...If for some reason you don’t have access to one or two of these tools, it’s OK.
The others will work fine on their own. And yeah! They’re free. Most people have them, right at home.
Sight. Look at the green beans, what size are they? Do they have a lot of silverskin? Can you tell if they were wet or dry processed? What might these things mean to the finished roast just by looking? What else can you tell just by looking at the beans about how they might want to be home roasted? How would you treat this kind of bean vs that kind of bean? Ask Us!
Smell. Smell the green beans. What do they say about where the finished product may go? While they are roasting what does the smell say about where you are in the process? If you couldn't see or hear your coffee roasting, could you still tell when it was done? Yes.
Hearing. Listen to the beans as they roast This is probably the easiest tool of all to use. If you were to roast in pitch darkness just by hearing alone, could you produce a great cup of coffee? Yes, you probably could.
Time. Roast fast or slow, languid, or blast furnace. Roast a lot or a little. Time is part of the recipe of roasting great coffee. And once roasted if you let the coffee sit for a day, or four to five days, before grinding, the taste will be different. If you brew finely ground coffee fast, or coarsely ground coffee slow, the results will be different. So, time is a huge part of the process.
Repetition/ Evolution/ Attention/ Anticipation. This is one of the hardest tools to master and is related to time. It's a mixture of intention and dumb luck. But with enough iterations of roasting coffee, this will become second nature. Each time you roast, think about cause and effect and adjust toward where you'd like to go with your coffee. Each time you roast using the first 4 tools, you take a step toward perfection.
The key to using these five free tools, is to use them.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of dogma. It's easy to fall into the trap of voodoo, where what worked last time has to work this time. Those are traps of belief. Forget belief and Look, Smell, Listen, Be Present, and pay Attention. That's really all you need.
Of course, you want to hit the mark over and over. But to miss the mark only means 'try again'. Yes!, do measure your steps, but don't believe that the beans from yesterday will roast the same way today. They won't. Perfection is a moving target, you need to move with it.
These are not tools of control, they are tools of reaction. Just use these five easy free tools when home coffee roasting and great coffee will come to you.