it is a lovely sparkly pick-me-up in the chilly North Atlantic mist. Adding the smoky Lapsang Souchong into the mix amplifies the warming powers of this tea, and imbues even more rich silky body into the cup. In this blend, both the bergamot and the pine smoke flavorings are complimentary and rather subtle, delivering a flavor profile that is very soft yet still leaves a fuzzy-tingly sensation on the palate. It brings a smile with every sip.
And keep your eyes open for more interesting new arrivals and BCT-exclusive blends. I am looking forward to exploring the exciting world of premium teas with all of you!
Cheers, Tyler (BCT “tea trader”)
RECIPE: How to make a London Fog
Perhaps a little smoky flavor in your Earl Grey Latte makes the taste even more reminiscent of London – ha! This charming silky-sparkly beverage will give you a warm cheery moment, a little break in the clouds.
1 Tablespoon Smoky Grey Tea
1/2 cup hot water (212°F)
1/2 cup milk (or almond milk or other milk substitute)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract and/or lavender extract
1-2 tsp honey or sweetener of your choice
Steep tea in water for 3-5 minutes (depending on strength preference)
Mix tea with frothed milk (if you do not have a frother or steamer, warming milk on stove top will also work)
Or try the amazing AeroPress – make a single serving of strong espresso coffee without any fancy equipment! The secret is simple, a combination of a hand-plunger and a thick filter that creates just the right amount of resistance to make a high-pressure extraction. It takes some elbow grease, but less contact time with the grounds produces a cup with the rich body and lower acidity that everyone loves about espresso – definitely very satisfying! – without any expensive machines or dangerous steam.
Kenneth Davids, author of Home Coffee Roasting: Romance and Revival and editor of coffeereview.com says “When used properly, AeroPress produces a better espresso shot than many home machines that cost twenty or thirty times as much.” If you are an espresso lover, you will be very impressed by this fantastic specialty coffee-maker – check out the AeroPress!
Whatever brewing method you prefer, always be sure that all equipment is cleaned thoroughly. After each use, rinse your equipment with hot water and dry it with an absorbent towel. Check that no grounds have been left to collect on any part of the equipment and that there is no build-up of caffeol, coffee oils. Such residues can impart a bitter or rancid flavor to future cups of coffee.
Next you will want to be sure that you have the right grind for the brewing method. Over or under extracting can cause your coffee to taste bitter or flat. Use a much more consistent and effective burr grinder instead of a blade grinder, if possible. We have created a guide so that you can learn about the recommended grind level for your equipment, and adjust your grinder accordingly.
The water in your coffee is very important, second only to the coffee itself! Unpleasant strong odors or tastes like chlorine can ruin a nuanced cup of specialty coffee. Use filtered or bottled water if possible. If tap water is your only option, let it run for a few seconds before filling your coffee pot and use only cold water. To eliminate chlorine odors completely, you may leave tap water in an open pitcher for a few days and chlorine will gradually evaporate out. Do not use distilled water or softened water – naturally-occurring minerals impart subtle flavors in water, and water without them is noticeably dull-tasting and unsatisfying.
Ideal water temperature is between 195-205°F. Get a variable-temperature kettle or just use a thermometer to check your water temperature. Or remember the general rule that water reaches its max boiling point at 212°, so when water begins to boil just take it off the heat and let it stand to cool for a little less than a minute and it should be within the ideal temperature range.
In general, use 1-2 tablespoons of ground coffee for every 6 ounces of water, or 5-10 grams in every 175 milliliters. Please note that using metric weight measurements is always more accurate than old-fashioned volume measurements like tablespoons – but since everyone has different tastes, it seems fine to generalize “a little more than one tablespoon” of grounds for one medium-sized mug of coffee. To make a full pot of coffee in a 10-cup Chemex, we recommend about 10 tablespoons (40-55 g) of fresh grounds into up to 50 ounces (1500 mL) of water.
