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Topic: Alpenrost First Impressions (17 msgs / 538 lines)
1) From: R.N.Kyle
Thanks Rick,
congrats. on the virgin roast, I got one coming.but I did not get a =
varaic or a Rosto, just the alps. next on the list. a Rocky, I upped the =
alps one notch on the list, since I have a Zassenhause. Hand crank Mill. =
good luck and keep up informed, as to how you make out.
Ron Kyle
Anderson SC
rnkyle

2) From: Rick Farris
In case you haven't heard yet, I got an Alpenrost this afternoon and because
I know a few of you are considering it, I thought I'd share my first
impressions with you.
First, this thing is big.  I mean, when I set it on my stovetop, there might
be 6" all the way around.  Maybe not that much on the ends.
It is also smoky.  My stovetop vent is pretty strong -- I can feel the
breeze from it -- and although I ran it continuously, after three batches
there was a distinct haze in the house.  My eyes were burning and my Mom had
trouble breathing (she's pretty old.)
It doesn't cool the beans very well.  After the five minute cool cycle they
were still in excess of 200.  And (according to the directions) you can't
interrupt the cooling cycle by, say, pulling the plug, and cooling them
manually.
It roasts a *lot*  I ran three batches of 225g each, and it yielded 190g per
batch.  Have any of you longtime Alp owners tried a 265g batch, to yield a
half-pound?
It roasts extraordinarily evenly.  The Nicaraguan beans I roasted are nice
to start with and they stayed nice after the roasting process.  Evenly
colored, a nice deep brown.
It's going to be a pain to keep clean.  The roasting chamber is surrounded
by highly-polished metal (I assume to reflect back the IR) and as soon as
enough roasting gunk gets deposited on it, it won't roast as well.  Be
prepared to clean out the inside regularly.  On the good side, all the parts
that come into contact with the beans (roasting drum, the cup the beans are
ejected into, chaff filter/collector, chaff tray) can go into the
dishwasher.
This is not a budding roast-master's roaster.  I suppose you *could* sit and
attend it and manually start the cooling cycle when you think it's time, but
if you keep a good log of your times vs. varietal, it really is a "set it
and forget it" machine.  Unlike the HIP, there is no way to shift back and
forth between cool and heat to profile the roast.  Once you get a particular
batch of greens dialed in, it's start it up and go get a cool one.  You *do*
need to be there at the finish, though, because, like I said, the beans come
out at two-hundred and some degrees, so you need to immediately get them
cooled down.  I was right to plan on getting a Caffe Rosto, also, so I can
play with profiling and such.
Well, that's it so far.  I'll be doing quite a bit of roasting over the next
three days for Christmas presents, so if I find anything else of interest
I'll be sure to report back.
By the way, have I mentioned....oh, never mind.
-- Rick
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3) From: TFisher511
Hi Rick,
If you roast much over the 225 grams of coffee in the Alp, there are several=
 
problems that you may have. 
Those nice even roasts you mentioned will probably not be so even any more. 
The time will increase and if you are roasting in a cool environment or goin=
g 
to a very dark roast it might time out and go into the cooling cycle before 
the roast finishes. There is also a thermal override in the roaster that can=
 
cut out before the machine actually begins the cooling cycle.
The cooled batches will eject even warmer than they do now. 
You know how full the cup that the cooled beans eject into is with 190 grams=
 
finished? Well, the beans may not all eject from the drum at 225 g finished 
and they will kind-of spill over.
I have quit worrying about the 200+ bean temperature at ejection. I usual=
ly 
just dump them into a bowl or other container and forget it. You might want 
to give that a try to see if you can distinguish any negative impact to the 
flavor making it worthwhile to force cool the beans. I would like to hear yo=
u 
opinion about that if you try it.
Enjoy and Happy Holidays! 
Terry F
rick writes:
<Snip>
 
