It takes a good 13 to 14 minutes to complete a medium-to-full city roast. There are two stages that punctuate the transformation of the product from green, turgid beans to fully roasted aromatic coffee. The first phase is known as "First Crack." The beans pop and snap much like popcorn in a popper. This is an indication that the bean's structure is succumbing to the heat and has released all of its stored moisture. At this point, the machine's internal temperature is rising to over 360 degrees. The roast now has gathered up momentum. The caramelization of essential oils characterizes the exothermic reaction. The beans are ready for the final stage which is known universally in the industry as "Second Crack." The machine now has reached a staggering 400 degrees. Second Crack is the distance. This may sound slightly obtuse; however, I see this phase as a delicate moment where the bean's flavor profile is finalized. I pull the door open and the seething/frenetic beans fall out into the cooling tray. A large circular arm churns the beans over a screen, and the hot air is sucked out through a duct and oxidized.
Finally, after a few minutes, I drop the fresh batch of roasted beans into a bucket. I study the subtle hues and the wonderful matte finish that exemplifies a good, full city roast; it is here that I pause, and feel charged just like the machine. My senses are primed and ready for the roasting week.