HomeRoast Digest


Topic: roaster differences and recommendations (28 msgs / 931 lines)
1) From: Leo Zick
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
i dont think im satisfied with my popper.  i have a friend i swap roasts
with, and hes using a hot top drum roaster.  while my roasts are very close
to his (im talking espressos), his always seem to have added 'depth'.  while
the depth isnt that big of a difference to me, i imagine its even more
noticeable with brown/brewed coffee roasts. (see my last post complaining
about coffee flatness)
 
has anyone else upgraded from a fluid bed to a drum, or use both and can
share differences with me?  the hot top is a lot of money, and would take a
LONG time to recoup payback in this whole 'im roasting to save myself money
and get a better cup' thing, so if there are other options, id love to
know..  batch size is an issue too, the popper, even with can on top, only
gives me 1/4lb roasts, id like around 1/2lb ideally..
 
sorry for the long winded post.. :p
 

2) From: Tim Wat
Leo Zick wrote:
<Snip>
Leo:
Doesn't look long-winded to me.
I've told this story before here, but I was considering move from popper 
to hot top or gene...but the cost was just too great.  I went with SC/TO 
instead, as I got large batch size (closer to a full lb.), longer and 
more controllable roast times, and greater repeatability for way less 
than half the cost of a gene or HT.  It's not pretty to look like, but 
the roasts I'm getting are much nicer to my taste than my popper 
roasts.  Your mileage may vary.
Tim

3) From: Eddie Dove
Leo,
I think Tim has given you sage advice.  I bought the stir crazy, just have
not gotten around to building the SC/TO.  Based on your email, I think this
would be the way to go.
Hope this helps,
Eddie
On 10/25/06, Leo Zick  wrote:
<Snip>

4) From: Leo Zick
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
ive seen so many posts about it, and just blew them off, not realizing it
was such a popular method.
 
what characteristics do the roasts give? that of a popper, or of a drum
roaster?
 
i have a lot of reading to do this weekend if it is indeed the way to go..
thanks!  
From: Eddie Dove [mailto:southcoastcoffeeroaster] 
Sent: Wednesday, October 25, 2006 8:51 PM
To: homeroast
Subject: Re: +roaster differences and recommendations
Leo,
I think Tim has given you sage advice.  I bought the stir crazy, just have
not gotten around to building the SC/TO.  Based on your email, I think this
would be the way to go.
Hope this helps,
Eddie 
On 10/25/06, Leo Zick  wrote: 
i dont think im satisfied with my popper.  i have a friend i swap roasts
with, and hes using a hot top drum roaster.  while my roasts are very close
to his (im talking espressos), his always seem to have added 'depth'.  while
the depth isnt that big of a difference to me, i imagine its even more
noticeable with brown/brewed coffee roasts. (see my last post complaining
about coffee flatness)
 
has anyone else upgraded from a fluid bed to a drum, or use both and can
share differences with me?  the hot top is a lot of money, and would take a
LONG time to recoup payback in this whole 'im roasting to save myself money
and get a better cup' thing, so if there are other options, id love to
know..  batch size is an issue too, the popper, even with can on top, only
gives me 1/4lb roasts, id like around 1/2lb ideally..
 
sorry for the long winded post.. :p
 

5) From: Tim Wat
Leo Zick wrote:
<Snip>
I'll try to throw up a link for some pictures my wife took of my rig 
recently - helps she's a professional photographer (www.debwat.com).  
Maybe later this week.  Never owned a drum roaster so can't accurately 
speak to that comparison., I'm sure someone here has the depth of 
experience to speak to that.
I can say that with the popper I always seemed to fight the two extremes 
- roasts too fast, or roasts that simply baked the beans too slowly.  No 
control, and I never was able to develop all those subtleties that Tom 
talks about in his cupping notes.  Not even close.
With the SC/TO, my roasts can go twice as long as the popper without 
hitting 2nd crack (still playing with profiles) and not be "baked" - so 
to my taste buds I end up with far more powerful aroma (man, the fruit 
in that DP Sidamo!), and all sorts of underlying flavors that just 
weren't there in my popper roasts.
Again, YMMV...I don't pretend to have the SC/TO thing nailed yet, but I 
think I'm improving.
Tim

