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Observations from my first few roasts
I'm still learning to use the Gene Cafe, and one of the challenges is that I just can't hear the cracks. If I get my ear right down to the chaff collector's outlet, I'll hear an occasional snap but that's it.

As a result, I'm going by appearance pretty much exclusively after following some suggested profiles from this forum. I noted an interesting (to me) difference in the last two batches. Both were 4 oz. of SM's Brazil Fazenda do Sertal Catual.

1st batch: preheat to 350, add beans and set to 482 until 1st crack, then lower to 451 until the color looks right. I prefer FC to FC+ roasts, and this bean is supposed to be good for that. I really can't say for sure that I heard the 1st crack on this one, but the resulting brew is very good so far, and it's only sat for 1.5 days.

2nd batch: preheat to 350, add beans and let it get back to 350 and sit there during the first two minutes. Not much time, but baby steps... Then I set it to 482 until 1st crack (heard it this time, but who knows if it was really the start) and then down to 451 til the color was the same as the first batch.

Both batches were pulled immediately and cooled outside by stirring in a aluminum colander. As far as I can tell 2nd crack never started, but the flat side of the beans are convex now, and there are some cracks across the bean at the ends. No smoke either.

What's interesting is that both batches are identical in color, the after roast weight is 3 3/8 oz for both of them, but the second batch is noticeably larger in volume than the first. small difference, but the 1st batch barely fits in a jelly jar and the second batch doesn't. The lid won't even engage the threads.

This is a natural process bean, and I'm not sure if it needs a drying phase at the beginning of the roast, so that's why I tried the small change. Does it seem likely to anyone else that this could make that much of a difference?

Also, what kind of changes should I make to try and get the most out of the bean? where the heck do I start? LOL

I like dark roasts with a lot of body, but without going so far as french roast or starbucks style burning. so that's what I'm going for. I brew using a Moka Pot (love those things!).
Mike, when I roast SM beans I pay careful attention to Toms notes. And you are on the right track. Tom says about Brazil Fazenda: "There is a classic nutty Brazil roast tone (hazelnut, macadamia) turning more toward cocoa powder in the darker levels, at Full City roast. City+ to Full City+".

I don't have Fazenda but do have some of his #24 (choc) blend El Competitor
that I roast primarily because Judy likes slightly choc oriented taste... and he recommends Full City to Vienna. Don't like Vienna either so I take it to the edge.....Here is a recent roast profile:
62 degrees ambient temp, 270grams......This was second roast that day so drum already nice and hot. Started at 350 and used cardboard baffle to cover front of drum....Took to 5:00 at this temp and then increased to 469.
Looking back at notes: 6:00=383, 7:00= 404, 8:00=419, 9:00=428, 10:00=437, 11:00=447
first hint of Outlying Crack=12:10 Mid Full Crack=12:30 At 13:00= Down to 449.....
Off at 16:05 and a perfect FC+ as second crack and smoke had just started after had hit cool.

Incidentally cardboard baffle idea started a few years back when I was having trouble hearing cracks and asked same question you just posed. Didn't work for me to hear cracks but I use it on back deck when its cool outside. Seems to help Gene heat stability and keeps really cool ambient air away from drum. In Jan I'll be using a huge espresso machine box with flaps cut and hole cut in top for metal exhaust attached to chaff collector.
Like John says, "it's all fun!"
Good luck, hope this helps a tiny bit.... and H-R keeps me sane in this mad, mad world!
Yes, I'm relying on those notes as well! I don't know what I was asking in my post really. I remembered a thread here about bean volume and was surprised to see an example of it on my second roast.

I tried another profile I made up from what I've read; preheat to 350, add beans and set to 300 for 5 minutes, turn to 482 till 1st crack, and down to 430 until the color looked right. Resulting volume was more like the first time I roasted these beans. I'll find out tomorrow how it did.

Still have a heck of a time hearing the cracks. I found a sound amplifier for my phone that has a filter to I can tune out the machine noise. It helped, but I'm still struggling. Luckily, going by color is getting me fairly consistent results (so far).
Thank you MikeWI, for starting this thread, and for your notes and questions. I feel your pain/confusion/challenge/joy, lol. You are not alone! :-)

I also feel like I've been cheating this group, stealing everyone's notes and not offering a darn thing in return. Thank you to all who have posted so many tips and best practices and ideas about playing around and tweaking things. Everything, every tidbit has been very helpful. And I continue to figure out what I'm doing. So here we go...

