Today we have a special guest post from celebrated industry expert, Rocky Rhodes. We are fortunate to have him as a partner in our roaster education efforts at Diedrich. I hope you enjoy this insight from Rocky on his best advice for coffee roasting.




I have been asked several times, “What is the single most important piece of advice you would give a new roaster?” The answer is easy but the practice may not be: always have a plan before you start roasting.

On the surface this seems easy enough.

Your plan, however, should be more than, “make green into brown.” It should involve having a purpose for your roast and an expected result.

An example might be: Roast 5 ARRIVAL samples to a cupping standard for evaluation tomorrow morning. Now you know what you are roasting, why you are doing it and an expected outcome of Agtron 58 whole bean of 58 +/- 1 in 8-12 minutes. This is a simple, well thought out example.

Others plans might be a little more complicated. Here are some plans you might want to consider. You can take these as a starting point for your roasting and make them as detailed as you want.

Plan Action
Roast Guatemala as a blend component highlighting balance. Use a standard S curve arriving at Agtron 55 in 14 minutes.
Find the best profile for a Panama Geisha COE lot without wasting too much coffee. Use 4 predefined roast curves to arrive at Agtron 60 in 13 minutes. Use 500grams each roast.
Compare a pre roast blend to a post roast blend of the ‘house’ coffee to see flavor differences and perhaps increase efficiency in roast times. A) Roast each component individually to highlight the specific attributes and then blend. B) Do a roast of all components together. C) Cup results.
Try to reduce roast cycle times. Roast common coffees reducing time in 1 minute increments arriving at the same color until cupping results go outside specifications.
Find the best profile for my new lot. Start with the best profile for the old lot and make incremental changes to time and color until best result is found.

If you have been roasting for a while you probably have a set of ‘common’ profiles you use. If not, build some thereby creating a small library of starting profiles. This will save many hours and lots of coffee in the future while making your outcomes more precise and consistent.

A good plan well executed saves time, money, and frustration while increasing quality and consistency.

Rocky Rhodes