6) From: Leo Zick
I can control temps on my popper via switching it on and off, but b/c the
element takes a while to warm up each time, ill get something like
300-350(popper off)-275-300-350, etc.  Losing the heat is really annoying.
Most of my 1st cracks come around 6:30, and 2nd around 10mins.  Not too bad,
but the temp shifts worry me, esp since they are even greater with the can
on top now, for more volume.
Ive seen quite a few websites with info on the setup, doesn't seem
complicated at all.
How do you control temps, only via the convection oven temp control?  Does
the setup respond quickly to temp ramps?  Are you TC'ing or just sticking a
thermometer in somewhere?  Are profiles similar to the popper?  
Heres a typical one for me:
0-2mins: 0-250
2-4: 250-300
4-6: 300-350
6-8: 350-400
8-10:375-410
10-12: 400-450
Is something like that possible?

7) From: Barry Luterman
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
I started with a Z&D moved to an I-Roast and ended with a Hottop. There =
is no comparison with the fluid bed roasters. Did 1000 gr today on 4 =
roasts one after another. Get every nuance from a bean. I however have =
no experience with any other method. For me I would buy another Hottop =
if anything happened to this one. It's built like a tank and I figure it =
will be around for years yet. I have probably roasted almost 200 lbs of =
beans in it. All it's ever needed was new filters.

8) From: Leo Zick
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
do you have control over the hot top, or do you just set it to a "19min
450deg roast" and wait?  
From: Barry Luterman [mailto:lutermanb001] 
Sent: Wednesday, October 25, 2006 9:39 PM
To: homeroast
Subject: Re: +roaster differences and recommendations
I started with a Z&D moved to an I-Roast and ended with a Hottop. There is
no comparison with the fluid bed roasters. Did 1000 gr today on 4 roasts one
after another. Get every nuance from a bean. I however have no experience
with any other method. For me I would buy another Hottop if anything
happened to this one. It's built like a tank and I figure it will be around
for years yet. I have probably roasted almost 200 lbs of beans in it. All
it's ever needed was new filters.

9) From: Barry Luterman
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
It's the new digital one. I set the time listen for cracks and smells =
and dump when I am satisfied. Nice part is you don't have to wait =
between roasts. If machine is too hot it goes into a cool down mode and =
beeps when you need to add beans. If too cool machine heats up and then =
beeps at required temp.

10) From: Les
Leo,
If you are looking for a plug and play the Hottop is the way to go.  I
use a RK drum and BBQ as my heat source.  I was a popper roaster for
18 years.  I moved to the Heatgun/Dog Bowl method for about 6 months
before going to the Drum.  A good RK setup will cost you about the
same as a Hottop.  I have roasted from one bean to 5 pounds.  I have
total profile control with 1/2 pound to 1 1/2 pounds.  At two pounds I
can do 4 different profiles.  Above 2 pounds I have one profile.  The
SC/TO is a variation of the HG/DG method.  It makes it more easy to
control.  It is very much like a drum in the results it produces.  If
I didn't have a RK, I would build a SC/TO.  If I didn't tinker, I
would get a Hottop.
Les
On 10/25/06, Leo Zick  wrote:
<Snip>

11) From: Leo Zick
Excellent summary, exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!
I have no problem tinkering. My problem is time, and money.  Ill have to
weigh the benefits based on your comments and decide..

12) From: Barry Luterman
I agree. Only problem with RK is having to be outside in the winter and 
contending with the wind. As far as roasting is concerned in an experienced 
hand at roasting he can make an excellent roast with flint and steel and a 
pile of leaves. While for espresso the more expensive the grinder and 
machine the better.