Been roasting on my GC since Dec 5. My first roast was to let 'er rip, set it at 482 and go, listen for SC, then hit cool. Vienna roast ruined a really nice Nicaraguan. but I learned so much. Then I remembered I'm a data person, analytical, time it all, write it down, measure it. I've even been using 2 timers - the GC and a second one I hit when FC starts. Just easier I guess, since I can't subtract backward quickly sometimes. (And did I remember to reset the GC timer when I restarted with the beans? And if I did, what did I set it to? 20 or 30?) But in the end, my gut takes over and I find myself sniffing and looking at beans and smoke to know when to end my roast. yes, that's the ticket. I can hear FC most of the time....although the first pop can be really faint. Sometimes I miss it and question myself - "did I hear it? maybe. but are you sure? well maybe it was just a bean slamming into the, that really sounded like a pop" " only to hear another pop about then, and then I have to subtract 8-10 secs from the GC which is showing something like 18.7!! lol, do that fast. or write it down. urgh, where's my pen? hardy har har. I know I am not alone. please.

And coming from the iRoast 2 I am surprised and thrilled I'm not deaf, couldn't hear a thing with that device.

No matter what, I just do not appreciate C+ roast tastes. I adore FC and FC+, not vienna. Espresso is only when I'm out and about and want a quickie jolt. I shoot it like a tequila, lol, so don't (yet) appreciate that brewing method. Maybe one day I'll fork out the $ for a machine for that. I do have a Moka. And know how to use it when company comes over. :-) Maybe you fine roasters and brewers will educate me on the finer points of espresso (more likely).

I will share my process that seems to be working. Until next week, lol. Taste and bean look are roasted to my preferred style, most of the time. I want to say thank you to Eddie Dove + army guy + john + others I do not remember that led me down this path:

I have no Variac or other device to measure or regulate voltage (I know)
from cold to 482 = 5:45 in my garage at ambient 70F (Dec 5)

warm empty chamber to 350 for 3 mins
add beans - that's a trick
300 for 5 mins
ramp to 482 till FC
FC+35 secs go to 456F...I know I can wiggle with temps here and go lower, just don't know why and have not done that yet
EOR is FC start +5 -ish depending on smoke and bean, avoiding full-on SC as much as possible, hoping for first pop of SC during dump and cool
sometimes I'm late and first pop of SC happens and then I estop and dump

I did also try this for a few roasts:
warm empty chamber to 350 for 3 mins
add beans
300 for 5 mins
446 for 4:00
465 for 1:30
482 till FC, lower to 456 at FC +30 to 35 secs
but I'm not sure this does much different, as my GC takes about the same time to ramp to 482

I know I have a lot to learn about temp ramping and FC -> SC timing affect bean flavors, and am thankful I have the GC to learn on.

I've learned that early onset of SC coincides with puffs of smoke from the chaff chimney. I can time my EOR with that. I think I can get FC from that indicator. I have a hard time visually seeing FC on the bean during roast. Even after all these years. (I know)

I've roasted multiple origins - Ethiopia, Java, Colombia, kenya, Sumatra, Nicaragua, Rwanda, El Salvador, Guatamalan, Brazil.

Here's what I'd like to know. Time from onset of FC to start of SC is consistent at 4:15 - 5:15. Does not matter how I got to 482 after warmup. How will the flavors change if I find a way to shorten the time FC start to SC? How will I shorten this time?

My worst roast mixed with some of my better roasts make a pretty darn good cupa and certainly better than anything else you get somewhere else.

Thank you for giving me a place to rant and write and solicit feedback from those who want to help. My hope is one day to help someone else.

BBQ grill
Gene Cafe ca. 2012 (red one!) with lots of replacement parts, Encore Baratza, Clever Dripper, Aeropress, Melitta dripper, Yama siphon, French press
Hi Michele! I see you posted this in 2013 and do not see a reply to your post. I read your whole post and found it entertaining and informative...but also wanted answers to your questions. LOL
I have similar questions and wondered if you ever received an answer.
I am new roasting with a Gene Cafe and am trying to figure out best way to reach a good Full City +roast.
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