HomeRoast Digest


Topic: New to Roasting- Looking for a Roaster (23 msgs / 500 lines)
1) From: Ryan M. Ward
Hello everyone,
I am an experienced baristo (made up word), but brand new to home Roasting. I was wondering what kind of Roasters you would recommend to someone starting out. I prefer quality of end product (coffee) and durability of machinery over convenience. The more flexibility the better though. I am hoping to stay within a budget of under $400. I have been eyeing the iRoast 2 for some time but really don't have a hugh amount of information on any particular roaster other than what I have read on some websites including Sweet Marias.
Capacity-wise, I would appreciate the ability to Roast up to a pound of coffee but a little less is ok (I think a half pound would be my minimum acceptable amount). Also, I tend to like darker roasts. (I primarily drink espresso- occasionally breaking out the French press).
I appreciate, in advance, your advice.
Also, have any of you read that home roasting book by Kenneth Davids?
As a last question (which I really should not be asking...), I say my budget is $400, but does anyone have experience with the HotTop Electric drum roaster... it sure is purty! Is it worth the couple hundred extra dollars or are you paying a couple hundred extra for a conversation piece?
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2) From: Rich
The Behmor is about the best for what you want to do.
Ryan M. Ward wrote:
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3) From: Yakster
I have the Behmor and am very happy with it.  It was within my budget.
If you can stretch your budget to fit a HotTop, though, I would do it.
With the Behmor, you get capacity, convenience, but no steering during the
roast beyond cracking the door open to cool it down if the profile is
running too hot.  You pre-program the profile in advance, so I usually start
off with a 100% power P1 profile to find where first crack starts and then
calculate a P2 profile to land a temperature drop around first crack to
prevent first from running into second.  Once you've set the program and hit
start, it's running and beyond cracking the door, you can hit cool to stop
the roast early (at your target roast).
With the HotTop, you can program profiles, but also you can change the heat
and fan during the roast.  A HotTop roaster on the list should be able to
help you more with this.  Also, there seems to be a lot of support from
other HotTop roasters in terms of guidance for setting up profiles that
work.
If your even more hands-on, you might look at using a heat gun into a dog
bowl or thrifted bread machine or set up a Stir Crazy base with a Convection
Oven top.  These methods are hands on and give you control during the
roast.  The bread machine or Stir Crazy are used to keep the beans moving to
prevent scorching.
Good luck!
-Chris
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4) From: J.W.Bullfrog
Guys, he said he likes a darker roast, thats tough to get in a Behmor
That said, I knew a guy who said he liked darker roasts, and then when he
learned to roast himself. He changed a lot on what he liked vs. waht he
thought he liked.
On Fri, Dec 18, 2009 at 11:47 AM, Yakster  wrote:
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-- 
I've seen things you people wouldn't believe.
Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate.
All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.
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5) From: Yakster
Actually, with the right load size and a two minute pre-roast, it's not a
problem.
You'll get more smoke and you'll want to clean the Behmor more often is all.
You can take your beans all the way to char with the Behmor.
My preferred degree of roast, however, is City - Full City + and I usually
use 12 oz load size to keep my roast times reasonable.
-Chris
On Fri, Dec 18, 2009 at 10:52 AM, J.W.Bullfrog wrote:
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6) From: Barry Luterman
Amen
On Fri, Dec 18, 2009 at 8:52 AM, J.W.Bullfrog wrote:
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7) From: Barry Luterman
Actually I was saying Amen to learning to prefer lighter roasts
On Fri, Dec 18, 2009 at 8:57 AM, Barry Luterman  wrote:
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8) From: Rich
I do not know what your problem is.  I can load 1 full pound of beans 
with a start temperature of 68F and roast them to flaming incandescence 
on P-1.  This can be accomplished on the default time setting also.  I 
do use a scale to set the weight of beans though.
That should be dark enough.....
J.W.Bullfrog wrote:
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9) From: Ray Tolar
Yep the Behmor will burnem if thats what you want. But as Barry says WHY
?? light roasts with a good bean oh man!! wow !!   can't beat it.
