I have heard you should stop roasting when cocoa beans start to smell good so you don’t lose all those great flavors. You don’t really talk about that though. How do you know when to stop a roast?
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Ask the Alchemist
I have been following your roasting profile recommendations and I am loving the results. I am having a lot of trouble though keeping the roast from going too fast. I know we are driving off water in the first part so I turn the power down 5-10% to account for that but it never seems enough. I’m afraid to turn it down more and mess up the roast by having it take too long. How much should I have to turn my roaster down?
We've noticed that different beans seems to have different amounts of intrinsic oil. The Peruvian Maranon seems to have quite a bit of oil and produces a chocolate that flows very easily but it tricky to temper correctly. Is there a way to know in advance the amount of oil in a bean so we can adjust the amount of cocoa butter we add?
It is another of the short and sweet speed rounds of Ask the Alchemist.
What is your favorite chocolate?
I want to make my own brewing cocoa. I have a really good coffee grinder so I am all set there. How can I use the Behmor for roasting brewing cocoa? Do I have to remove the husk? Are some beans better than others for brewing? Thanks for all you do.
I was wondering about adding flavors to the white chocolate in the melanger? At which point? I was considering using oils unless you have another recommendation. Do you know ratios to attempt to begin with? Thinking of Orange, Lemon, lavender - not altogether.
I have read about that volatile compounds are released and the acidity in the chocolate drops as it is refined. I tried to test the changes in pH. After 12 hours there was hardly any change in pH (7.1 to 6.9). It clearly tastes different even after 12 hours but the acidity didn’t change. How can I measure and track and acidity?
I notice you advocate dropping your beans into a hot roaster. I assume this is because you want Maillard reactions and Strecker degradation products. Is there a certain temperature that works best for these products?
This phase extends from a bean temperature of 232 F until you decide your beans are fully roasted, generally 245-270 F, and lasts 3-6 minutes with the temperature continually rising.
Reading Time: 8 minutes
Self: Alchemist. You mentioned not really liking the name for the 2nd roasting phase. What is it that you don’t like about the name Momentum phase?
Alchemist: Well, it seems that is the term I use a lot for the drying phase.
Self: So you want to call the Drying phase the Momentum phase?
Alchemist: I was really thinking Drying/Momentum phase.
Self: Then what would you call the Momentum phase?
Alchemist: I’m thinking the foundation phase. It is where you start to lay the ground work for the flavor building in the final stage?
Self: I see your point, but I don’t like it
Alchemist: I thought it was kind of appropriate.
Self: The others phases are all verbs. They are action based. I get your point but Foundation just isn’t right. The foundation of a project comes first. This is the second part. Drying is first. You are developing flavors.
Self: You know, you could call it the Development phase. And before you jump in and interrupt me, I knowyou already are using that name. But I’ve got to tell you, it’s a little off also.
Self: I know. You are worried that people are going to start mixing them up. But it really is better. Look, you dry the beans and set the momentum for the roast. Then you set the stage for flavors by developing the chemical pre-cursors you need in the final stage. Then you finish the roast.
Alchemist: Ok smart guy, what do I call the last phase then?
Self: Really? I need to tell you? It’s the Finishing phase.
Alchemist: Yeah, well, ok. That was obvious.
Alchemist: Can I still use End of Roast? EOR.
Self: Sure, it is common in coffee roasting and it has no issues that I see.
Self: And before you ask, yes it is going to confuse a couple people here and there that you’ve changed the names, but your readers are smart people. They are on top of this. Give them some credit.
Alchemist: You’re right. And it is going to make it better in the long run. I’ve even been stumbling over the terms recently. That’s not a good sign.
Self: Just make sure you tell everyone what you are doing and go back and edit your previous articles. I know you are not a revisionist history fan but this is for clarity. And the record that you changed things will be right here. So suck it up, do the right thing and make the changes.
Alchemist: Is it ok if I tell them a bit more of my thinking?
Self: Sure, just don’t get crazy. You still need to lay out the new Finishing phase, so don’t overwhelm them. Just an overview. Think of it as a little review before the final push.
So there it is. My apologies but I’m changing the names of the phases. The concepts are staying the same but the names were not working for me. Over the last month I’ve discussed roasting profiles with a few people and it became abundantly clear I was stumbling over the names.
I ran these ideas by a couple people and I was met with resounding agreement.
So here are the official new names for the Roasting Profile Stages:
Drying - Ambient – 212 F – It is where you built and set your momentum for the following stage.
