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Topic: Alpenrost vs HotTop Bean Roaster (14 msgs / 425 lines)
1) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
Comparing the AlpenRost with the HotTop Bean Roaster, Michael wrote:
" ...I seriously doubt that the Hottop will be 2.5 times better than the
Alp...."
"...personally, I think it's 6 one way and half-dozen the other..."
Although I have never seen (nor used) the HotTop, I believe it has a
potential to be a much better roaster than the AlpeRost, probably even a
better value. For several reasons:
 -- larger capacity
 -- visible beans
 -- so quiet that it is easy to hear the first and second crack
 -- controlled (not just on/off) heating
 -- chip controlled roast profile
 -- automaticall spits out beans at the end of the roast cycle (*)
(*) ... so that, even without the expected improvement, the user can cool
the beans to the room temperature within the recommended 5 minutes from end
of roasting, (ideally it is 4 minutes) -- as Tom states on:http://www.sweetmarias.com/prod.hottop.htmlEven if I would consider that each of those six items improves the roaster
by just 16.5%, the overall improvement is approximately (1.165 x 1.165 x
1.165 x 1.165 x 1.165 x 1.165) = 2.5 times!
In my opinion, each of those improvements improve the roaster by much more
than 16.5% -- why do you think that is not true and those two roaster are "6
one way and half-dozen the other"?
Any comments?
Regards, Lubos in the Texas Hill Country part of Austin.
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2) From: Michael Vanecek
Well, they're both 1/2lb roasters, so capacity is the same.
Visible beans *is* nice, but not necessary - half point to HotTop
Alp is also fairly quite, cracks are easily discernable
Alp also has a chip, though I prefer manual control - one for HotTop
Alp spits beans out into tray too and runs air over them, though I 
usually just dump the tray into a collander.
The HotTop has some perks over the Alp, but the differences aren't 
significant enough to warrant another $250 (though I'll probably buy one 
anyway).
Both produces the same end result. In very much the same manner, given 
some gizmo differences.
For the less financially endowed, the Alp is a fine choice. For those 
who are willing to forego a few movies and trips to Chile's for a while 
and perhaps ditch the cable for a few months (me), the HotTop appears to 
have great potential. I will find the controlled heating of interest for 
further experimentations in roast profiles - it'd be neat if we could 
program these profiles and save them for future roasts. I can do without 
the default presets though, all my roasts are completely manual.
I'm still wondering why these guys are being produced and manufactured 
overseas - can't *we* produce something like this?
Cheers,
Mike
Irene and Lubos Palounek wrote:
<Snip>
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3) From: Jim Schulman
On 31 May 2002 at 15:23, Irene and Lubos Palounek wrote:
<Snip>
Agreed. But is the coffee 2.5 times as good?
Jim Schulman
Happily using a not nearly as cool, but still visible, audible, adjustable FR+ 
and variac combo at total cost $140.
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4) From: Michael Rochman
Isn't this the same old story:
Is a BMW worth that much more than a Ford?
Is a Patek Philippe worth that much more than a Timex?
Is a Leica worth that much more than an Instamatic?
Yada, yada, yada...
The answer is always the same: for some, the perception of increased
quality is worth the difference in price; for others, not.
Me?
I'm easy to please.
The best always tends to satisfy me. ;-)
Mike

5) From: Mike McGinness
From: "Jim Schulman" 
<Snip>
Ah oh, here we go. 2.5 times as good? Reminds me of discussions last year
about a certain varietal and taste/quality versus cost increase increments.
Taste being somewhat subjective and learned who's to say? Probably not 2.5
times as good. I mean, that's a 250% increase! If it's better it's better,
IMO. And I'm not saying it's better without a cup to cup comparison. But,
many are into getting the absolute very best possible cup for the palate
regardless the cost. Would a 10% subjective improvement in taste be worth
$250 additional or the whole $450? Maybe yes maybe no. Value depends on each
persons priorities and perspectives. Personally I've decided to hold off and
didn't go for the preview purchase, we're going back to Hawaii in November
instead.
MM;-)
Home Roasting in Vancouver, WA USA
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6) From: Mark Prince
At 01:23 PM 31/05/2002, you wrote:
<Snip>
You know how Andy Schecter (of alt.coffee) has been toolin' his Silvia to 
add all sorts of PIDs and controls and the like?
I seriously believe that within 4-6 months after it goes on sale, someone 
is gonna mod a Hottop to be controlled via infrared from a Pocket PC or 
Palm Pilot... including full roast profiles. It has the ability. The 
circuit board is off the shelf and readable, and better than that, the heat 
coils are variable temp, unlike the on or off alp coils.
Mark
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7) From: Mark Prince
At 02:32 PM 31/05/2002, you wrote:
<Snip>
Nope. The hottop gives you a half pound AFTER the roast is complete, the 
alp doesn't.
<Snip>
Hrmm. One of the most frequent complaints about the Alp over the years is 
the lack of a view glass. The HT adds it, and now it's dismissed? Freaky.
<Snip>
Wait till you actually use a HT. The sound difference is major, nothing to 
be dismissed.
<Snip>
The new cooling design on the HT should alleviate the cooldown issues. The 
Taiwanese are claiming a 4 minute "complete cool to room temps" time with 
the new fan they've built in. I'll believe it when I see it in person, but 
I'm encouraged by this news.
<Snip>
Where do you get a $250 difference in pricing?
Mark
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8) From: Michael Rochman
<Snip>
alp doesn't.
What load weight does it start at, about 11oz.?
Mike
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9) From: Jim Schulman
On 31 May 2002 at 15:20, Mike McGinness wrote:
<Snip>
Yeah. And I shouldn't talk, since I've just spent absurd amounts on an 
espresso machine for a slightly improved taste (although I can finally make 
'em fast enough for company, a big plus).
But Tom's right on one point. No new roaster design should be without user 
adjustable heating controls. I can get better roasts out of my FR+ by using 
the variac to start with low heat and ramping it up for the first crack and 
beyond.
Maybe I'll be tempted by the HWP replacement, if it's anything like they were 
describing at the SCAA.
Jim Schulman
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10) From: Mark Prince
At 03:52 PM 31/05/2002, you wrote:
<Snip>
I'm regularly roasting about up to 275 grams in it, which gives a post 
weight of around 230 grams, or almost exactly half a pound (227g is half a 
pound). You can do up to 300 grams in it, though it won't go much past full 
city (but with the new chip programming, you may be able to go all the way 
to dark french).
By comparison, the Alp works best with about 225 grams or less in it, which 
gives a post roast weight of around 180g.
Mark
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11) From: Michael Rochman
Thanks, Mark. So the finished roast comparison might be 180g vs 250g +/-.
That's a decent difference for me.
Mike