Always consider your brew method – french press and percolator require less grounds than auto-drip or pour-over – and adjust to suit the specific coffee beans and your personal taste preferences. Whatever your strength preference, for the most consistent results be sure to always weigh your grounds using a digital scale, and keep notes in your Roaster’s Journal. You will have to experiment to find the sweet spot for each unique bean, but with experience you will begin to notice regional tendencies. For example, we often use about 20-30% more grounds when brewing mild Hawaiian coffees. Additionally, many home coffee roasters prefer to use less grounds for high-acid light roasts (like Kenyans) or more grounds for thick-bodied dark roasts (like Indonesians).
The amount of time that the water is in contact with the coffee grounds is another important factor affecting the taste of your coffee. Of course, different brewing methods require different brewing times. In a drip system, the contact time should be approximately 5 minutes, but for a french press it should be limited to just 2-4 minutes. For espresso, coffee grounds are in contact with pressurized steam for only 20-30 seconds, whereas cold brew will usually steep overnight, 12 or more hours. If the taste of your coffee is not optimal, it is possible that you are either over-extracting (brew time too long, will tend to taste bitter) or under-extracting (brew time too short, will tend to taste flat). Experiment with contact time to find the cup that suits your tastes perfectly.
One Last Tip:
NEVER reuse coffee grounds. Once brewed, the desirable coffee flavors have been extracted and only the bitter undesirable stuff remains. But if you like to avoid waste, one great way to utilize depleted coffee grounds is as nutrient-dense and easily decomposed fertilizer. It is very beneficial to potted plants or garden beds; wet grounds may be sprinkled directly on top of soil, or mixed in with other compost.
Does the grind of your coffee really make that much of a difference? Absolutely it does! Every brewing method works differently and requires a different grind level. Over-extraction or under-extraction may lead to a disappointing cup even if the beans themselves are top-notch, so learning about the correct grind level for optimum extraction is very important for coffee connoisseurs.
“Extraction” is the pulling of flavors from coffee beans into water. All sorts of compounds end up in your cup, some dissolving in shorter contact with water and heat, others requiring much longer exposure. To get the best cup, it is necessary to extract the right amounts of the right compounds, and to avoid the bad-tasting ones (even the finest coffees will turn bitter if over-extracted!). Over-extracted coffee tends to be very bitter while under-extracted coffee tends to taste flat. Different extraction methods require different amounts of ground coffee, different amounts of contact time – see our brewing tips here – and especially different grind levels.
When trying new coffees, you may need to experiment with contact time and amount of grounds to find the cup that suits your tastes perfectly, but if you frequently feel that your coffee is “too bitter” or “too weak,” consider adjusting your grind level first. Here are guidelines that will help you decide the best grind level for your brewing method.
Crafting the perfect cup of fresh coffee is easy, convenient, and affordable with home coffee roasters. There are countless methods for roasting green coffee beans, but for those who are seeking an exciting new hobby in home roasting, those embarking on the flavor adventures of tasting different specialty coffees every day, an automatic home roasting machine makes this adventure easy and accessible .
There are two types of roasters: Fluid Bed Roasters such as the FreshRoast SR models are similar to hot-air popcorn poppers, with a glass roasting chamber that makes it easy to watch and stop the cycle when beans reach the desired roast level; Drum Roasters such as the Behmor 1600 Plus and the Gene Café have a larger metal screen drum that rotates and tumbles the beans as they are roasting.
Drum roasters allow larger batches and roast beans more evenly and consistently, and they give more control over the entire process than the simple fluid bed roasters. They are also significantly more expensive, but are a good option for anyone who wants to share or sell a few of their freshly roasted beans (but please note that none of the home roasters are designed for large-scale commercial roasting).
For any type of roaster, the basic steps are similar:
Fill the Roaster:
For best results, always fill roaster with the same measure of green coffee beans (the measure varies from roaster to roaster, it is about 2.5-6 ounces by weight in the FreshRoast and 10-16 ounces in the Gene/Behmor).
