Seeking advice for a roaster

Discussions about roaster hardware and the finer points of their use
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manishr
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Seeking advice for a roaster

Post by manishr » Sun Jun 20, 2010 12:36 am

I've read through the forums on roasters and ratings, however I feel some of the information may be out of date. I have never roasted coffee before and I'm looking for advice on a new roaster. This is for personal use (residential). I will likely roast outside the apartment (on the balcony) for safety and personal comfort.

I usually go through 1-lb of coffee in 10-days. Because of this, I think buying a bbq drum may be over doing it. Although cost is important, I am more concerned about consistent quality with product reliability.

From my current research, I am leaning to the Hottop B-Model. I've ruled out the Behmor because of the recurring smoke and failure issues (from people's experience). Thanks in advance for any advice.

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Endo
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Re: Seeking advice for a roaster

Post by Endo » Sun Jun 20, 2010 10:03 am

If you are willing to spend the money, the Hottop sounds like a good high-end choice.

I wasn't willing to spend that much when the Behmor is less than half the price. I also like to roast indoor on top of my stove (with a vent above it). The Hottop is too big an appliance for me. I wanted something that stored away in my cupboards like a toaster oven. Again, the Behmor fit perfectly.

Customer support is great with the Behmor. Joe Behmor answered my e-mail questions himself even! No fires. No smoke.

I roast in batches of 14oz on the 1lb setting (more than the Hottop) and couldn't be happier with my choice.

The Behmor is like the Rancilio Silvia. One of the most popular choices with a lot of happy users, but for some reason people seems to like to exaggerate the negatives of these popular mahines. "A Behmor caused the California wild fires!" Gimme a break. :roll:
Endo

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JohnB
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Re: Seeking advice for a roaster

Post by JohnB » Sun Jun 20, 2010 4:41 pm

I have seen a heck of a lot of Behmor fire posts in the last year or so. Quick cooling is also not a strong point of the toaster oven roaster. I'd go with the Hottop B or if you feel adventurous there is always the Quest M3.
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Endo
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Re: Seeking advice for a roaster

Post by Endo » Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:00 pm

For the original poster, the Hottop seems like the right choice. If I roasted outside or in my garage, I would have considered the Hottop or Quest as well since it seems to provide the most roast adjustability....if you are willing to pay the price of course.

But as it stands, if I was to plop one of these smokey, chrome monsters in my kitchen, I think my wife would have me comitted to the "Maxwell House". :lol:

The Behmor passes for a toaster oven (with an afterburner), has the wife acceptance factor, and gets me through the weeks where I don't have time to pick up a lb of the good stuff (see photo).
IMG_2161 (480x320).jpg
Behmor 1600
IMG_2161 (480x320).jpg (57 KiB) Viewed 3325 times
As for fires.....well, what can I say. Nothing is idiot proof. Should I rip out my home fireplace as well? I don't know of any houses being lost to a Behmor but I bet there are thousands a year lost to fireplace ignorance.

I follow my simple rules of keeping to my 14oz roast size, not roasting more than 15s beyond second crack (usually much less), and I always stand watch to press the cool button. I never had a problem. I have custom, restaurant size exhaust fan which helps with smoke as well.

Now if we're dreaming.....Diedrich IR-1. Nice! 8) But I'd want a dedicated roast shed out back as well.
Endo

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Re: Seeking advice for a roaster

Post by JohnB » Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:32 pm

The whole Hottop heavy smoke thing is fantasy unless you are cranking out French roasts. I only roast in the house, never go past FC+ & my Ht is several feet from the window. I use a standard box fan in the window which draws out the small smoke/odor trail coming off the roaster. Considering how many of those Behmors that have burned up its hard to believe it doesn't put out any smoke.

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Re: Seeking advice for a roaster

Post by Endo » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:44 pm

I haven't yet tried a Hottop, but I'd really like to give one a try some day. I'm starting to get the feeling my vent hood would handle the smoke well and if I can convince my wife it's a mixer, it may just work. :lol:

Eventually, I expect I'll become bored with lack of adjustability on the Behmor and look for something a bit better. I agree the quicker cooldown is attractive, but many experts say it is not so important. Although I've been able to drop it a little faster by opening the door slightly during cooling (after lowering the temp a bit to lower the backdraft fire risk of course).

I get the feeling that in the next year or two someone (like Quest perhaps) will design a nice 1 lb craft home roaster that will beat the Hottop. So, I plan on keeping the Behmor for now, saving my pennies and jumping on it once it arrives. I would also bet Joe (creative guy that he is) has a Behmor 2 in the works that may blow away the Hottop.
Endo

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Re: Seeking advice for a roaster

Post by JohnB » Tue Jun 22, 2010 9:41 am

Hottop is hard at work on a new 1lb roaster & the next generation 1/2 lbrs. Lots of improvements & nice features from what I've been told so Joe will have to stay a few steps ahead of the new series to beat HT. As far as the importance of reasonably fast cooling there is some good info in this H-B thread: http://www.home-barista.com/home-roasti ... 14211.html As I mentioned in that thread I use a small desk fan in addition to the built in cooling fan of the HT. Even if my roasts don't nail every flavor in a particular bean I almost always get the sweet aftertaste that many seem to attribute to a "proper" cool down period. 3 minutes (+or-) from drop to room temp is a typical cooling time for my roasts.
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Re: Seeking advice for a roaster

Post by Endo » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:37 am

This roasting business reminds me a lot of home brewing. I'm just happy when I make something that doesn't taste too horrible.

