Aillio Tips and Tricks (General Roasting Tips)

Hi All – First post and I apologize but its going to be a long one (Possibly rant too to so be warned). I’ve roasted for about 10 years and recently upgrade from Behmor to Aillio. I’m about 35 pounds in and are struggling to get good results. I would say I had better results with the Behmor and after spending all this money to try and “control” the roast more, I’m very disappointed. I’ve drank plenty of fresh roasted coffee (Blue Bottle, Counter Culture, La Colombe, Stumptown, and local roasters) and my coffee is not even in the same stratosphere as a pro’s. Can anyone comment who uses a pro gas roaster If they can get similar results on the Ailio or will it never be on that level? I’ve read many books, watched youtube videos, read as many forums and posts as I can but can’t seem to get it. Would the mods be willing to create a sticky at the top of the forum that has best practices in it that we can all reference? I’m not sure how it can be maintained but I’m willing to provide a framework below with what I’ve experienced and we can change it along the way. If there are any parameters missing please comment. Thank you for your time and I value everyone’s opinions.

Green Beans

Price of Green Coffee – I tried cheap and expensive green coffee and have not noticed any difference in taste. I would have thought the expensive green coffee would taste better but it appears I am not roasting it correctly so its unfortunate that I am not getting the best value for now out of the small lot coffees
Moisture Content – I don’t have a way to test this. Does anyone do this and do you change your process when this variable is known? Has it made better coffee?
Bean Density – The only thing I’ve tried here is to use a higher charge temp and also start the roast at a higher temp. I don’t know if there are other tips for higher or lower bean density
Country of Origin – I don’t know too much about this. Can we say you can roast South American’s by following certain parameters? What about Africans? I find them hard to roast. Is there generic tips for beans from similar locations?
Weight – The more green bean weight in the roaster, the higher the charge temp and starting power should be
Vendor – I’ve tried 4 vendors and don’t seem to have any favorite. Do people who have a lot of experience only get their beans from one place or they use a bunch of different ones?
Coffee Processing – I’m just now trying to understand how the processing of the bean affects how we should roast it. Washed, Dry/Natural Processed, Honey, Anaerobic.

Aillio Settings

Charge Temp – It appears this can range from about 370 – 420 depending upon the weight of coffee roasting and how dense it is? I know this should be changed for every batch. I’ve tried high charge temp for higher denser beans and lower for more sensitive (African) types.
Fan Speed – I recalibrated the fan speed and it appears it is now blowing higher than before for the first few power levels. I usually use speed 1 to about 3 towards the end. I’ve noticed bean temp might stall when trying 3 or 4 sometimes so I avoid it till the end.
Drum Speed – I’ve seen where people say to lower to about 6 or 7. I’ve looked at people who have roasted a few hundred times and many leave at 10 so not sure if there is any difference here.
Power (Starting Power) – It would seem that if you are using 2 pounds you would start on power 9 but what about 1 pound? I’ve tried 8 and 7 mostly.

Roasting Tips

Soak – I tried this a few times. It seems even Scott Rao is on the fence with this one. I think it improved my coffee slightly. You cut the power for the first minute or 1.5 minutes right before the turning point and let the beans “Soak” in the heat and then go back to whatever power setting you were using.
Test 1st batch to warm up machine – It appears the second roast always turns out better than the first. This seems to occur in all roasters. I think the thought process is that the roaster is fully heated and is maintaining the heat better on subsequent roasts. I’d hate to waste coffee but sometimes I use really old green beans for a test batch
Lower Power towards end of Roast – I have no idea when to lower temp towards the end of roast. Some suggest a certain temperature. Some say lower when it’s about to hit first crack. Not too many true recipes online (At least I don’t see many) that can help with this? I’m just now understanding that beans crack at different temperatures and its hard to predict when first crack is unless you’ve roasted it before. Its also hard to hear first crack but there’s plenty of posts to address that.
Increase Fan towards end of Roast – This is needed to draw smoke away from the beans. It seems you would use a higher number with a larger amount of beans. I’ve never went above 4 but I don’t roast more than 1 lb
Development time percentage - Development Time is a term that refers to the period after onset of first crack until the end of the roast. As per Scott Rao it should be somewhere around 20-25% but can also be 15 – 20 depending on the desired flavor profile and roast degree. I seem to be at around 10-15 for many of my roasts so maybe I will try to extend first crack to see if it improves flavor.
Underdeveloped → grassy and hay like flavors
Overdeveloped → loss of floral and acidity, bitter
Baked –> bread or oat-like, insufficient heat applied at certain parts of roast
RoR – How to control it? What actions are taken when it jumps high? What actions are taken when it jumps low? Should these corrections have been made before and it wouldn’t have jumped? Is there a certain degree/sec we should be watching out for to change the parameters? In many readings it suggests that the RoR should always be descending but then they also say that sometimes it doesn’t follow this and great coffee can be made (Which is confusing).
IBTS vs Standard Probe – I’ve only used IBTS to react to a roast

Can you share your username on Roast.world? then we can take a look at your profiles.

