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Topic: Alps - My Two Cents... (66 lines)
1) From: SLR
I am an Alp Rookie myself (been at it since December) but I do a ton of
roasting, and here are some of my results and comments.  I have noticed 2
factors that greatly affect the consistency of the roast when relying on the
Alpenrost to do the roast unattended, or allowing to roast full cycle
without intervention (roast-to- bean dump cycle).  First is the use of an
extension cord vs plugging the unit directly to a power source.  Roasts will
take longer if you use an extension cord which can result in under-roasted
then expected results.  Second is the air temperature of your surroundings.
If you roast outside in 50 degree weather vs roasting in 80 degree weather,
it takes longer to achieve darker roasts in the cold temp, but you can
unintentionally over-roast in the hotter air temp.  Relying on the self
timer of the Alp when these 2 factors are constantly changing, will yield
inconsistent roasts.  More often then not you will not be completely happy
with the roast since relying on the Alp timing usually yields inconsistent
results.
I would expect a thermometer of some sort would help yield better
consistency since the roasts are generally fixed based on the fixed nature
of the heating element the Alp uses when cooking the beans.  I just have not
figured out how to install a thermometer without extensive damage to the
lid, or possible damage to the moving drum and parts when roasting is in
process.  I assume the probe can get caught up in the inner workings of the
drum as it is moving.  So I would not recommend any use of a probe
thermometer.  But if anyone has successfully installed a probe thermometer
to their Alp, please share your great idea.  Perhaps installing a
thermometer to the lid would work but not sure how to do this.
With these concerns and limitations in mind, I rely on my senses; listening
to the pops, and visually looking at the amount of smoke that billows out of
the machine.  Also I visually check the beans by lifting the lid for a few
seconds to check the color of the roasted beans.  After learning to lift the
lid a bit and checking the beans for color, it gets easier and you become
faster at it.    Heat does escape but a few seconds to check the beans is
really the only way to achieve consistency with an Alp.  Only a minimal
amount of heat is lost and is recovered seconds after door is shut.  I
notice constant popping sounds to normal a few seconds after the lid is
shut.  So there is minimal heat loss which I have found to not affect the
roast at any measurable level.  What I find is a disaster is when you rely
on the Alp timer and you end up with under-roasted or over-roasted beans.
If you under-roasted the beans, there is some hope to fix this problem by
re-roasting the undercooked beans.  The problem when the beans have been
allowed to complete the cooling cycle and they must re-heat back up to
continue to roast to desired level.  Now this will adversely affect the
quality of the coffee by producing a blander, thinner profile.  I suspect
the re-heating process depletes more oils essential for coffee flavor
quality as the beans.
Bottom line, get to know your machine and how your roasting environment
affects the quality of your roast.
Mike


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