13) From: miKe mcKoffee
Might add with greater bbq btu me thinks would have greater profile control
potential them larger batches too.
Was fascinating watching Vin Johnson roasting on his old manual Probat L12
yesterday. (Ristretto Roasters in Portland) I watched his up count timer and
bean probe temps and interestingly the temp points he raised or lowered the
gas burner flame quite similar to where I do same with my Rosto heater via
variac.
miKe 
<Snip>

14) From: Ken Mary
<Snip>
I used various style poppers for almost 5 years, then my homebuilt drum
exclusively for about 2 years after that. Recently I started going back to
popper roasts trying to adapt profiles that I developed for the drum.
First, the opinions of those much more experienced than myself is that
either type roaster with the same or slightly modified profile will produce
the exact same cup. In other words, the bean does not care about the
identity of the heat source.
The reality IMO is that poppers without automatic controls are better at
roasting bright coffees or enhancing brightness in low acid coffees. The
opposite is of course true for drums, which also tend to enhance fruity and
spicy qualities. A drum is not easily able to reproduce a fast popper-like
profile without scorching or tipping.
Maybe the greatest benefit of a drum is the evenness of roast. The same
degree of mixing is present throughout the profile. The popper's greatest
weakness is adequate mixing at the start where it is most needed. Even a
poorly controlled drum should produce a good cinnamon roast, but in a popper
it is nearly impossible.
You really should have both a popper style roaster and a drum.
--

15) From: Laura Micucci
(crawling out of lurkdom)
   
  Hello all,  what does SC/TO mean?  
   
  (back to lurking)
   
  Laura in PA
Tim Wat  wrote:
  Leo Zick wrote:
<Snip>
I'll try to throw up a link for some pictures my wife took of my rig 
recently - helps she's a professional photographer (www.debwat.com). 
Maybe later this week. Never owned a drum roaster so can't accurately 
speak to that comparison., I'm sure someone here has the depth of 
experience to speak to that.
I can say that with the popper I always seemed to fight the two extremes 
- roasts too fast, or roasts that simply baked the beans too slowly. No 
control, and I never was able to develop all those subtleties that Tom 
talks about in his cupping notes. Not even close.
With the SC/TO, my roasts can go twice as long as the popper without 
hitting 2nd crack (still playing with profiles) and not be "baked" - so 
to my taste buds I end up with far more powerful aroma (man, the fruit 
in that DP Sidamo!), and all sorts of underlying flavors that just 
weren't there in my popper roasts.
Again, YMMV...I don't pretend to have the SC/TO thing nailed yet, but I 
think I'm improving.
TimLaura  Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it... that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear. ~ Dale Carnegie

16) From: Tom Bellhouse
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Laura,
SC/TO is "Stir Crazy / Turbo Oven" and stands for a nifty home-built =
roaster.  Parts can be scavenged from Goodwill or bought new for under =
$100.  It's a two-part contraption using the bottom of a Stir Crazy =
popcorn popper (with the round-and-round stirring arm), the top of a =
countertop turbo oven (example: Sunpentown), and some ingenuity.http://turbocrazy.atspace.com/index_files/project.htmThere may be other sites that detail the setup better.  There are =
variations, like leaving the bottom heater in the SC working or =
disconnecting it.  I'd leave it but add a toggle switch.  That'd give =
one more method of temperature control.  From a user standpoint, I roast =
3/4 lb. at a time but could do a lb. easily.  The beans are visible and =
it's easy to hear the cracks.  Pop the top at any time and see the beans =
(or to stall the roast a bit between 1st and 2nd.)  Makes yummy coffee!
Tom in GA

17) From: Leo Zick
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
great link, thanks!!  
From: Tom Bellhouse [mailto:altoid] 
Sent: Thursday, October 26, 2006 10:54 AM
To: homeroast
Subject: Re: +roaster differences and recommendations
Laura,
 