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I found the roasts here:

The roast profiles look very similar to what I would expect in terms of the chart curves and the shape of RoR. Temps for YP are similar to what I see. That said, temps don’t look right for 1C… perhaps 30-35F° low based upon my expected results using IBTS and confirmed by the rise then drop in bean temp RoR that accompanies 1C. Depends on batch size which is missing in most of the profiles but if 453 gm is typical then I would expect event temps (1Cs, 1Ce, etc.) to be fairly close to mine with my usual 550 gm batch- they just aren’t.

That said it makes PH temp suspect… may be way hotter than the profile & PH setting suggests. I don’t see indications that the IBTS is dirty- the temp difference is over 40F° at YP and that’s what I see with a recently cleaned ir sensor on my roaster. Bean temp actually looks about right at Charge… I expect BT at Charge of about 300°F +/- by the 3rd back-to-back roast & PH at 392°F or 401°F.

It would seem a good idea to start a trouble ticket with Aillio.

That said the curves in these profiles look good and I would expect you to be getting some decent taste results… ??

Bruce

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Hey, I’m by no means an expert with the bullet yet so take my observations with a pinch of salt, the bullet does not roast exactly like most of the text books describe as it’s not a large gas roaster, however your first crack mark seems very early in terms of ibts temp I find it’s closer to 400f with 500 gram batch.

you are also riding fan 1 for quite some time which might be burning the exterior creating the defect you are tasting in all the beans, the low fan would make it more of a conducive roasting environment and less of a convection environment, you might want to try a higher fan at like 2 to start then 3 at 330f and use the power to do the rest with a touch of fan towards the end. You may need to adjust pre heat accordingly.

your development time seems a little fast on some of them, you may want to control the temperature towards the end to extend development time especially with anaerobic beans to preserve the sugars but tame the acidity making sure to roast to the middle of the bean, I would experiment a bit with the beans try doing a really long low temp roast, super quick roast, and then a standard roast etc, I’m in this phase still, trying to get my head around the bullet by pushing different extremes and seeing the outcome, so far with my current beans larger batch sizes and slower longer dev times are working well, (1:45 to 2:30 dev time) aiming for 405, 410, 415 etc temp depending on bean and brew method.

Anyway these are my musings take it with a large pinch of salt.

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Coffee roasting takes time (a lot of it) to master and even then there is always something new to learn. So, be patient with it and allow yourself time to learn. I’ve been roasting for 21 years and had a lot of “failed roasts” in terms of not being the best. Just the wide variety of beans from around the world provide ample opportunity for learning how best to roast them. Having the tenacity to even learn how to roast is in your favor. Most people have no interest in roasting and I’ve met many that have no idea how incredibly complex coffee is as a product.

I’ve learned (many times) that a $5 (per Lb) bean can be just as magnificent (or better) than the latest gotta-get Geisha, Kopi Luwak, you name it. Some expensive coffees are really nice and I’ve tried many of them. I would encourage you to do so…once you’ve learned how to roast.

Buy from reputable suppliers who share when a coffee was harvested and when they purchased it. That helps to avoid greens that are already old before you buy them (it happens). When just starting out, you can’t go wrong with Sweet Marias. They are a top-cabin operation that is owned by one of the best in the industry for quality greens.

The Bullet is a magnificent, electric Drum roaster, especially at its price-point. I’ve roasted on Gas and the immediacy of heat is unmatched IMO. However, be careful trying to translate things (like “soak”) done on a Gas-fired roaster to the Bullet. The Bullet is a different animal all together and has to be learned based upon its technology which can be very different than other roasters. My advice would be to avoid playing with too many parameters at once (Fan, Drum speed, etc).

