HomeRoast Digest


Topic: Hottop? (22 msgs / 612 lines)
1) From: Mike Koenig
I'm toying with the idea of getting a Hot Top (the current B model).
After ruining 3 batches for 3 different reasons the other day on my
grill contraption, I think I need to get something a little more
robust.
I don't notice a lot of chatter of the list about the Hot Top.  Is
this because they work well, and nobody needs to tweak them?  Or is it
because very few have them due to the price?
I'm looking for opinions from those who own, or have used them.  I
plan to use it outside.
Is the level of control, and robustness of it worth the price premium
over the Behmor??
--mike
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2) From: Ed Needham
What went wrong roasting with your grill contraption?  What's your setup 
look like?
The only single batch in eight years that I ruined using a grill/drum setup 
was one where I ran out of propane just as first crack started.  I went back 
and re-roasted it and it was drinkable, but not up to par.
I'm curious how your three batches went wrong.
*********************
Ed Needham
"to absurdity and beyond!"http://www.homeroaster.com*********************

3) From: Paul Helbert
I have a friend, Troy Lucas, who has a startup commercial roasting business
in Broadway, VA. He began with a Hot Top and still uses it in testing new
arrivals and for special order small lots. He has roasted a lot of coffee in
four or five years with it and has not spoken of any trouble. Now he uses
his big shiny new Diedrich for production work. He won't sell me his old Hot
Top. I notice that he has the Hot Top mounted right in front of a double
hung window.
-- 
Paul Helbert
Prepackaged, roasted & ground coffee,,,
One of the worst ideas since sliced bread.
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4) From: Robert Joslin
Mike
     I've used a hottop for 4 or 5 years and I think they are hard to beat.
I haven't upgraded my old model because I basically like it as it is.  For
the last couple of years I've been using an HR1 AND my hottop (no I won't
sell mine, either).  It is a solid, well designed machine and I have never
had a lick of trouble with it and I have roasted a LOT of coffee.  The only
other factor to consider would be small batch size, since the newer models
have some capacity for profiling, which I don't even have with the HR-1.  If
its economy your are looking for, you might take Ed's advice and look over
your current roaster/technique.  An awful lot of people roast with
grill/drum set up.  Properly put together, it has superb roasting potential,
profiling capability, large batch size.
Happy Roasting
Josh
On Tue, Apr 8, 2008 at 11:36 AM, Paul Helbert 
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5) From: miKe mcKoffee
I did have a couple small problems on one of two Hottops hammering around
800 batches in around 4 months often doing 20 to 30 back to back batches in
a session. Cooling stirrer motor bearing started going out (got noisy,
replaced it before failure) and the heating element upper loop began to
warp/sag but still roasted fine matching programmed roast times with the 2nd
newer HT. Didn't replace the element until getting the USRC 3k up and in
production. 
Two part failures on the one older (purchased used) HT under VERY heavy use
way beyond their spec'd 'home' usage. Not bad IMO.
Pacific Northwest Gathering VIhttp://www.mcKonaKoffee.comURL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must">http://home.comcast.net/~mckona/PNWGVI.htmKona Konnaisseur miKe mcKoffeehttp://www.mcKonaKoffee.comURL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must
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6) From: miKe mcKoffee
Could also mention the majority of the batches were 10% over the 300g max
rated batch size (~330g+/- 5g batches depending on bean/roast for 5 batches
yielding 3# post roast) AND voltage running under full load 5% boost 126v.
So extra stress put on, well about everything!
Don't ask, after getting the USRC 3k going I did sell one of the two CCR
HT's (still in the List family) but you'll not pry the other out of my hands
even in the grave:-) 
Pacific Northwest Gathering VIhttp://www.mcKonaKoffee.comURL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must">http://home.comcast.net/~mckona/PNWGVI.htmKona Konnaisseur miKe mcKoffeehttp://www.mcKonaKoffee.comURL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must
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7) From: Barry Luterman
Have one for years. Only problem I had with it was easily fixed with a paper
clip. Just recenly bought a Behmor as a backup and for doing 1 pound
roasts.Would buy another if and when I needed it unless I move to a place
where I can't roast outdoors. It would be very difficult to modify
a Hot Top  to roast indoors.
