Between Scylla and Charybdis is a cozy place.
Driven indoors by the late but inevitable arrival of a Midwestern winter, and routed out of the house by the keening wail of the smoke alarms [not to mention the deploring looks of both wife and golden retriever] I find myself roasting coffee in a cozy corner of the garage. All in all, it’s a happy compromise.

The garage is bounded on two sides by the house, shares its attack, and boasts insulated doors all around. Consequently it maintains a temperature around 50 degrees [Fahrenheit, or 10 Celsius for our metric friends.] Bundled in my favorite rag sweater it’s plenty comfortable… and my sweater now smells like just-roasted coffee.

My expanded capacity roaster cannot, on its own, compete with that ambient temperature, so I’m roasting in a bucket. To my delight, I’ve found that I can vary the intake temperature of the roaster by adjusting how deep the roaster sits in the bucket, simply stuffing odds and ends from the garage underneath the roaster itself. This affords me still more control over my roast profiles. In particular, it’s allowed me to lower the finish roast temperature by about 20 degrees, which has revealed new layers of flavor that the hotter roast had apparently muted.

This has dividends for every coffee I roast. I’m able to roast bright coffees [Centrals, especially] to a deeper version of City and Full City roasts — caramelizing a bit more sugar and offering a sweeter finish — without burning off the high notes. For beans that want a darker roast, I’m able to bring them to their first sweat of oil [or beyond] without any sort of carbony tastes, while keeping more of the chocolatey mid-tones in the bean. My espresso roasts have been particularly tasty.

I’ve only just started to experiment with storing some green beans in my new “roasting room” temperature. I wonder, will roasting a batch of beans that are themselves 50 degrees allow me to get still sweeter coffee? Hmmm.

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