HomeRoast Digest


Topic: HotTop Saga Continues (18 msgs / 577 lines)
1) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
Our Austin, Texas HotTop saga continues.
First, I want to thank Kyra and Shelly for their help and for their work on
the HT, to Mark Prince for helping to make all of this happen and for his
valuable involvement ... and to many other people.
At this moment, it seems that I will love this thing -- but the early units
of the HotTop seem to have too large sample to sample variations and need
some (not much, in my opinion) work. More about that later, in another note.
The UPS brought the replacement Hot Top to our Austin home this Friday,
August 2, 2002 in the afternoon. Irene was unpacking this unit and put the
foam plastic pieces, with the funnel and the "top door" piece still in, back
in the cardboard box to be stored -- without realizing some needed parts are
still there.  As I wrote before, an "Unpacking / Do-This-First" sheet
(pointing where those parts are) is needed.
Below are some words about our second "Roaster Seasoning" experience.
---
Austin - Texas, Friday, July 29, 2002 afternoon, this time inside in our
kitchen. Ambient temperature 75 degrees F (about 24 degrees C) at the
beginning, and 78 degrees F (25.5 C) at the end, after opening a door
because of the smoke. 50% relative humidity, the Voltage fluctuates between
120.2V and 124.0V ac. We measured that the unit is level.  As the beans are
so close to the window, some people may want to lift the left side of the
HotTop.  Some "not to do it" warning is needed in the instructions.
We again used an Ott-Lite (that has the correct light spectrum, see
www.ott-lite.com) to illuminate the inside of the roaster.  We are again
impressed by the good visibility, and how easy it is to hear the cracking
during the quiet roasting process; it was more difficult to hear this time
because of the noise of the kitchen exhaust fan! The kitchen exhaust fan is
MUCH noisier as compared to all the quiet "noises" generated by the HotTop.
This time, set the HotTop roaster to "5" and had 250.0g of Sumatra green
beans ready. Selected "5" because of the bad experience with the previous
seasoning at level "6" -- and I am glad we did.
Started a timer and...
(Time - Description)
(All the weights are +/- 0.1 g)
00:00 Started preheat; drum rotates
04:28 Roaster beeps - 250.0g beans dropped in the roaster using the included
funnel, replaced the small lid on the top of the machine.
12:12  Beans light tan
13:12  Beans tan
14   Smells like baking bread
15:00 HT internal fan turns on
few seconds later fan turns off
15:40 Fan on again
17:48 Very first crack
18:14 Many "First Cracks"
19:58 Second crack starts
20:50 Nice brown
21:24 Smokes -- opened the door
21:36 Smokes, dark oily beans, thus I pressed the "Eject" button
21:37 Cooling tray rotates, beans being ejected, smoking. They are too dark,
much darker than I would expect for position "5".
On the first HT, the cooling tray rotated. On the second unit, just the arm
rotates, the tray stays stationary.
This is the first time we have noticed that there are two plastic pins that
"sort-of" fit into two of the outer perforations of the tray.  However, they
barely touch the holes, depending on the position of the tray on the
platform.  If they are meant to keep the tray from rotating, they need to be
a millimeter or so taller, or the tray support shorter. Also, the
Instructions should mention how the pins and the holes in the tray should
function.
At this moment, I realized that I should measure the temperature of the
beans in the cooling tray:
24:14 96 degrees F (35.5 C)
26:50 87 degrees F (30.5 C)
27:20 HT beeps and the cooling arm stopped rotating. (After our first
seasoning cycle, the HT has not beeped -- but the arm stopped while the
beans were still hot.
The beans are cool to touch, but much darker (and oily) than expected for
"Level 5".
There was 178.1 g of roasted beans in the cooling tray. When cleaning the
machine later in the day, I found 4 roasted beans inside the drum, for a
total of 178.5 of roasted Sumatra beans.
That means that 250.0 g of green beans turned into 178.5g of dark roasted
beans, or 71.4% of the original weight, or a loss of 28.6% of weight.  That
is much larger loss than expected.
Those beans from the seasoning roasting cycle will be discarded.
I wish the door is on hinges, the cooling tray easier to insert correctly,
the chaff collector rounded on the inside end for easier re-insertion and
that some "cleaning brush" is included with the HT.
What, I guess, we will do next, is weight several batches of 250.0g of green
beans of the same type and roast at levels two, three, and four, and learn
from the experiences. After at least 24 hours, we will brew some coffee. Any
other suggestions?
