Rwanda Rulinda Bushoki – Roast 1

Rwanda Rulinda Bushoki – Roast 1

It’s been a crazy week, but on Friday, I was finally able to roast a new batch of beans. I’ve decided to roast this particular variety in 1/2 pound increments to try and dial in the right flavor for our espresso machine. I’m a contrarian when it comes to some espresso roasts as I tend to favor a slightly lighter roast than some recommended roasts. I like the complexity these roast levels provide as it maintains the complexities of the specific variety without leaning too far into the burnt cocoa edge that can seep into your typical espresso roast.

This time, we’re roasting a Rwandan coffee. My last Rwandan batch was incredibly delicious, so I’m looking forward to this one. I’ve taken a few pictures of the entire roasting process this time since I haven’t really documented the entire thing start to finish before.

We order our beans from Sweet Maria’s most of the time as they tend to have a solid stock at decent prices (with decent shipping). As long as I order 8 lbs. or more, I can usually hover around the $7/lb mark. Considering that top shelf coffee seems to go for around $20 per 12 oz… this is a bargain.

I should have purchased a 5 lb bag, but we’re starting with just 2 lbs of coffee, so I’ll get 4 different roasts out of this batch. I’m using a new tool called “Roaster Thing” that I’ve found on one of the coffee sites to track the roasts, so I’m pretty excited to get some data over time on the different roasts we’ve done and which ones are our favorites.

If you’re not familiar with coffee roasting, the entire process can seem a bit of a mystery, but coffee beans start out as fruit that looks something like a small cherry. These are harvested and the fruit portion removed to leave what we call the bean. There are different processes used that fall into basically a “wet process” or a “dry” process. These Rwandan beans were wet processed. You’ll see a closeup detail of what these beans look like on the right.

Once I’ve measured out exactly 8 oz of these beans, I place them into my Behmor 1600 plus drum roaster by pouring the beans into the drum itself and then placing the drum in the roasting chamber. The Behmor is a toaster-oven sized drum roaster specifically designed for home use. It will roast up to one pound of green coffee beans and due to the speed of the drum, you’ll usually get a nicely even roast. What takes some getting used to is that even in a single origin coffee like this Bushoki, the beans do not have a consistent size. This means that they’ll all roast at a different rate and when you’re done, there will be subtle differences in the color of the beans when you’re done.

Half a pound of green beans takes about 25 minutes from start of roast all the way through cool down. When you’re roasting coffee, you might think it will have this heavenly coffee-like aroma and you’d be wrong. You’re essentially taking these raw beans and sticking them in a toaster oven. So, that means it just smells like you’re toasting a plant-like substance at first… in fact, some would say it just smells like you’re slowly burning something. Once you’ve roasted a few batches, it’s a great aroma because your brain directly attaches it to amazing coffee. (Well, at least mine does. You’ll have to ask my wife if she agrees.)

While the roast is in progress, you have to listen carefully. What you’re listening for is the first pop of what is called “first crack”- this is a critical moment. From this point forward is where everything starts happening quickly and you should be staring at the window of the Behmor keeping track of what your beans look like. If you’re looking for a medium roast, you’re waiting until first crack ends and you want to start the cooling process before the next (slightly softer) second crack begins. Once you hit second crack, the beans are on their way to a dark roast quickly (every 15 seconds counts here). I never roast to second crack if I can help it.

Once the cooldown cycle is complete, you pour the drum onto something where the cooling can complete – I use a cookie sheet. Once the beans are completely cool, I weight them again to track how much weight was lost (this weighed out to 6.9 oz, so it lost just a little over an ounce of mass). Then, you put them into an airtight container for at least 24 hours (you really shouldn’t grind beans before this first 24 hours as magic is still happening.) This first batch looks a bit more varied than I had anticipated, so next batch we’re going to change up the roast profile a bit. If you look at the picture on the left there, you can kind of see that there’s one really light bean and one really dark bean. The small bean in the middle being that dark is kind of expected as it’s so much smaller than the rest of the beans… but I’m uncertain why one of the beans looks as green as it does. More experimentation required!!

If you’re another Behmor user, I roasted this batch on P3, B, 1/2 lb. First crack started at 13:03. I couldn’t really tell when first crack ended, but I definitely stopped the roaster before second crack began at 14:30 and went straight into cooling. It’s possible that a few beans went into second crack due to the amount of time that passed, but it was definitely before it was obvious.