5 Minute Q and A – Coffee questions answered in 5 Minutes

Do you have that real head-scratcher question and you would like a quick (but not too quick) answer? Send it to us now!

We are looking for those questions, ones we can reply to in a video that is exactly 5 minutes long … not more no less. We think (or hope!) that’s the perfect amount of time to give a substantial answer, but not go overboard!

Is there one gap in your coffee experience you keep running up against?

One thing I have found over time … it’s the most basic questions that can be the best. And they can be most useful for the community too, since it is likely that if you’re wondering about it, others are too!

For example, “What is Full City roast? Why the name? Why not just call roasts medium, or dark?” (Don’t actually ask that, it’s a hard one. lol)

or…

“My local roaster says her roasts take 14 minutes, and I roast in a popcorn popper in 5 minutes. What’s the best roast time?”

or…

“I liked (Yirgacheffe, Harar, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Yunan, Etc!) coffee and now I see (few/none) offered on SM. Why?”

Or your question could be advanced: One customer pointed out that he had never seen water chemistry really addressed in coffee brewing. Of course it should be good-tasting water, but what about specific chemistry to match specific coffees?

Or … if you really want to do it to us, ask a super hard question you think we can’t answer… I mean, about coffee please. Not quantum mechanics.

Ask your question using the comments form, or you can ask via Facebook or Instagram…

We will try to answer all questions regardless of course … unless:

thompson owen - i have no idea
thompson i have no idea

12 Responses

    1. Yes we have some in the pipeline. We have been offering various small batches of experimental coffee, like the yeast-process Burundi we had lately. We just approved saccharic fermentation and lactic process honey from West Java. Indonesia is where we have seen a lot of this first hand but the results they are trying to get are really really fermented. Its something you can take a sip and say “that’s interesting” but dont really want to drink. And that’s how quite a few of these curious processes go. They are interesting, but don’t often elevate what is already good about a coffee: like it’s from high altitude with good acidity and a sweet cup. What they often do is take coffees that are already ho-hum and try to dress them up in pretty cloying flavors, like a sorta fake mustache disguise… you know there just isn’t a really good coffee behind it. Ha ha – well that’s how quite a few have been in my experience! Not all for sure… I think these 2 java lots are really nice and have a syrupy quality that adds to the “java-ness” of the flavor, not obscuring it, or trying to be a coffee it isn’t… -T

      1. Cool, thanks Tom! I’ll look out for those Javas.
        ps — any tips for roasting the DP Panama Finca Bambito gesha in a Behmor? I follow the faster roast profile for the Acatenango gesha that you detailed in a blog post from I think 2018 and it works well for me on beans from that farm.

      2. I would definitely use that profile and roast a bit fast. That coffee is really incredible. There was only 1 bag. Definitely don’t get too dark with it but it should be really nice at nearly any light roast level. I found the Gesha character comes through clear at any light roast

  1. I’ve burned through 3 westbend popperys over the years, and so I bought that little red popper from you. It never goes to 2nd crack, and the cup tastes weak. I sometimes put it in a wok to finish it stovetop. Does anyone really have luck with the red popper you sell?

    1. Hi Laurie – sorry to hear that popper is working so poorly. The Nostaglia brand is one of the last on the market with the flat metal bottom and side vents, the type that swirls coffee around. Most of the units will roast dark, if not a bit too quickly. Like all poppers they have this overheat function, a thermal strip of metal that turns off the electric coil when the temperature gets too high. So this means coffee can get to a certain roast level and wont continue to roast. Sometimes you really hear this in the roast cycle, a change in the fan speed usually. Thats when the metal strip bends and cuts heat power. it’s a safety feature for popcorn, but impairs the use of a popper for coffee roasting. Options with these are to open it up and do minor surgery, bypass the little metal thermometer. Sometimes it works to stir or shake the popper to get the coffee moving around earlier in the roast. Is your green coffee spinning in the popper when you first start it up, or just sitting there and starts spinning later? I have a whole post I was working on about different types of poppers, and how to deal with these issues, including photos of the metal thermal cut-out and how to bypass it. Thats coming as soon as I can get the photos together. I made a video to answer this too! coming soon

  2. Long time customer and very appreciative of your good work. But I need help figuring out which coffees are what I am looking for: Lots of body, complex, strong and flavorful. I don’t care about the price. Could you please identify this group of coffees as a special category?
    Thanks Gail

