Roaster Choices for 2012

Discussions about roaster hardware and the finer points of their use
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Endo
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Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by Endo » Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:39 pm

No roaster talk in 2012? Why so quiet?

Since I've been having so much fun with my Behmor (and because it's my birthday next week :smile: ), I think I will "take it up a notch" and get something with a bit more control. Choices are:

1. Quest M3
2. Latest Hotttop B2 Model with K-thermocouple
3. Wait for the mysterious 1lb Hottop model.

With my Behmor, I currently have a Amprobe TMD-56 datalogger that I use with Artisan software on my laptop. I'd like to use that on whichever roaster I get.

Any suggestions?
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by MichaelS » Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:07 am

love my hottop b, but the one thing I wish I had was more capacity... Do we have any idea what the price point will be on the 1lb version when it releases?

The thing is that when you consider a 1000 roaster that you'll put a fair bit into the 'disposables over the life of it, the Diedrich becomes very attractive if you can swing the upfront capital and have access to ng.

the quest has a pretty fanatical following though, hard choices listed :) (didn't really help much did I? :p)

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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by Endo » Fri Aug 17, 2012 1:12 pm

I got a bit more info:

The Quest goes for $965 US direct from Taiwan to Canada with $140 shipping. Add onto that about $150 for Quebec tax and probably something like $200 for duty and customs charges, and we're talking $1500.

I can get the Hottop B2 for only $820 right hear in Montreal at Ecafe, so it seems like a much better bargain.

There is total silence from Hottop on their new 1 lb version, so I have to think it may never happen. I suspect they couldn't make it for the pricepoint they were targeting (which is under $1300 I'd say).

Diedrich IR-1 is about $7000. Not really in the same range at all, so it isn't on my list.
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by MichaelS » Sat Aug 18, 2012 1:56 am

wow the IR1 went up or I had looked at an outdated price list as the last time I saw it I recall it was 4400. No matter, the Hottop is a sweet machine and dang accurate. once you get a profile dialed in, you can almost 'set it and forget it' as its that repeatable.

roasting my own beans changed my coffee experience radically... next big step is my grinder,but I'm in no rush.

do let us know which way you go though!

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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by Endo » Sun Aug 19, 2012 11:41 am

I just found out there is no customs on the Quest roaster coming from Taiwan. Since it can do back to back roasts, I suppose I could live with the smaller capacity. It also seems a little easier to run Eric's thermocouples through the front of the quest as compared to the back of the Hottop. So I think I'll be ordering the quest next week. (Unless someone convinces me to change my mind). :smile:
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by expy98 » Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:17 pm

I suppose you've ruled out the Huky 500 already? Electric models only?

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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by Endo » Wed Aug 22, 2012 5:06 pm

expy98 wrote:I suppose you've ruled out the Huky 500 already? Electric models only?
I prefer to stick with something smaller and electric, for the WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor).

Besides, the Huky reminds me too much of Noo Noo from the Teletubbies:
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by expy98 » Wed Aug 22, 2012 7:46 pm

but everybody loves Noo Noo...

I do also like the simplicity of just electric but the 1/2 lb capacity of the Hottop got old real fast. It just doesn't seem
like the 1lb Hottop will be ready anytime soon.

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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by Endo » Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:07 am

expy98 wrote:I do also like the simplicity of just electric but the 1/2 lb capacity of the Hottop got old real fast. It just doesn't seem like the 1lb Hottop will be ready anytime soon.
I roast 350g on my Behmor once a week. This works out perfectly for me.

I would love the 1 lb Hottop and would be willing to wait 6 months if I knew it was coming, but after years of waiting, I've now given up.

As far as the small batch size for the Quest goes; since the Quest can do back to back roasts in 30 minutes, I will simply do this and it will give me my 350g I need. One of the benefits of this is that I can roast 2 different beans to make a nice blend.

I've got some nice Yemen and Java to blend as soon as the Quest arrives! Can't wait!
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by MonkeyK » Wed Aug 29, 2012 1:27 pm

I know that you say that you want to continue using your software, but you might be interested to know that RoasterThing (formerly BehmorThing) is now integrating with a temperature logging interface http://www.roasterthing.com/Logging

also, the logging board (but not the software yet) has switching capabilities to control the Behmor and the author has recently stated he is beginning to work on implementing roaster control.

