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Topic: [coffee] Re: +Hot Top auto or manual (27 msgs / 658 lines)
1) From: Rick Farris
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Alfred writes:
My carpenter friend says it's relatively simple to frame a house, and my
mechanic friend says it's relatively simple to rebuild an engine.  Are
you an electronics technician?
Every one here that owns a Hottop has told you the way to go, Alfred.
Are you looking to learn how to run your Hottop, or just taking a vote?
-- Rick

2) From: alfred
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
MessageNo Rick, you are wrong about that. "Everyone" does not agree with =
you. That is the wonderful part of this forum.
You find many opinions and can sift through them until you find one that =
works for you.
One of the members who posted uses the temperature (time) settings on =
the unit for all his roasts and just uses different  automatic settings =
for different beans that are his favorites.  He uses the automatic =
feature completely.
But I certainly appreciate your help.

3) From: John Abbott
As an ex HotTop pilot I can say that I always used the profile settings.
That's not to say that occasionally I overshot the landing strip and had
to eject - but rarely.  I don't think I ever used the setting of seven
for anything except the initial burned sacrificed first load. 
I know that the REAL experts now chat it up for set it on seven and
eject.  In which case I've got to ask, why did they pay for a machine
with 7 profiles?  
On Mon, 2004-03-15 at 22:10, alfred wrote:

4) From: Rick Farris
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Alfred writes:
I never said that Alfred.  You've got to start reading more closely.  I
said that everyone here that owns a Hottop has given you advice.  Some
of us three or four times.  You've got all the advice you need.
Now go roast some coffee!
-- Rick

5) From: alfred
Just one further thought about the settings. On Tom's website ,he shows
three roasts from a cold roaster to a warm one. He states that starting with
a cold roaster the results are quite repeatable. Now if you have a favorite
bean, and you know that  a setting of "three" produces exactly the result
you want, why wouldn't you use it? Forget the cracks, the beeps, the
analysis, just grab a brew and let it do it's thing. One of our members
described this method and this is how he uses his Hot Top for all his
roasts. Of course, I'm not a REAL expert either.

6) From: Rick Farris
Because it *has* a profile, John.  Instead of being a simple oven with a
rotating drum inside, the Hottop controls the rate of change of the
temperature.  But you know that.
-- Rick

7) From: John Abbott
Yup, sure do!  It was an academic question not an inquiry.  But... My
machine is now a pile of parts and I'm not going to be a defender nor a
detractor.  I just know that I got a couple of years of wonderful roasts
from mine irrespective of my method.  Now the poor thing looks like a
victim from Dr. Zarkoff's lab with a Labjack wired to it and all its
control board nowhere in sight.   Adds a whole new meaning to "Tune for
John - 
On Tue, 2004-03-16 at 10:17, Rick Farris wrote:

8) From: Ralph Cohen
On Tue, 16 Mar 2004 07:56:50 -0800, alfred wrote:
As long as you have the patience to wait for the HotTop to cool down
completely, you can certainly get away with finding a setting that
works for you for a particular bean and then just using it all the
time.  I generally roast 4-6 batches at a time so I'm not willing to
take the considerable amount of time needed for the unit - which is
massive - to return to room temperature.  If I recall correctly, when I
first got my HotTop I determined that a setting of 4 + 1 pretty much
gave me a full city roast starting from a cold roaster.  However, since
I don't wait for it to cool down between roasts, I set the HotTop at 4
+ 5  and then manually eject the beans after the first cracks have been
silent for at least 30 seconds and the second cracks are just
beginning.  This method produces remarkably consistent roasts every
I would also like to chime in about the HotTop roasting profiles.  I
played around a lot with my HotTop when I first got it, and I found
that there was a significant difference in roasts between, for
instance, setting the profile at 7 and then dumping when the second
cracks began or setting at 4 + 5 and dumping when the second cracks
began.  To my taste, the 4 + 5 roast produced coffee with a slightly
brighter taste but with the same deep flavors as the 7 roast and it's a
flavor I prefer.  As others have mentioned, the HotTop does have
profiles that control how fast the temperatures ramp up and how long
the temperature levels are sustained and my experiments proved to me
that setting the HotTop and 7 and manually ejecting the beans is not
the same as setting it at a different level.
Finally, one more thing to consider if you want consistent roasts is to
check your electrical line voltage.  I was surprised to discover that I
could measure 10-15V differences in my line levels from day to day, so
I invested in a variac so that I can normalize the voltage before
starting to roast.
Ralph Cohen