On Fri, Dec 18, 2009 at 10:56 AM, Yakster  wrote:
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10) From: Jim Gundlach
Let's see, I started with the little electric popcorn poppers, they  
roasted too fast and too little coffee at a time.  I moved on to an on  
the stove popcorn popper with a stir handle, the problem with it was  
you could not see the coffee and it really smoked up the house.  Then  
I moved to roasting in a wok on the kitchen range, I liked seeing the  
coffee roast and recommend some sessions roasting this way to everyone  
learning to roast, but it also smoked up the house.  I moved the wok  
outside to roast over a wood fire, it worked very well but was a lot  
of work and was getting close to migrating to a hot hell doing it in  
Alabama summers.  I then roasted with long handle outdoor or camping  
popcorn poppers, I really like them and you get to be a little further  
from the heat of the wood fire in the summer.  I added electric heat  
guns to my roasting experience and made up a series of electric  
stirrers to get my stirring hand out of the heat. After I almost died  
from a rare and random illness and was rather low on energy my wife  
got me the Behmor 1600 so I could roast coffee for her, and me too  
really, as I was recovering.  It sits on a table just to the left of  
my computer desk and I have fallen in love with it and mostly roast  
with it even though I am now able to go back to all the earlier  
methods if I wanted to.  You need to monitor it when it is roasting  
but it is quite handy and it only kicks off the smoke detector if you  
roast the beans too dark.  It does a pound of greens rather nicely but  
does seem to do a better job with about 13 or 14 ounces.  Of all the  
ways I have roasted, this is the handiest and it is quite flexible.  I  
have not bought or used any of the other electric roasting machines  
because I just kept reading about people having so many problems with  
them. I also don't have the money to get the professional roasting  
machines although I would love to have one. I suggest you search the  
archives of this mailing list for the names of machines you are  
considering, someone on this list has used and written about just  
about every roaster available.
      pecan jim
On Dec 17, 2009, at 2:39 PM, Ryan M. Ward wrote:
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11) From: Yakster
I'd also like to bring up that the customer support for the Behmor has been
excellent.
Joe Behm is an active member of the coffee community and I've heard nothing
but good things about support once a user has reported the issue to Behmor
Tech Support.
I have not regretted my purchase.
-Chris
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12) From: Jim Gundlach
Yep,
       One of my great regrets in life was sticking with the darker  
roasts for so long.  For almost all of Tom's coffees, the great  
flavors are destroyed by the darker roasting that I used to be  
absolutely devoted to.
       pecan jim
On Dec 18, 2009, at 12:52 PM, J.W.Bullfrog wrote:
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13) From: Joseph Robertson
Happens all the time. New taste treats...be coffee or other culinary
experiences.
JoeR
On Fri, Dec 18, 2009 at 10:52 AM, J.W.Bullfrog wrote:
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-- 
Ambassador for Specialty Coffee and palate reform.
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14) From: Starfinder Stanley
Yup.... I'd say ditto on the encouragements to try the lighter roasts....
resist the dark side!  Remember, espresso is a method of coffee preparation,
not a dictate to burn the coffee ---my espresso machine is always happy to
pull a wonderful shot from light roasts.  Lighter roasts have more caffeine,
too, which seems to surprise most dark roast advocates.  And more complex
and subtle flavor profiles, better shelf life....
On Fri, Dec 18, 2009 at 12:06 PM, Jim Gundlach wrote:
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15) From: John and Emma
New to Roasting,
You will get a lot of votes for the Behmor. When I was looking for a new
roaster after starting with a popcorn popper I ended up buying the Behmor.