<Snip>
a
<Snip>

4) From: Ben Treichel
Hey Rick did your Alp show up yet? We getting worried you might have 
been run over chasing the UPS truck! ;-)
Rick Farris wrote:
<Snip>
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5) From: Rick Farris
Ben wrote:
<Snip>
Have I mentioned TODAY that I have an Alpenrost?  ;-)
One thing I didn't talk about yesterday is the cycle control.  The machine
has 16 settings labeled, appropriately enough, 01 through 16.  The manual
suggests that you start with setting 08, which should be 18 minutes of
roasting followed by a cool cycle. (08 is 18:00 minutes.  For each number up
or down, add/subtract about 00:15 to/from the roasting time)
I ran three batches through the machine yesterday, the first set at the
recommended 08 (s/b 18:00).  It got a few seconds into 2nd crack, and there
were patches of oil on the beans, so for the second batch I cut back to 07
(s/b 17:45).  The batch at 07 was still quite dark, so for the third batch I
tried 06 (s/b 17:30).  The 06 batch looked a little light.
I tried the last (06 - 17:30) batch this morning and it was thin and maybe a
little bit "grassy."  I'm not sure if it's the lack of rest (12 hrs) or it's
simply roasted too lightly for the varietal.  I normally roast Nicaraguan
just into 2nd crack.
My first impression is that the Alp isn't all that happy doing "city"
roasts.  Like I said, though, it might be lack of rest.
-- Rick
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6) From: dewardh
Rick:
<Snip>
My experience with the Alp (while I had one) was that it was very slow through 
drying and up to first crack, and very fast from first crack to second . . . so 
fast as to be almost unmanageable.  And that unless you have stable and 
constant line voltage the "roast numbers" are all but useless . . . that is to 
say their "results" are not reproducible at all.
Because there is no way to mount a bean temp thermometer, and no easy way even 
to see the beans, getting a consistent and reproducible endpoint is difficult. 
 That makes the Alp best suited to folks who want oily beans straight from the 
roaster, since surface oil is about the only consistent indicator of "state of 
the roast" that one can see with quick peeks into the end of the drum.  By the 
time you can hear a solid second crack the roast is already committed to "full 
city +", and will in all likelihood "coast" on to Vienna before the anemic 
cooling stops it (all of which is fine if you prefer your roasts in a range 
from Vienna to French).  My brother-in-law swears by his (although he's on his 
third in a year . . . warranty repairs) . . . he roasts everything to oily and 
dark, and loves it that way.
If you can deal with the smoke flipping open the lid when cooling starts speeds 
up cooling considerably, and I found that regularly opening the lid for "peeks" 
after first crack did significantly extend the time from first to second. 
 Perhaps with practice one could accomplish a modicum of "control" over the 
later stages of the roast that way . . .
Deward
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7) From: Oaxaca Charlie
--- dewardh  wrote:
<Snip>
 