SC/TO is "Stir Crazy / Turbo Oven" and stands for a nifty home-built
roaster.  Parts can be scavenged from Goodwill or bought new for under $100.
It's a two-part contraption using the bottom of a Stir Crazy popcorn popper
(with the round-and-round stirring arm), the top of a countertop turbo oven
(example: Sunpentown), and some ingenuity.
 http://turbocrazy.atspace.com/index_files/project.htm 
There may be other sites that detail the setup better.  There are
variations, like leaving the bottom heater in the SC working or
disconnecting it.  I'd leave it but add a toggle switch.  That'd give one
more method of temperature control.  From a user standpoint, I roast 3/4 lb.
at a time but could do a lb. easily.  The beans are visible and it's easy to
hear the cracks.  Pop the top at any time and see the beans (or to stall the
roast a bit between 1st and 2nd.)  Makes yummy coffee!
 
Tom in GA

18) From: Michael Dhabolt
On 10/26/06, Ken Mary  wrote:
<Snip>
I agree with Ken, to a point.  In small fluid bed roasters such as
those based upon the Poppery 1, with variable speed fans that allow
exact control of bean circulation, coupled with high quality heat
control - I think his statement is correct.  With this type roaster,
the operator typically uses a combination of roaster tilt, bean load
and fan speed to produce the desired bean circulation.  I think in
terms of circulation rather than 'bean lofting'.  Fast enough
circulation to prevent tipping and divots, but not necessary to keep a
high percentage of beans in the air.  My theory is that in this
environment, a high percentage of the heat transfer to the bean is by
conduction from the roast chamber to the bean.  Similar to a drum.
Typical profiles run from 11.5 to 14.5 minutes and are
indistinguishable from drum roasts, to me.  I'm confident that those
with a more refined palate may taste things that I don't.
However with a commercial fluid bed roaster such as a Sivitz, I can
immediately tell the difference between its roast and that of a drum
roaster with no distinguishable difference in roast level.  My theory
here is that in the case of the Sivitz, a considerably higher
percentage of heat transfer is directly from the air to the bean due
to the higher percentage of beans being 'lofted' in the air stream.
To my taste, the fluid bed roast is significantly brighter.
Mike (just plain)

19) From: Tim Wat
Leo Zick wrote:
<Snip>
Leo:
For whatever it's worth, here's a link to four photos of my rig:http://www.pbase.com/debbie_wat/gallery/wat_coffeeMy initial roast was with just the SC and the TO, with the only mod 
being a metal cap on the hub of the stir arm (it needs to be modded to 
prevent it from melting...it's plastic.  Some folks replace the entire 
arm, the metal cap is working just fine for me so far).  I found the 
roast proceeded very quickly, and so I disconnected the heat element of 
the SC bottom.  I also found without a spacer, the TO element was mighty 
close to the beans, and made the 1.25" spacer in the config of the Woz 
chaff ejection system.  The trick with the ejection system is that the 
TO fan is unidirectional, thus setting up a cyclone effect.  Orienting 
the gap in the spacer in the right direction blows the chaff right out.
I tried mounting the probe for the K-type under the pan (there's a clip 
there already that holds the SC's thermometer), but found the 
differential between measured temp and air temp too great, so I just 
drilled two holes through the spacer to insert the probe into the 
airstream.  Finally, I found the glass of the TO sitting on the aluminum 
spacer edge was both unstable (it slid around a lot) and not uniform 
(thus allowing a good amount of hot air to escape).  Purchased the 
hit-temp silicon tubing and slit it to make the 'bumper' and everything 
seems to function appropriately now.  All to say, a fun project if, like 
me, the quan for the HT or GC is steep and you love to tinker.  I have 
way too many keyboards and synthesizers in my house so the window for 
purchasing one of those (and I'm still working up to the Silvia and 
Rocky) was untimely.
Only other part of the system (not shown in the pix) is my bean cooler, 
collander mounted in a plastic drum, with a shop vac connected to the 
bottom of the drum pulling air down through the beans.  None of this is 
unique or my original ideas.  But as a professional musician, I've long 
heard the cliche, "Genius is simply not crediting your sources".
Hope this helps.  Best to you.
Tim

