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Topic: Alpenroast Drum roaster (16 msgs / 348 lines)
1) From: AlChemist John
With the talk of drum roasting design, and the phenol test I want to put 
together (real soon, I'm almost done with the work emergency), I am 
wondering what it is about the alpenroast roaster that people do not seem 
to like.   Is it a  particular design feature?  The HotTop is being highly 
looked forward to. Why?  Does anyone on the list even own a alpenroast?
John Nanci 
AlChemist at large
Roasting and Blending by Gestalt
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2) From: Bob Trancho
After a couple of months with my Alpenrost, I can give you a list of
design features that I'd like to see that it lacks:
1. manual control (the Alp is completely automatic - the most control
that you have is to set a "degree of roast setting", and manual override
to switch it into cooling cycle - most folks set it to it's highest and
switch to cooling when the roast is where they want it)
2. temperature control
3. temperature readout
4. faster cooling cycle (or immediate dump after roast for user cooling)
5. viewing window
It seems that the latest version is much cooler than previous versions.
I don't think that mine could get into a very dark roast at all (with
-reroasting).  I come close to (or reach) it's roast limit to get to
full city.
Bob Trancho
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3) From: Paul Goelz
At 06:20 AM 11/18/2002 -0800, you wrote:
I love my Alp.  The only thing I do not like about it is the stupid user 
interface.  Numbers from 1-16 to indicate roast times is dumb since the 
machine is aimed at the roasting community and we generally do things by 
time not an arbitrary number.  Much better would be a display of real 
time.  And better still would be a dual display with settable temperature 
and time.
Paul Goelz
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4) From: John Abbott
I'm a HotTopper - but I know that there are lots of Alp owners on the list -
and most of them very satisfied with their roasters. I can remember the
persuasive arguments for me to go with the Alpenroast, obviously before the
possiblity of the HotTop.  After seeing the asking prices from Taiwan and
England for the HotTop, I'm thinking the Alp looks pretty good about now.

5) From: Ben Treichel
susan oppenheim wrote:
That happens alot of ebay. They are normally not a deal.

6) From: dewardh
to like.
My Alp (long since returned) was, unlike Bob's, one of the "hot" one's (it was 
difficult *not* to burn roasts to a crisp with it) . . . and, also unlike at 
least some reports here, I found their "customer service" far less than 
satisfactory.  My brother-in-law is on his third (in less than a year) . . . 
and is "relatively happy" with it (when it works).  There seems to be wide 
variation in both the machine and the users .  But, apart from "sample 
variability" and "reliability" problems there's something to like (the basic 
drum idea) and a lot to dislike about the specific implementation of it . . . 
some kinda minor, some quite serious.
The drum itself is "perforated" with over large holes . . . the unfortunate 
result being that any small bean has a substantial likelihood of "getting 
stuck" and burning . . . this happens with almost any Ethiopian or Yemen.
The combination of the (inadequate) chaff collection system (a tray under the 
drum) and heater location (under the drum) results in a lot of burned chaff . . 
.. making the thing a real "smoker" even when it isn't burning beans.
The "cooling cycle" is on the inadequate side of marginal . . . short of 
flipping open the lid and squirting the beans with a mister there is no way to 
*quickly* stop a roast, you have to anticipate . . .
But . . . "anticipating" is made difficult because you cannot see the beans (no 
view port) and there is no easy way to measure bean temperature because the 
drum design (particularly the "paddles") precludes getting a probe (reliably) 
into the bean mass.  Reading chamber temperature would be easy enough, and then 
controlling it with a feedback loop to the heater would be rather easy too . . 
.. but that does not seem to be what the Alp controller does . . . and its 
"display" does not provide either time or temperature readings, only an 
uncalibrated "roast number" that gives some hint of how long it is "programmed" 
to run.  Most "users" seem to end up just setting it for maximum and monitoring 
the roast with a (separate) timer and occasional "peeks" . . . accomplished by 
quickly opening the lid and peering in with a flashlight.
If $275 (not counting timer, smoke vent and flashlight ) seems like a lot of 
money for a not very satisfactory "drum", a rotisserie motor, a box with a 
heater in it and some "features" that don't really work you've got the general 
idea . . .
Someone with a serious willingness to "hack" the thing could probably make 
something of it.  A good recirculating fan with chaff collector, a good exhaust 
(cooling) fan, a different drum (smaller holes or slots instead of holes, or 
perhaps solid), a different paddle arrangement (one which would allow a bean 
temperature probe), a "window" on the end of the cover and a completely 
redesigned "controller" (one that actually "controlled", and displayed what it 
was controlling for) . . . then you'd have something . . .
Now stand by for the contradictory reports from Alp owners who just set theirs 
at "9", push the button, and get a perfect roast every time . . .
