Lots of Adjustments or Let It Be?

Hi All,

Got a few roasts under my belt at this point, have been learning a bit, watching the standard Hoos, Rao, Munchow, stuff. Broadly, Munchow seems to advocate for less adjustments both as a way to minimize variables, but also because scientifically, he seems to think adjusting down drum speed, fan, etc doesnt have an impact on flavor. In terms of our community, there also seems to be either limited adjustments or lots of micro adjustments. I’m wondering if there are any dicernable differences between two roasts that get to FC at the same time, are roasted to the same end temp, etc, but one has lots of adjustments to power, fan , and drum, and one has maybe just power adjustments. Would they taste the same?


Not a scientific response here, but I tend to make fewer adjustments at the recommendation of Munchow. It’s fairly easy to nail times in each stage with just a few adjustments through the roast (3-4 power/fan changes each), and certainly less tiring than trying to chase a curve. Always remember that you don’t taste the curve.

I totally agree. I was looking at a curve recently from a user that went into to scientific detail about thermodynamics and the impact of drum speed, fan speed, etc. It was convincing but was in start contrast to Munchows ethos around Color and Time being the most important factors. I think for me, less variables offer more control, but I dont know how much variable shifts show up in taste.

It is always important to differentiate between what you can taste and what you think you can taste.

For the very subtle differences people seem to be chasing with all of this micromanaging of roast speed, unless you are doing odd man out blind testing, you are only ascertainIng what you think you’re tasting and not what you’re actually tasting. Irrespective of whether you’re a newbie or the most experienced and well trained coffee taster with taste buds of pure platinum, your expectations and your ideas about coffee roasting and how you feel today and what you had for breakfast are influencing your perceptions more than the actual taste of the coffee.

“We have met the enemy and he is us!”

There is a reason that sensory research ALWAYS uses blind testing! And odd man out testing - two cups prepared identically and one cup with whatever single variable you are testing for changed - is how you discern what differences you can actually perceive. If you can’t consistently pick the odd cup out, then you aren’t actually tasting it.

The reality of this is that it is difficult for the home roaster to set up the kind of trials that will yield solid, repeatable results. Perhaps for the commercial roaster, this trouble is worth going to, or maybe not. I suspect that your customers are not going to be able to discern these subtleties. But staging community tasting trials using the proper blind (or even double blind), and odd man out protocols, might be a great marketing ploy!

Meanwhile, spend less time worrying about micromanaging your roasts and more time enjoying good coffee!


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I’d agree with @gfh65wi because the average person won’t be able to tell the difference unless it is a roast level they just don’t like (e.g. light vs. dark - some people just don’t like light roast). I’ve not taken formal coffee cupping but I have taken formal wine tasting courses (one of which if I stayed with the program I could have gotten the WSET certificate if I passed the exam). Wine tasting is always blind in order to eliminate the bias of knowing the label, producer and the grape varietal(s).