Apr – May 2000: Snap vs Crack – Web Page Changes…Groan – Green Coffee: How Old is Too Old?

Snap vs. Crack

The Coffee Cupping Reviews for our green coffees often recommend how long you should roast a particular coffee relative to the first crack and the second crack. While it is an imperfect way to talk about the “degree of roast,” let me explain why we chose cracks as reference points for how dark the roast is, and the alternatives.

There are several ways to determine the degree of roast. Most professional roasters rely on temperature readings, as well as smell, sight and sound. But temperature readings are relative to how the thermometer is mounted in the roaster, and the quality of the device itself. Good thermometers cost a small fortune, and even among professional roasters there are large differences in readings. Most pros learn to read temperatures relative to their own roaster, and based on experience. I see first crack occur around 335 f in my 12 kilo Diedrich roaster (which is fairly normal) but second occurs between 350 and 370. That is far too low to indicate the actual bean temperature of second crack, but I have learned to adjust my expectations to these readings.

Mounting a thermometer in your roaster might offer you the same advantage: temperature readings relative to your own roaster. But most home roast appliances have the advantage of having the roast occur right in front of you. You can see it, hear it and smell it quite well!

So why don’t I talk about degree of roast in terms of color? Isn’t that what the Agtron number system that pros use all about? Yes it is, but it requires either an Agtron photospectrometer to automatically read the color of the roaster, ground coffee. Or you need the $200 SCAA-Agtron Roast Color Tile Kit. I have this kit, and I also have experience in digital color correction …so let me tell you that there’s a lot more involved with “eyeballing” the color of the coffee and the color of the disks. You need balanced white light, no glare, and the ability to offset for textures and light absorption. What I am saying is …its so difficult to accurately judge that is is barely worth the effort. Ken Davids provides 4 color tiles in the back of Home Coffee Roasting that help establish some basis of reference, and I think that’s about as far as color analysis by the naked eye should go in terms of coffee roasting!

Smell would be a great way to communicate the degree of roast (there’s a very particular shift in the aroma as the coffee nears the verge of 2nd crack) …or surface texture of the bean too. But those involve too many intangibles to fully explain.

So we are left with the cracks: the first crack which signals the beginning of pyrolysis (see Davids book) and the second crack that signals the coffee is entering the darker roast categories. These can be difficult to hear over the sound of the fan in the air roasters. But experience will help you to distinguish the sound of the cracks and to relate it to the bean appearance and aromas.

The basic wisdom is this: no coffee is palatable until it has completed the first crack, or pyrolysis. The period between the completion of first crack and the beginning of second is a Medium, or City roast. Roasting until the verge of second crack, or until the first few snaps of second are heard, or just a bit more is considered Full City. This roast has more bittersweet roast flavors and might already have begun to mask some of the more delicate “origin flavors”. Vienna comes after the coffee has experienced a decent amount of the 2nd crack and My idea of French is just after the coffee reaches its most rapidly-cracking point, but has not began to slow. There is a point in time where the sugars still retain some sweetness, and the carbony flavor has not completely overtaken the coffee: the cup has body and origin tastes are still possible. Italian is at the end of 2nd crack, where coffee only has extreme carbon tastes.

The actual time between cracks varies with different coffees and different roasters. And some coffees will sound differently, and even sound off a bit later due to their density and chemistry. Once again, it takes he experience tasting the coffee from a particular roast to know if the roast should b ….and that’s true for any coffee roaster, from those who roast 3 oz to those with a 4 bag, 600 lb Jabez Burns.

Web Page Changes …Groan!

With some regrets, I finally decided to add a shopping cart system to our web pages. It was a lot of work, and the system is a bit rigid in terms of configuration. But I continue to try to adapt it to your needs, and feedback is always welcome …. -Tom

Green Coffee: How Old is Too Old?

As of late, I have began to question the notion that green coffee, by some accounts, has a longer shelf life than Plutonium. This comes from the experience of “blind cupping” current and past crop offerings that brokers sell as Specialty grade coffee.

Claims of freshness in the green form is 2-5 years are made to the great advantage of those who move around containers of the stuff, and to large commercial roasters who will blend a stinky past-crop coffee into their trademark blend because they could buy so many thousand tons of it for 50¢ under the “C” market price (that is, cheap!!!)