9) From: alfred
Thanks so much Ralph: This kind of feedback really helps me learn the ropes.
and your message went right into my files.
I started behind the eight ball when the new roaster arrived. It was
defective the time/temp settings meant nothing. No matter where you set it,
in 25 minutes it dumped a pile of oily charcoal in the tray. The new one
arrives on Friday, the latest model with the new chip. Now I can't hear the
beeps but I can hear the cracks and am learning to distinguish between first
and second.(when you can't hear the beeps, you don't know when it's ready to
dump if you want to add time) The wife is bringing home today an amplified
listener from Radio Shack which may solve the problemhttp://www.radioshack.com/search.asp?find=amplifier&SRC=1&image1.x5&image1.y1Dr. Crema solved all my problems with making the brew, now to learn

10) From: alfred
Oh, the amplified listener arrived. Wow, is it something else.A tiny device,
smaller than the smallest cell phone, it really amplifies any sound to LOUD
AND CLEAR. You could hear a fart in a windstorm and even select the
frequency with the three band equalizer  I hope it works because it will
help with the cracks as well as the beeps. It may help the other old dudes
on this forum as well. I'll let you know $34. You can also use it to
eavesdrop on the gossip at church.

11) From: Ralph Cohen
On Tue, 16 Mar 2004 14:32:24 -0800, alfred wrote:
Great news, Alfred.  That sounds like it should help a lot.  I found
that the key for determining the correct time to get a full city roast
was to listen for the 30+ second gap between the first cracks and the
second cracks.  You may also notice that the second cracks seem a bit
sharper i.e. at a higher frequency.  So, listen for the silence between
the cracks, then wait until you've heard at least 1 or 2 second cracks
and then hit the eject button.
Enjoy your coffee.

12) From: Joe Byrd
What do you mean by 4 + 5????
Am I missing something here?  Can we add extra time to the hottop when we
program the setting?
As always in the dark

13) From: Ralph Cohen
On Tue, 16 Mar 2004 18:05:55 -0500, Joe Byrd wrote:
Absolutely!  After you've started whatever profile you've selected, you
can press the Plus button up to 5 times to increase the length of the
roast.  I think each press of the button increases the time by 20
seconds and the LED over the button will blink to indicate how may
Pluses have been added.  When a total of 5 have been added, the LED
will stay solidly lit.

14) From: Joe Byrd
Ex HotTop pilot?????????

15) From: alfred
 It is my understanding:
With the new models after May of 2003 with the new chip the time was
increased to 30 seconds instead of 20 This enabled darker roasts when
desired. Check out Randy Glass on this.. He says they will send you the new
chip free and tells you how to change it.

16) From: Ralph Cohen
On Tue, 16 Mar 2004 16:00:12 -0800, alfred wrote:
Thanks, Alfred.  I had heard about this a while ago but I take the
approach that if it ain't broke don't fix it.  On my HotTop I have no
problem getting an oily dark roast with the 5 + 5 setting although I
prefer a lighter roast.

17) From: John Abbott
On Tue, 2004-03-16 at 17:24, Joe Byrd wrote:
Yeah it was time to move on.  I have it torn down to parts and
originally thought I might just replace the control logic - it currently
sits with wires running in and around it so that it resembles a train
wreck.  I have the motor control and the heat elements (coil and sensor)
running back to a Labjack. (i/o device) and have started controlling it
(somewhat) with a laptop.   
Now I'm enamored with the concept of building a 2 to 5 pound roaster.  I
started by thinking of getting an RK drum and motor drive and converting
a BBQ grill.  But in chattering about it somebody pointed me back to an
earlier statement about being able to get stuff fabricated very
inexpensively here on the border (or across in Mexico) so now I'm just
going all the way to the ground and trying to figure out what I really
want/need to produce a small unit that can handle 2 to 5 pound loads.   
So now that I'm not a HotTopper I consider myself an ex hottop pilot.

