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November 24, 2021
Although the Fresh roast SR540 has some new and improved features intended to prevent tipping and breaking, the limited warranty does not cover accidents. It's worth warning you about common mistakes people make.
Once you hit 'run' on the roaster, your coffee will go through 5 distinct stages:
During the roast, the coffee beans will dry, and the moisture content of the beans is reduced from 8-12% to less than 0.1%. The drying turns the seeds brittle and allows them to be ground. The reduction in moisture also means the beans lose mass. Roasting coffee typically results in an 18-20% loss in weight. Meaning, that if you roast 130 grams of green coffee, you will get 104-107 grams of roasted coffee. While the beans lose mass, they can almost double in volume. Each coffee bean expands as it roasts due to the creation of gasses on the inside, mainly from the evaporation of water and the generation of carbon dioxide.
Roasting caramelizes the natural sugars found in the coffee and burns off the acids present in the green beans, creating a balanced flavour. It also helps develop volatile flavour compounds and releases coffee oils from the cell structure, which greatly enhance the flavour and the mouth-feel of the eventual beverage when the coffee is ground and brewed.
Roasting is just like cooking; you're aiming for the sweet spot between under-done and over-done. When roasting, you can under-develop your coffee and end up with sour, grainy and vegetal notes, a weak body, and a short-lived, unsatisfying flavour. If you over-develop, the coffee will taste flat and unbalanced because over-exposure to high temperatures has caused the decomposition of the volatile flavour compounds. Development time is critical, but it's hard to give recommendations about how long the coffee should stay in this phase because it depends on the coffee you're working with and what you want to do. Like with a V60 brewer or an espresso machine, you will need to experiment and dial in a roast over time. Keep a timer handy!
First, plug the roaster in. If you are using an extension cord, please ensure that it's not too long (preferably under 4 feet). Otherwise, your roaster may be impacted and may not be able to generate enough heat. Make sure the display is showing 4 dashes; this means that the unit has power. Click the on/off switch under the display. You will see 2 numbers and a decimal pop-up.
The first number is your fan speed; the second is your power (heat output). The decimal is a timer. Factory settings are 5 for fan speed, 9 for power and 6.0 minutes for the timer.
Push the dial that is to the right of the display. It will make a clicking noise, and the 5 should start flashing. Turn the dial clockwise to increase and counterclockwise to decrease the fan speed. We recommend setting the fan speed to 9 for the start of the roast. The beans will be heaviest during this stage, so you will need as much airflow as you can get to make sure they are moving when the heat turns on. The fan speed will need to be turned down as the roast progresses.
Once the fan speed is set to 9, push the dial again to toggle over to the power setting. We recommend leaving the power at 9 for the beginning of the roast. Remember, clockwise to increase and counterclockwise to decrease.
Push the dial again to toggle over to the timer. Set the timer to 15 minutes or more (maximum is 20 minutes). This timer will automatically shut off the roaster once it runs out, and you don't want that happening at 6 minutes; that is way too soon. The timer should be thought of as a fail-safe rather than a way to program a roast. It will stop the heat output and cool the beans if you leave your roaster and forget to pay attention to the beans.
The Fresh Roast SR540 has a temperature readout. During a roast, you can quickly flick the dial clockwise, and the display will show you the inlet temperature (the temperature of the air flowing into the chamber). If the roaster is not running, it will not show the temperature readout. You have to click the 'run/cool' button and start the fan before this feature activates. If you want to get back to the settings screen, click on the dial, and it will take you back to the fan/power/timer screen.
This temperature readout is your environment temperature. It is not an indication of the temperature of your coffee beans. If you want to install a bean probe, you will have to drill through the lid and feed the probe through there, but if you do this before the 1-year warranty runs out, it will void the policy.
The fan speed is the best way to adjust to the roasting temperature in a fluid-bed roaster significantly. Think about it; if there is a lot of air being pushed through the beans (high fan speed setting), it can cool the beans a little because the air itself cools as it gets further from the element. Turning the fan down will increase the temperature in the roasting chamber. It's kind of similar to holding a hair dryer at arm's length away from your head vs. holding it right up against your scalp. You don't want your beans to stop moving, so don't turn the fan all the way down. You also don't want them to cool too much, so you should find a setting that will promote even circulation while maintaining a sufficient temperature for roasting. As a general guideline, when circulating during the roast, the coffee beans should not be popping up more than 2-3 centimetres from their resting position (when the fan is off) throughout the entirety of the roast. When cooling, turn the fan up to the maximum setting to help the beans cool off faster.
Changing the power setting is a much more delicate way to control the heat output of the roaster. We recommend turning down the power rather than increasing the fan speed during the development phase precisely because of this.
November 24, 2021
November 18, 2021