Level: Alchemist

Reading Time: 12 minutes

Sometimes you leave out drying time and sometimes you don’t.  In the case of your Patanemo recommendation, is 10/3/4 drying/development/finishing
I have printed out everything you have done for roasting in the past 6 months and I don’t think you ever finalized how you were going to state your recommended roasting times (such as in the case of Patanemo above.

The crux of this situation is that there are variations three notations that can be used when describing a roasting profile and I will never nail down to just one.  At first glance you may not know which one you are looking at but context will always tell you in short order which is which.

Look at the following sentences.

“Before roasting the Alchemist read over his profile notes”

“I recommend your read over the profile notes before you start your roast”.

Read vs Read.

I’m willing to bet you had no issue knowing which tense “read” was in.  The context of the sentence told you right off.  “Red” in the first one, “Reed” in the second.  It’s second nature by this point because you are fluent in English.  It is time to become fluent in Profile Speak.

This came up in the Roasting Seminar I gave in June (yes, there will be others).  Why did I give three different ways to write the same thing and why couldn’t I just pick a single notation.

The basic answer is that it depends on context.  Here are all the various ways you can write a profile.

  • 10/13/17 @ 254
  • 10/3/4 @ 254
  • x/3/4 @ 254
  • 8/6.7/5.5 F/min @ 254
  • x/6.7/5.5 F/min @ 254

All of those are 100% identical profiles and context tells you which is which.

On the most basic level they tell you about the Drying, Development and Finishing phases plus the End of roast (EOR) temperature.  I have defined the Drying phase as the segment up to 212 F.  The Development phase is 212 F to 232 F and the Finishing phase is from 232 F until you end your roast (EOR).

When I am in front of the roaster with a timer running I record my profile using the first notation.

10/13/17 @ 254.

It is total elapsed time and Fahrenheit.   10 minutes to 212 F, 13 minutes total to 232 F and 17 minutes total to my EOR temperature of 254 F.  I use this form because I don’t want to have to do any calculations in the middle of the roast.  I just want to read my timer.  You know it has to be in F because 254 C is nearly 500 F and I know you know cocoa is never roasted that hot.

When I report to you my actual roast profile I will quite often use this form.  But it isn’t really helpful because taste correlation doesn’t happen with total elapsed time.  It is associated either with your ramp speed or said a different way, the time you spend in each phase.  That is where the second notation comes in.

10/3/4 @ 254

Because of context this cannot be total elapsed time. Likewise because you know we are talking about drum roasting profile, you absolutely know that the first is elapsed time and not time spent in a phase because you would NEVER spend 13 minutes in the Development phase and 17 minutes in the Finishing phase.  Each of these is in the 2-5 minute range on average.

I use this second form because it allows us to converse.  “How long was the development phase?  It was 3 minutes”  It’s no more complicated than that.

You may sometime see me use this form.

x/3/4 @ 254

What is the x for?  There are two reasons.  It is my way of reminding you that the actual time in the drying phase does not matter.  What is important is that I am suggesting a profile that has a 3 minute Development phase, a 4 minute Finishing phase and ends at 254 F.  I also use it when I am making suggestions for a roast profile based on theory but have not actually performed the roast.

It also allows you make quick calculations and projections during your roast.  If your drying phase is 12 minutes, you know quickly your Development phase should last until the running timer hits 15 minutes (BTW, that is me being sneaky again hinting you should always be running a time).

The final notations are ramp or speed notations.  I’m going to put them together because the x in the second one is just a reminder there that drying ramps is not critical just like before.

8/6.7/5.5 F/min @ 254

x/6.7/5.5 F/min @ 254

This time you should immediately note I’ve added units of F/min because it could easily be confused with a profile that had a 6.7 minute Development phase and 5.5 minute finishing phase.  Context doesn't help to tell them apart so I've added units to clarify.

I use these when I am at the roaster trying to hit a particular profile.  It is advanced roasting and you have to be quick on your mental feet to use it but I found nothing else works quite as well.

Let me give you an example. 

You look up the Patenemo profile and see I roasted 10/3/4 @ 254 and you want to try it.  You fire up your roaster.  You know you don’t have to hit 212 F at 10 minutes so take your time and 212 comes up at 11.5 minutes.  Great.  You should be at 232 at (doing some fast mental math) 14.5 minutes. 


You glance up and see at 11.5 minutes your bean temperature is 220 F.

Quickly now, are you where you need to be?  Is the roast running too fast, or too slow or just right?

That right there is the problem.  You can’t tell quickly while in the middle of a roast while the clock is running whether you are on target or not.

On the other hand if you had your profile in ramp notation the calculation is easy.

Let’s do it again.  It’s 11.5 minutes.  You know the next phase should be proceeding at 6.7 F/min.  You can instantly look ahead to see you should be about 6-7 degrees past 212 in one minute or 218-219 F.  If you are at 220 F you are running just a little fast and you should slow down a touch.


Side note, you calculate the ramp by dividing 20 (the difference between 232 and 212) by the time (3 minutes or 20/3 = 6.7 F/min) and should do this before you start your roast.

It also forces you to look ahead and know where you are going instead of always trying to play catch up with your adjustments.

It works great on partial minutes.  I use it all the time for a quick check on the roast progess.

Given the same conditions, where should I be in 30 seconds at 12 minutes. 30 seconds is half a minute so half of 6.7 is 3.35 or basically 3.  I should be at 215 F (212+3).

And it is REALLY helpful as you approaching 212.  You can make sure you are not coming in too fast.  I routinely note the time at 190 F and see what the temperature is one minute later.  If it is 197 that is 7 F/min and that is perfect.  Even 198 would be great because I now know I will need to break just a little as I approach 210-212.  If it is instead 205 that is 15 F/min (I’m just reading the temperature difference since I said I am looking at the 1 minute later mark 205-190 = 15) and I better slow down a lot since I’m coming in over twice as fast as I need to.  

In this world of electronic, a little mental math is good for you and your brain and it get’s much easier the more you do it.  Try it, it isn't that hard and practice makes perfect.

I know it may seem a little daunting but think of it this way.  Which are the easier directions to follow when driving.

“Go 30 mph for 3 minutes” or “Drive 1.5 miles and take 3 minutes to do it”.

To my mind the first is clearly easier.  It might take a little practice but I find it an invaluable tool for really nailing the profile you have previously established.

There, that is all the ways you can list out a profile.  I hope it clears it up a little, shows you how to read each one based on context and how to pick the one you need based on your circumstance.

Go forth and spread fluency in Profile speak.