On Tue, Apr 8, 2008 at 7:16 AM, miKe mcKoffee  wrote:
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8) From: Mike Koenig
Batch #1 I baked.  Was a windy, cool day, and I guess I didn't have
enough heat.
Batch #2, had a lot of trouble pulling out the pin that holds the lid
on (different from an RK, pin goes through the shaft),  and the heat
was starting to get through my glove.  While trying to simultaneously
dump, and avoid burned fingers,  I missed my cooling tray and dumped
it on the ground.  The outdoor critters are enjoying 1/2 pound of
Brazil Coromandel - Fazenda Sao Joao.
Batch #3,  the flange that holds my drum to its shaft worked loose,
the drum slid on the shaft, which on my setup lets the lid open,
dumping 1/2 pound into the grunge on the bottom of my grill.
None of these were necessarily the fault of my setup,  but I'm looking
for a little more repeatability than I'm getting now.  Not to mention
that putting this beast together takes a few trips to the basement,
and some assembly each time.  While I get some good roasts out of this
setup, it's become a bit of a chore.  (the grill is shared with food
duty)
I'm curious if anyone has any experience with the Hot Top outdoors in
a colder climate (like a NJ winter).
Thanks for all the input
--mike
On Tue, Apr 8, 2008 at 12:09 PM, Ed Needham  wrote:
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9) From: Rich
Mike,
I would consider the Behmor for the following reasons: 1)works indoors 
where it is neither too hot or too cold. 2) 1 pound batch size.  3) No 
set-up drill required.  4) Repeatable results.
You are probably already aware of the great customer support and cost 
differential of the Behmor.
Mike Koenig wrote:
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10) From: miKe mcKoffee
Expecting decent repeatability roasting outdoors exposed to the elements
with any roaster is futile IMO. Especially exposed to wind. Varying ambient
temps can be compensated for in various ways depending on the roaster/roast
method and user skill but gusts of wind will just blow the heat away,
especially a drafty grill/drum setup. Do you have a garage? If yes roast in
there. I mounted a high volume attic fan in the garage wall to deal with
smoke evacuation.
Or build a roasting shed like Ed did:-)http://home.comcast.net/~mckona/PNWGVI.htmKona Kurmudgeon miKe mcKoffee">http://www.homeroaster.com/5pound2.htmlPacific Northwest Gathering VIhttp://home.comcast.net/~mckona/PNWGVI.htmKona Kurmudgeon miKe mcKoffee
www.mcKonaKoffee.com
URL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must
first not know. And in knowing know I know not. Each Personal enlightenment
found exploring the many divergent foot steps of Those who have gone before.
Sweet Maria's List - Searchable Archiveshttp://themeyers.org/HomeRoast/
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11) From: MichaelB
You can use hottop indoors without setting off smoke detectors, and more
importantly, without filling the house with smoke. I roast on a table in
front of a window with an exhaust fan. Just an ordinary hardware store 8
inch 3 speed model I stick in the window, pull out the accordion extension
to fit, and snug the window into place around it. If you have a kitchen
exhaust that truly exhusts the smoke rather than recirculates it, that will
also work. These methods pass the spouse test.
On 4/8/08, miKe mcKoffee  wrote:
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12) From: Mike Koenig
I do have a garage, and will probably use whatever new roaster I get
in there.  Bringing the propane grill into the garage is verboten (in
the police state of NJ, we can get a fine for that).  I'm in a
townhouse, and one of the "Condo Commandos" will surely report me.
--mike
On Tue, Apr 8, 2008 at 2:40 PM, miKe mcKoffee  wrote:
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13) From: Aaron Boothe
Mike,
I've had my Hottop B for about 6 months now and I love it.  I roast 10-20
batches a week on it, and it is holding up solid.  I go to college up in
Duluth Minnesota (on the edge of Lake Superior) and it super cold up here.