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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by Endo » Wed Aug 29, 2012 5:34 pm

MonkeyK wrote:I know that you say that you want to continue using your software, but you might be interested to know that RoasterThing (formerly BehmorThing) is now integrating with a temperature logging interface http://www.roasterthing.com/Logging

also, the logging board (but not the software yet) has switching capabilities to control the Behmor and the author has recently stated he is beginning to work on implementing roaster control.
Looks interesting! It would be great to get more control over the heating and fan on the Behmor, and with logging capability too!

Still, it's almost impossible to get a BT probe in the Behmor, and I wonder how the electronics would hold up if someone started adjusting some of these heating and cooling variables. There is also the problem (like the Hottop) of never being able to do back-to-back roasts.

These limitations are the reason I went with the Quest. I can't really justify the additonal cost....but that's pretty much the same for all high end espresso gear.
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by JohnB » Sat Sep 01, 2012 12:56 pm

Endo wrote:
expy98 wrote:I would love the 1 lb Hottop and would be willing to wait 6 months if I knew it was coming, but after years of waiting, I've now given up.
It is coming so be patient. Spoke with Michael at HTUSA recently & he says they are doing UL testing which can take 5 months. He said all the molds/castings are ready for the new parts. Dual heating elements with controls allowing one or both to run, 750g (1.5lb) roasting capacity, easy connection to your computer for data logging during the roast & a fully manual mode so you can roast back to back if you choose as you have complete control. Down side is that it won't be cheap. No price has been set yet but from what I'm hearing I would expect it to be close to $2k but that is just a guess on my part.

While it sounds great I just don't consume enough coffee to need that kind of capacity. Also I don't see myself wanting to tie up that much $$ in a coffee roaster. Paid $550 for my HT-B a few years ago & it still roasts all the coffee I can use.
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by Endo » Sat Sep 01, 2012 10:05 pm

Now you tell me. :x My Quest has been bought and should arrive any day.

Either way, I'm looking forward to my shiny little Quest. Besides it seems like the new Hotop will be a monster anyway, and probably too big for my kitchen (and my wallet). I've got a nice USB data logger already, and I really like the idea of doing back-to-back roast of different SOs ( which I assume the new Hottop won't be able to do). Hope I don't regret my purchase.
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by richardcoffee » Sun Sep 02, 2012 10:52 am

Abraham Lincoln said something like this, "when you make a bad bargain, hug it all the tighter." Just a way of saying don't bother too much with regrets. I certainly had these feeling of foreboding when I bought my mini. I started out on a quest to replace a $100 steam machine and ended up spending nearly $2000. Today, I love it. I'm sure you'll love your new roaster as well Endo.

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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by JohnB » Sun Sep 02, 2012 10:59 am

Evidently you missed this part of my post:
JohnB wrote: & a fully manual mode so you can roast back to back if you choose as you have complete control.
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by Endo » Sun Sep 02, 2012 10:36 pm

It's all just vaporware for now. When (or if) it ever comes out, and assuming they can ever sell it in Canada (which may be another 2 years), I'll have a closer look. Though it sounds like it would be a bit too much for me. Probably better suited for a small coffeeshop rather than home use.

My goal for the last year has been to move towards smaller, simpler and higher quality equipment (Cremina, Pharos, etc), and get the same or better quality results as the big, expensive stuff. The Quest seem to fit the bill perfectly, and looks nice enough that my wife will let me keep it on the kitchen counter! :lol:
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by JohnB » Mon Sep 03, 2012 8:44 am

It's well past the vaporware stage but you are right, Michael said their target buyer is a small cafe that wants to roast their own beans. I'm sure you'll be happy with the Quest, most buyers are. Can you roast indoors with it?
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by chas » Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:13 am

Endo, at least you're getting away from the Behmor before you burned your house down. You've been living on borrowed time far longer than any Beh-no-mor owner I've ever known! :twisted:
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by Endo » Mon Sep 03, 2012 10:34 pm

JohnB wrote: I'm sure you'll be happy with the Quest, most buyers are. Can you roast indoors with it?
My Quest is sitting in Toronto now, after getting shipped from Taiwan. It should arrive in the next day or two and I'll find out then how much smoke it makes. I suspect it will be more then my Behmor with the afterburner, but since batch sizes are smaller, and since I have a massive bathtub sized stainless kitchen hood and 12" commercial restaurant fan, I'm pretty sure smoke will not be an issue.

