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On Winning the 3rd HB Homeroasting Competition

July 14, 2012

2012 marks the third Annual HB Homeroasting Competition, and the second year in a row I’ve won with my entry!

I’ve detailed the roast in the discussion thread, and just duplicating it here for posterity. 

My two entries this year were: 

closed brew- 100% Guatemala AHCP. I tried blending various amounts of the other two beans I purchased, but couldn’t improve on straight Guatemala. The Rwanda added some floral notes but killed the finish for me, and the PNG just seemed to dilute the flavor. So straight Guat it is. Lesson: don’t mess with a good thing.

open brew- 100% Kenya Murang’a AA Kangunu 2010. I froze two 8+ oz jars of this last year, roasted one to see how it faired a few weeks ago, and roasted and submitted the very last of it for the competition. The mouthfeel alone on this coffee is divine, like glycerine.

And my brain dump from my 1st place in closed brew and 7th place in open brew entries: 

The 7th place open brew entry did better than I expected. I made a series of mistakes and just didn’t have the will to change course. The first of these mistakes was believing I could stop beans from aging by using an ordinary freezer (subject to defrost cycles) and minimal air contact. This was the oldest/longest attempt at doing so, and it was a clear failure. The bean as submitted was a shadow of its former self when fresh. The second mistake was botching the first and only trial run I could do, having only 1lb to work with. I thought I had premeasured the batch sizes prior to freezing, but they were slightly heavier to displace more air in the containers. This extended the roast, and I assumed its deficiencies were due to a roast 2 minutes longer than ideal. And the nail in the coffin was submitting the entry essentially untasted. Once I ‘cupped’ the entry, ~8 hours after mailing the entry, I knew it wasn’t special. Honestly I’m a bit relieved to see the placement and comments because it confirms my palate. So there’s that. :) 

The 1st place closed brew entry followed essentially the same roast profile as my last year’s winning entries, and the same profile I use for pretty much everything: ~20F/min to start 1st crack, slow down to ~5F/min as quickly as possible after 1st crack begins (for my Hottop, this mean cutting the heat in ADVANCE of reaching 1c), and maintain that rate until the desired roast is obtained, a minimum of 3 minutes and typically not more than 4 minutes. 

Here are my roast notes, translation, and the profile. (Thanks again JimG for the excellent TC4 project!)

“7.9oz drop in 119.5 volts, 225bt, 290et. 1c 8:30/332bt/383et. eject 12:15/350bt/382et.”

7.9oz: 8 oz batches are possible on the Hottop without scorching, but I needed to add extra drum fins to get there. This isn’t just about laziness and wanting to roast the biggest batch size possible. The extra bean mass makes for a more predictable temperature rate of chance. Since I roast manually (no PID), this is important.

119.5 volts: I don’t bother with a Variac, instead I adjust the batch sizes based on the voltage the Kill-a-Watt reports. Typically I roast in the 7.5-8.0oz range depending on what the grid is giving me at the time.

225bt/290et: yes, my temperatures are off, but they’re consistent. Use my first crack start time to correlate these to your temps. 

eject 12:15/350bt/382et: as you can see this was 3:45 minutes post start of 1c, yet only an 18F gain in Bean Temp, and a slight dip in Environmental Temp. 

That’s about it. Hope it helps…



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  1. Sweet. Coffee roasting by an engineer. It’s the only way to fly. Nice job Rama!

  2. Congrats! What do “open” and “closed” mean in this context – drip brew and espresso?

    • There were two contests, a brew and espresso. I only roast for brew, so thats what I participate in.
      For the “open” contest, participants could submit any bean/blend of their choosing.
      For the “closed” contest, there were 7 pre selected coffees to choose from for a single origin or blend submission.

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