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Home Coffee Roasters - How do you track roasts?

Home Coffee Roasters - How do you track roasts?

  • What are you talking about? - I just roast by sight, sound, and smell

  • Let my roaster do it - Once I get my roaster dialed in I just repeat it

  • Pen and Paper - I take notes of how I roasted last time and tweak from there

  • Software - Use external program to track the roast profile, time to 1st Crack, temperatures, etc.

  • Other

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There are a number of methods for home roasting, but I was curious how folks tracked their progress in order to obtain consistent, repeatable results. For example, say you have 5 lbs of specialty coffee and you decide to roast 1/2 lb to full city with a certain profile. The roast came out good, but you want to try it again with a different profile, or a different level of roast to see how that tastes. Where doing some kind of logging can help you "dial in" the roast to match your personal tastes.

Part of the motivation behind this question was to also ask whether anyone used the BehmorThing software to track their roasts. Though it was designed to work with the Behmor roaster, I believe most of its capabilities are generic. I installed this software when I first got my Behmor, but did not really use it.

When I first started, I tracked what I did with pen and paper, keeping a few notes in a notebook until I figured out what I was doing, at which point I intended to use the software. But now I can see just roasting by one's senses and not even worrying about that. Though tracking things carefully should help even the causal roaster to find the sweet spot. I was curious how others approached this, regardless of their specific roaster or roasting method.
I tried pen & paper. I tried software. Now I just do it by sight, sound and smell.

Same here. I used to keep track of my blends, roast times, etc.. Now I just grab a bunch of beans, roast them by sight and sound, and enjoy. I do love my Behmor though. Much easier than the GG/SC I used for 4 years.
Sight, sound, smell. I don't jack around too much with different roasts. City+ to full city is pretty much my standard roast for everything.
As a home roaster, I would do it by intuition. I'd weigh the batches before and after to check loss percentage, but the roasting profile itself was by the seat of the pants by intuition. Every coffee was different, and how the roast was progressing would give me clues as to how to tweak the profile.

These days, I document every single batch with pen and pad of paper (I have a few legal pads full, and a few empty ones on standby). Every batch is numbered.

I'd love to use a program, but I could see it leading to my being lazy.
I should add that part of my motivation for wanting to track profiles stems from how the Behmor 1600 roaster works. Its 5 profiles (heating curves) are shaped based on the amount of coffee selected for the roasting cycle. I am not entirely sure if the profiles are absolutely fixed in time, or whether the heat output also varies based on the temperature inside the roaster, but I think the profile is only based on time. (If anyone knows better please jump in and correct.)

So my plan was to roast the first batch of a new coffee on the first profile:

and measure where 1st and 2nd crack happen. Where the amount of coffee being roasted could then be adjusted to move 1st and 2nd crack up or down the time curve. All in an effort to understand the amount of coffee to roast to match one of the other profiles such as the second one:

where there is a dip in the heat output in between 1st and 2nd crack in order to develop better flavors.

I ruined one roast on second profile before I knew what I was doing, so I mainly use the first profile. I have been happy enough with the quality of the roasts, but wonder what I am missing by not mapping out the roasts and trying different beans on different profiles. I will experiment more in the year ahead.
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