With a fluid bed roaster, the more coffee you roast, the hotter it gets. However, too much coffee per batch may cause the roast to become uneven and the roaster to overheat. We recommend always staying within the manufactures guidelines. With a drum roaster, the less coffee you roast, the hotter it gets and the faster the roast time. We recommend weighing your coffee precisely to get consistent results.
Set the Time or Profile:
Knowing how long the beans should be roasted is a matter of practice – different coffees have different requirements, and every machine has its own unique roasting curve. But each machine has a variety of settings – each model has a different approach to controlling the settings, and we recommend reading the appropriate user guide, listed below. For every home roaster, we recommend maintaining a Roasting Notes Journal to ensure consistency.
Watch and Listen:
Green coffee beans gradually turn yellow, then brown, then as the roast progresses they more rapidly darken until they become black. A pleasant smell gradually rises out of the roaster, though it becomes pungent and noticeably burned and smoky if the roast goes too far.
The beans will pop or “crack” twice during the roasting process. For many home roasters, it is easy to judge correct roast level by listening to these cracks. For most beans we generally recommend aiming for a medium roast, which can be anywhere between the “first crack” and the “second crack” – anything before first crack will be underdeveloped, after second crack will be a dark roast and smoky flavors will overpower the unique nuances of special coffees. Read more about the spectrum of Coffee Roast Styles, or if you feel like you still need a little more info about how to judge when a roast is ready, read “Home Coffee Roasting for Beginners.”
All home roasters also have an automatic cooling period. This allows the beans to cool enough to handle, and allows the equipment to cool and prepare for the next batch. After the cooling period, the coffee is finished roasting, but before grinding and brewing, it is best to let it “set-up” for at least 24 hours.
It cannot be overemphasized how important it is to utilize the cool cycle every time. Please remember that all of our models are home roasters, not intended for commercial scale, and it is critical to allow cool down between batches – overheating caused by too many consecutive batches may trigger thermal protection features, which will require the roaster to be reset by the manufacturer and may void the warranty.
More Roaster Use Notes:
All roasters are sensitive to your home voltage, so it helps to use a circuit that is not being used by other appliances at the same time that you are roasting. Fluctuations in voltage may cause roast times to vary, so be sure to watch carefully, especially with a new roaster.
Never leave a home coffee roaster unattended. Think of it as similar to frying bacon – it can and will burn if left unattended.
With Burman Coffee Traders’ huge selection of Premium Green Coffee Beans, it can be challenging to decide which ones are best for your personal tastes and roast preferences, especially for beginning home coffee roasters. We want to make it easy and fun – so in addition to providing detailed roasting and tasting notes for all of our coffees, we also have a bunch of educational articles, and a few specific suggestions for newbies too!
Many home roasters choose coffees based on their favorite regions, or unusual exotic strains, or specific processing methods that create their preferred cup profile. If you are just beginning to embark on your flavor adventures, we recommend that you start by sampling our 3 lb Bundles. Bundles are frequently changing, but always highlighting some of the best beans in our warehouse each season.
Our Popular Bundle will have 3 of our customers’ favorites, the best-selling beans of the season. This bundle will always have coffees with balanced flavor profiles familiar to mainstream coffee lovers – but not boring! – these will be examples of some of the finest premium coffees in the world.
Ready to try something more exotic? The Special Bundle will introduce you to widely varied flavors, some of which may be surprising if you have been drinking stale pre-roasted coffees all your life. Curious about coffees that are spicy, citrusy, floral, nutty? Intrigued to discover notes of honey, melon, blueberry? Yes, please!
If you love dark roasted coffees, the Dark Roast Bundle is a must. We choose a good mix of different coffees from different regions, but you can be confident that all of them will be rich and creamy with earthy, smoky, sweet spices flavor profiles. The coffees in this bundle are always perfect for dark roasts and espresso, but they also have their own unique qualities; we recommend that you try these fresh and exceptional beans just a bit lighter than your usual very dark roast, to maintain some of their distinctive origin flavors.