My only worry with the Quest is the small batch size. But after reading more, I think I can live with it it. After all, I figure I can roast my typical 400g or so in 2 batches in about 30 to 40 minutes on the Quest. My Behmor does the same in about 30 minutes as well (20 min roasting and 10 minutes cools own). But with the Quest I'll be able to roast 2 different SOs to add more variety or make blends.

I liked the Behmor a lot (as a beginner's roaster) but it has its weakness of long roast times, slow cool down and general lack of temperature and fan control (for roast profiling). As my roasting skills improved (and I found an excellent green bean vendor right next door) it became clear that I needed a new roaster to bring it to the next level.
chas wrote:Endo, at least you're getting away from the Behmor before you burned your house down. You've been living on borrowed time far longer than any Beh-no-mor owner I've ever known! :twisted:
I never had a problem with fires, but I credit that mostly to my desire for lighter roasts and smaller batch sizes. Do you think the Quest will be safer? It has no safety features at all, but perhaps all the stainless will make it less prone to auto-ignite? Let's hope so. :smile:
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by Endo » Fri Sep 07, 2012 10:12 pm

New Quest arrived yesterday....but with a broken right side heating element. :cry:

Good thing my Behmor is not sold yet.
2012-09-07 003 (400x267).jpg
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by GDK » Sat Sep 08, 2012 4:14 pm

Darn, I hope you get a replacement soon.

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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by Endo » Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:44 pm

Seems the heater is OK after all. The designer Mr.Yen told me he made some changes recently so the heater closer to the bean mass is hotter than the other side.

I cranked it up to the full 1050W and got a very nice roast. The batch sizes are small alright, but the machine is so much fun, I don't think I'll mind having to roast twice as much!

The small size is perfect for the kitchen and the smoke is less than my Behmor (probably the result of the small batch size). A perfect home roaster IMO. Can't wait to do my next roast and experiment a bit more.
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by Endo » Tue Sep 11, 2012 10:05 pm

Second roast on the Quest. Nice!

No smoke what so ever, and chaff comes out unburnt. Seems much less fire prone.
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Costa Rican on Quest M3
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by Endo » Thu Sep 20, 2012 9:27 pm

Update:

Just finished roasting some Java Jampit. Still lovin' my new Quest.

It's so small, looks so beautiful and makes so little smoke and chaff, its been allowed permanent counter space in the kitchen opposite my Vivaldi. This convenience alone means I roast a lot more often. I was worried about the small batch size but the roasting is so much fun on the Quest I now have too much coffee and need to start freezing some! :smile: A standard mason jar takes 170g so that's the batch size I'm roasting. Makes for very easy storing and freezing.

I've been using just 1 power and fan setting throughout the roast. I bought the Quest to experiment with these variables and do some profiling, but it's clear this will take some time to master.

Haven't set off the smoke detector once! Can't say that same about the Behmor.
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by GDK » Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:09 am

Endo, have you found raw beans in Montreal that when roasted give similar taste to the Toscano from Counter Culture? I have no roaster yet but my wife is warming up to the idea. Having it on the kitchen counter is a very steep climb at the moment though.

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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by Endo » Sat Oct 06, 2012 8:53 pm

I have a friend a coupe of kilometers away who does the Canadian distribution for the Green Coffee Buying Club. I'm passing by his place this week to pick up some "cup of excellence" green beans.

Having someone passionate about green beans right next door is what convinced me to get the Quest. It works great and looks very cool on the kitchen counter. My espresso has never been fresher.

I still have a long ways to go to make a standout blend like Toscano. But when you roast it yourself fresh, and you have all the details like the farmer, estate, processing, etc, you may actually find you enjoy it more. It will definitely taste better than 4 week old gourmet blends (and cost half as much).

For now I'm mostly doing SOs and learning the art of roasting. It's quite an enjoyable weekend activity.

This morning I had some 4 day old Costa Rican Santa Elena I roasted on my Quest, ground on my Pharos and then pulled on my Cremina......heaven! :smile:
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by peter » Tue Oct 09, 2012 4:25 pm

Interesting, Endo. You're speaking of Mico (Miroslav) I take it.