<Snip>
 That sounds like pretty helpfull advice. Smoke and all,
controlling the latter stages of the roast like that could make
all the differance in fine tuning the profile for differant
beans. Not a turn it on and walk away machine any more, but 1/2
lb roasts the way you like 'em, at least. I have to open and
close the door to my roaster as first crack starts to keep the
roast from running away and it's worth the hassle, being a
coffee snob and all. Venting smoke in the winter will be the big
challange now Rick.
Charlie
=====
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8) From: Mike McGinness
From: "dewardh" 
<Snip>
through
<Snip>
.. so
<Snip>
I'm guessing that the fast 1st crack to finish with the Alp is a big
difference between my profiled Rosto's 6min from 1st crack to just before
2nd and why my 1st crack is much more subdued. I'm slowly ramping up temp
the entire time, increasing 1/2v every 30sec or so from 380f, (down around
105v start of this stage at 70f ambient.) Also why my roasts, pre-2nd, are
not grassy even with zero rest.
Constant monitoring and adjusting is a pain but the results are great. The
control is great. Les & I were comparing roast notes on a particular Kona.
Yesterday evening I roasted two batches both to 440f. One 12min total, 6min
from 380f. The second batch I added 30sec to the ramp time from 400-440f
for 12:30min total. This morning compared the two. Only 30sec difference yet
resulting cup noticably different. Not huge, but both Debi & I could taste
the difference. She preferred the slightly smoother slightly less bright
12:30 while I preferred 12min.
MM;-) aka Kona Krazy miKe mcKoffee
Variable Variac Rockin' Rosto Roasting
Miss Silvia brewin'
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9) From: Rick Farris
Terry wrote:
<Snip>
Thanks, Terry.
I ran five more batches today.  I tried to start a batch on each half-hour,
giving the Alp a total of about 12 minutes rest, counting its own cooling
cycle, or 7 minutes rest after it stopped.
I solved my bean cooling problem.  I went to Target and paid $11 for a small
(10"?) all plastic fan that can be swiveled to point straight up.  I just
set it next to the Alp (pointed up) and when the beans come out I dump them
into a colander and set them on top.  Within a couple of minutes the beans
go from boiling to room temperature.
After that, for the last five minutes of rest period, I point the fan
directly at the Alp, and it, too is cool by the 30-minute mark.
I did notice one thing funny, though.  At the same setting, it was like each
batch got a little lighter (in roast color, I mean).  After the second I
increased the setting one number each time.  The fifth batch (at setting 11)
was beginning to be pretty dark, but not into 2nd. I've got to run another
10 batches in the next two days, so I'll investigate that.  I was wondering
if perhaps the roast grunge buildup was changing the roast characteristics,
roast-by-roast.
Terry, what do you use to clean the shiny parts on your Alp?
-- Rick
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10) From: Rick Farris
Deward wrote:
<Snip>
I noticed that there was very little time between first and
second.
<Snip>
I have a 20-amp variac I use to control it.  I noticed that
when the unit first starts the variac output dropped 4- or 5-
Vac, so I adjusted the variac back to nominal, only to come
back five minutes later and find that it was 4- or 5- Vac
high.  I think what's happening is that the starting current
on the heating element is high, but after it gets hot the
current drops back down.  
I get very repeatable end times, i.e. 15s difference between
each number setting.
<Snip>
Because I typically roast several batches in a row, I can (I
think) tune it in very quickly by keeping the line voltage
constant and keeping the load-weight constant.  (I'll report
back about my success.)
<Snip>
I'll give both of those a try.  
Thanks!
-- Rick
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11) From: dewardh
Rick:
<Snip>
A little TSP on a sponge cuts right through the oils . . . especially important 
around the flaps, to keep them from sticking.
You might keep track of line voltage, to eliminate one significant variable . . 
.. the supply often droops several volts around here in the (high load) evening 
.. . . enough to make a significant difference with the Alp.  Some folks report 
sensitivity to ambient temperature, too, so you might want to watch whether the 
room is warming up as you roast.
Re. cooling . . . rapid cooling as soon as the roast ends is important to 
preserving some bean flavors, the first hundred degrees being more important 
than the last hundred in that regard.  A few squirts of water from a spray 
bottle, around and into the end of the drum as soon as cooling begins, will 
help with that.  The water doesn't even begin to wet the beans, it just cools 
them and the surrounding air by evaporation (like a swamp cooler).
Have fun  . . . Happy Solstice . . .
Deward
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12) From: Rick Farris
Rick:
<Snip>
A little TSP on a sponge cuts right through the oils . . . especially
important
around the flaps, to keep them from sticking.
You might keep track of line voltage, to eliminate one significant variable
.. .
.. the supply often droops several volts around here in the (high load)
evening
.. . . enough to make a significant difference with the Alp.  Some folks
report
sensitivity to ambient temperature, too, so you might want to watch whether
the
room is warming up as you roast.
Re. cooling . . . rapid cooling as soon as the roast ends is important to
preserving some bean flavors, the first hundred degrees being more important
than the last hundred in that regard.  A few squirts of water from a spray
bottle, around and into the end of the drum as soon as cooling begins, will
help with that.  The water doesn't even begin to wet the beans, it just
cools
them and the surrounding air by evaporation (like a swamp cooler).
Have fun  . . . Happy Solstice . . .
Deward
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13) From: David Lewis
At 11:02 PM -0700 12/21/02, Rick Farris wrote:
<Snip>
That's typical of heating elements. One thing often missed by 
inexperienced people designing switches for lighting equipment is 
that the "inrush current" when an incandescent bulb is cold is 
roughly *ten times* the current a split second later when the element 
has come up to temperature.
Best,
	David
-- 
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or 
that we are to stand by the President right or wrong, is not only 
unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American 
public."
     -- Theodore Roosevelt
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14) From: Garrik
I've roasted about 80 batches in my Alp so far.  I'll agree with you that
the settings are not consistent enough to set and forget, especially if
because I use it in the garage, and ambient temp lately has been anywhere
from 20-50F.  I know the alp is "supposed to" account for ambient changes,
but I find the roasts taking much longer when it's cold.
That said, I just monitor the roast, and manually stop it where I want.
There isn't a lot of time between first and second cracks (anywhere between
none and 1 minute is my experience), but I can usually predict pretty
closely when the second will start.  I've found it pretty easy to stop after
the first crack is complete before I ever get any second.  Some coffees
(most, for me) I'll stop at the first pop of the second crack.  Sometimes
the unit will let the roast drift into a few pops of the second crack, but
it's still very early in the second crack.
Then, when I want to go longer, I'll either time into the second crack, or
wait until it "sounds right" for what I'm looking for.
I will admit that if I hadn't been roasting for a couple of years with the
HWP, I would not have had good luck with the Alp.  I still had trouble
recognizing the sights and sounds of the new roaster at first, but once I
got used to the ambient noises of the Alp, I've had a pretty easy time!
-Garrik

15) From: Jim Robinson
Rick....I use Easy-Off (oven cleaner) fume free.

16) From: Paul Goelz
At 06:17 AM 12/22/02, you wrote:
<Snip>
Remember too that the heating elements are on 100% for the first couple 
minutes.  They then cycle on and off as needed to maintain a constant 
temperature at the sensor.  I am not sure what the purpose of the variac 
is, since the Alp has an internal temperature controller that should 
maintain a constant temperature regardless of the incoming line voltage.
Paul
Paul Goelz
Rochester Hills, MI
paul
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17) From: Rick Farris
Paul wrote:
<Snip>
I don't know, but everyone talks about the lack of repeatability of the Alp.
In my recent tests I've found that the timing doesn't vary with the line
voltage so maybe the temperature control isn't as good as it is claimed to
be, or maybe it's something they didn't think about like the fan (powered
from AC, I presume) changing speed with the line voltage.
Personally, I've had a great deal of repeatability starting a roast every 30
minutes, keeping the line voltage constant, and cooling the Alp with a fan
in between roasts.  Actually, the minute the doors open and the cooling
cycle starts, I "push" air through the Alp with an external fan.  One needs
to remember to redirect the fan when one opens the cover, though, or one has
a *lot* of chaff to chase down.
-- Rick
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