It was thanks to many people on this list. Reasons for my choice were: 1)
Able to roast a full pound - I thought a half pound would be ok but now
rarely roast less than a full pound at a time, 2) Price - I used the money I
saved to buy the expensive Gesha's that were available at the time (you
could buy more beans), 3) The large support for this roaster on this list,
4) Ease of use - I like experimenting and in the end found that with the
different profiles and then adjusting time before and or after start on the
Behmor will give me years of experimenting. No matter what roaster you use
the profiles of your roast will be similar as those pre-programmed in the
Behmor. Example P1 - straight 100% heat, P2 - 100% heat, drop down at 1st
crack and ramp back up to 100% heat, P3-P5 three different ramp up
profiles., 5) Smoke reduction - I roast in my kitchen, 6) Technical support
- hard to find good support these day (though I'm not saying that there
aren't any other good manufacturers out there).
I will share that for me the only thing the Behmor is missing is the ability
to read an accurate bean temp.
I remember reading and hearing that you can't roast dark in a Behmor. On the
contrary, I have roasted to Full French by accident using the P1 profile.
Looking at my Behmor Thing history it was on April 18 with the Brazil
Moreninha Formosa Raisin Micro Lot. I couldn't detect the end of first crack
and beginning of second. It wasn't until I saw so much smoke and smelled it
that I realized it must be second crack. By the time I hit cool second crack
had been if full force for a while. I pulled the drum out and the beans
could have been sold at $buck's.
I am also one of those people who used to love dark roasted coffee until I
started roasting my own. Now I only roast between City and FC+. For me the
darker side of FC tends to be where I like most of my coffee.
What ever you choose. Enjoy your journey.
John H.
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16) From: Bob Hazen
I don't know why people keep saying it's tough to roast dark in a Behmor. 
Is this experience talking?
My experience is that I can certainly roast dark in my Behmor.  It's no 
sweat to run far into 2nd.  Extreme Vienna to French is quite do-able.  Ask 
me how I know.  ;-\
Bob
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17) From: Jim Gundlach
It is not really tough to roast dark in Behmor, it is that the default  
settings are for lighter roasts.  You can always add additional time  
and get a darker roast.
        pecan jim
On Dec 18, 2009, at 9:32 PM, Bob Hazen wrote:
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18) From: miKe mcKoffee
Sorry you didn't make it up, the word baristo has been occasionally used
incorrectly for some time to refer to a male barista. Incorrectly assumes
the "a" at the end of barista is feminine gender specific while in fact
barista is gender neutral referring to both male and female baristi.
Since you stated preferring quality of the cup and machine durability over
convenience plus minimun 1/2LB capacity plus $400 or a bit more budget
forget the fluid bed off the shelf home roasters. Now what to recommend
depends a great deal on the type of person you are. To a great extent I
agree with RayO. Push button automation isn't necessarily the best path to
LEARN coffee roasting. And worse with the exception of the HotTop off the
shelf home roasting appliances are very poor at repeating a roast profile
consistently. IF you're a DIY type of person I'd suggest finding an
orgininal West Bend Poppery (P1 for short). Add simple analog thermometer
into roast chamber (which you'll need to make), split wire fan/heater for
independent voltage control, preferably variable boosted voltage control via
variacs or equivalent, and you'll have a 1/2LB capacity fully roast profile
controllable roaster.
I started with a stock Caffe' Rosto about a decade ago (guts equivalent to
P1 but with ready made roast chamber and chaff collector). Less than year
modified for split wired dual variable voltage control and that's when
really learning about roast profiling began. How varying bean temp ramp
rates at various stages affected the cup. The big problem with ALL off the
shelf home roasters is NONE monitor bean mass temperature. While today I
roast on a $12k USRC 3k or $2.5k Computer Controlled (CCR) HotTop (part of
modification was bean mass monitoring), the majority of roast principles I
learned manually turning variac dials to independently control applied heat
and air flow while monitoring a simple bi-metal thermometer in the bean mass
of a Caffe' Rosto.
That said IMO the best bang for the buck in off the shelf home roasters is
the Behmor 1600. It's big weakness is having limited and no on the fly
profile control. By the time it was released I'd been fully controlled
profile roasting for years so it's profile limitations were totally
unacceptable to me. But as a begginer roaster not a bad way to go. I'd take
it over an I-Roar any day. (and actually have both I-R1 and Behmor in
addition to P1, Caffe' Rosto, and HT) And IMO while significantly more
expensive and smaller roast capacity wise the HotTop produces a better cup,
much closer to that of a good commercial drum roast. 