12) From: Mike Vanecek
Ah, I see it now. It's a way to sell more coffee, right? :) Well, it 
*would* be nice to get a few extra cups of coffee out of a roast and 
knock my roasting to every 7 days instead of 5, but knowing me, I'd just 
drink more and still have to roast every 5 days. I'll have to do some 
sturdy begging to the wife though - she sees two Alps, an HWP and WBII 
and I want to spend another $450? Actually $900 - I like to buy these 
guys in pairs. Given the failure rate of all the roasters across the 
board, I don't want to have to sit for weeks sans a new toy once I've 
had the chance to play with it. :P I bought an Alp, suspected a problem 
and bought another before sending the first in for replacement. Ah, us 
and our toys - no wonder why I don't have a fancy entertainment center 
or good recliner and couch. :)
I do look forward to seeing their changes regarding cool-down. I'll 
typically take my Alp roast and toss it into a collander under a fan 
just to speed things up. Not having to do that would be convenient. Not 
necessary, but easier.
$450 - $200 does equal $250, right? Or was the Alp $300? It's been a 
while and I forget. Guess I *could* get off my lazy mousepad and 
doublecheck at SM.
I've never been all that dependent to the seeing thing, even with the 
HWP. Not that I disregarded it, but seeing was just a part of what I 
used. Hearing, smell and time were my primary tools. I guess that's why 
I found migrating to the Alp so easy. Everyone does it just a little 
differently. So, for me, a window would be a gizmo. Not an unwelcome one 
though - it would be neat to watch it tumble while it roasts...
Still, I have to keep the idea that though it's better in many ways, but 
the end product is still largely the same. Now, if it was a pound 
roaster, that would be different. 40 grams above my usual roast - eh, 
not so sure. I want it, but there's just not enough difference for me to 
use as convincing points for my wife/bookkeeper. My current roasting is 
good - she'll never go to store-bought again. Doubt there'll be enough 
of a difference in the new roaster to use as far as that's concerned. I 
could always blackmail her and start burning the roasts, but I *do* have 
to sleep at night. "But, look honey, I can see it roasting," probably 
won't hold a lot of water either. Hence, practically, 6 one way half 
dozen the other, more or less. But it's still cool looking... :)
Be well,
Mike
Mark Prince wrote:
<Snip>
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13) From: coffenut
Mark,
My Alp can be pushed a bit past the recommended 225g level.  I've
roasted 248g on several occasions with no noticeable problem or
difference.  Haven't tried 275g, but may do it just for grins to see
what happens.  I've also got one of the hotter calibrated Alps, so maybe
that makes some difference too.  Has anyone else pushed the envelope
with their Alp to see what the outside edge may be?
As for the HotTop, I'm glad to see something new coming to us.  It's
usually better to have more choices and I've enjoyed following the
progress of this new product.  Thanks for sharing your experiences thus
far.
Coffenut  :^)

14) From: Michael Vanecek
I second that. I'm tickled that new developments are coming out. That 
means the home roasting market is still healthy. I keep worrying that if 
Tom decides the market isn't there I'll have to stop drinking coffee. :) 
The subject is misleading, IMHO - I'll use either roaster and be happy. 
It's really not a VS matter. If you've got...$289 (yep, finally got off 
my lazy mousepad and doublechecked the price), hit up the Alp. If you've 
got $450, tickle your fancy with the HotTop. I see two markets - less 
money and more money available. In the end, it's the coffee that counts. 
$450 is still not bad and it compares kinda like Buz and Woody in Toy 
Story. All them blinking lights (yes, I've got kids/am a kid). :) 
Perhaps Swissmar will come out with Alp II and competition will lower 
prices a bit.
I've always roasted at 230g straight up excepting small bean coffees 
where I'll add a couple of grams. Not sure if it makes a difference, but 
it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. :) I haven't the guts to risk 
perfectly good coffee trying to push the envelope with that thing. 
Perhaps if there's some trash coffee out there to experiment with...
My Alp is still pretty warm. On setting one, you can see the oils coming 
to the surface. The other one sits in the closet, so I'm not sure about 
that one's profile yet. Nevertheless, hot or no, I prefer the hands on 
approach in place of the settings. Now, if they come out with a way for 
me to program in a roast profile - like a slow ramp-up and a finish 
blast, or even a "slow roast", I think I'd play with the controls some. 
Wonder how programmable the EPROM is on the HotTop? Maybe a quickly 
Linux application and a serial cable modded to the HotTop could produce 
some interesting results...but then I'd have to purchase three - two for 
my standard roasting and one to destroy with experimentation. And the 
wife has hidden the checkbook... :)
Cheers,
Mike
coffenut wrote:
<Snip>
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