If I decide to move up to the next level, I'll have a good close look at the new 1lb Hottop.
Endo

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peter
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Re: Seeking advice for a roaster

Post by peter » Wed Jun 23, 2010 6:38 pm

If you need a roaster that will be sitting out for all to see, don't read any further.
If you don't like to tinker or are not handy, again, don't read any further.

For under $100 total for all new parts and the digital thermometer, you can put together a roaster with 1lb. capacity and will have way more control than either a Hottop or a Behmor. SC/TO. Stir Crazy/Turbo Oven. Stir Crazy popcorn popper - self-explanatory, Target has them on sale often. Turbo Oven, used to known by its most common brand name as a Galloping Gourmet convection oven, and sometimes as Decosonic. But new units w/only the top heating unit are available from Sunpentown.

You have to put a few pieces together, but the end result is worth it. I've use two units producing ~4lbs./hr., and the two of them have roasted literally thousands of pounds in the last 5+ years. Excellent results because of the wonderful ability to profile the beans.

This link is a few years old and some things in my setup have changed, but this will give you an idea how I roast in my basement; http://xrl.in/5ov8.
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Endo
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Re: Seeking advice for a roaster

Post by Endo » Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:26 pm

I guess the Behmor isn't the only roaster that some people loath. Read this guys review of the Hottop. Not sure exactly what he doesn't like, but apparently he's about to run it over with his truck. :lol:

http://www.coffeegeek.com/reviews/acces ... p/BubbaBob

Another vote for the Stir Crazy. I may need to try making one of those.
Endo

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JohnB
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Re: Seeking advice for a roaster

Post by JohnB » Fri Jun 25, 2010 10:15 am

21 minutes to first crack?? Mine hits 1st in the 9-11 minute area each & every time, ambient temp be damned. Here is a big hint: Something is amiss! He doesn't mention which model he bought 3 years ago, hopefully it wasn't the antique in the photo.
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Re: Seeking advice for a roaster

Post by Endo » Fri Jun 25, 2010 6:11 pm

Someting definitely wrong. I haven't read many bad things about the hottop. Still a pretty funny review though.

Just curious. If I got a hottop, is it worth it to spend the extra $200 for the programmable?
Endo

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Re: Seeking advice for a roaster

Post by JohnB » Fri Jun 25, 2010 10:01 pm

Endo wrote:Just curious. If I got a hottop, is it worth it to spend the extra $200 for the programmable?
Get the B model as it gives you more manual control over the roast & you can still save profiles.
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Endo
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Re: Seeking advice for a roaster

Post by Endo » Sun Dec 05, 2010 2:42 pm

My Behmor has been working great as of late. What a fantatsic roaster! :bounce: I've come up with some much improved blends and found a way to do a fast cooldown by removing the drum (for added sweetness).

Still, it would be nice to be able to sample and dump the hot beans. I'm not interested in the Hottop or the Quest M3 since they only do 9 oz roasts. I only have time to roast once a week and I usually consume 14 oz of coffee a week, so that's the minimum batch size I'd ever consider.

Any more news on the 1lb Hottop or something similar? If not, I may be making a SC/TO.
Endo

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Re: Seeking advice for a roaster

Post by JohnB » Sun Dec 05, 2010 3:55 pm

Good question. I sent Michael an email today but I doubt we'll hear anything other then "not yet". They dropped the ball taking so long to get the 1lb'r to market. Lots of lost sales to the Quest & other roasters. I'd love a manual gas 1lb'r but can't bring myself to spend the current asking prices.
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expy98
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Re: Seeking advice for a roaster

Post by expy98 » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:30 pm

I'd started w/ a Gene which was so very easy to use then switched to a HT B. At first
I couldn't get consistent results, took a while until I learned how the heating element reacts to changes.
IMO the ability to save profiles on the B, for me at least, has been pretty much useless.
I've since replaced the fan filter w/ metal computer filters (idea from Randy G), doubling up
and flattening the edges so that it'll stay on better. I'm planning to do something similar to
the top filter which can be easily disassembled, maybe using the same metal filters.

Now I'm glad I've made the switch but I'm tired of roasting for 3-5 hours every weekend
for family and friends. I'm def ready for a 1lb HT if it ever comes out. If I had a dedicated
permanent space for roasting, I'd be looking at used 2kg machines.

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Re: Seeking advice for a roaster

Post by JohnB » Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:52 pm

I've been using the computer filter screen in the rear for about a year now but have left the front filter stock. Lots of heat loss through that top filter so I leave it dirty to slow the loss.
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