Since we moved in March I have been able to roast in our garage which is an overall much better experience than trying to do it in a kitchen. I have had some really good success with a couple of Costa Rica Helsars from Sweet Maria’s. The one thing I did have to account for, although only slightly, was the change in the ambient temperature. The garage is much hotter (or colder) than the house. This has shown to change my roast times a bit. But, since I tend to roast more on sight and sound than on specific “recipes” it isn’t a huge problem. I continue to use the FreshRoast SR500 and I am definitely looking forward to an “upgrade” to something that can do larger batches.
I have been going with 100g roasts (green) at a time that come out at around 83-85 grams after roasting. I try to do four batches consecutively which gives me about 340g or 3/4lb of roasted coffee. This can usually carry me for about 7-10 days which works out nicely when trying to keep the coffee I drink fresh. The downside that it takes me over an hour to do the four roasts. I enjoy the roasting, of course. But doing four roasts straight inevitably leads to inconsistencies. Even if I roasted all day long and tracked data meticulously I still couldn’t eliminate these inconsistencies. For example, using the roaster 4 straight times without letting it cool off has an impact on each subsequent roast. None are ever the same for me. This is why I have to go off sight and sound.
Do these inconstancies matter?
Let’s say, for instance, MadCap coffee roasts a batch of XYZ coffee this week and ships out their orders. Next week they roast the same XYZ coffee and ship out more orders. Chemically it is highly likely these orders have some minute differences. My question is, can anyone taste the difference? I doubt it. I am sure some of the coffee elite would say they could. MadCap could also argue that their expensive roaster and roasting software eliminates inconsistencies. For the most part, however, the difference would be so negligible that no customers could realistically tell the difference.
Back to my roasts. There is zero doubt that the roasting I do on my little SR500 is inconsistent. There are too many variables to control and the most important, temperature, is the hardest with the SR500. As long as I get my batches to about the same level I can’t tell the difference after combining them. For me, the result is either good or bad. In fact I have yet to have a roast that was just “ok”. I either liked it a lot or I hated it. When I hate it I just use it for my bulletproof coffee.
My conclusion is that unless you totally screw up a batch, inconsistent roasts do not matter. My guess as to why? Starting with good beans in the first place. Most of Sweet Maria’s beans have a recommended roasting range. For example it may be City+ to Full City. Now that I have quite a number of roasts under my belt it is pretty easy for me to hit such a range. The fact I believe in the coffee Sweet Maria’s sells gives me added confidence.