I am far from an expert of Home Roasting, but I do pride myself on being observant about things. The whole idea of Home Roasting is mastering your ability to use time and temperature to roast a coffee that is perfect for YOU! While science gives us many tools allowing for a systematic approach to achieving this, Home Roasters pride themselves on the unscientific method of using sight, sound and smell to do it.
Using a Hot Air Popcorn Popper really impeded my ability to use my senses to roast coffee. The sound was always masked by the machine, and the sight was a bit skewed by the inconsistency of the beans and the dizziness that watching them caused. Let’s face it, relying solely of the variable of smell is can be a bit unreliable, so time was about all you really could rely on with a popcorn machine unless you did some big modifications to the Poppery.
Then came my Gene Café! Time and temperature were instantly under my control and I was left to figure out when and how to use them with nothing else to go on but the experience of a popcorn popper. Now don’t get me wrong, my popcorn machine was the reason why I took the next step and I did learn a lot about the various roasts, but somehow the Gene Café felt like Prime Time to me and when I opened up the box of my new Gene Café for the first time, I felt like I just entered the big league and I had to seriously up my game!
The foolishness of all of this was quickly realized after I began my first day of roasting with my New Gene Cafe. All of this is only as serious as you want to make it, and the Gene Café is a great machine in that it truly allows you to have as much or as little of control as you would like. The Homeroaster.org Forum and Sweet Maria’s Forum give you tons of help right at your fingertips and everyone is ready and willing to help when you ask a question (what would you expect from a group of people all hopped up on caffeine).
Sight, Smell and Sound all converge with the Gene Café. The Sweet Maria’s Bean Roasting Chart is a unbelievable resource that you must have right beside your roaster as a Newbie like me. The colors you see in the Glass Chamber and the toasty and nutty smell that comes out of the Chaff Collector Vent warns you that you are at the verge of the First Crack. The popping of the First Crack may be difficult for some people to hear, but this guy who has been through too many explosions will tell you that listening right outside the Chaff Vent gave me no problem in hearing it. If that were not enough, the Chaff Grate on the Glass Chamber gives you visual signals of Chaff exiting the Chamber as the First Crack commences. The smokey-roasted smell is a warning that the end of the First Crack is near and the Chaff grate being clean gives you a visual signal that the First Crack has ended (Assuming you are using a coffee that has Chaff). From that point on, the Sweet Maria’s Bean Chart guided me home. The nuances of the City, City Plus, Full City, Full City Plus were all there to see through the Glass Chamber, but only time and experience will perfect this. The good news is that the Bean Chart did give me more than enough information to allow me to put my ear in position next to the Chaff Vent as I watched the color of the roast so I could hear the start of the Second Crack in the event I failed to stop it at the Verge of the Second Crack based on color.
So the first day of roasting on my new Gene Café ended with as much excitement as it started. I still have a lot to learn, but the results of all Four Pounds of Coffee I roasted to Full City / Full City Plus were great. I was able to roast my coffee just how we like it and the roast was incredibly even and consistent. We are now left to impatiently wait for the required rest. The control that this roaster gave me was exactly what I was looking for and I could not be happier with the decision I made.
Edited by Army Coffee on 02/11/2012 21:28
Been drinking my wares all day and have tried 3 of the 4
1. Ethiopia, Illubador – Camp Cooperative: Great Fruit Notes!
2. Bolivia Beneficio Buenaventura Lot 45: Light and pleasant
3. Panama (hard bean): Nice Nutty Start with a good finish.
4. Brazil (Natural): TOMORROW MORNING
All the roasts are wonderful and I am thrilled with the results. One of the realities about this coffee roasting is the fact that there are so many countries and coffees that you never really have to have the same coffee ever again. That said, we have our Favorites that I will probably keep going back to, but:
THE COFFEE JOURNEY IS THE REWARD!
If I never have the same coffee again, I am OK with that. We can go through a pound of coffee and say that it was UNREMARKABLE and that is fine with us because we know that are more countries, more regions, more, more, more!