After exploring some of the bundles, you will begin to understand which flavors and roast profiles appeal to you most, and you may feel ready to select individual coffees. Sometimes the Full Coffee List can be a little intimidating with 60+ varieties, many with unknown regions and unpronounceable names, but never fear! – we have filters that can help you to identify which beans are best for your tastes. The filter tools at the top can sort by the characteristics you are seeking – washed, natural, fruity, dark roast, or continent of origin. If you would like to see all coffees originating from a specific country, we recommend selecting “Shop by Origin” in the Coffee drop-down menu or just doing a Search.
You may also want to check out Green Coffee Beans on SALE – we frequently rotate our sale specials, to encourage our customers to try out some of our newest and most exciting offerings.
Scan down the list to see a short description of each coffee, click “more” then “view product details” or just click on the name of the coffee to read tasting and roasting notes. Tasting and roasting notes are very important – many of our specialty beans may be unique and different than what is typically expected from their region. Sometimes there are also stories about the estates and growers, or more info about the specific cultivar.
And if you are looking for a very particular variety or just want to chat about premium green coffees – call us! We love to talk beans.
Not all specialty premium coffees are alike. There are numerous diverse flavor profiles and each unique lot of beans will have its own distinctive characteristics. These differences are not necessarily good or bad – each will appeal to different preferences, and all together they provide a wondrous variety of taste experiences.
Quite often differences in flavor and aroma are linked to growing regions, where variations in altitude, temperature, sunlight, moisture, soil, and other environmental factors determine the growth of coffee trees and their fruits. Different strains or cultivars are known to present peculiar traits as well, and after harvest, different processing methods may dramatically alter the final cup profile. And, of course, different roast levels bring forth a wide spectrum of tones from bright and fruity to smoky and earthy. Some beans show off their most noteworthy attributes only when light roasted while others reach their peak flavor when dark roasted.
With so many factors to consider, how can we tell which beans are the best? The answer is simple: we taste them!
At Burman Coffee Traders we use the following taste qualities to evaluate and describe the differences among our coffees.
Acidity, commonly called brightness, is the first impression of a cup of coffee – that crisp sensation at the tip of the tongue. It is important to understand that a cup’s brightness is the “perceived acidity” rather than the actual pH; in fact coffee is actually less acidic than most soft drinks.
We perceive pleasantly acidic flavors almost instantly on the tongue’s tip and front corners, and just behind the upper teeth. Trace amounts of various acids found in coffee – Citric, Lactic, Malic, Acetic and about a dozen others – also contribute an array of sparkly, snappy and tart flavors.
Beans grown at higher altitudes and Washed Processed generally have greater perceived acidity than lower altitude or Natural Processed beans from the same region. Particularly in Africa, some regions and specific cultivars are known for producing beans with more acidity.
During roasting, heat causes acids to be formed and consumed, converted into sugars and other flavor compounds. Home coffee roasters can manage roasting time, temperature, and roast profile as methods of controlling acidity, balancing it with body and cultivating flavor notes. Remember these easy rules of thumb: dark roasts have lower acidity than lighter roasts of the same origin, and beans roasted more quickly are brighter than the same beans roasted to the same level slowly.
“Body” is a quality that is so complex that we cannot quite describe it with words, but we know it when we taste it! Take a sip of coffee and ask yourself – how full of flavor does my mouth feel, and for how long? Laboratory testing can quantify components of coffee related to body – levels of viscosity, oils, sugars, dissolved solids such as cellulose, suspended particles, etc. – but sensory evaluation is a matter of perception combined with comparative experience, and qualities of the coffee’s body are among the most important and most nuanced characteristics assessed when coffee cuppers evaluate and score premium beans.
We have found that brewing methods have a huge effect on coffee’s body level and flavor profile. Coffee brewed by French press or cowboy-style shows a more robust flavor profile and significantly fuller body than the same coffee drip-brewed with a paper filter, because the filter traps oils and solids that are part of the body, and fine particles that carry darker flavors.
Processing methods also have a very significant effect on a coffee’s body. Washed Processing removes the sugary fruit pulp completely from coffee beans, producing coffees with light to medium body and very clean, bright flavors. Natural Processing, in contrast, dries beans and fruit together to produce coffees with deeper-toned, more diverse flavors and heavier body.