18) From: alfred
Ralph: New at the Hot Top, I'm trying to understand what you mean regarding
the " Plus" or add time feature.
On mine, as you begin the roast and dump in the beans, the LED over the
"add" button is not lit.. Is this when you press the button to add time. I
tried it and the LED remains unlit. As the roast nears its end the LED
starts blinking (remember I can't hear the beeps)
Would you enlighten me?

19) From: Ralph Cohen
Hi Alfred,
The time to push the Plus button is anytime after the pre-heat cycle
and before the end of the roast when the beans are dumped.  Since you
can't hear the beeps that signal the end of the pre-heat cycle, you may
just want to wait for about 10 minutes after the roast has started and
push the Plus button then.  That will be somewhere in the middle of the
roast so there shouldn't be any problem.  One thing that can be a minor
problem, is that the plastic overlay over the button makes it a little
difficult to locate it sometimes, so you have to look for the LED to
light when you press it.
On Mon, 29 Mar 2004 11:55:32 -0800, alfred wrote:

20) From: alfred
Thanks Ralph:
Once it's lit, my "plus" button just constantly blinks on and off. I haven't
yet pushed it to add time. Therefore I don't understand  your comment that
it indicates the amount of time you have added.

21) From: Ralph Cohen
Hi Alfred,
When you push the Plus button the first time, it it will blink single
blinks.  The second time you push it, it will blink a series of double
of blinks, the third time a series of triple blinks, etc.  When you
push it for the 5th time, however, the light will remain on without
blinking.  Five is the maximum extension.
On Tue, 30 Mar 2004 08:06:45 -0800, alfred wrote:

22) From: alfred
Ah Ha! Comprende amigo.  It would have been nice if they had explained this
in the new owner's manual.

23) From: Rick Farris
Alfred writes (about the Plus button):
Yeah, but Tom hadn't begun carrying the Hot Top yet, so they had no
place to steal the text from.  
-- Rick
P.S. Alfred: you may want to consider trimming down your attributions.
This isn't a local area network.

24) From: alfred
OK Ralph:
Now for the sixty-four thousand dollar question----
What is the difference from a setting of "four" and adding five plusses to
starting with a setting of "five" with no plusses?

25) From: Ralph Cohen
On Tue, 13 Apr 2004 12:18:06 -0700, alfred wrote:
Hi Alfred,
It is my impression (only) that the ramp-up of roasting temperatures is
more gradual at the higher number settings.  In other words, the cracks
don't begin until after a longer period of time than at the lower
settings.  One of the reasons I use setting #4 is because I found that
beans roasted completely through the first crack at setting #4 had a
slightly 'brighter' taste than the same beans roasted to the same
degree at higher settings.  At setting #7, in fact, that brightness was
virtually absent.  
A 'brighter' taste is often attributed to shorter ramp-up times.  I
previously used a HWP roaster which completed a roast in about 6-8
minutes vs. the 20-22 minutes for the HotTop at setting #4 and the
flavor from the HWP roasted beans was almost all brightness with almost
none of the depth of flavor from the same beans roasted in the HotTop. 
So, to finally answer your question, setting #4 gives me the ramp-up
time that produces beans with the balance of brightness and depth that
tastes the best to me.  The extra plusses let me fine tune each batch
since every batch - even of the same beans - roasts a little bit
differently.  Roasting at setting #5, however, doesn't seem to give me
the same balance of brightness to depth that I prefer even when roasted
to the same degree.

26) From: alfred
Ralph: Man, you really have it down! Even with a room temperature IQ, I'm
beginning to get it.
This is exactly what I have found in roasting three batches of the same
bean. Here is an email to Randy  Glass on this issue. But you explain it
completely.Conclusion: Adding plusses is not the same as picking a higher
setting starting our.
Subject: Learning the Hot Top
Now regarding the settings let's take this scenario:
If I roast on a setting of "four" and add  " plusses" how much does it
really add to the total roast time?
The question is:starting at "four"
If I added all of the plusses for a total of five, where would I be in
relation to selecting a starting temp of say "five or six"?
 I may ruin your whole day!

27) From: alfred
 Ginny : All to true. There are some interesting discoveries, however, when
you roast with this machine.
I was roasting on "four" plus three plusses and got a beautiful Full City
roast. On the second batch, using the same bean, I set it on "five" to get a
darker roast. This roast only reached a City+ at best. Randy Glass seems to
think that the plusses you add (up to five) add much more time than just
moving up to the next setting.

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