HomeRoast Digest

Topic: HotTop update from the "other" side. (16 msgs / 356 lines)
1) From: Mark Prince
Today I had a very long and detailed conversation with Kyra Kennedy 
regarding the state of the HotTop Roaster and plans for importing it into 
the US in a few months.
First, I gotta clarify something here. I have no financial involvement with 
the hottop roaster, or Baratza over this roaster. I think a few folks have 
that impression, at least from some of the email queries I have been 
getting. Nothing wrong with the assumption per se, I'm not uppity about it 
:) just that I do want to clarify that I am not financially involved.
However, I am passionate about home roasting, about "keeping it alive", and 
when the HWP went this year, I was mightily depressed. As soon as word 
about the HT came down the pipe, I started talking to a few folks behind 
the scenes about it, pursued a few leads, and talked to many business 
owners about possibly importing it, My first choice was the best though - I 
managed to get a very reluctant Baratza to consider this roaster for 
importation. They did begin discussions with the Taiwanese, but prior to 
SCAA they placed a helluva lot of faith in my friendship with them and my 
advice to consider the roaster as a product they could import... I know it 
was touch and go for a while.
I got a roaster a day before the Baratza folks did, and put it through some 
initial paces. They got it and again it was touch and go for them (though 
Josie thought it was "da bomb", Kyle was really reluctant). They were a bit 
dismayed at some initial comments from other people who's opinion they 
trust (like Tom) who commented that they did not think the roaster would 
even work, handling all those beans and the 110 power limitations, etc etc 
(Tom made a post to the group back in April, before he received his test 
At SCAA, Baratza saw the great amount of interest in the product, and kind 
of came around, and realised that it could be a good product to import. I 
pulled a bit of a trick on Shelley at the show, and her prior resistance to 
"dealing" with the cooling issue evaporated somewhat. We also fed them 
ideas about the cooling issue, and we picked the brains of a lot of 
knowledgeable people in the roasting (and home roasting) biz. The Taiwanese 
went back and came up with a solution. Kyle Anderson also flew over there 
for a long meeting, and I think that convinced them that Baratza was 
serious... if the cooling issue was resolved.
Okay, that's a bit more background than I wanted to type. Let me move 
forward to today (or yesterday now). First, Kyra is amazed, and maybe even 
overwhelmed somewhat by the responses, the passion shown, and the feedback 
provided by the 15 initial testers. One fellow has done some serious 
datalogging that is proving invaluable to Baratza. (Kyra being amazed and 
overwhelmed is a good thing though - nothing negative in it).
One thought I had while talking with her was this - I thought the feedback 
was awesome as well, but I kinda wished people would wait until they had 
three or four roasts, or maybe a few days with the roaster under their belt 
before sending off the commentary. A lot can change once you've used it a 
bit. I now have almost 100 roasts on my HotTop with it's two revisions, and 
I can tell you I feel a lot different about the roaster now than I did with 
the first few roasts. (it's all good, though).
Other topics today included the plus issue, the 250 vs 275 vs 300 gram 
issue, UL, CSA, legal issues, numbers for initial importation, etc etc. 
Kyra is relying on me for a fair amount of consultation on the device, and 
while I wonder if I'm truly qualified to do so, I've tried my best.
I think this machine is a 275 gram capable unit. I've done 275 grams in 
previous versions of the microchip to full city and beyond, with no real 
problems. This gives you just over a pound (230 or so grams) roasted. I 
think that's a huge selling point, but the current implementation of the 
roast profile with the restrictive plus button takes that away. 300 grams 
is pushing it, but still capable. 250 grams is nice, but doesn't give 
enough of an "edge" over the Alp to make it a selling point.
Several suggestions on the plus, from changing it to 10, 15, or more, to 
making it one press puts it in "manual override", where you have to hit the 
eject button, to making each "plus" press 30 seconds, 40 seconds, etc have 
been made. Whatever it takes. This is not a product that some joe who buys 
his triple fat tall latte at $tarbucks is going to buy. Serious home 
roasters, serious professional roasters are going to buy it. They aren't 
going to like being limited. I'm pushing hard to get this restriction 
eliminated. One suggestion from Shelley was that the plus limits are there 
so people won't burn the house down. Well, if you put 150 grams in this 
thing and roast at 7, you'll achieve the same thing - fire. So to me, that 
argument is moot.
Another suggestion is on temperature readouts. A great idea, and it was 
suggested early on by guys like HV and Randy G to HT. For me, it's a bit of 
window dressing, but I wouldn't mind seeing it, it would be a nice 
ancillary addition to the machine. But before that, I'd love to see a 
redesign of the control panel that more accurately displays what each roast 
profile button will achieve with a 250 (or 275!) gram batch - something as 
close to agtron colours for a "typical" or "average" bean as possible.
Lastly on the burns issue. First, I really was sympathetic and worried 
about the health of the people who did burn their forearms and fingers - it 
was terrible. But I'm worried this will be nail in the coffin for the 
roaster as well - all it takes is one person to use this device in a 
careless manner, then launch a massive lawsuit (anyone remember the 3mil 
the woman got when she burned herself at $tarbucks recently on a test 
Barista machine?), and my very good friends at Baratza would be out of 
business.... and all because back in April of 2K2, they placed enough faith 
in me and my opinions to first consider importing this device. :(
In fact, I dunno what to say about this. Common sense dictates: it's a 
roaster. Roasters get up to 450F. It has a metal skin. Metal conducts heat 
REALLY well. Don't touch, don't go close, don't even breathe on it. But 
accidents happen, and down the road, no doubt, carelessness will happen. 
What solutions could Baratza (not the Taiwanese) take to prevent this? 
Massive stickers all over the device, like how this keyboard I'm typing on 
has big ass carpel tunnel warning stickers on the front and back?
The Taiwanese could redesign the roaster, designing a double wall for the 
main drum area, baffling, and insulation to keep the outer surface cool. 
But that costs major $$$ at this point, and may kill the project. To them, 
it was a non issue because, (it was assumed by Kyra and I today during our 
call) they didn't take into account the litigation situation in the US. 
It's a roaster. It gets hot. Don't touch. Treat with respect. That kind of 
Anyway, I'm rambling, but since the HT is a major source of discussion on 
the mail list, I did want to pass on the word that Baratza is really amazed 
at the feedback, impressed by it, even overwhelmed by it, but in the end, 
it's all good, because they do want the product to succeed and they value 
all the feedback. It's literally priceless.
Oh, one more thought. Most of you with the new shiny roaster never saw it 
with the old "passive" cooling system... the change from the old to new was 
so amazing, that after my first roast, I posted about it everywhere, called 
Kyle and Kyra up, ranted and raved... it was like this big time revelation. 
I think I even did a jig. :) The Alp's a great roaster too, but cooling is 
it's major downfall... the HT has that so beat now, it's not funny.
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2) From: Catherine Marley, M.D.
Mark Prince wrote:
A pound is 480 grams. (30 grams per oz. x 16 oz.) 230 grams is just under 1/2
Regards, Cathy
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3) From: Dan Bollinger
Ahem!    1 pound is defined by the Nat'l Bur. Standards as 453.6 grams  !!!
Most people round this to the manageable and easy to recall 454g.   Dan

