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Exploring Roast Development Time

October 12, 2015

Practical applications of RoastLog’s Roast Development Timer

There are a lot of folks out there espousing various ‘Truths’ when it comes to coffee roasting, roast profiling and ‘the right way to roast’.  As a mere part-time roaster, I’m not only unqualified to weigh in on this debate, but like most things coffee… I say, whatever floats your boat.

That said, I have enjoyed and benefited from Scott Rao’s* perspectives on roasting.  Awhile back I stumbled on his comments in an article over at dailycoffeenews.com and thought I’d share as it relates directly to a feature in our new RoastLogger app for iPads, the Roast Development Timer.

When roasters manipulate development time without considering it in the context of the total roast time, they often create baked flavors and destroy sweetness.  – Scott Rao

Roast development time is not necessarily a new idea per se, but what I appreciated about Scott’s take was the notion of looking beyond the traditional view of roast development time.  Simply considering the total time spent in the roast development phase alone seems to paint an incomplete picture.  His idea takes into account the amount of time spent in roast development as a fraction of overall roast time.

This makes sense to me, at least intuitively.  Perhaps this is for the same reason that we thought our users would like to have a way to quantify the amount of energy introduced during their roast.  The concept we coined as roast energy seems to follow the same logic.   But is it reasonable to generalize an ideal amount of time (20-25%) as Scott suggests?

RoastLog's Roast Development Timer

The Roast Development Timer found in the RoastLogger iPad app.

It goes without saying, a lot goes into pulling off a good roast.  How important is the roast development phase in your roasting?  As a RoastLog user, would displaying the percentage be helpful?  We try our best to be conscientious about complicating our user interface.  Would we be muddying our UI by adding this or would it be insightful?


*Scott Rao is author of multiple books about coffee roasting, brewing/preparation and offers consulting services.  His most recently published book, “The Coffee Roaster’s Companion” includes a compilation of his observations, ideas and experiences roasting coffee.

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