When do First Crack start ?

The onset of First Crack (FC / 1st crack) is an important control point in the roast of coffee. Rapid development takes place in the taste from here on. First crack is when the beans expand and make a noice like the crack of a thin branch.

But all the beans do not crack right at the same time. First one, then quiet, then another. But at some points lots are cracking. So when should you call the time ? Was it a 9:15 or 9:40 minutes ?

Another thing that makes it difficult is the background noice: the noice of the roaster and the beans hitting the drum. So its difficult to hear the cracks.

Try listen to this sound bite … Make you own notes before reading on



I will make a podcast episode about it some time. Listen to the other episodes in the podcast Coffee Roasting Navigated.

Some beans have a more clear FC start than others. A late FC (like more than 13 minutes) will tend to make a weaker crack. Low density beans tend to make weaker crack.



I asked in a roaster group on Facebook (click on the picture to see a bigger size):


Around 0:15 into the sound bite, I also was thinking: “is it starting now ?” But then it silenced, so No.

Then there is one clear snap around 0:55. But I need more of a roll of cracks to say that it has started.

So I would also say around 1 minute.

fil-07-12-2016-11-38-35Here I stand with a stethoscope to hear the onset better. It works best through air – and not on metal or glass window. On this roaster I took out the trier and fittet the stethoscope on.

Photo by Morten Münchow, CoffeeMind.


Sound analysis

Research has been done on the sounds during coffee roasting by P.S. Wilson. In his article “Coffee roasting acoustics” he concludes:

> Near the end of the roasting process, sounds known as first crack exhibit a higher acoustic amplitude than sounds emitted later, known as second crack. First crack emits more low frequency energy than second crack.

Link to article: http://asa.scitation.org/doi/full/10.1121/1.4874355