HomeRoast Digest

Topic: The Alp: What do we really want? (6 msgs / 229 lines)
1) From: Kathleen Tinkel
Coffeenut and all:
I had two problems with the FreshRoast. One is quantity - I need to do from
3 to 5 batches for half a week's scant supply. Since the only way to get
consistent results is to let it cool completely between roasts, this is a
big time-taker.
The other is more serious: lack of depth of flavor, which I believe results
from the short roasting time. The beans seem to enter and leave 1st crack
much too rapidly. The outside of the beans gets dark before the inside
roasts completely, and the flavor is under-developed.
So for me, returning the 'hot' Alp was a no-brainer - the roasts I was
getting showed even less of the bean's character than my FR, and most of
them were burnt. For $300 and a countertop hulk (however pretty), I expect
That's not to say that I understand all the nuances of the heat/time curve.
So in my peasant-like way, I would like the Alp to give me its complete
range. I can't imagine roasting anything beyond 5 or 6 in the one I had -
it would be pure charcoal. Your notion of hitting 2nd crack (with an
average bean, whatever that may be) makes pretty good sense. It would leave
room to maneuver above and below.
Once I get used to having 15 levels to play with, maybe I can understand
what happens in 1st crack and in the 2nd...
As far as asking for more complex features in the Alp goes, first I'd like
to see it ship in good functional shape. Then I'd ask for some simple
- Temp readout on the outside (or provision for inserting a thermometer).
- Change in indicator light to show that unit was cooling.
- View window (or provision for inserting a trier without opening the lid).
- Slightly smaller holes in drum.
- Better chaff tray that didn't allow so much to slip beneath it.
And so on.

2) From: coffenut
I think we could use a dose of Tom's expertise with this question.  You
raise some good points too about where the optimum range is for the Alp?  It
made me think about how my roasts would taste if I had a slower beginning
(beans hitting 1st crack in 16-17 minutes rather than 13-14).  With these
"hot units" that have been floating around and replacements on the way, it
would be nice to know what range to expect in a properly working Alp.
Properly working, meaning based upon knowledge of the heat curve for
roasting, how would you know that your Alp was calibrated for the optimum
range?  Is it because you hit full city (on average) at "x" minutes and so
on.  Maybe Tom will get a chance to "wade-in" to this discussion and help us
with these questions.   Coffenut  :^)

3) From: Barry Corliss
on 8/15/00 6:07 PM, coffenut  wrote:
From all I have read 16 minutes to 1st crack is quite long by most opinions.
My Alp is also an 004, and I am manually stopping roasts approx. between
17:20 and 17:50 for Full City (med-dk brown, dry surface / at or into 2nd
crack). 1st crack is under way approx. 14:00 - 14:30. Very first bean pops
about 30 secs before these times.
I sent Anthony at Swissmar an email and asked these questions:
1) Does the temp go higher in these units? Or just rise faster to the same
peak temp?
2) If higher, is this considered too hot at the end of the roast?
3) Is this temp curve likely to change over time? (faulty component or just
different spec?)
I'll share his response if he answers my email... I can't say I have any
complaints about the quality of my roasts - but like others here, I am
curious as to variables of time & temp.
Barry Corliss
Seattle, WA   (206) 282-2274http://www.master-works.com

4) From: Kathleen Tinkel
Barry - 
Interesting. Mine was running a lot hotter than that. 
Wonder how much consistency there is. Or, put it another way - wonder what
effect electricity, environment, and so on have on the roast.

5) From: coffenut
Thanks Barry...looking forward to seeing what Anthony has to say.   Coffenut

6) From: Tom & Maria
Let me put in my .02 too, althouh Anthony is the tech guy...
I know for a fact it follows a liner progression. But what you need to
remember is that the COFFEE itself is part of the heat system in a drum
roaster. So the conductivity of the coffee will be a factor. While a 17
minute first crack is impossibly long in a shop roaster (14-15 would be the
max, the difference is the fact that the ALP is primarily radiant heat, not
conductive. Direct contact with some high carbon  conductive, solid steel
would bake coffee in 17 minute forst crack. I would like to see the ALP a
little faster though: like 12-13 minute first crack and 15-16 minute 2nd.
Thats about where some of these hot units are running!
Really, the finish temp doesnt spike much on the alp. The fact is that the
coffee roasts itself and could "coast" into the finish...
My understanding is that we are talking about variations in that burner. I
dont anticipate them changing over time. They are fat things liek electric
ovens, not thin strands like toaster ovens which would clearly change in
character over time. So I expect once the burners have tighter tolerances
then they wiull stay that way. My first ALP is going on one year now of
identical roast times ...18 minutes to Full City.
                  "Great coffee comes from tiny roasters"
           Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting  -  Tom & Maria

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