Roasting methods also affect body. In general, longer roasting times build a coffee’s body, while shorter times accent its acidity. However, this is true only to a point; roasting too long causes a coffee to lose both acidity and body, a fault known as “baked” or “bakey.” Bakey coffees brew a cup that is insipid and lifeless.
Other Important Characteristics Affecting Coffee Taste & Quality
Unique Cultivar Characteristics: In addition to base attributes of body and acidity, a good specialty coffee has a unique personality which imparts distinctive flavors and aromas. These flavors may be bold or subtle and help to further hallmark a particular coffee.
With so many variations in flavor profiles caused by different cultivars and different regions, almost anything is possible! When cuppers describe the nuanced attributes of a premium coffee, they use a wide variety of flavor note descriptors; some may surprise you! Here are just a few of the incredibly diverse flavor notes that may be found in excellent coffees: lemon, orange, grapefruit, pomegranate, cherry, strawberry, blueberry, raisin, prune, grape, pear, apple, peach, melon, jasmine, rose, vanilla, tea, honey, caramel, maple, molasses, chocolate, baker’s cocoa, almond, hazelnut, peanut, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, malty, smoky, earthy, tobacco, whiskey, peapod, olive oil, and so much more!
Seasonal Variations: Like a fine wine, the taste of a coffee can be affected by weather. Coffee is an agricultural product; the qualities of each crop depend on the conditions present in a particular region during a particular growing season. Our job is to discover where the best coffees are being grown at any moment in time, and to select the most exceptional lots from that region.
How BCT Selects the Best Beans for Home Coffee Roasting Customers
Whenever possible we visit our present and prospective coffee growers around the globe to learn first-hand of their methods and their regional characteristics. We also attend coffee industry conferences and events where we have an opportunity to meet and talk with producers and large distributors and do some sampling.
To evaluate new coffees we always acquire samples to test in our facility. The first step is to eliminate the ones that have any negative characteristics. You will never find any bitter or sour or tinny or rubbery coffees here. Then we decide if samples are distinctive enough to stock. Our goal is to provide a broad selection of the finest examples of classic and exotic coffees from all around the world. We often go through many samples of outstanding coffees from different sources just to find the right lot.
We strive to support socially and ecologically responsible growers as much as possible – many of our coffees are Organic, Shade-Grown, Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance certified. We make a special effort to build relationships and support growers who provide fair wages, education, and other uplifting benefits to their workers.
And we supplement our selection with high quality decaffeinated coffees – many of our decaf drinkers have found that freshly home roasted decaf beans produce a cup light years ahead of any they have previously experienced, and they will never go back to stale sad decaf coffee!
Green Coffee Beans are the seeds from the fruits of coffee trees. Coffee beans are green when they are removed from the fruit of the tree, and it is the roasting process that changes them to various shades of brown. There is a wide spectrum of roast styles; the exact shade of brown depends only on the roaster’s preference. In the coffee industry, Green Coffee refers to raw coffee beans or unroasted coffee beans that have been dried and cleaned and are ready for roasting. We carry an extensive collection of green coffee beans – see our selection of premium green coffees here, or read more below.
Arabica (Coffea arabica) – these trees produce a smaller crop of beans, but with more distinct and nuanced aroma and taste. All of our premium coffees come from Arabica trees.
Robusta (Coffea canephora) – heartier and more prolific, each tree provides significantly more beans, making costs of planting, maintaining, and harvesting much less than Arabica coffees. However, in spite of Robusta’s much higher caffeine content, most coffee connoisseurs find that these beans have a mediocre characterless taste.
Most cheap pre-roasted coffees are made from Robusta beans with a blending of Arabica for improved taste and aroma. All premium coffees are grown from Arabica cultivars; in some regions with harsh weather and rampant pests, tougher Arabica-Robusta hybrids are successfully cultivated.