I am not sure whether to roast outside or inside.  The kitchen exhaust fan
is too noisy -- but it is needed.
Regards, Lubos for both of us.
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2) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
This morning, we had our first coffee brewed from beans roasted in our new
HT. It was a 50:50 mélange from Costa Rican beans roasted at Levels 2 and 3
one day ago. The roasted beans were stored in "Tilia FoodSaver vacuum".
The coffee is noticeably better as compared to the coffee made from the same
beans roasted in our Caffe Rosto or Gourmet hot air (fluid bed) roasters. I
am not sure whether it is caused by the longer roasting process or by the
better profile or all of the above, but there is a large difference. I
planned a side-by-side comparison from same beans roasted in our three
current roasters and probably will still do it, but it is easy to taste the
improvement "just from the memory" as we did this morning.
For us, the improved taste (and aroma) of the coffee is the main advantage
of the HT. The quietness, good bean visibility, larger capacity, and perhaps
the pride of ownership or snob appeal (it is a n impressive good looking
machine) are just added benefits.
I just wrote to our daughter Andrea and her husband David who live in Los
Alamos that they should start saving for the HotTop. I think that they will
taste and smell even bigger difference from coffee roasted in their Caffe
Rosto, because hot air roasters are affected by the low atmospheric pressure
they have in Los Alamos while drum roasters are not (or are affected much,
much less.)
Tom and Maria and Kyra, do you know how much will the HotTop cost and when
it will be available from Sweet Maria's?
More about our roasting experiences, times, Voltages, temperatures, etc.
later. I am not even sure whether those details should be posted on this
list -- or just sent to a selected group of people.  Any comments?
Have a nice weekend, Lubos for both of us.
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3) From: floyd burton
Many thanks for your efforts to inform the rest of us about the Hot Top.  I
currently am using a HWP and the only means I have of controlling the length
of time for the roast is ambient air temp.  I can only get the fuller flavor
by roasting in approximately 45 degree temps in the winter.  I am assuming
the Hot Top can be controlled to deliver a longer roast cycle as you are
describing below, even in the near tropic temps of summer in WI.  If so and
assuming a reliable piece of hardware, I can safely see one in my roasting
future.  Either that or limit my coffee roasting/drinking to the 6 months of
WI winter.
thanks again

4) From: Mike McGinness
From: "Irene and Lubos Palounek" 
 More about our roasting experiences, times, Voltages, temperatures,
etc.
<Snip>
All info', whether detailed technical or feelings about HT experiences
SHOULD be posted on this list!!!
MM;-)
Home Ju-Ju Variable Variac Rockin' Rosto Roasting in Vancouver, WA USA
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5) From: TFisher511
I have been extending the roasts somewhat on my HWP by pressing the cool 
button about 1 1/2 minutes into the roast, then pressing the roast button 
after 10 - 15 seconds. You can repeat this process several times before first 
crack to extend the total roast time. I'm not sure that I have noticed a 
difference in flavor, but the times can be extended substantially.
Terry F
In Florida, that would give me less than 10 day a year to roast.
febco writes:
<Snip>

6) From: Angelo
Floyd,
This may sound like a joke, but I am serious :-)
Why not roast in an open Coleman cooler, surrounding the roaster with those=
 
plastic containers with the blue stuff that you put in freezers to get 
cold?  You would only have to have the bottom part of the roaster covered 
by these "ice packs", while the exhaust vents would be above the top, 
drawing the heat away with an exhaust fan....
Just an idea.....
Ciao,
Angelo
<Snip>
 length
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 flavor
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 of
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 3
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 same
<Snip>
 perhaps
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 pressure
<Snip>
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7) From: Dan Bollinger
Why not roast in an open Coleman cooler, surrounding the roaster with those
plastic containers with the blue stuff that you put in freezers to get
cold?
There's an old saying in Industrial Design.  "An aftermarket for a product
is a sure sign the the design was severely lacking in the first place."
I'd say your suggestion is indicative of a poorly designed product. Clearly,
the home roasting needs are not being met my mfgrs.  Or, to put it another
way, there is an untapped market!
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8) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
"Why not roast in an open Coleman cooler, surrounding the roaster with those
plastic containers with the blue stuff that you put in freezers to get
cold?"
"There's an old saying in Industrial Design.  "An aftermarket for a product
is a sure sign the design was severely lacking in the first place." I'd say
your suggestion is indicative of a poorly designed product. Clearly, the
home roasting needs are not being met my mfgrs.  Or, to put it another way,
there is an untapped market!"
