HomeRoast Digest

Topic: Variac Profiling on a WB ! (5 msgs / 135 lines)
1) From:
Well, Jim et.al., I had a catastrophe -- I dropped my FreshRoast, the glass
chamber, and super glue hasn't repaired it (the little flange on the base
broke off, the part that keeps the handle from sliding vertically).  I'll
get a replacement, or a set of oven tongs or something, but in the meantime
I switched to my backup, the WestBend roaster.  I did several batches, let
it go on its own on the "Dark" setting (8 minute roast, 5 minute cool-down,
13 minutes total on the digital display).  YUCK is NOT an overstatement
(though a silly one, I grant).  Sour, weak, tasteless coffee ... obviously,
I wasn't imagining that it never really got through the cracks properly
(barely heard first crack, never heard second), but the beans looked the
right color.
So, out came the trusty Variac!  I monitored the roast this time, went well
past 8 minutes (probably 11 minutes roast, 5 minutes cool-down).  I used
Jim's profile as a basis:  let the WB do its normal thing at 110v (resulting
in slow ramp-up) for 5 minutes, then kick it up to 125v to begin first
crack, then 115v-120v through first crack.  From here, Yemeni gets 115-120v
to finish (about a minute), and Sulawesi gets about 110-115v (about 2-3
minutes).  Never really heard a second crack (the WB is kinda noisy), but
Very nice results this morning, after 36 hours rest.  I think I have a
Thanks for all the advice.  And when I can afford it, my guess is a
"serious" roaster is in the future, probably Hot Top-ish for the 1/2 lb.
capacity (making many more coffee friends these days).
Now back to the MJ ... mmmmmmmm :)
Tod - WBVPISC (WestBend Variac Profiling in South Carolina)
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2) From: Jim Schulman
Hi Tod
On 3 Aug 2002 at 11:53, you wrote
You may be the first person to get good coffee from a WB roaster since it left 
our old friend Gonzo's design bench and got "improved" by some executive 
committee. The variac makes up for what they apparently took out ... an extra 
step on the heater.
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3) From: AlChemist John
Sometime around 08:53 8/3/02, tarnim typed:
Can I assume this is NOT a WB popcorn popper?  Did Westbend actually make a 
"real" coffee roaster?
John Nanci 
AlChemist at large
Roasting and Blending by Gestalt
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4) From: EuropaChris
The only problem I've had with my wb roaster is that it is hyper sensitive to temperature and line voltage.  If the temp is less than about 65 deg.F and the voltage is below 120V, it just won't get going.  As my line voltage is a consistent 121V and if I roast where it's warm enough, I get excellent roasts from it.  I've only used it a few times, as I'd like to keep it as a bit of history.  One day it may be worth something...
But, note that the 'guts' of the wb roaster ARE the same as the Poppery II.  Same motor, same fan chamber, same heater.  I even think the wattage rating is the same, or very close.  I've not taken it completely apart to see about the thermal cutoff or the thermostat, but I'd guess they are very similar also.  
The big problem with the wb, IMHO, is that it is physically too small to deal properly with the volume of beans.  There isn't enough place for the chaff to go and if you roast dark enough to get oil, the beans stick to the glass during cooling and they quit agitating.  But, I think it's easily the classiest looking roaster out there, and the quality of the plastic and mold design is first rate.  It just needed a few "non-beancounter approved" tweaks to get it completely right before it got the axe.
"Jim Schulman"  wrote:
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5) From:
John Nanci  wrote:  "Can I assume this is NOT a WB
popcorn popper?  Did Westbend actually make a "real" coffee roaster?"
-- Answer:  Yep.  As you can see 2 posts down from yours, it was (is) a nice
little unit, with a digital display, pre-programmed roast times (3 of them),
and a "custom" option you could set in 10 second increments.  The roast
chamber is kinda funnel-shaped at the bottom, and seems to be much more
effective at agitating the beans than any other fluid-bed hot-air roaster
I've seen.  The entire unit is very attactive, well thought-out, easy to
use -- but somehow, just that "little bit" underpowered.  I've tried it with
the amount of beans suggested by the scoop that's provided (roughly 80g);
I've tried 75g, 85g, I've tried tilting, not tilting, I've tried big beans,
little beans -- and none of the roasts will hit something close to 2nd crack
in less than 15 minutes (not counting the 5 minute cooldown, if memory
serves).  And I can't even tell if it's getting to 2nd crack.
My home is temperature controlled (2.5 ton heat pump for the downstairs) to
within a degree or so, and is usually 74 deg. like it was this past week; I
don't think ambient temp. is the problem.  My outlets are a consistent 121v
or so (I just checked, and got 122.5 to 123), so that doesn't seem to be it
All I know is, I get weak, sour coffee, consistent with Jim's observatins
about keeping (or nt keeping) high enough temp. through first crack.  By
using my Variac, at 110v for ramp up and 125+ for first crack, I got some
VERY nice MJ (Sulawesi and Yemeni), sampled again this morning with 2.5
day's rest.
All in all, I like the roaster, but the FR and FR+ (and Cafe Rosto, etc.)
seem to have the "extra head-room" that's necessary to push the roast
through the proper stages.
But then again, this WAS a demo unit, that needed a little repair to pop the
digital display back in place, and had sat at the gourmet store for nearly 2
years, and WAS 75% off ... maybe it's the unit?
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