HomeRoast Digest


Topic: Gene Cafe - First Impressions (11 msgs / 713 lines)
1) From: Steven Van Dyke
Ok, my Gene Cafe arrived today!
It *almost* made it to me Friday - I tracked it via UPS to the depot right
near where I work but, unfortunately, it was still in the transport truck so
I couldn't snag it out of the stream and had to wait for it to be delivered
today.
Initial impressions:
Nicely packed.  Good looking selection of coffees - thanks Sweet Marias!
Looked the whole thing over.  Looks good.   Read through the entire manual
even though the roaster *does* look like you should just jump right up and
plug it in (especially after having seen Tom's movie and tips).  There are
some *great* quotes in the manual but I'm sure their English is *much*
better than my Korean. ;)
Set up the roaster out in the sun room where I normally roast.  Manual says
you can do 300 grams (11 oz).  Tom went with 280, I went with 250 because
that's twice what I've been roasting in my Rosto (where I've been doing two
batches at a time).
Measured out the beans on my scale - works out to 2.25 cups.  2.5 cups was a
very even 280 grams.
Used my canning funnel while pouring the beans into the roast chamber (it
sits *so* nicely on its little stand).  Had one bean escape to somewhere
(found it later).  Slid the chamber carefully down into place until it
clicked and closed the safety cover.
Double checked on the manual and it said that for City - Full City I should
go for 482 degrees and 18 minutes (same as Tom recommends) so I set for
that.  Hit the start button and off we went!
*Very* quiet operation - the major noise was the whirr of the motors / gears
turning the drum.  The beans moved smoothly and continuously.  The manual
says I was right - that 'door' is actually a wiper to knock the chaff off
the exit screen.  On one half of the twist it's falling into the pouring
bean mass and moves quietly, on the other the beans are out of the way and
it 'clunks' across.
Temperature rose smoothly and quickly.  Hit the light yellow / cinammon
range at around 8 minutes (I think - didn't take notes).  Even though the
roaster is quiet, the coffee I happened to choose had a fairly quiet first
crack.  Smoke started pouring out of the chaff collector shortly before
first crack.  At about 15 - 16 miinutes into the roast I was definitely
getting cracks and the smoke column really took off.  I decided that I was
close enough to the City / Full City level I wanted and turned the Time knob
down to hit the COOL mode.  Temperature took right at 3 minutes to fall
below 300 degrees.  I *thought* second crack was continuing for quite a
while but eventually I realized that the sound of the beans falling around
the drum sounded just like second crack so I'm not sure how long it really
went on.  Final results were a *bit* darker than I wanted but not bad - I
expected that I'd overshoot a bit on the first roast.  Probably undershoot a
touch on the next one.  Roaster cooled down to 140 degrees in about 10
minutes, then I dumped the beans into a large mesh strainer I got at the
Chinese market.  Two minutes stirring them with my hand in front of the fan
I had running anyway (helps get the smoke out of the sun room) and they were
completey cool.  I *could* have made it stop sooner - the manual tells you
how to abort the cooling at 212 degrees and how, if you *really* want to,
you can make it stop pretty much immediately.  I wouldn't do that unless you
have a powered cooler - not sure if the roaster will cool itself down if you
abort the cooling cycle *or* if you can force it to run another cooling
cycle.  I'm not too worried about it because the stock cooling seems to be
ok for me  - at least once I figure out where I want to stop to hit my mark.
So, my overall first impression: Pretty neat!  Incredibly even roast,
extremely simple controls and interface.  I could see someone who wants to
do profiling having a wonderful time with the Gene Cafe - set your
temperature to the point you want (probably significantly above for the
first one to get it there fast), then adjust as you go.  I don't think it
can hold a set point *too* tightly but then again, the thermal mass of the
coffee has to help it hold.
Once I get it figured out I'll be able to show my ever-indulgent wife how it
works and write up instructions in case she ever has to roast coffee (which
should only happen if I'm gone for some reason).
If you're on the fence I'd say go for it.  The manual mentions a larger
chaff collector and how to do multiple roasts ("for restaraunts") so if the
1/2 lb load is a problem you can work around it.  Don't think I'd get it if
you need to roast 3 - 5 lbs at a time, but for my about 1/2 - 1 lb a week it
should be great!
Enjoy!
Steve :->

