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.
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.
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.
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