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Topic: uneven Alpenrost / where to start . . . (4 msgs / 165 lines)
1) From: dewardh
John:
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January from SM's) and perhaps the vanes have been adjusted slightly but
you might want to verify that your alpenrost is level.
My Alpenrost (first week of January) has been returned, so I can't experiment with tilting the 
machine, but the table that it was on is level.  I can see how it might be possible to tilt the 
machine to at least somewhat level the beans in the drum during roast (forcing the vanes to pump 
the beans uphill during the roast cycle).  But clearly if the vanes pump the beans out of a level 
drum during the unload cycle they must correspondingly pump them toward the fan during the roast 
cycle (which is exactly what I observed happening in the machine while I had it).  It did not, 
unfortunately, occur to me that that might be contributing to the uneven roast while I still had 
the thing here to play with.  If propping up the vent end until the beans distribute evenly along 
the drum during the roast cycle actually evens the resulting roast it both confirms my speculation 
regarding the cause of the unevenness and is a *very* useful hint (which I have not seen before . . 
.. good call on your part) to those who have an Alpenrost and would like to get a more even roast 
from it.  It's certainly something that should be in the otherwise worthless "instruction" manual.
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more even. I had attributed this to the roaster becoming 'seasoned'(1)
but maybe it's just that I'm on the level now.
Or tilted off level . . . thus leveling the beans .  I do wish that I'd thought to try that, as 
the uneven roast was perhaps our biggest objection to the Alpenrost (my wife's comments about the 
machine (or, particularly, the quality of the roast from the machine) were much less kind than 
mine).  We would do a batch of bean in our Sirocco and get a uniform roast at pretty much any color 
we wanted . . . put the same bean in the Alpenrost and get a three-degree-of-roast melange.  That, 
combined with seeing at least some of the beans reach "Vienna" (or darker) at times varying from 12 
1/2 minutes to 14 1/2 minutes (different roasts, same bean), seemingly at random, made the machine 
unacceptable to us. I tried timing from "first pop", but that was never a sure thing, either . . . 
we'd have a few beans go off at 9 1/2 minutes, a few more at 10, some more at 10 1/2 and so forth. 
 Never a "clean" start to the "pop" to time from, and, of course, never a clear view of the beans. 
  We couldn't really compare "body" from the Alp and the Sirocco, since we could not achieve 
comparable uniform roasts.  Since the roast times we saw are what one would expect from a Caffe 
Rosto, one has to wonder about the often suggested "more body" from the (never quite realized by 
us) longer roast time.  Perhaps I'll have some idea soon, since there is a Rosto in transit now as 
the Alpenrost's replacement.
FWIW, I'd be experimenting with Alp #2 now (or Alp #1 repaired) had Swissmar not completely blown 
me off.  After I toasted a test batch of their coffee (which they sent to "verify" that *my* 
problem was not weighing or bean selection) while following their instructions, and reported that 
to them, I heard . . . nothing further from Swissmar.  Maybe they just got tired of replacing 
machines for everyone else (I've seen enough reports of them being replaced, so I was a bit 
surprised).  Whatever.  They did *not* stand behind their product in my case.  I have, by the way, 
nothing but praise for Sweet Maria's subsequent handling of the matter.
I do believe that with a bit (or a lot) of fussing and modification one can get an Alpenrost to 
perform.  Clearly at least some people are content, or even happy, with theirs even as they are. 
 If I had one that otherwise worked more or less as advertised I'd have kept it . . . and cut a 
hole in the end of the cover for a glass view port, and probably by now have modified the drum and 
vanes as well (why is the drum perforated in the first place?), and be working on a temperature 
feedback controller to overcome the voltage/ambient temperature sensitivity, and so forth.  Even be 
roasting some coffee in it .  I like playing with things, and have a well equipped shop for 
doing just that.  But I'd still have just a few things to say about a $300 roaster kit (incomplete, 
and without instructions) marketed as a working machine, and I'd never recommend the thing to a 
"beginner" . . . (which was, after all, the question initially posed . . . ).  I'll stick by my 
original advise that for a "beginner" interested more in roasting coffee and trying a variety of 
beans at different degrees of roast than in being a roaster mechanic a Precision or a Rosto is a 
better place to start.
Deward
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2) From: Michael Vanecek
Well, IMHO, the angled vanes allow for a complete mixing of the coffee 
during roasting. There will be some bunching, but all the coffee should 
be getting fairly even heating, more or less. Alp didn't invent the 
vanes - they're using time tested technology used in multi-thousand 
dollar roasters, scaled to fit.
It seems that scaling roasters down is equally hard for just about every 
manufacturer. Not sure about Freshroast, but when HP's first came out, 
I've heard the same types of problems and having to return this or 
exchange that. I'm not sure why it's so hard to make an indestructable 
home-roaster other than the fact that it would probably cost as much as 
the professional roasters. Professional roasters seem to be priced at 
around $1,000 for every pound capacity they can roast - until you get 
down to the professional sample roasters which are more. The two Alps I 
have runs only $600 total, so I'm sure they had to cut corners somewhere 
to keep it afordable. Too bad - I'd spend more if they didn't cut 
corners - I like having a drum homeroaster. HP probably cut similar 
corners to keep their affordable too. For the manufacturer, it's all a 
matter of compromise rather than producing the best roaster they can. 
They have to look at the market and judge what the market would spend 
and design accordingly. It's a bummer sometimes. I've had good luck with 
my HP and had to return one of my Alps. But it could just as easily be 
the other way.
But you're right - I'd start out with an air roaster. Heck, I'd get a 
popper first. You never know if you're going to stick with it or not, so 
get something cheap to experiment and learn and a popper is perfect and 
cheap and can pop corn if you get turned off of roasting coffee. If you 
like it, move up to the next roaster in your budget and desire...
Cheers,
Mike
dewardh wrote:
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3) From: TFisher511
Actually on my old Alp, I have pads under the loading end of the roaster the 
help get a more even roast by letting the beans settle closer to the fan end. 
I took that advice from someone on this list or alt.coffee, can't remember 
which, and it really did seem to help. It still roasted unevenly, just not 
quite as bad as before. The Alp is in its box in the garage somewhere near 
the Technivorm (getting quite an expensive education out there). The Unimax 
2000 is still chugging along fine so far.
BTW, the U2000 is the small 7-8 ounce roaster, not the larger variety that 
someone responded to in an earlier post. I think Royalmax only supported the 
larger machines that Unimax sold.
Terry F
dewardh writes:
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4) From:
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Say wanna sell your alp? :)


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