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7) From: Dave Huddle
Yep, I got an Alp - picked up a new-old-stock at cooking store for
At that price, I like it A LOT :)  The store owner was glad to get some
cash back on his investment too.
Lately, I've been roasting in my garage where it is very quiet.  I just
listen for the cracks and stop it when it sounds right.   In my
opinion, cooling is adequate.  Sure, 'roasting' continues a bit when I
hit the cool button, but that's just part of the process.  When mine
shuts off, beans are warm, but not hot.  I can usually pick the drum up
with out hurting/burning my fingers.   I have no problem with Ethiopian
(Harrar).   A few beans (less than 10/batch) get stuck in the holes of
the drum but cause no problem.  I just push them back into the drum &
dump it.   I don't really see that chaff is a problem either.
I do clean it well after each batch - doors, reflector surface, etc.  &
blow out the residual chaff.
I really like the larger capacity of the alp compared to the HWP, HIP,
HWG, FR or bw.   
Sure, it would be nice to have a window, be able to program it, maybe
better cooling,  BUT - it works pretty well right out of the box for
me.   Usually roast ~228g in around 16-17 minutes, plus the 5 min.
cooling cycle.  (I do not rely on the numbered roast times.) Roasting
in the garage (sit in front of a fan in hot weather, or a kerosene
heater when it's cold) give me a relaxed time to read the newspaper.
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8) From: David Westebbe
It is not at all unusual for things on eBay to go for considerably more than
their retail price.
I once was bidding on a catalog from a Dirk van Erp museum show.  It was a
great old catalog, with dozens of nice photos of some of his finest work.
The bidding went very high.  I lost miserably, and the winner was willing to
pay a huge price for an old used museum catalog.
I ended up buying it from a standard online used book dealer, unused, for a
fraction of the auction price.
Nothing on eBay surprises me anymore.  If you know anything about coins, you
can find auctions with absolutely insane prices.
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9) From: Michael Vanecek
I'm tickled pink with both of mine. There are a few things that could 
use improvement - but that's almost always the case anyway and the 
workarounds are easy enough not to be a hassle at all. All in all, I'm a 
happy Alp owner.
AlChemist John wrote:
-- http://dotfile.net/- Dedicated to Open Source Software
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10) From: Mike Surdyk
When, after about a year my Hearthware Precision seemed to be failing, I
bought an alpenrost. That was three months and 30 or so roasts ago. 
I like the larger/fewer roasts and love the body that the alp yields.
I roast outside in central FL. I have gotten more consistent results
since I have increased the batch size to 230 grams and have removed the
plastic smoke/exhaust deflector.
I vacuum and clean everything except the drum fairly thoroughly after
every roast; I have never washed the drum.
I tend to start the roast and leave it for 12 minutes then return to
monitor the completion of the roast, this allows a bi-weekly thorough
cleaning of all of my coffee paraphernalia. 
When the roast is done I dump the beans into a large colander in front
of a fan and by the time I clean the alp the beans are cool.
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11) From: AlChemist John
Sometime around 07:24 11/18/02, John Abbott typed:
I realize the component parts for a drum roaster are more expensive, but 
the price tag for both rather give me pause.  Part of the reason to design 
my own.  Thanks to everyone for the Alp input.  Looks like one or more ways 
to monitor the beans (visual, temperature etc) and keeping the chaff away 
from the heaters for smoke reduction are the main items that would affect a 
home design. (won't worry about the 1-6 roast profile :-)
BTW, in realize it is a different thread, but  would any of you Alp uses 
like to participate in the phenol test?  Looking like the main requirement 
is willingness and having Uganda Budadiri to roast as the test bean.
John Nanci 
AlChemist at large
Roasting and Blending by Gestalt
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12) From: Dave Huddle
Alchemist John,
I'll check my bean stock tonight.  Don't rememeber seeing any Uganda
Budadiri in there.
If you get another Alp volunteer before I get some Uganda, that's fine
Dave	Westerville, OH
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13) From: susan oppenheim
there is an alpenroast on ebay today for 260$ US so far in the bidding
isn't that on a par with real pricing?
AlChemist John wrote:
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14) From: AlChemist John
Sometime around 06:18 11/19/02, Dave Huddle typed:
Thanks Dave.  Knew I could depend on another chemist.
John Nanci 
AlChemist at large
Roasting and Blending by Gestalt
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15) From: Leslie Smith
Hey John, I roast with a whirley-pop on an electric stove, and I just 
happen to have some Uganda Budadiri.  If you're interested, I'm willing to 
participate in your test.
   - Leslie Smith
At 08:09 AM 11/19/02 -0800, you wrote:
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16) From: AlChemist John
Sometime around 10:06 11/19/02, Leslie Smith typed:
That would be OK.  Just to begin some data correlation collection, what 
happens to your chaff?  Stovetop, incinerated etc?
John Nanci 
AlChemist at large
Roasting and Blending by Gestalt
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