I've been distributing to the GCBC for a few years, and have met Miroslav. The CR Santa Elena was one of the beans I/we cupped for him down here to distribute up there. He's a wonderful person, yes? And he knows his coffee, for sure!

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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by LDT » Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:47 pm

Endo,

Can you post of photo of your Quest with the Amprobe connected to the roaster and the laptop computer? Thanks.
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by Endo » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:58 am

LDT wrote:Can you post of photo of your Quest with the Amprobe connected to the roaster and the laptop computer? Thanks.
Sure. Here it is.

The Amprobe works well, but if I was to do it again, I would probably consider the Arduino TC4 so I could plot and control power and fan speed as well as ET and BT. Also, I will likely replace the ET with a MET soon.
2012-09-29 003 (600x384).jpg
Roast Setup
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by chas » Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:16 am

Now its time for a YouTube video!

Is the temp probe on the lower left down in the bean bed and the one on the right above the bed bed?
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by Endo » Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:33 pm

chas wrote:Now its time for a YouTube video!
Yes. Especially since nobody seems to believe me when I say it makes almost no smoke, or that it seems safer to use than other "approved" roaster which have a tendancy to burst into flame.
chas wrote:Is the temp probe on the lower left down in the bean bed and the one on the right above the bed bed?
The BT probe seems to be placed very well in the bean bed. The drum rotates at around 60 rpm clockwise, and since the drum is rather small, with internal fins running all the way front to back, the probe stays well covered as long as you don't go below 150g.

The ET probe is also in the drum, but outside of the beans. It's rather slow to react since it's inside the thick, solid drum and just above the beans. Ideally, if you really wanted to see the the effect of heater changes, you'd place a thinner probe on the outside of the drum where the heaters are. Place at the top where the heat rises. This would be a more accurate MET (max environment temp) and would allow better control of the roast. As I have it now, the ET is really an average of MET and BT. And actually not too useful.

My Quest is a bit of an oddball I found out. It seems to be a one-of-a-kind "Canadian Edition" with a lower voltage (higher heat) 100V x 600W heater on the left and a higher voltage (lower heat) 116V x600W heater on the right. They did this apparently to give the heating a bit of a boost in case I wanted to roast outdoors or in my igloo. :lol: I'm not sure how long the over-driven 100V heater will last at 120V. But at $20 each, if it goes, it won't be so bad. (I'm buying a couple of spares just in case).

I stripped down my Quest yesterday and I must say, this is the best build quality and most thoughtful layout I've seen on any coffee gear I've purchased. Kinda like my Cremina. The whole thing can be stripped with two metric Allen keys. Beautiful! In these days of disposible iPods and such, this is very refreshing to see.
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by LDT » Wed Oct 24, 2012 2:21 pm

Endo have you ever used a fluid-bed roaster? If so, any observations re: differences such as control over roast, taste of roasted coffee, etc. Others feel free to chime in because I want to learn more. Thanks.
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by Endo » Sat Oct 27, 2012 10:02 pm

I never tried one, but I hear the fluid bed roasters are great. Very even and fast roast apparently. Slightly brighter cup I've heard.

Only problem is what's available is either really small (about 100g for the FreshRoast and Nesco) or really expensive (like the SonoFresco). I've seen some really nice DIY fluid bed roaster, but that takes a whole other level of commitment.
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by slo » Sun Oct 28, 2012 8:32 am

I have started roasting using a Popcorn popper a few years back. I started with an out-of-the box basic popper, then another, and another. I then modified them and complexified the set-up progressively over the years to get more control. In the end I had, and still have, a setup that was really good for volume (up to 200g) and control.
But, out of shear curiosity, lust and megalomania, I couldn't help myself and purchased a used 1kg Drum roaster (Electric Cafemino). I wanted to compare the taste and usage between the fluid bed and drum. I have modified the Cafemino as well. It came with a radiant heating element installed inside the drum and I installed an additional heating element exterior to the drum to both increase the power and controllability as well as to provide more of a standard drum roaster characteristics (conduction/convection).
The only reason that I did not purchase a Quest M3 was that I wanted the capability for larger batch size. My fluid bed already gives me the possibility to do the small batches.

Fluid beds, with a minimum of controls modified in, are much more responsive and provide almost infinite roast profile capability. Very energy efficient.
Electric Drum roasters, because of the relatively large heated mass are both slow and limited. There is a sweet spot (batch size and roast profile) to any drum roaster that one if forced to stay within to achieve good result. And finding it is no easy task! Because of the heat exchange mechanisms, fast roast are almost never good in a drum.