Because Arabicas are considered premium specialty coffees, according to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) standards they are further subdivided into 5 grades, distinguished primarily by the number of “defects” per pound. For example, Grade 1 coffees can have no more than 4 twigs or broken/discolored beans per pound. In general, most all of the beans here at Burman Coffee Traders are Grade 1 Arabica, the very best coffees available. *
* Sometimes we discover an excellent coffee from a region whose crop characteristics make it impossible to meet the Grade 1 standard, even thought it still roasts and cups beautifully. Ethiopian, Yemeni, and Indonesian coffees often look imperfect but taste amazing. Often these beans are a great bargain for exceptional taste and aroma.
Why green coffee?
In addition to greater selection at lower prices, one of the biggest advantages of home coffee roasting is that green coffee beans will keep their quality for a year or more (at room temp, no refrigeration necessary) . So when you find one that you especially like, you can order a larger quantity and keep it for weeks or months, yet always be able to produce the freshest cup for any occasion.
There is a special appeal for those flavor adventurers who are excited by novelty and variety – since we sell Premium Green Coffee Beans By The Pound, you can purchase a wide assortment of specialty coffees from all around the world and taste and compare them all!
More information on Green Coffee, Raw & Unroasted Coffee Beans
– Understanding the Taste Qualities of Good Coffee: How do Burman Coffee Traders evaluate coffee beans from growers all across the world? What are the characteristics we use to judge quality and how do we ensure a wide variety to suit many different tastes?
Great news, tea fans! We just got another special health tea from Japan. Kukicha – “twig tea” – is frequently enjoyed as a health tonic due to its high antioxidants and low caffeine.
Kukicha is quite literally the twigs and stems of the tea plant, mostly byproducts removed from the leaves during processing. But this very mild tea is recommended by those who follow a macrobiotic diet (which stems from “yin and yang” ideas of Chinese Taoism and Japanese Zen Buddhism) as a balancing and restorative elixir, and it is sometimes mixed with fruit juices to provide healthy nutrients to young children.
This Roasted Kukicha is really yummy! The roasting adds more robust and well-rounded flavors, appealing more to Western tastes. It is still a very mild tea, with pale orange liquor and a subtle aroma, easy on the belly, calming and warming rather than stimulating. Flavors tend toward nutty with subdued notes of cedar, canteloupe, jasmine, plus a unique tone that stands out compared to other teas – rich and buttery oats. Kukichas are known for being “creamy” and this roasted variety seems to have even more thick silky body. With longer steeping, a little astringency creeps in, but almost no bitterness (as long as you keep water temps low), and then eventually more vegetal flavors resembling bamboo or pine begin to dominate as body and sweetness improve slightly more.
After taste testing different temps and times, we recommend giving this roasted kukicha a gentle but longer steep to bring out more flavors and enrich the delicate liquor. We liked it best when steeped for about 5 minutes in 170 degree water. At only 3 minutes, this tea will contain some antioxidants and micro-nutrients, but will look and taste very light, similar to our Exquisite Pearls White Tea. At 7 minutes, it will taste much more robust, nutty with a hint of crisp melon floating on top of silky sweet body, but beyond that it begins to take on a more woody vegetal flavor.
Or try steeping this kukicha in traditional Japanese style – 6 grams of tea in 6 ounces of water, steeped for 30-60 seconds. This provides a rich flavor experience quite different than a typical green tea – stand-out flavors include creamy buttery oats and a light but uniquely crisp astringency that tingles the palate and sinuses. It can be re-steeped numerous times to enjoy the full range of flavor profiles.
For new home roasters, we almost always recommend the Fresh Roast SR500, a “fluid bed” roaster which is super easy to use. Fluid bed roasters are very similar in design to the familiar hot-air popcorn poppers – minimal mechanical parts, simply a fan and a heating element – the only significant difference is a smaller (and therefore hotter) roasting chamber. See video of SR500 in action.
The SR500’s glass roasting chamber makes it easy to watch as the roast develops, and then stop the roast at exactly the right moment. These popular roasters are economically priced, will roast a modest amount of beans in a speedy 7-20 minutes, and are very easy to clean and maintain. Simple, safe, and accessible, the SR500 is ideal for new home coffee roasting enthusiasts.
