HomeRoast Digest

Topic: Alpenrost saga (6 msgs / 342 lines)
1) From: Kathleen Tinkel
Please excuse the long message. It's a long story.
I've been using an Alpenrost since August 2000. I'm actually on my 
third unit. Swissmar replaced the first one (it was one of the 
infamous 'hot Alps') after two weeks.
The replacement worked fine until April of last year (the 8-month 
mark). The roasting profile started to vary with no logical 
explanation (i.e., always roasting the same place, indoors next to my 
stove). I usually roast while I have my morning coffee, and do not 
roast sequential batches.
Then the Alp started a new (intermittent) trick: I'd press the Start 
button to roast, but at 3 minutes the machine would abort, initiate 
the cooling cycle, then discharge the unroasted beans. The only way 
it would roast was after being reset (unplugged for a minute, then 
plugged in again). I suspected it had something to do with the doors, 
and started cleaning the gunk more often, but it didn't seem to solve 
the problem.
Swissmar has been very fair, and said they'd replace the machine. 
Then my life got complicated, and coffee roasting slid down the 
priority scale for a couple of months. I got in the habit of 
unplugging the Alp between roasts, and because I roast by smell, 
sound, and sneaking peeks, could live with the variations.
Until June 4. In the middle of a roast, the thing simply died. No 
power. So I got an RMA and returned my Alp to Swissmar. Monday (after 
nearly a month of using my good old reliable FreshRoast), the 
replacement arrived.
Roast #1 (Tuesday):
The roast seemed normal. The timing was a bit different (I assumed it 
was because they've tweaked the roasting profile and added a 
thermostat to compensate for variations in ambient temperatures). But 
it was well within normal range of behavior.
Brushed it out, and left it plugged in on the counter.
Roast #2 (today, Wednesday):
I set up to roast again. The Alp aborted at 3 minutes, initiated the 
cooling cycle, dumped the beans. Dj vu all over again.
In the spirit of science, I set it up again without unplugging the 
roaster, but this time left the lid up when I pushed Start. Instead 
of closing the interior doors, the Alp *opened* them, and the machine 
once again aborted at 3 minutes.
Third try, I began by unplugging the roaster, then plugging it back 
in again. This time I got roasted coffee.
I called Swissmar, and spoke to Bruno there. He had never heard of 
this behavior, but I told him I had reported this pattern last year 
and subsequently, so he said he would check with the engineers to 
find out why it happens, and whether this is an omen of an early 
And I said I'd ask here on the list to discover if anyone else is 
having this problem.
Do you unplug your Alps between roasts?
Thanks for any comments.
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2) From: Paul Goelz
Never had that problem, but I have had one where the drum motor would
re-start after the beans had dumped and te motors had shut off.  Swissmar
finally replaced it and the replacement is absolutely perfect.  
And I ALWAYS unplug it between roasts.  I don't trust any microprocessor
device capable of that kind of heat.  
Paul Goelz
Rochester Hills, MI
paul (new address)
Videoastronomy, model helicopter and music (UnFest) web site:http://www.eaglequest.com/~pgoelzVectron Blackhawk discussion list:  vectronblackhawk">http://www.pgoelz.com(new web address) http://www.eaglequest.com/~pgoelzVectron Blackhawk discussion list:  vectronblackhawk
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3) From: David Lewis
At 3:09 PM -0400 7/3/02, Kathleen Tinkel wrote:
I don't have an Alp, but as an electrical engineer I can tell you 
that with this behavior I'd suspect line noise right away. Look for a 
fan speed control or dimmer, or something with a motor on the same 
circuit. I know that it *shouldn't* be affected by stuff like that, 
but you'd be surprised how much scar tissue it takes to design an 
inexpensive piece of electronics that isn't. The first thing I'd try 
is to move it to a socket that's on a different circuit and see if 
the problem goes away.
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, 
signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are 
not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."
	--Dwight D. Eisenhower
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4) From: coffenut
Good to hear you're still out there in Sweet-Maria-land.  The way I use
my Alp, is to have it unplugged while not in use.  I always do two
back-to-back roasts and do not unplug or power-down the Alp in-between
those two roasts.  I'd recommend that you unplug the Alp when you're not
going to roast, if nothing else from a safety perspective.  Leaving it
unplugged when not in use also helps limit the possible ill-effect of
power line hits (surges and sags), storms, etc on your Alp's
It sounds like your unit is sometimes doing an early jump to the Cool
cycle (since the doors pop open).  Of course, I'm assuming that it's not
a power-related issue in your home that's causing the Alp to operate
erratically.  If you try the suggested test of moving the Alp to a
different circuit in your home, I'd try somewhere other than the
kitchen.  If you do have a problem on a kitchen circuit, moving to
another plug (in the kitchen) may be the same circuit just a different
outlet.  For these tests, just don't load any beans and do a dry-run.  
If your outlet power is good, the problem might still be in the Alp.
Could be a failed controller board, flaky switch panel where the Cool
button is located or maybe a faulty power transformer.  Is the Alp you
just received a different unit, or your same unit that was repaired and
returned?  If it's the same unit, then maybe Swissmar's repair effort
did not solve the original problem?  If the problem is intermittent and
usually disappears when power has been cycled, then maybe they didn't
see the problem or simulate the way it gets triggered by leaving it
powered up as you have done.
If the problem always goes away after you have reset power on the Alp,
then maybe it's something that's been occurring while you've been
leaving the Alp powered on for extended periods?  Maybe a power glitch
or something that confuses the controller board and requires a power
reset to clear?  If this is the case, then leaving the unit powered off
(between uses) should solve the problem.  This is about as much as I can
think of without having my morning cup yet (yawn)...best wishes.
Coffenut  :^)

5) From: Kathleen Tinkel
Thanks, everyone.
David and Coffeenut both suggested electrical noise or other line problem:
That would be very convenient, but alas it's not to be: the Alp has 
its own line, brought up directly from the cellar. (Well, it shares 
it with my KitchenAid mixer, but I've never attempted to run both at 
the same time.)
Anyway, I will take both your advice to leave the machine unplugged 
when not in use. Probably that will cure my problem. We're moving at 
the end of the month, so it will be interesting to see if I have the 
problem at the new house.
This is a brand new Alp, with the added thermostat and revised 
roasting profile. The only exterior difference I see (without having 
the two units side by side) is the line cord: it's flat, without the 
split you often see in line cords (and which I'm sure was in my old 
one). Its serial number begins CBR-(UL) followed by a four-digit 
number below 2000. I don't seem to have recorded the old one, so 
don't know if or how this is distinctive.
This Alp also seems to be easier to hear. The cracks are quite clear, 
even across the room, with two air conditioners and a fan running. 
Can't see anything to explain this (maybe I was imagining it!).
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6) From: coffenut
Glad to hear they started using serial numbers (mine has none as was the
case for the older Alps).  I've actually taken my Alp apart (post
warranty) just to see how it's designed inside.  IMO it's a very well
designed appliance and would be fairly easy to service.  I had wondered
if during my cleaning efforts, I'd ever gotten the Urnex/water solution
down in to places where it wouldn't be welcome.  To my delight, there
was no evidence of a problem.  I took the opportunity to re-grease the
plastic gears that open the flapper doors, but they were in no way dried
out and are protected from heat by a metal shielded housing.
If it's easier to hear the cracks, I'd guess they may have quieted the
motor/gear assembly which is where most of the noise originates.  I've
found it's easier to hear the cracks if I get a few feet away from the
Alp rather than sit right next to it.
I'm "knocking on bean" and still running my original Alp after 2yrs and
240 roasts.
Coffenut  :^)

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