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Some Tips For Programming The i-Roast

The Hearthware i-Roast has a very advanced feature: the ability to set your own roast temperatures and times for a 3 stage roast curve. If you have not started programming your i-Roast or if you are not yet satisfied with the results, perhaps this write-up will help you improve your results. We invite your comments or suggestions to help make this guide more useful!

Before the programming begins, it may be helpful to cover some basic roasting concepts which are just as appropriate to consider when using the i-Roast as they are when roasting on a stovetop in a frying pan. There are 4 main variables when roasting coffee:

Weight/Volume of coffee: Increasing the quantity of coffee will also increase the roast time because there is more mass to heat. Thus, to get consistant results, always use the same amount of coffee. Weight is a little more accurate than volume, so if you have a kitchen scale, use it.

Type of coffee: Coffee beans vary in density and water content, and this has an impact on roasting time. A new crop very high grown coffee will have a very dense bean and a high moisture content and will take longer to roast than an aged coffee that has dried out over time. By keeping a record, or roast journal, you will be able to duplicate results for a particular coffee.

Temperature: The higher the temperature, the faster the roast. If the temperature is too low, the beans cook too long instead of roasting, and flavor and aroma is lost. If the temperature is too high, the beans roast so quickly that the outside is roasted but inside the bean the flavors have not had sufficient time to develop. A coffee roasting machine such as the i-Roast offers a fine degree of temperature control, but the outside ambient temperature and initial bean temperature can still effect the final outcome. This is especially important to consider if you roast outside, as even a 10 degree temperature difference can affect the roast results.

Time: The best coffee is usually roasted for 5 to 15 minutes if using a hot air roaster, which is generally shorter than drum or pan roasting. Overcooking is usually not a problem unless the roast temperature is set too low. At the end of the roast the roast color can change very quickly, so accurate timekeeping is essential if you want to duplicate results.

When using a coffee roasting appliance, there is a 5th variable:

Voltage: Although every household outlet looks the same, the actual voltage coming out can vary enough to impact results from location to location. To adjust for this, you may need to slightly reduce temperatures or increase them to adjust for your own particular voltage. To insure consistant results, it is best to use the same outlet every time you roast, if possible.

Programming basics:

In case you haven't already tried it, here is how to set up a program:

1. Make sure the glass chamber is seated and locked on the base unit of the i-roast. Press the roast/temp and cool/time buttons simultaneously. This starts the program mode.

2. Set the first roast curve: press the roast/temp button and then use the up and down arrows to set the desired temperature. Then press the cool/time button, and use the up and down buttons to set the desired temperature.

3: Repeat the above process 2 more times to set all 3 roast stages.

4: Press the roast/temp and cool/time buttons simultaneously again to set the program.

5: To start the roast with your custom program press the roast/temp button which will start the roasting cycle.The program you set is saved in the machine until you unplug the machine.

Although programming seems complicated at first, it is really no more difficult than setting a microwave, and entering a program takes just a minute once you get used to it!

Roast Programs:

The i-Roast has 2 built in programs. They are good starting places for a good dark roast coffee. They work especially well with very dense seeds from higher elevation growing regions. A simple program would be to use one of the preset profiles but changing the roast time to match the time when you would normally hit the cool button when roasting with one of the presets. The preset programs are:

Preset #1:
• Stage 1: 485 oF for 6:30 min.
• Stage 2: 440 oF for 3:00 min.
• Stage 3: 485 oF for 1:30 min.

Preset #2:
• Stage 1: 485 oF for 5:00 min.
• Stage 2: 440 oF for 5:00 min.
• Stage 3: 485 oF for 1:30 min.

A few other things to know:

*The onboard temperature reading is normally different from the programmed temperature, sometimes by more than 50 oF. This temperature reading is accessed during the roast by pushing the temperature button while the roast cycle is running. The temperature reading is not the bean temperature, usually it is cooler, which is caused by flowing air inside the chamber.

*Decaf is sometimes a challenge to roast in the i-Roast because there is no chaff, and having some chaff in the chaff collecter actually helps to increase the chamber temperature by trapping heat. If you having a hard time roasting decaf, try leaving some chaff in the collector from a previous batch of regular coffee when roasting decaf and setting the temperatures a little higher.

*Some tropical coffees, older or aged coffees, and coffees grown at lower elevations are less dense and are more sensitive to roasting too quickly at too high temperatures. Try a lower temperature warm up period for this type of bean- it will help to develop the more subtle flavors as well. A roast profile we use for such coffees:

• Stage 1: 330oF for 2:00 min.
• Stage 2: 400 oF for 3:00 min.
• Stage 3: 450oF for 4:00 min. (adjust last setting to your own preference)

*Keep really good notes! A small notebook to record each program, roast results, and ideas for the next program can be invaluable to duplicating sucessful efforts and improving results. If you take a methodical, scientific approach, making small adjustments after each batch, you can attain that "perfect" roast you have been seeking.

Please let us know if you found this information useful. Your feedback will help us to bring you the kind of information you can use!


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