Author: Scott Rao
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Coffee Roasting: Best Practices makes a great follow-up to the author’s previous book The Coffee Roaster’s Companion. The Companion introduced operators to now-popular concepts such as the flick and crash and the idea that operators should pay very close attention to the rate of change. Roaster’s companion also discussed other imporant topics such as between-batch protocols, a concept expanded in Roasting.
In my review of Companion, I commented that it lacked many “tactical” solutions for roaster operators and I am happy to report that Rao provides plenty in the follow-on book Coffee Roasting.
Coffee Roasting: Best Practices has nineteen chapters spanning ninety pages, making it a quick and easy cover-to-cover read. But it’s chock-full of details and specific content that will allow for on-going reading and re-reading.
In the preface, Rao mentions that he was unsure how the content in Companion would be received and I know from my experience, the content was very well received. I personally have spent a lot of time focusing on his concepts and I have interacted with a lot of people through my content, who are interested as well. So if I had a direct line to Rao, I’d say ‘Great stuff! And keep it up!’ I consider Rao’s books essential library material for the curious and serious roaster alike.
One of the topics I especially enjoyed in Roasting is the chapter titled “Tuning Your Roaster.” In that chapter, Rao recommends ways to ensure your gas roaster is properly fueled, as well as expanding on the topic of telemetry that was also discussed in Companion. Temp probes have their own chapter, titled “How Probe Speed and Location Influence Curves.” He makes a very good point that the type and placement of your probe determines its performance and usefulness. He also makes a point of emphasizing that the bean temp probe is more of a proxy reading of the outside of the beans and not necessarily indicative of their internal temp. I think it’s good to point out that we don’t have precise understanding of the environment inside the bean at any time.
Extending on the subject of telemetry and thermometry, there is a chapter titled “Roasting Software and Automation.” In that chapter he differentiates between general roasting software that can log useful data and commercial roastery management solutions (RMS). The operator’s experience with the software can indirectly impact the quality of their roasts and Rao has several recommendations on how to approach the choice of software to use.
At the end of the day, this is a wise addition to any roaster’s library of coffee books! I found the book approachable, easy to read, and something I can come back to later as a reference.