I've roasted quite a bit outside and it does reasonably well in most
weather.  The winter here is extremely cold and it doesn't work very well
then (but really, what does work very well in -20?).  I roast in my room in
an on campus apartment and have never set the smoke alarm off (even for
during a rolling second crack).  The downstairs neighbors complained a
couple of times about the smell (they are Folgers drinkers) but a couple of
well timed half pounds of fresh roasted Sweet Marias coffee seems to have
made them forget about the smell (how could it not?).  Anyway, I love the
Hottop.  It takes a while to cool off, but as long as you're not trying to
do 10 back to back roasts, its not that bad.
Aaron B
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14) From: raymanowen
Ask yourself: " Is the level of control, and robustness of [the Hot Top]
worth the price premium over the Behmor??"
I own neither, so I'm making an outline of the same Due Diligence research
anybody should do.
A.) - The Value of the Behmor is more than 4 X the Hottop, at nearly Twice
the advertised capacity for less than Half the cost.
B.) - The profile utility and design strength have been developed and proven
prior to the introduction of the Behmor. It might be interesting to learn
the history of Behm's scrap metal dumpster.
C.) - Many options have been added to the H-T since its introduction, but
the basic design is unchanged. The price has kept pace with the bells and
whistles.
The HG/ DB was child's play with 400g of beans, and I tried 900g to see if a
two pound batch was feasible. The Glorious People's Orange heat gun made
plenty of heat at 125V, but I was just hanging on, keeping the beans
agitated evenly.
The bread machine can knead a two pound dough ball, but 430g of beans will
fill a quart Mason jar, with plenty left to do a Steinway sample of a new
bean or roasting profile. 200g is a pretty small batch for the BM, so why
bother?
Many others have Hot Top roasters and love 'em. I imagine there are many
folks considering the Behmor that have a fondness for the wad of $20's
they'll have left over to buy more coffee.
D.) - Ever hear of Behm's outstanding Customer Service?
Cheers, Mabuhay -RayO, aka Opa!
Got Grinder?
On Tue, Apr 8, 2008 at 9:50 AM, Mike Koenig  wrote:
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15) From: Aaron Boothe
Mike,
The cold weather roasts I did were in a garage.  It will work ok.  The
response time is just slower (as you would expect) and you have to be more
careful when using the fan.  Turns out, sub zero air cools the bean mass
pretty quick :).  I think its a great roaster and well worth the money.  I
enjoy mine immensely.
Aaron B
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16) From: Mike Chester
I am happy to report that the CCR Hottop is still running excellent.  I am 
the lucky person that got his older one. All of the use that miKe mentioned 
did not damage it at all.   Of course, he cleaned and maintained it 
properly.
Prior to buying the CCR from miKe, I had a stock Hottop for a couple of 
years.  It had a digital control panel which worked fine for most purposes, 
but lacked variable profiling.  All you could change was roast time, bean 
load and the temperature when you dropped the beans.  Earlier this year, I 
upgraded it to the B model control which gave me much better profile 
capability, though it required more knowledge of profiling to properly use. 
I found the built in profile to be pretty useless.  I was just getting the 
hang of profiling with the B when I bought the CCR.  This control is in a 
whole different league.  It offers infinite settings within the physical 
limits of the machine and has extremely repeatable profile characteristics. 
Of course, there were only 10 of these built and they are none currently 
available.  The mechanical parts of the machine are the same as a stock 
Hottop, so any report of durability also applies to them.
The Hottop is the home roaster that is the closest to a commercial drum 
roaster.  It is the only one with an external cooling tray like a shop 
machine.  They are very reliable and the customer service, though seldom 
needed, is excellent.  The long term reliability has proven to be good. 