THAT said other very inexpensive options are full manual. Get yourself a 14g
carbon steel wok & wooden spoon, or heatgun and dog bowl.
THAT SAID if quality in the cup and machine durabiliy is paramount enough
save your pennies (lots and lots of 'em) and get a US Roaster Corp .5k:-) A
commercial grade roaster that'll last multiple lifetimes not a home roast
appliance built to be affordable and hence fail and be replaced.
Slave to the Bean Kona Konnaisseur miKe mcKoffeehttp://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must">http://www.NorwestCoffee.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
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.
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19) From: Ryan M. Ward
I appreciate all of your input (BTW, there appears to be a huge lag between when i post to the DG and when it is actually sent out...). All things considered, it sounds like for me to get the best experience, I should start out manual and develop an understanding of roasting (much like baking bread the old fashioned way before buying a fancy bread making machine). I am also going to stay away from fluid bed roasters. 
I talked it over with my other half, I am going to spend the next 6 months or so learning the roasting process the old fashioned way (As an amateur bread baker who bakes the old fashioned way first and bread machine second- I very much respect this advice), later this summer I am going to try to go for the HotTop. The Behmor sounds great but based on what I have read about the two models, I think in the long run, I would end up "upgrading" to the HotTop anyway so I might as well save myself $300 now- the extra time should allow me to expand my budget a bit. 
I like the idea of rigging together my own roaster, this would be a great excuse to break out my electrical engineering skills and wire up a thermocouple reader LCD output screen, etc...
As a final question, since coffee is really the star of the show here. What types do you like/recommend(both vendors and blends). 
Again, thank you all for your help- I will let you all know how things go.
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20) From: Paul Norris
I guess I'll put my two cents worth in here, even though after a year of
roasting my own coffee I still consider myself a noobie. I have an I Roast 2
and it does OK I guess. I never could manage to get the roast time up to 10+
minutes and it only does about a cup of beans at a time. I recently drug out
an old bread machine that was collecting dust in my shed, bought a heat gun
and infra red thermometer and bada bing, I'm roasting a pound at a time with
ease.Now the chaff could be a problem but I clamped my shop vac hose at the
top of the bread chamber and it does darn well at catching most of the
chaff.I took an old cardboard box I had lying around( just a little bigger
than my sieve) cut a hole in the top for the sieve to sit in and another in
the side for the shop vac hose and when I'm done roasting I dump the beans,
connect the hose and in about a minute I have cooled beans. It works really
well.
On Sat, Dec 19, 2009 at 12:42 PM, miKe mcKoffee  wrote:
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21) From: Allon Stern
On Dec 18, 2009, at 5:09 PM, Starfinder Stanley   
wrote:
<Snip>
Better draw down on vacpots, less static when grinding,less smoke when  
roasting...
-
allon
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22) From: Bob Hazen
Ryan,
This is a continued issue with the list.  Some folks' posts get stuck in a 
queue over the weekend and get released in a batch Monday morning.  Notice 
the bunch of posts received at 9:35 this morning.  Your post shows it was 
sent 12/19 at 1:27 pm, but didn't come through until this morning.
I have no idea why this problem continues.  It has been discussed before, 
but SM's can't (or won't) do anything about it.  It can really stifle the 
list.  However, if you email Derek at SM's he can work some magic to release 
you from that limbo-land.  Some time back, all of a sudden, my posts were 
getting stuck in the same manner.  Derek fixed it and they go right 
through - weekend or not.
Bob
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23) From: Bruce Garley
Intuitively one might think that green teas and light roast coffees would
have more caffeine due to less destructive processing. However, the caffeine
molecule is very stable. I have not seen any actual data to support the
hypothesis that roasting in the ranges we generally use (City to Vienna),
effects caffeine levels.
Bruce Garley
Plant Whisperer
San Juan Capistrano, CA
 
Vivir con miedo es como vivir a medias.
 
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