Development – 212 – 232 F. In this stage you will develop the foundation of the roast forming flavor and aroma pre-curors that you will finish in the next stage
Finishing – 232 F – EOR. Here the flavors finish developing and you ensure the beans are fully roasted. It is also the time to remove any remaining excess acids
EOR – The End of Roast temperature that may or may not contribute a final character to the taste profile.
It looks like this.
I think about roasting in the same way I think about cooking. There are lots of ways to do it and depending what you do and what you want you can produce radically different flavors. And no one way is really right or wrong but you simply can’t reliably get some flavors with certain methods.
Let’s talk soups.
You can bring all your ingredients to a boil in a pot of water and serve it immediately. It will be edible and possibly good. It works pretty well if the ingredients are fresh and you want a simple uncomplicated soup. Rarely is it stunning though.
You can also sauté some of the ingredients first, the carrots, onions, celery, and garlic, letting them start to release flavors and nuance. When the rest of the ingredients are added the previous flavors combine to give a depth of flavor not originally present.
There are some styles of Japanese soup making that have you create a stock chock full of these precursor flavors. A common one is called dashi. On its own it is pretty bland and nearly flavorless. I didn’t understand it for years but loved the results. Once combined in the soup, deep, rich, satisfying umami flavors can develop almost like magic.
I suggest thinking of both these techniques as Development phases. They add a dimension to your roast/soup. A roux does this also.
Regardless of what soup you make and how you started it, you then have to decide how long to simmer it or finish it. Some soups need very little simmering, some a lot more. And some will just go neutral and unexciting if simmered too long. It is up to you how the finish the soup and it is usually informed by what you want it to taste like.
Finally there is garnish. It will affect the final flavor in most cases, otherwise why would you do it. But it can be done with a light or heavy and and sometime you don’t want any garnish at all. Again it is your call and how you decide at what temperature to end the roast.
So that is where my head is when I think and talk about Profile drum roasting. I’m not a fast boiled soup fan nor do I favor soups simmered to bland inoffensiveness.
I like them dynamic and satisfying.
Next week we finish up with Finishing!
And if all goes right details about the Roasting Seminar I will be offering on June 24th and availability of the new 30 lb Ozturk cocoa roaster.
I am roasting to reduce acidity and boost chocolate flavor: I use a 3k drum coffee roaster. Would you recommend roasting a bit longer or hotter maybe 25 minutes building up to 290 degrees? For the Ugandan I've been enjoying a 21 min roast at 275 tops.
How can I relate this (the roasting profiles) to what happens in my Behmor, where I cannot control the temperature in subtle ways?
Is testing the moisture level of the beans before roasting needed? I thought it may help cut back on the dry phase stage to insure you don't over roast. It's just I've seen coffee roasters do it.
I’ve been roasting in my convection oven at 250 F but I can’t tell when the beans are done. How do I tell?
Could I ask your opinion about how the Gourmia compare to the Behmor roaster? I'm thinking of getting either from you. I'm hoping to roast both cacao and coffee beans.
In one of your articles you mentioned you like silk tempering more than chocolate seed tempering because of the strength of type V crystals in tempered cocoa butter. Can a chocolate tempered with chocolate seed have a chance of blooming because of the seed? I'm not sure if my last question made any sense but all I'm trying to understand is why chocolate seed crystals are not as good as silk seed crystals?
Here's where I am coming from. I made a batch of 73% chocolate using the Lam Dong beans from Vietnam. The tropical fruity taste and tangy hints are excellent in this chocolate. It peaks about 4-5 seconds after placing it in your mouth and lasts about 4 seconds - it was heavenly. However, I found this fruity tang peaked on the second or third day after making the chocolate and then declined in intensity after that. I had placed the batch in a plastic container and sealed it but there was a lot of air space. So, how do you preserve this little piece of heaven? Tighter sealing? Freezing? or just accept it does not last long? I checked your answers, and did not see anything on storage of chocolate.
I am really sorry but I keep reading all the different ways I can temper and I am so confused. I don’t know which way to pick. It does not make sense that they can all work. How should I temper my chocolate and do I have to do it right out of the melanger? Will it be ruined if I don’t?
Coming from a coffee roasting background, it's difficult to get away from the roasting precision requirements and theory minutia. I keep telling myself, its not as important with cacao beans, but I still get a little lost trying to plan out what I'm going to do.