Start with four level scoops of green coffee (about 4.5 ounces by weight).
Remove the chaff collector, add the coffee to the roasting chamber and put the chaff collector back on.
Toggle the heat setting from OFF to LOW. Set the timer for 5 – 9.9 minutes. You may add time at any point by hitting the UP button.
Start the roast with lowest temperature and highest fan speed settings, to lower moisture content and ensure an even roast. After approximately two minutes move the temperature to high. As the roast progresses coffee beans will begin turning over vigorously, especially after first crack; turn the fan speed down as needed, as slower-moving beans will build heat to roast faster and more evenly.
As coffee beans roast they will begin to brown, double in size and shed chaff, emitting a light audible “first crack.” Begin to pay close attention, watching for your desired roast level. For many coffees, we recommend a roast that ends shortly before second crack – beans will appear medium to medium-dark brown and the surface of the beans will begin to turn from dull/flat to a velvety sheen; this is within the range of City Roast – Full City Roast, and is a good place to start for most coffees. When you are happy with the roast level, simply hit the COOL button to complete the cycle.
Be aware that roasting goes much faster as you move into the dark end of the spectrum. “Second crack” occurs when internal bean oils and moisture expand from an exothermic reaction, producing a small hole in the bean and emitting a subtle crackling sound; this is the start of a dark roast. Sometimes second crack is very quiet, but if you see shiny oils on the surface of the beans, you are into the second crack – consider turning off the heat at this time, as beans will very rapidly darken beyond this point. If you see smoke coming from the roaster, you are well into the second crack and at a dark roast; definitely hit the COOL button now.
DO NOT SKIP THE COOL CYCLE! This function not only stops the roast from continuing and cools beans enough that they may be handled, but also it is very important to allow the equipment to cool before beginning the next batch.
After the cool cycle shuts off, remove the chaff collector (be careful – it may be still pretty warm), lift out the roast chamber by its handle and dump out the beans. Let freshly roasted beans sit in a glass or ceramic bowl to allow “set-up” for a day or two, then put them in an air tight container. We like to store the set-up roasted beans in a small canning jar.
The only cleaning necessary is to dump out the chaff from the chaff collector and wipe it out; a small basting brush works perfectly. This model yields about 28 cups per batch.
Freshly roasted beans will be at their peak of flavor only after they have “set-up” for a day or more. This is due to necessary off-gassing of carbon dioxide that balances the acidic tones in the beans. Read our primer about roast styles to learn more.
What if roasts are too dark or too light?
Batch size is critical to the roasting process. In all air roasters, smaller batches roast slower and larger batches roast faster. It may seem counter-intuitive, but hot air flows more freely with fewer beans, meaning that less heat builds up in the chamber. If your roasts are too dark decrease your batch size to increase air flow or hit the COOL button earlier. If your roasts are too light increase your batch size to increase trapped hot air, or increase time and heat settings.
All roasters are sensitive to your home voltage, so it helps to identify a circuit that will not be used by any other appliances while you are roasting. This also means that roasting times may vary slightly from one batch to the next, so be sure to watch carefully, especially with a new roaster.
Keep in mind that these are home roasters not intended for commercial-scale use. It is very important to let them cool down between batches or you may trigger the thermal protection safety features, which require the roaster to be reset by the manufacturer and may void the warranty.
If you want to stop the roast at any time, just hit the COOL button. It is inadvisable to switch the roaster off, as it will be very hot and it will require a cool cycle before handling. We cannot emphasize it enough – the cool cycle is very important to maintaining the longevity and effectiveness of your Fresh Roast SR500.
Never leave any roaster unattended. Think of home coffee roasting as similar to frying bacon – it can and will burn if you walk away from it!
– Understanding the Taste Characteristics of Good Coffee: How do Burman Coffee Traders evaluate coffee beans from growers all across the world? What are the characteristics we use to judge quality and how do we ensure a wide variety to suit many different tastes?