Yes, they do cost more.  At over twice the cost of a Behmor, are they worth 
it? To me, yes they are, but I am sure some of the Behmor people will 
disagree.  I do feel that right now, the Behmor offers the most bang for the 
buck for off the shelf roasters.  Since the Behmor is a new product, the 
long term reliability has not been determined yet.  There seems to be a fair 
number of defects that people are finding in them, but the company has been 
excellent in resolving them, and to be fair, they are still selling units 
from the first factory run and I am sure that some of the problems will be 
resolved in subsequent runs.
To sum up,  the Hottop is built like a tank and will last for a long time 
under severe conditions.  It does cost more, but as in most things, you get 
what you pay for.  Is it twice as good as a Behmor?  No, that is not how it 
works.  As the price of a product goes up, the value goes up less.  (A $20 
bottle of wine is not twice as good as a $10 bottle, and a $100 bottle is 
not 10 times as good)  In coffee terms, I like Kona, but it costs about 3 
times what Brazil BYB costs.  It is better, but not three times as good. 
The differences are subtle and I know many of you feel that the difference 
is not worth the extra money.   I do.
Another benefit to the Hottop, is that they are relatively easy to sell if 
you decide to get something else.  When I listed my old one on eBay, it sold 
in less than an hour. You rarely see a used one offered, so there is not 
much upgrade fever out there.  I would still have my old one had the CCR not 
become available.
Mike Chester

17) From: Brian Kamnetz
I enjoyed your post, Mike. I especially enjoyed your analysis of
comparative values.
For anyone who is interested in more info on Jeffrey Pawlan's CCR Hot
Top, check out this page:http://www.pawlan.com/ccr.htmlBrian
On Tue, Apr 8, 2008 at 6:45 PM, Mike Chester  wrote:
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18) From: Elliott H. O'Reilly
I have had an original Hottop for 3 years now and I like it very much.  It
is easy to see and hear the roast, and the cooling tray works well.  I am
getting some warpage on the heating element now but it is still working
fine.  If needed the parts are readily available but I haven't needed any
yet.  I roast in the basement.  I had an old bathroom vanity with no top on
which I mounted a cheap range hood.  I used dryer venting to vent it outside
through a window where I replaced the glass with plexiglass.  I have my shop
vac there so I don't have to worry about any chaff that gets out and its
easy to clean the hottop there.  I may add a Behmor later as a backup and
help out during the holiday crunch.
Elliott O'Reilly

19) From: Floyd Lozano
Likely one of the reasons there is no upgrade fever is that it's
upgradeable to the next higher unit with a new controller board and
panel.
I just wish there were blueprints available for the CCR control unit!
-F
On Tue, Apr 8, 2008 at 6:45 PM, Mike Chester  wrote:
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20) From: Les
In my opinion, if you don't mind the extra expense, the profile control you
get with the Hottop is worth the extra expensive over the Behmor.  I love my
Behmor, but there are times when you want that extra control that the Hottop
will provide.  Value wise, it is tough to beat the Behmor.
Les
On 4/9/08, Floyd Lozano  wrote:
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21) From: Mike Koenig
Thanks everyone for their input.
So far, the only negative complaint about the HotTop is the cost, and
I think I've got my mind settled on it.  I like the idea that most of
the parts are easily replaceable, and after roasting on the grill
(despite all my grumbling about it) I don't think I can go back to a
roaster where I don't have full control during the roast.
The only hurdle to overcome is to convince the my wife I need to spend
$700+ on a new roaster.  The fact that it's bonus time at work
helps...
--mike
On Wed, Apr 9, 2008 at 11:07 AM, Les  wrote:
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22) From: Les
Mike,
Tell her you want a USRC one pound roaster.  The cost now is over $4500.00.
Then after she blows a gasket, tell her that for about $700.00 or
$900.00 you can get a Hottop.  In reality those are your two options if you
want total control on a fully enclosed machine.  I know there are other one
pound commerical roasters, but they are in the same price range.
Les
On 4/9/08, Mike Koenig  wrote:
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