Fluid bed coffee taste is very variable. Since there is almost infinite roast profile possibilities, there is almost infinite taste possibilities! As Endo already mentioned the coffee will almost always be brighter, more acidic. Sometime for very fast roast it can become uni dimensional.
Electric Drum roaster impart a roasty, sometime toasty taste that fluid bed cannot. The roast is almost always more developed and more balanced.

Chaff is remove energetically from a fluid bed roaster, where in a drum, a large amount of it rolls around with the beans. Every drum has a different chaff extraction characteristic. Some (mine) will retain a lot of chaff that only gets separated after the roast is unloaded. This I believe, must affects the taste, but in what way I am not sure.

I cannot comment on a gas drum roaster, has I never tried one. I hear that it can be more responsive but there is always that large drum mass that will introduce a lag up or down. And I cannot comment on the taste that comes out of any specific electric drum roaster (Quest, Hottop, Genecafe, Behmor, ...) I think that any and all of them will have a very specific taste. But in general my comments above may still be close.
Vivaldi II, Multiple (a collection really) Lever machines
Currently on deck grinders: Mythos and MXKR
Backup grinders: Robur, Major.
Toper Cafemino Electric and Poppery 1 roaster

I have a serious problem ... Can you guess what?

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Endo
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by Endo » Sun Oct 28, 2012 11:44 am

Thanks Sylvain. Very informative summary of the roaster types.

Of course there are the practical aspects as well. While the larger roasters and fluid bed roasters sound appealing, where you choose to roast can often be what limits you. I have friend who loves roasting and would probably have a 1kg Diedrich roaster in his garage, but the city and insurance issues won't permit it. So he's stuck with his Hottop. Same with me. I'd love a Sonofresco fluid bed or new 1lb Hottop (if it ever happens :roll: ), but if I want to continue to roast in my kitchen and not in the snow in my backyard, then the Quest is the best option.

I must say, I love my little Quest and really look forward to my weekend roasting ritual. Roasting back to back makes larger batches easy and the smaller batch sizes are ideal for added variety and blending. I don't miss the larger batches at all, and my Behmor is now sold.
Endo

LaSpaziale Mini Vivaldi w/progressive p/i
HG-one, B.Vario, Quest M3

"It's the coffee, stupid."

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LDT
Espresso
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Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2011 1:02 pm
Location: Southwest Washington State

Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by LDT » Sun Oct 28, 2012 3:07 pm

Thnks for the responses! I'm using a FreshRoast SR500 with thermocouples connected to the Amprobe TMD-56 and Artisan software. My problem is at the beginning of the roast I cannot control the temperature increase properly. In the first few seconds without going into the cooling phase, temps quickly shoot past 300F. As a result for the first three or so minutes I am toggling back and forth between (low heat, high fan) and (cooling). I must say that using the Artisan software has really changed the way I roast. I am still learning! :oops:
LaSpaziale Mini Vivaldi w/Progressisive Preinfusion
Baratza Vario
FreshRoast SR500 Roaster
Huky 500 Roaster

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slo
Barista
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Re: Roaster Choices for 2012

Post by slo » Sun Oct 28, 2012 9:05 pm

By all means, this was not a complete description and it was barely touching the surface of what must be considered when buying (or making) a roaster.

I must say that for a few friends and family, I roast 3 or 4 batches of 850 g of various coffee on the Cafemino with some smaller batches on the modified P1 just about every, or at least every other weekend. This is why I wanted the larger capacity. This amount of coffee in a Quest would have just not worked for me. Nonetheless it is such a great little design and is so user friendly in its simplicity.

I find that having control over the heating element is critical in a fluid bed roaster. I have never tried a Freshroast and wonder if you could modify it to control the voltage to the heating element from a Variac. This is how I do it in the P1. Of course, whichever way you choose to control it is up to you and what is available.

I also use the Artisan software to visualise the profile and to record everything it is a great tool.
Vivaldi II, Multiple (a collection really) Lever machines
Currently on deck grinders: Mythos and MXKR
Backup grinders: Robur, Major.
Toper Cafemino Electric and Poppery 1 roaster

I have a serious problem ... Can you guess what?

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