But such notions of freshness do not benefit the small quality-oriented roaster of estate and single-origin coffees, nor the consumers that are at our mercy as we act as “arbitrators of taste” on their behalf. Since we move through coffee quickly and buy small, fresh lots from new crop offerings, it doesn’t affect our stock. But there is a lot of old, baggy coffee being sold …and somebody is buying it! (continued) This article is available in its entirety, along with many others, at

Sweet Maria’s Green Coffee Offerings on 4/5/00

Coffee is a crop; it comes and goes! Our web page always has the latest list of offerings: www.sweetmarias.com

Central American 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Costa Rican Tarrazu La Minita $7.30 $13.87 $31.76

Costa Rican La Pastora Tarrazu $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

Guat. Organic-FairTrd. -El Quiche $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Guat. Huehuetenango -Dos Lagos $4.70 $8.93 $20.45

Guatemala Oriente -Tres Marias $4.75 $9.03 $20.66

Mexican Oaxaca Pluma -Fino Rojas $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

Mexican Organic Pluma -Loxicha $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Nicaraguan SHG Gavilan Estate $4.60 $8.74 $20.01

Nicaraguan SHG La Illusion $4.75 $9.03 $20.66

Panama Lerida Estate 99-00 $4.90 $9.31 $21.32

Salvador Organic Los Naranjos $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

South American 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Brazil -Berrador Estate Acaia $4.45 $8.46 $19.36

Brazil Cerrado-Monte Carmelo $4.40 $8.36 $19.14

Brazil Cerrado-Oberon 17-18 $4.70 $8.93 $20.45

Colombian Ibague Nevado Supremo $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

Colombian Narino Supremo $4.90 $9.31 $21.32

Peru SHG Organic -Cuzco $4.95 $9.41 $21.53

African- Arabian 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Ethiopian Djimmah Gr 5 $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

Ethiopian Harar Gr5 Horse $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Ethiopian Sidamo Gr.5 99-00 $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Gr2 $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Kenya AB Main Crop 98-99 $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

Tanzanian Peaberry 99-00 $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

Yemen Mokha Ismaili $7.80 $14.82 $33.93

Yemen Mokha Mattari Al-Haj $7.00 $13.30 $30.45

Yemen Mokha Raimi 99-00 $6.90 $13.11 $30.02

Yemen Mokha Sana’ani -Saihi $6.90 $13.11 $30.02

Zambia AA Lilyvale Estate $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Zimbabwe AAA Pinnacle $5.60 $10.64 $24.36

Indonesian- Indian 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Indian Monsooned Malabar AA $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Indian -Pearl Mountain Estate $4.90 $9.31 $21.32

Java Aged Old Brown $6.20 $11.78 $26.97

Java Gvt. Estate -Kayumas $5.10 $9.69 $22.19

Myanmar Arabica -Rubyland $3.50 $6.65 $15.23

Papua New Guinea A Org-Shade $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

Papua New Guinea Mile High A $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Papua New Guinea Purosa AA $5.60 $10.64 $24.36

Sulawesi Toraja-Boengie Fat Bean $5.70 $10.83 $24.80

Sulawesi Toraja Gr.1 99-00 $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

Sulawesi Rantapao (Monsooned) $6.10 $11.59 $26.54

Sumatra Mandheling Gr1 DP $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Sumatra Organic Gayo Mtn.Gr1 $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Sumatra Organic Gayoland.Gr1 $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Sumatra Blue Lintong Gr1 $5.30 $10.07 $23.06

Timor Grade 1 -Aifu $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Islands- Blends -Etc. 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

French Chicory -Roasted $6.00 $11.40 $26.10

Hawaii Kona- Greenwell XtraFancy $15.20 $28.88 $66.12

Isle of Saint Helena $21.20 $40.28 $92.22

SM’s Moka Kadir Blend $5.80 $11.02 $25.23

SM’s Espresso Monkey Blend $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Sweet Maria’s Fr.RoastBlend $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Malabar Gold Espresso Blend $6.00 $11.40 $26.10

Decafs 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Brazil Santos SWP Decaf $5.40 $10.26 $23.49

Colombian Natural Decaf $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

Ethiopian Sidamo Co2 Decaf $6.20 $11.78 $26.97

IndonesianOrg.KomodoBlend SWP D $6.20 $11.78 $26.97

MexicanEsmeralda Natural D $4.70 $8.93 $20.45

Papua New Guinea Org SWP D $6.00 $11.40 $26.10

Sumatra Mandheling C02 Decaf $6.20 $11.78 $26.97

Sumatra Org.GayoMtn SWP Decaf $6.30 $11.97 $27.41

Premium Robustas 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Indian Kaapi Royale Robusta $5.15 $9.79 $22.40

PapuaNewGuinea Washed Robusta $3.90 $7.41 $16.97

Sweet Maria’s Coffee Roastery

9 E. 2nd Ave. * Columbus Ohio 43201

ph/fx:614 294 1816 * orders:888.876 5917

web: www.sweetmarias.com

email: [email protected]

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