I have now had my Quest for a bit longer. Today our consumption is now up close to 2 pounds a week. Wow! If I could stay home for over 5 days we might hit 3 pounds.
Problems: Only one, the quest is very susceptible to ambient temperature variances. Warm won't hurt you but cold will. A few days ago it got really cold. The room where I roast is not on the HVAC and I heat it with a kerosene heater. I got the ambient temp up to 60 degrees and we struggled. Last night I got the room up over 70 and the roaster roared. So, if you buy this roaster and it gets cold, make sure you roast in a warm environment. I also make sure the beans are temp stable at 68-70 degrees before they hit the drum. One other thing, I am using my heat gun down the tryer hole to help get the roaster up to temp faster. This works well. I have some work to do with venting and ambient temp control. Best would be to roast in a HVAC controlled room under a high end exhaust hood a couple of feet above the roaster.
New positives. I am kicking off my roasts at between 200c and 205c with great success. The roast are very even. I wont risk starting higher than 205 as I expect I could have some issues. This consistency in the evenness is a new experience. I purchase an Omega 806 data logger and thermocouples from Eric Severen in MD. I have run 3 roasts with this logger so far. This has been very informative. I have yet to actually log the temp on my computer but am currently using it as an expensive thermometer and log by hand to better learn the way the roaster is acting. I plan to plug into the computer in the next couple of days.
I am roasting 8 oz batches more and more. The roaster is better at 125g loads but I am improving all the time. It is easier to roast slightly slower At 125 than 8 oz. A PID will address this but I do need to learn more and more about the relationship between BT and ET before I install a PID. With 8oz loads the bean temps drop lower at the start but climb much faster due to the increased mass.
I really like the way the roaster cools the beans. It handles 8oz just fine cooling quicker than my old hot top. I expected this to be a issue and that I would need to build a bean cooler. I wont do that now.
One ore area where this roaster excels is in Chaff separation. When I dump the coffee there is zero chaff mixed with the beans. Performance here is better than the Hot Top and much better than the Behmor.
Drinkability. Well this is what it is all about and with about 15 roasts under my belt the coffee in the cup has changed. The flavors are more pronounced. The wife loves the Kenyan. I am a Ethiopian drinker. Neither of us care for the Honduras. The subtle flavors are easily identified.
Over the next ten days I will begin logging the temp data on the computer. I plan to take a bag of coffee and run some 125g loads slow, fast, to different roasting levels and then cup the roasts. I have never done this and am excited to carry the coffee this direction.
I will be doing some disassembly between Christmas and New Years to clean the roaster. I will advise once I pull her apart.
For you commercial guys, I believe this is a fantastic solution for a sample roaster. I now have a different view of how one roast profile doesn't totally apply from one roaster to another. I have learned this by varying the bean loads. With ALL of the other roasters I have used I NEVER could taste these subtle changes in the flavors change as the roast changes.
With the data logger and A PID I believe I will be able to perform roast repeatability time after time over and over. One thing that I believe escapes us home roasters is the ability to develop a roast profile and repeat it time after time. I have never done serious blending but that is on the schedule. Right now we are running SO espresso.
Do I suffer from buyer remorse wishing for that 1 kilo roaster? Ah, no. Roasting for my household and my office I could not be happier. I am confident I am producing coffee equal to the coffee sold at the best coffee shops in the US. Over the last few months I have visited a few of these and the coffee was great but not better than what I roast. This isn't because of my skills but because if the great beans Sweet Marias sells and this fantastic roaster.
And just think, I and doing this at less than $10 a pound. Woo Hoo!!
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