2) From: Steven Van Dyke
Ok, my Gene Cafe arrived today!
It *almost* made it to me Friday - I tracked it via UPS to the depot right
near where I work but, unfortunately, it was still in the transport truck so
I couldn't snag it out of the stream and had to wait for it to be delivered
today.
Initial impressions:
Nicely packed.  Good looking selection of coffees - thanks Sweet Marias!
Looked the whole thing over.  Looks good.   Read through the entire manual
even though the roaster *does* look like you should just jump right up and
plug it in (especially after having seen Tom's movie and tips).  There are
some *great* quotes in the manual but I'm sure their English is *much*
better than my Korean. ;)
Set up the roaster out in the sun room where I normally roast.  Manual says
you can do 300 grams (11 oz).  Tom went with 280, I went with 250 because
that's twice what I've been roasting in my Rosto (where I've been doing two
batches at a time).
Measured out the beans on my scale - works out to 2.25 cups.  2.5 cups was a
very even 280 grams.
Used my canning funnel while pouring the beans into the roast chamber (it
sits *so* nicely on its little stand).  Had one bean escape to somewhere
(found it later).  Slid the chamber carefully down into place until it
clicked and closed the safety cover.
Double checked on the manual and it said that for City - Full City I should
go for 482 degrees and 18 minutes (same as Tom recommends) so I set for
that.  Hit the start button and off we went!
*Very* quiet operation - the major noise was the whirr of the motors / gears
turning the drum.  The beans moved smoothly and continuously.  The manual
says I was right - that 'door' is actually a wiper to knock the chaff off
the exit screen.  On one half of the twist it's falling into the pouring
bean mass and moves quietly, on the other the beans are out of the way and
it 'clunks' across.
Temperature rose smoothly and quickly.  Hit the light yellow / cinammon
range at around 8 minutes (I think - didn't take notes).  Even though the
roaster is quiet, the coffee I happened to choose had a fairly quiet first
crack.  Smoke started pouring out of the chaff collector shortly before
first crack.  At about 15 - 16 miinutes into the roast I was definitely
getting cracks and the smoke column really took off.  I decided that I was
close enough to the City / Full City level I wanted and turned the Time knob
down to hit the COOL mode.  Temperature took right at 3 minutes to fall
below 300 degrees.  I *thought* second crack was continuing for quite a
while but eventually I realized that the sound of the beans falling around
the drum sounded just like second crack so I'm not sure how long it really
went on.  Final results were a *bit* darker than I wanted but not bad - I
expected that I'd overshoot a bit on the first roast.  Probably undershoot a
touch on the next one.  Roaster cooled down to 140 degrees in about 10
minutes, then I dumped the beans into a large mesh strainer I got at the
Chinese market.  Two minutes stirring them with my hand in front of the fan
I had running anyway (helps get the smoke out of the sun room) and they were
completey cool.  I *could* have made it stop sooner - the manual tells you
how to abort the cooling at 212 degrees and how, if you *really* want to,
you can make it stop pretty much immediately.  I wouldn't do that unless you
have a powered cooler - not sure if the roaster will cool itself down if you
abort the cooling cycle *or* if you can force it to run another cooling
cycle.  I'm not too worried about it because the stock cooling seems to be
ok for me  - at least once I figure out where I want to stop to hit my mark.
So, my overall first impression: Pretty neat!  Incredibly even roast,
extremely simple controls and interface.  I could see someone who wants to
do profiling having a wonderful time with the Gene Cafe - set your
temperature to the point you want (probably significantly above for the
first one to get it there fast), then adjust as you go.  I don't think it
can hold a set point *too* tightly but then again, the thermal mass of the
coffee has to help it hold.
Once I get it figured out I'll be able to show my ever-indulgent wife how it
works and write up instructions in case she ever has to roast coffee (which
should only happen if I'm gone for some reason).
If you're on the fence I'd say go for it.  The manual mentions a larger
chaff collector and how to do multiple roasts ("for restaraunts") so if the
1/2 lb load is a problem you can work around it.  Don't think I'd get it if
you need to roast 3 - 5 lbs at a time, but for my about 1/2 - 1 lb a week it
should be great!
Enjoy!
Steve :->

3) From: Brett Mason
Nice review Steve - thanks!
On 4/25/06, Steven Van Dyke  wrote:
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Regards,
Brett Mason
HomeRoast
   Zassman