I’m not going to try and analyze your roasts from RoasTime…“Bab” is one of the best and I don’t use RoasTime anyway. When I began roasting, I learned to roast manually without any graphs or data other than smell, sight, sound and taste. The latest technology is very fun to have and I love it. But, learning to roast (manually) can also be a good thing to know. :sunglasses:

You asked about ROR and what to do once the graph results start going against the rules. My advice is to know about ROR, but don’t let it drive you. I’ve had excellent roasts where the ROR result didn’t perfectly follow the “rule of ROR”. Coffee bean varietals also behave quite differently to heat. So, what you do to manage ROR for one bean doesn’t necessarily work the same on a very different varietal. That said, my experience with managing ROR is to get ahead of the problem and manage the roast temps ahead of when the ROR problem surfaces. Once a spike or crash has happened, it is too late to change that from what I’ve witnessed. But, that doesn’t mean the roast is ruined either. :wink:

Above all, take your time, learn to use the Bullet and enjoy the art of roasting. It is like Tom at Sweet Marias once said about “Monsooned Malabar”…you’ll either think it “tastes like sewer water” or “is the elixer of the Gods”. Roasting is like that too. It can drive you crazy or become something that you learn to do well because you stuck with it and patiently learned how it is done.

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Looks like some of your 1C are lower than my experience. And with the IBTS, the 1C(IBTS) temp should be almost the same regardless of the bean batch size. Normally I would expect the 1C to be within the range of 200c to 207c. There are outlier that maybe confuse you as the 1C.

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@Bruce – Thank you so much for your feedback. I charged with 420 degrees for a 1 lb batch for almost every roast as I didn’t want to change too many parameters while I was learning. The last 2 batches I lowered the charge to 370 as this was the charge set on the profile for Royal Coffees crown jewel coffee (The profile I was looking at was a Diedrich roaster). I have to look into the low first crack temp. I would say almost every coffee hit it around 375-390 with some going over 390. Maybe I have to lower the charge and possibly the temp I’m starting with? I’ve tried power 8 and 7 mostly and lowered from there towards approaching first crack. I would say out of 35 batches I maybe liked 3? What I mean by that is 3 countries and not only 3 roasts. For me the Timor, Guatemalan and Columbian were good.

@jacksmith121asdk – Thank you for your feedback as well. You seem to also have observed what Bruce did about the 1st crack temps. It appears I’m too hot in some fashion (Charge and also maybe starting at 8 is too high). The development time is something I’m going to test next. I would say I would drop beans around 1:30 or so after first crack but I’m going to experiment with 2:00-2:30 range to see if it improves flavor.

@papascup Thank you too for your feedback. I am a huge fan of Sweet Marias and used them for probably 6 years or so. Its not that I don’t want to use them but I wanted to try other beans that they weren’t offering so I’ve tried 3 other vendors to see what they are like. It’s funny that you mention Monsoon Malabar as I first tried that from SM a long time ago and I thought it was great. I’m definitely still learning about RoR. Once I can really nail down a great roast, hopefully I can analyze it and realize what I’ve done. I’m not really sure what I’m looking at yet. I get the general idea of what’s happening and why we look at it, but flicks and crashes and why it jumps up or down are hard for me to understand now.

@fred0823 Thank you for your feedback. You are noticing what Bruce and Jack noticed as well. I don’t know why this is happening other than applying too much heat so I have to tone it down and see if I can push that 1C till later in the roast. I’ve just gone back and looked at my Timor that I thought was good and 1C was 10:30 for a 1lb roast (This is a high dense bean though).

Notes:
Lower Charge Temps from 420 to 370-380 for commcommcom1-pound batches
Increase development time to 20-25%
Watch fan settings (Keep to 2 or 3 power level)
Don’t throw in the towel yet!

Sorry that I missed the part about your having roasted for 10 years. My reply would have been a bit different since you already have some experience.

Yes, I also purchase “greens” from more than just Sweet Marias. It is inevitable because no greens Seller will have all of our favorites.

Monsooned Malabar is “Elixer of the Gods” for me. I drink it solo and in several of my blends (especially my India blends). It is a great bean to have in the greens-tool-bag. :sunglasses:

Yeah, I had no ROR data (or graphs) for the majority of my roasting years. When I first started with the Bullet, I thought a lot about what ROR was and what I could do to affect it. I experimented with my temps at least a minute (or more in cases) ahead of when a particular bean would experience a flick/crash. I roast a wide variety of beans, so ROR management that works for a particular bean doesn’t necessarily apply to other bean varietals. I’m interested in ROR, but also realize that I can produce a nice cup using good heat management the old fashioned way. :nerd_face:

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