I spent the last roasting session manually tracking my bean temp, and then calculating ROR. From there, I hand drew the curves and cupped all the batches to search for correlations. Some of the roasts were same drop temp, different shapes. Some of them were different drop temp, same shape. And some were….well… experimental. I’d like to say that I totally knew what I was doing when I roasted them, but ill confess I didn’t. I mean… sure… general predictions from my time spent in QC/looking at roast curves. But it’s very different when you are the one trying o control that roaster. Especially when it’s completely manual.
When I cupped the coffees, I was actually quite surprised how different they all were. How one little adjustment to shape, first crack, development, and end temp affect so much. As much as I would like to say I suddenly was some genius who understood everything about roasting…I’m afraid not. In some ways I was more confused than ever, just hunting for any sort of correlation. But then. on the other hand, I knew which curves definitely didn’t work and why. Which meant at least I’d learned something.
Jamie told me to pick three of the curves I liked the most, and try to replicate it. I was busy trying to redesign everything and break everything down in my head, but he assured me that I am a few steps ahead of myself and need to ‘just try and follow my own curve’. He said ‘you will see what I mean’. And of course I thought ‘well I mean I’m just gonna do what I did last time’. HA!
I got in front of that roaster, and literally laughed out loud when I saw that my first three roast had gone all wrong. I suddenly got what he meant. It all suddenly clicked. And I began analysing where my gas and airflow changes were and where they were hitting, and how that was affecting the whole progression. I started trying to figure out what temperature was crucial for each gas change in order to ensure consistency. And by roast six…I had a plan!
That’s where the fun began. Jamie gave me some fresh crop (id been practising on old coffee) Brazil and Colombia and told me to do three different roasts of each. I decided I’d use the same drop temp, first crack point, and end temp. I decided I would use the development time as the variable I would adjust. And above all…I decided I would FOLLOW THE BLOODY CURVE.