4) From: Heat + Beans --all the rest is commentary
Steve,
What would you say is the elapsed time from pouring beans into the Gene to
putting away the roasted beans on the shelf?
--
Martin
Heat + Beans
    all the rest is commentary
On 4/25/06, Brett Mason  wrote:
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5) From: Tom & Maria - Sweet Maria's Coffee
Thanks for the write up, Steve. I hope you follow up with anything 
else you observe ... I think the feedback helps me as much as anyone. 
I want to make sure I am not selling myself too much on the machine, 
and that I remain critical in my approach.
I didn't find their roast recommendations in the manual too reliable. 
I am consistetnly hitting 1st crack at 13 to 13.5 minutes and 
finishing my City+ roasts at 15 using 482 (full heat). Why use full 
heat? because this machine has an extremely even warmup and you are 
not going to scorch coffee with full heat. I can't see any benefit to 
extending the warmup foruther with a lower heat setting ... the time 
to bring down the heat and do some profiling is as the coffee hits 
1st and onward. So the manuals FC at 18 minutes 482 f would be 
french. You do have to get used to the coasting effect of the drum 
roaster ... for a City roast you probably want to hit Cool when the 
coffee is in a rapid 1st crack! I too am uncomfortable with forcing 
the roaster to stop cooling early. But I found something else quite 
obvious that I do feel comfortable with ... separate the chaff 
collector from the body of the roaster after about a minute of 
cooling. DO it with care, or gloves, so you don't burn your fingers. 
and don't touch the metal screen. Anyway, I think the chaff collector 
can handle this (not being cooled by the fan) because it is thick hi 
temp plastic, and It definitely speeds the cooling of the coffee, and 
doesn't create any chaff mess, etc. Anyway, we are doing roasts on 
the machine daily, and I am gaining appreciation for it. BTW: did I 
mention the machine has an accessable/replaceable fuse? right where 
the cord attaches?  -Tom
<Snip>
--
                   "Great coffee comes from tiny roasters"
            Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting  -  Tom & Maria
                      http://www.sweetmarias.com                Thompson Owen george_at_sweetmarias.com
     Sweet Maria's Coffee - 1115 21st Street, Oakland, CA 94607 - USA
             phone/fax: 888 876 5917 - tom_at_sweetmarias.com

6) From: Steven Van Dyke
I went with the 18 minutes Tom recommended, which was a bit more than eno=
ugh
and the cool down took about 11 so right around 30 minutes.  Depends in
part on how 'set up' you leave things.  Once you're used to the roaster
you only need to pay as much attention during the roasting phase as you
feel necessary and, of course, you can wander off and do whatever you wan=
t
during the cooling.
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to
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Enjoy!
Steve :->http://www.cafepress.com/stevespics<- My little store of Impressionist">http://www.svandyke.com<- My simple websitehttp://www.cafepress.com/stevespics<- My little store of Impressionist
& Special Event photography

7) From: Steven Van Dyke
Thanks Tom!
I think the Indonesia Flores coffee I chose as my first attempt might be
a 'quiet cracker'.  I chose it because if I had to lose anything on the
profiles of the coffees I have on hand then the floral notes are what wou=
ld
upset me least.  Not that I don't want them, just that they were what I
was willing to sacrifice 'for the cause'.
Good tip on pulling the chaff collector to speed cooling.  I noticed that=
while there was a bit of chaff buildup on the exit screen during roasting=
that it was gone somewhere during the cooling.  Probably happened almost
as soon as the air flow picked up.  Pulling the collector would increase
the air flow which should cool it much faster.  I wonder if flipping open=
the safety cover speeds cooling up any by letting a bit more heat radiate=
away from the drum?  Probably not, but it might...
Question I have is what really is the magic temperature you want to get
the beans below so you can say it's not going to roast any further?
I tend to overshoot a bit when I use my ECRS (Emergency Coffee Roasting
System, aka an AromaPot on a propane stove) so it's just a matter of gett=
ing
used to it.  
As folks get to use the machine more I expect to cash in on other's exper=
tise
and see suggested profiles like "Start at 482 for 8 minutes, then drop to=
400 for five...".
Ambient temperature has *got* to have a bit of effect on the overall roas=
t
time.  It being the end of a nice sunny spring day the sun room was at ab=
out
80.  In the winter if I open it up for ventalition it can drop into the
60's quite quickly, and in full summer it gets a bit... toasty in the big=
glass box.  We had it added on and left the patio door in place so we can=
block it off (vertical blinds) or seal it off (patio door) as appropriate=
.
 The cats enjoy it no matter what and when we're home we can vent out the=
excess heat easily (small heater keeps it nice in the winter).  To get ba=
ck
somewhere near my point (and I do have one), I'll bet I'll see a couple
of minutes difference in when it gets to first crack between winter and
summer.  If they did their testing during the winter then they'd tend to
get longer times, especially since the smoke factor probably had them in
poorly heated shop areas.  Just a bit of learning curve is all.  If we al=
l
remember to take notes we'll have a better 'approximate roast time' chart=
up on your site in no time.
I *had* noticed that the manual mentioned the accessable fuse, I just had=
n't
looked for it yet.
<Snip>
<Snip>
Enjoy!
Steve :->http://www.cafepress.com/stevespics<- My little store of Impressionist">http://www.svandyke.com<- My simple websitehttp://www.cafepress.com/stevespics<- My little store of Impressionist
& Special Event photography