20) From: Leo Zick
This is a great description.. I cant view the site from work now, but your
words explained it perfectly, I have the entire thing visioned.. Very cool
design. :)
Only thing I cant picture is which way the vent opening for the spacer is,
so the chaff escapes, but im sure that's obvious by the direction of the
arm/paddle.
Im still debating choices, no clue right now, but this is great info to save
either way. :)

21) From: Justin Marquez
On 10/26/06, Tim Wat  wrote:
<Snip>
    "Only steal from the best!"
Safe Journeys and Sweet Music
Justin Marquez (CYPRESS, TX)

22) From: Scott Marquardt
http://scott.marquardt.googlepages.com/popperroastinghttp://scott.marquardt.googlepages.com/openskyroaster
That's quite a switch!   ;-)
I roast my brewing beans three days before market day (I roast for
whole bean sale at the market). I roast 8 ounce batches of several
origins so I can serve a variety.
What I've found is that a split popper with boost on the blower lets
me lengthen the duration of my roasts to match those in the drum. The
profiles are very different, I'm sure -- and unfortunately I'm not
controlling for that automatically. I'd like to PID both! But I will
say that the results are comparable in the cup. If I brew my staple
Kenya for someone from a popper roast, it's a genuinely informed
choice about what a pound of it will taste like if they buy one from a
drum batch.
It also doesn't hurt that Douglas Strait's generously supplied me with
some superbly rugged thermocouple wire that I use in both machines.
Well-situated in the mass in both, if I terminate the roast at 435 in
either, by golly those roasts are about identical. That's been a HUGE
help, but it depends on having the TC very wonderfully embedded as
deeply inside a dynamic bean mass as possible.
My encouragement would be that a popper can definitely give you roasts
that are comparable -- not quite identical, but darned close -- to a
drum's. It'll require the mods and TC placement to make it work, but I
wouldn't say it's rocket science.
Best of luck whichever way you go!
On 10/25/06, Leo Zick  wrote:
<Snip>

23) From: Douglas Strait
Mike: I get to disagree with both you and Ken in the same post ;-)
You wrote:
<Snip>
Months ago when you posted this belief I did some testing that proved 
to my satisfaction that this is not true. On that occasion I measured 
air and roast chamber wall temperatures in an empty popper. Since the 
subject has come up again, today I performed more rigorous testing 
during actual roasts. I tested both a Wear-ever 1400W Pumper and an 
Original Poppery I. I have some low mass/fast response T/C surface 
probes in both straight and right angle configurations that I used to 
obtain roast chamber bottom and wall temperatures, respectively.
I first tested the Pumper starting with a hot roast chamber. As 
expected, the chamber walls initially were hotter that the cold bean 
mass but once the probed bean mass reached 300F the chamber wall 
temperature lagged the bean mass and never looked back. By 1st crack 
the chamber wall temperatures lagged the bean mass by 40-50F. After 
1st crack I adjusted the controls to maintain a stable bean mass 
temperature around 420F. After several minutes, the chamber walls 
still read 40-50F lower. The only place on the chamber wall that 
exceeded bean mass temperature was on some of the 16 little fins 
associated with the inlet slots. Conduction heat transfer to the beans 
is unlikely to occur here since the vigorous airstream likely prevents 
direct contact with the beans at this location. Using the straight 
probe, I checked the chamber bottom and found it to be more than 50F 
below bean mass temperature. This was as expected since on the Pumper 
the other side of the sheet metal chamber bottom is on the inlet side 
of the airstream upstream of the heater coil. I performed similar 
testing on a Poppery I with similar results except that the bottom of 
the roast chamber measured 10-20F hotter than the bean mass 
temperature. Despite this, it appears that the roast chamber walls and 
bottom have a net negative heat transfer to the beans since the area 
of the chamber walls which run 40-50F cooler is larger that the bottom 
which runs 10-20F hotter.
Now on to Ken's post.
Ken wrote:
<Snip>
I have no first hand experience with drum roasting but I have 
absolutely no trouble achieving uniform light roasts with poppers 
modified to have variable control over heat and fan speed. In fact 
this morning I drank some very good Idido Misty Valley that was light 
enough to be considered a cinnamon roast. Perhaps Ken meant this 
statement to apply to unmoddified poppers but that is not apparent 
from context.
Ken also wrote:
<Snip>
While I agree that the bean likely is insensitive to the identity of 
the heat source, I do not believe that it necessarily follows that the 
cup is identical for similar profiles. The roast environments differ 
in ways other than temperature. In the case of the drum roaster there 
are heat source combustion produces present [CO2 and H2O in the case 
of propane fuel] as well as chaff combustion products. Also in the 
case of a combustion heated drum roaster such as an RK/BBQ setup the 
roast atmosphere is somewhat oxygen depleted. I watched an RK drum 
demo by Ron Kyle himself this summer and Ron gave be a portion of that 
batch. This coffee had a [pleasant to by taste] smokey note that I 
attribute to the burning chaff in the BBQ. I have not experienced a 
similar flavor note in a popper air roast.
Going off on a tangent from this, I wonder whether an air roast in an 
inert atmosphere would cup differently from a typical roast in air.
Doug