Angelo, Dan, why did you write the above on the Sweet Maria's HomeRoast
list?
I don't understand your comments at all. Why would anybody want to put the
HotTop roaster in an open Coleman cooler -- so that it would be impossible
to see through the roaster window the coffee being roasted. That thing is
heavy and very hot during roasting -- so it would be very difficult to
remove the coffee from the cooling tray at the end of the cycle.
Our HotTop roaster worked fine both in our air-conditioned kitchen and
outside in Texas warm weather. I am reasonably sure that it would work fine
even in winter or during a hot Texas summer day, although I guess that the
times would be somewhat affected.
What would be the reason to roast in an open Coleman cooler?
"Or, to put it another way, there is an untapped market!"
Well, there was an untapped market before the HotTop arrived -- but it seems
that the HotTop will fill the gap!
Regards, Lubos
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9) From: Dan Bollinger
Lubos, What I'm commenting on, in a somewhat obtuse fashion, is that the
roasters on the market don't perform as well as we'd like.  Otherwise we
wouldn't be adapting popcorn poppers, adding tin can chimneys and wiring up
Variacs.  Heck, I'm considering building my own from scratch!  Angelo
suggested trying to get the ambient air temp down to improve the profile.
What I'm hearing from the beta-testers is that the HT is very good, but not
great.  On this list, great is the norm!  Dan
<Snip>
those
<Snip>
product
<Snip>
say
<Snip>
way,
<Snip>
fine
<Snip>
seems
<Snip>
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10) From: Mark A. Chalkley
On Sunday, August 4, 2002, 11:29:41 AM, you wrote:
IaLP> Tom and Maria and Kyra, do you know how much will the HotTop cost and when
IaLP> it will be available from Sweet Maria's?
IaLP> More about our roasting experiences, times, Voltages, temperatures, etc.
IaLP> later. I am not even sure whether those details should be posted on this
IaLP> list -- or just sent to a selected group of people.  Any comments?
I vote for your continued postings to this list - if not, please add
my email address to your "selected group of people"...
I'm quite interested in the HotTop, especially after all the reports
of the resulting roasts being more flavorful and having greater body
than similar roasts from hot air roasters.  So I second the request
for pricing and availability info, too!
Mark C.
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11) From: Dan Bollinger
My congrats to Mark, not for his HotTop success, but for his blind tasting
skills.  Dan
<Snip>
just
<Snip>
roasting
<Snip>
a
<Snip>
very
<Snip>
the
<Snip>
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12) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
Our Austin HotTop saga continues. In my experience and opinion, beans
roasted in the HotTop lead to better, smoother, more balanced and more
complex coffee when compared to the same beans roasted in other home
roasters or many commercial roasters. All of our beans from Sweet Maria's
taste better when roasted in the HotTop. We also bought some green beans
from the local Costco (after convincing the manager that they should sell us
some green beans, something they usually do not do) and compared to the same
beans freshly roasted in Costco's in-store big air-bed roaster. When tasted
couple of days later, the HT beans were noticeably better, to our taste,
than the same beans roasted in the big professional roaster.
However, there were not as good as "similar" beans from Sweet Maria's. That
experience just confirmed what we know -- it pays to buy good beans from Tom
and Maria. For example, the Panama La Berlina from Sweet Maria's, when
roasted in the HotTop, makes excellent coffee, better cup as compared to
what we remember about La Berlina beans roasted in our other roasters,
before we got the HotTop.
Other users praise the HotTop results, too. We read and hear statements such
as -- about a blend roasted in the HT, that it "...is so balanced, naturally
sweet, and this totally amazing mouth feel and aftertaste. It blows away any
of Schomer's in house roasted coffees you can buy..."
People are also finding out (about preblended blends which roast unevenly in
other roasters) that the HT roasted blend is more even and better as
compared to the same beans roasted in other roasters.
After roasting the 250g batches, we tried the 302.4g batch in our "Hot
HoTop". Remember, 302.4g is 2/3 of a pound. That way we can make three
HotTop batches from the 2 pounds of coffee we usually buy from Sweet
Maria's. With that batch size, our "Hot HotTop" became much less hot, the
results are excellent. We will most likely stay with the 2/3 pound batches.
I also want to mention that both Baratza's Kyra and HotTop's Shelly were and
are very responsive to our input. Shelly is, I believe, a little overwhelmed
by all the input and apologized for slow responses to some of our input. I
am sure that the language differences do not help. (English is not my native
language, too -- and I fully understand that she might have some
difficulties responding.)