    1. Hi Gail – this will be great for a 5 minute video – thanks for asking. The short answer is “i’m not sure!” A lot of those terms your describing really could be about brewing. If coffee is brewed with less water and more ground coffee in the ratio, it has more body, is stronger, and has more flavor intensity. Two ideas I have is that you might like Dry process coffees from Ethiopia, or 72you might like the intense Indonesia coffees that are a bit rustic and even earthy. But if you can tell me about what coffees you have liked in the past, this could help to answer a lot. Otherwise, brewing a bit on the strong side would definitely make the flavor and intensity pop out more. I use 12 grams coffee to 150 ml water for cupping. For a pot of coffee (that ratio x 6) would be 72 grams to 900ml = 2.5 ounces coffee to 30 fluid ounces water for about 6 medium cups of coffee (or 1 large cup from 7/11 :-0 ). Some also offer a simple ratio of 1 tablespoon to 4 ounces water.

  3. A question but first some background.

    BACKGROUND – I have the impression that there is a certain antipathy among contemporary craft coffee roasters for the likes of Peets, Spinelli (Noe Valley), and Peaberrys (Rockridge). These brands are the 2nd wave. And the 3rd wave where farm farm sourced single origin is the thing & 3rd wave roasters kind of think that 2nd wave roasters are incinerators rather than roasters. As for me, I have my feet in both 2nd and 3rd wave. I am also a beer brewer and when I develop a new beer, I often begin with an existing beer in mind which I go about reproducing. And once I have it dialed in, I make tweaks in different directions to give it my own spin. I am thinking about getting into small scale commercial coffee roasting and buying the basic equipment (roasting and espresso) for roasting and developing barista skills (I used to work at Peets in the IT dept, not as a coffee guy, but I got close to the coffee and that was interesting, though I never got to see the new roasting facility).

    I know Peets is pretty careful to protect it’s proprietary blends, but as I begin to roast I would like to begin with roasting a blend like Major Dickason — that is my daily coffee delivered to me here in Buffalo (used to be a 510 guy though).

    QUESTION — Can you guide me as to the beans I might use to make a blend that would be similar to Peets? In the homebrewing world, beers that are made to be like commerial beers are called clone beers. So I would like to make a Major D clone. I will get into 3rd wavey things too — but I would like to begin by replicating Major D – not for commercial purposes but for learning purposes.

    1. This is a great question Willard and the background really helps too. It’s not an easy one to answer, but I am going to do my best with a 5 minute video on this one today (by the way im going to put together a few as a podcast, since watching me try to answer on video isnt necessary and frankly, isn’t too pretty all the time … these questions are tough!! Anyway to give a quick answer here, yes a lot of what Peets is about is roast development with some good solid specialty coffees as the material, but not what I would call “high specialty” coffee (ugh, already regret using that term!) but just good clean coffee. That said, they use Indonesians a lot, so let me do a little more research for the video and answer it fully, as much as 5 minute allows! (As far as roasters, my impression is they are particular about the roast technology they use, which was always traditional Probat drum roasters). Also, since you might go back a few years with Peets, I actually lived on 65th street in Emeryville when they were just down from us in the former Oliver Rubber factory! Now I think its Oliver Lofts. Lol

  4. My question is: What is the preferred ramp-up roasting temperature increase (slope). Also, what is the advantage in preheating the (Behmor) roaster? It cannot be about saving roasting time…. I installed the new “Behmor 1600AB Upgrade Kit” yesterday and while reading people’s comments, this was the item discussed or complained about most frequently.

    I would like to make comment here about the kit – the (red/black) cable going from the side fan is too short to be plugged into it’s new location on the new board. I solved it by turning the fan 90 degrees. Now it reaches. But it is annoying the be forced to uninstall/reinstall that fan. Very small nuts (7/32 wrench size).

    Frankly, the Behmor is doing good job for me, but if I was responsible for designing it’s replacement, I would do many design changes to assure better serviceability.

    1. Hi Milan – this is great info / feedback for us. I talked to the others here, and we are going to make sure the info about fan installation and the shorter wire is in our material to help warn others, so they dont have to do the back-tracking like you did. In fact this lead us to find that some of our material on how to do the upgrade was missing photos so we are going to re-shoot the whole thing and document it better!

      Your question is great too, and I would like to do some tests and address this in a video. I discussed it with Dan too … we definitely do feel that preheating the Behmor will result in a quicker roast time and allow people struggling to get to a dark roast to attain one… but we realized we had not tested this or proven that preheating does this. We noticed it ourselves, but didnt actually compare identical roasts to prove it. So we are going to do that with a few different coffees and different batch sizes to measure the preheat effect.

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