8) From: Jim Mitchell
A couple of Gene Cafe notes:
If you set your base temperature just a little 'cool' at around 455 - 465 
degrees for 15 minutes, 1st crack comes just a bit more slowly at about 
13.5-14.5 minutes, then when using Tom's full-power approach,  but the smoke 
geyser is considerably reduced.
Once I've gotten to 1st crack, I turn up the temp to 475 or so, dial in 2-4 
more minutes, and use a shop-vac near the chaff collector to both suck up 
the smoke and to maintain the indicated temperature at about 455-457 
degrees, which allows me to extend the time between 1st and 2nd crack pretty 
much as long as I wish. Moving the shop vac's hose right up on the chaff 
collector will dump the temp by as much as 3-5 degrees per second, pulling 
it away changes the rate pretty dramatically as the air flow reduces.
I try to cruise into 2nd crack at about 2.5 to 3 minutes after 1st crack, 
and then immediately initiate the Gene's cool-down cycle, and cover the 
chaff collector's screen with the shop-vac's nozzle. The indicated 
temperature crashes down from 455 to about 350-360 F in less than a minute, 
which pretty much seem to stop the beans from further 'cooking,' and I let 
the Gene's cool-down cycle proceed normally from there.
Clean up is a snap, just vacuum out the chaff collector and the Gene's 
output port, brush off the screen, and inside the roast chamber, and pay 
some attention to the thin rubber sealing gasket that goes between the roast 
chamber and its lid. This gasket feels a little sticky, chaff particles love 
to adhere to it, and it's pretty easy to accidently dislodge the gasket - 
fortunately, it goes right back into place and is easy to lightly brush off.
I've settled on 270-280gm as my preferred roast - not that the Gene won't do 
more, or less, but this is an easy number to hit, and very neatly uses 4 of 
the provided scoops full - so I can bounce around like Ratty in 'Wind in the 
Willows' going "Here's a scoop of Oaxaca, here's a scoop of Datera, a scoop 
of Sumatra, and a scoop of Malibar - we're done.."
Cheers
Jim

9) From: HailSeeszer
Thanks for the information Steve/Tom.  I was wondering if either of you =
had a chance to roast any decaf yet?  I've done a couple of roasts at =
full temp and have hit the cool button at approx. 12 minutes, but that =
still over shoots Full City+.  After my second roast I had the feeling I =
should have hit the cool button when the coffee was in rapid 1st crack =
as Tom suggested.  I will try that tomorrow and also removing the chaff =
collector during the cooling process.  I, too, found that the cooling =
process has been taking approx. 10-12 minutes and that's with an ambient =
temp. of 65 degrees.
I forgot to mention that I am also roasting 280 grams of coffee for each =
roast.  Even though I've over shot each roast (the second one not too =
badly...) they have all been evenly roasted.
I am new to home roasting, but I do like using the Gene Café.  It =
seems to give a much fuller or deeper flavor to the roast than my iRoast =
II.
I look forward, as Steve does, to folks sharing their information and =
profiles on roasts with the Gene Café.  Eventually we should have some =
really great info for all and for those on the fence whether to purchase =
the unit or not.
Thanks!

10) From: Steven Van Dyke
Did you see Jim's message about using his shop vac to suck extra air thro=
ugh
the system to speed cooling?  I'm thinking a small squirrel cage fan in a
triangular housing.  One flat side open to fit over the outlet of the cha=
ff
collector, exit near the opposite corner.  Add a couple of batteries and =
a
switch and you should have a 'cooler booster'.  Only has to run for a few
minutes at a time.
Enjoy!
Steve :->

11) From: HailSeeszer
Well, I just finished roasting an Ethiopian Harar WP Decaf in the Gene =
Café.  I used 280 grams of coffee, 1st crack was at 11 minutes and I =
stopped the roast at 14 minutes.  I then removed the chaff collector =
after 1 minute of cooling and used the shop vacuum, as suggested, to =
assist with removing the hot air during the cooling process.  I ended up =
with a nicely even roasted Full City+.
I am completely pleased with the Gene Café and I certainly appreciate =
all of the shared information and suggestions so far on this list.
Can't wait to try the first cup!
Thanks!!
Jim


HomeRoast Digest