It was twenty years ago today

Nothing to do with Sgt. Pepper, but all to do with home coffee roasting.

My first home roast was on 7th November 2003. I had given up smoking around 3 1/2 months earlier, and had been retrenched for the second time a month earlier so had some time on my hands to take up something new.

My first roast was of a Sumatran Mandheling, 80 grams in a popcorn popper. The roast was too dark because I hadn’t been able to identify the cracks as the beans heat up and make cracking sounds - firstly as the water in the beans heats and expands, and secondly as the coffee oils do likewise. This gives rise to the expressions ‘first crack’ and ‘second crack’ in coffee roasting parlance. As a generalisation all roasts should pass first crack. My ideal roast is somewhere between the completion of first crack and very early second crack depending on the intended brewing method. For plunger/moka pot/Aeropress/Swiss Gold one cup filter anything just after first crack is fine. For espresso machine extraction, anything around the first snaps of second crack (or just before) is where I aim.

My second roast was that same bean the next day. It was more drinkable, but still over-roasted.

Since that time I have completed 1,338 roasts using a range of different roasters (some popcorn poppers, an Imex air roaster, five different heat guns, a Stir Crazy/Turbo Oven concoction, using a saucepan on a barbeque hot plate, and a Behmor coffee roaster). My current roasters are a Bosch heat gun which has seen 165 roasts, and my Behmor roaster at 382 roasts. Those 1,338 roasts have roasted just shy of 325kg of coffee. Average batch size is 243 grams. These days I tend to roast 300 grams for espresso use and 333 or 400 grams for other methods.

I keep brief notes on all of my roasts - bean, date, weight, method, and roast timings if in the Behmor.

Today’s anniversary roast comprised 150 grams Brazil, 75 grams Ethiopian Harrar and 75 grams Tanzanian. This has been my standard espresso blend for around 3 years. The Brazil provides the base, the Ethiopian some floral notes and the Tanzanian (or Kenyan) a deep winey flavour. Coffees for other brewing methods tend to be single origin Central American beans such as Mexican, Nicaraguan, Guatemalan, etc.

It’s an enjoyable and worthwhile hobby and endeavour. It means I am drinking freshly roasted coffee on demand, and if I don’t like the coffee I’m drinking, I take it up with the manager and aim for better next time.