To summarize: Our HotTop leads to better coffee as compared to coffees we
had before our HotTop came. I surely hope that HT will soon be on the market
and available from Sweet Maria's. Our daughter and her husband wants one,
several of our friends will most likely buy one.
I must admit that for us, retired couple on limited budget, the HotTop is an
expensive toy that leads to even more expenses. We buy and drink and give
away more coffee. Our old Rotel espresso machine was slowly dying, and we
want to have good espresso and cappuccino and café latté from beans roasted
in the HotTop, so yesterday we ordered an Isomac Tea espresso machine.
Cheers, Lubos in the Texas Hill Country part of Austin.
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13) From: NOEL HONG
Thanks for the info regarding the HotTop roaster.  Do you feel that "bright" 
coffees such as the Central Americans are toned down roasting with the 
HotTop vs an air roaster (I use an HWP)?  If so, are other characteristics 
enhanced?  Congradulations on your purchase of the Isomac Tea.  The 
consistent good quality of espresso(assuming good water, beans & average 
technique) pulled with this machine is worth the $$. If you don't own a high 
quality espresso grinder, I strongly recommend the MazzerMini.
<Snip>
Noel V. Hong
email: nhong32590
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14) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
Mark, thanks for you kind words. I will reply later. In the meantime, I just
want to say that another HotTop owner, Mark Prince, wrote that the HotTop
"... produces the best roast I've ever had in the home, bar none. I had it
head to head against an Alp, a HWP, a HWG, a FR, and a popper, all roasting
the same beans, all roasting to similar roasting levels (a full city). In a
blind cupping test, (with three people), the HTR's roast came on top in
every area - smell, look, taste, mouth feel, fullness, etc etc. It beat
several of the other methods by a long margin... The bean sample was a very
competent Hui Xoc from Guatemala."
---
"If you don't own a high quality espresso grinder, I strongly recommend the
MazzerMini" Well, that is on the "dream list" but above the affordability
level for now.  We have the Solis Maestro.
Cheers, Lubos
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15) From: The Scarlet Wombat
Okay, the crucial question about the Hot Top for me is this:  Can you use 
it without vision?  I use an HWG and go by cracks and aroma, could I do the 
same with the Hot Top?  Does it have controls that generate a digital 
display that is essential to the operation?
Thanks,
Dan
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16) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
Dan asked: "Okay, the crucial question about the Hot Top for me is this:
Can you use it without vision?  I use an HWG and go by cracks and aroma,
could I do the same with the Hot Top?  Does it have controls that generate a
digital display that is essential to the operation?"
Dan, I believe that the answer is: Yes, you can use the HotTop without
vision. When roasting in the HotTop, I find that the aroma is a good
indication of the roasting progress. The HotTop is a very quiet roaster, so
cracking of the beans can be heard much better as compared to other
roasters. There are some LEDs indicating the HotTop function, but the
signals are duplicated by beeping. Many signals -- when to add the beans,
warning that the beans will soon be ejected -- are just audible (beeping.)
The level of roast selected (TEMP) is indicated by seven LEDs and each
change is indicated by a beep. Would it be possible to change the audible
indication so that:
1 short beep = level 1
2 short beeps = level 2
3 short beeps = level 3
4 short beeps = level 5
long beep = level 5
long-short beep = level 6
long - two short beeps = level 7.
When roasting outside, the indicator LEDs are difficult to see, anyhow.
Thus, I believe everybody, not only people without vision, would appreciate
such a change.
I am sending a copy of this note to HotTop's Shelly -- am I correct that
this would be an inexpensive and "easy to implement change"?
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17) From: Mark Prince
At 10:48 PM 16/08/2002, you wrote:
<Snip>
I was actually the worst cupper in the bunch. The best was Aaron DeLazzar, 
a cupper, roaster and trainer in the Vancouver region, and two buddies of 
mine who are very much into quality coffee.
The notes were taken originally for the Detailed Review I was going to do 
on the HotTop, but I may have to trash them, and wait for the final, 
shipping, "retail" version, since HTR seems to be constantly fiddling with 
the roast profile and other parameters in the software used on the device.
Mark
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18) From: Robert Cantor
Tell them not to fiddle with the roast parameters but make them adjustable
so *we* can fiddle with them.  Then it'll be worth what they're going to
charge.
Bob C.
rcantor


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