See those beans?
They're about as dark as the black beans you get at the Chipotle order line.
That was our first roast.
And that custom built drum? It fit inside a propane grill, attached to a motor. It was pretty legit.
We soon upgraded to a Deidrich IR-3. The infared burners and data logging gave us more control over each roast; though every now and then we look back on our old ghetto propane grill, and think of simpler times...
Fresh beans always taste amazing.
But these following roasting practices effect the flavors you get inside a cup. We take all of these into account:
-Slower roasts (more time consuming, but develops fuller beans with depth and flavor)
-Steadily declining ROR (see Scott Rao's take here).
-Origin (different country origins are better suited for particular roast levels: light, medium, dark) Though there's a level of subjectivity here.
-Chemical Structure (measuring moisture levels inside the beans before first crack, changed moisture levels during first crack and overall chemical changes of the bean itself during the entirety of roast also impacts flavor, body and acidity).
Fortunately for us, all of these principles mean we're forced to taste a lot of coffee and see how roast development influences the final cup.