4) From: Catherine Marley, M.D.
Sorry, I stand corrected.  I didn't have my Nat'l Bur. Standards handbook handy,
and used my own  rough conversion of 30 grams per ounce.  Actually it is 28.35
gms per oz, but for mental arithmetic purposes (because my skill at mental
arithmetic is decidedly substandard) is rounded off to 30!  454 0r 480 - still a
far cry from 230!
Dan Bollinger wrote:
Regards, Cathy
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5) From: Bob Trancho
There are 28.3 grams per ounce.  That means a pound is 452.8 grams and a
half pound 226.4
Bob Trancho
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6) From: EskWIRED
They need to discuss this with their insurance agent.  Normal businesses and
normal people can easily afford $1M in general liability insurance, and the
extra Millions, up to about 5, are cheaper than the first.  They should also
talk to a good products liability attorney about the worst possible
scenarios.  These scenarios should then be posed to the agent in writing,
with an assurance by him, in writitng, that the policy covers these
This is a pretty normal procedure.  The agent has E and O insurance to cover
him if he is mistaken.
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7) From: Tom & Maria
I have been testing with 9 oz = .5625 lb since thats how my scale 
works. That should be 255 grams (right? 454 per lb?) which is listed 
as near the lower end of the HT cpacaity of 250-270 g
                   "Great coffee comes from tiny roasters"
            Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting  -  Tom & Maria
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8) From: Jim Schulman
On 2 Aug 2002 at 1:19, Mark Prince wrote:
I have a feeling the Hottop may evolve in the other direction. It may sell as 
well or better as a low end sample roaster than as a high end home roaster. 
So in a few years, you may be seeing $800 to $1000 hottops with more 
robust parts and better controls knocking the bottom out of the sample 
roaster market. 
Just a thought,
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9) From: Mark Prince
At 06:08 AM 02/08/2002, you wrote:
A pound is 454 grams. Half a pound is 227 grams. The 30 grams thing is just 
a rounding off for convenience sake. But you add almost a total oz of 
coffee if you use the number in your adding up formulas.
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10) From: Mark Prince
At 07:09 AM 02/08/2002, you wrote:
damn, that was a typo on my part. I did mean to say:
This gives you just over HALF a pound (230 or so grams) roasted.
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11) From: Mark Prince
At 11:55 AM 02/08/2002, you wrote:
I'm already pushing for a pro version with iRda capability, and a CD with 
software for the Mac, PC, Palm, and Pocket PC that will allow you to 
customize the roasting profile on the fly. :)
It's actually quite doable. I figure $5K to $7.5k to get  the apps written 
(hopefully by someone who home roasts), and about $50 in extra parts once 
the machine is retooled.
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12) From: TFisher511
It's a lot like ' A pint's a pound the world around' saying. Probably close 
enough for government work.
Terry F

13) From: Dan Bollinger
Actually, if any roaster had programmable inputs for heater temp and blower
speed plus a bean temperature output, you could do that now for a lot less.
A small, but adequate Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) is only $100 and
the software to run it another $100.
I toyed with doing this on my new roaster, but since I'll be standing right
there anyway it doesn't make sense.
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14) From: Mike Gallant
On Friday, August 2, 2002, at 03:36 PM, Mark Prince wrote:
	Heck, I'd write the apps if they just threw a complimentary roaster 
my way! Mmmmm, open source coffee....
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15) From: M.G.Rich
So lemme get this straight -- I should be tamping at a pressure of 13,584
grams? Or does it mean that in England, the Hottop will retail for 400
pounds ... er, 181,120 grams? I wonder what that is in Euros?
Boy, this coffee thing's a lot more complicated than I ever dreamed.
M.G. Rich, pounding away in Alabama
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16) From: Jack Berry
Would you the be able to develop the profile and then cascade the
temperature control to the PC? The goal would be to the watch the roaster
time & temp follow my plot in real time. Oooh that sounds expensive!

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