24) From: Michael Dhabolt
Doug,
After reading the synopsis of your rigorous testing, all I can say is
"shoots the hell out of my theory".  BTW, well thought out and
implemented testing strategy, Kudos.
I'll have to come up with a better theory of why a long (14
minute-ish) popper roast to lets say full city tastes (to me)
indistinguishable from an Alpenroast or Hot Top roast to similar roast
level in similar time.  To my admittedly unsophisticated palate, as
soon as I lower the overall roast time to below 12 minutes (with the
other necessary changes to the profile) the brightness (and clean,
less mudied taste??) of the fluid bed is unmistakeable.
I am somewhat of a "sweet freak" and frequently prefer the 13 to 15
minute profile for the higher percentage 'base' beans in my blends.  I
also enjoy the shorter brighter roasts for some of the beans I'm using
for 'highlite' tastes.
There is not a doubt in my mind that many people can differentiate
between and distinguish specific tastes that are beyond my ability -
so the previous paragraphs may only describe artifacts of the less
than stellar palate that I am saddled with.
Mike (just plain)

25) From: Douglas Strait

26) From: Les
Mike your Ubber Popper has the control that most air roasters don't have.
Having sampled your coffee, it is very similar to a drum roast.  I doubt
very many people could tell the difference.  If you look on Ron's RK site, I
have developed a drum roast that mimics the brightness of a standard hot air
roast.  Sometimes it is nice to have a brighter coffee than a standard drum
profile.  In my opinion control is the key to good roasting.  Mike McKoffee
has modified his roaster for more control.  Your Ubber Popper has wonderful
control.  The SC/TO has a lot of control.  My RK has a lot of control.  It
is very difficult to have the flexiblity that the four mentioned roasters
have in a commercial plug and play model.
Les
On 10/26/06, Michael Dhabolt  wrote:
<Snip>

27) From: Michael Dhabolt
On 10/26/06, Douglas Strait  wrote:
<Snip>
And here I was....trying to make it complicated :~)
Mike (just plain)

28) From: Ken Mary
<Snip>
Some of us would call this burnt chaff smokiness a defect. But I have not
tasted any gas grill roasted coffee, and have no opinion. There are some
estate coffees with naturally smoky flavors that I enjoy very much. My
homebuilt electric drum roaster is small and the drum wall is not hot enough
to burn chaff, and what sifts out of the drum also does not burn.
However, other commercial electric drum roasters may burn chaff. The
Alpenrost is notorious for this, the chaff falls directly onto the heaters.
The Gene Cafe is heated by flowing hot air, so there should be no problem.
--


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