HomeRoast Digest


Topic: alp roasting (11 msgs / 297 lines)
1) From: espresso gin
Is the alp superior to the small, air/heat driven roasters, RF and others?
If quantity is not an issue is roasting easier in the air models?
ginny

2) From: John Abbott
Ginny,
In my CSA opinion (and being CSA it really matters) if all the equipment is
unmodified, the Alp will produce a better roast because of its slower
profile cycle.  I didn't accept this theory for awhile when it came up a
couple of years ago, but after doing some reading, watching the list etc. I
sprung for a drum roaster - and my coffee took an order of magnitude step
up. I then started running my air roasters on a modified power and moved
those results upward as well.  I don't think anyone would argue (not even
me) that a slow roasting cycle will produce a better cup.
Having said all that: I would find the Fresh Roast easier to control than an
Alp because of the audio/visual feedback that is more available in the FR.
But I find that using the HotTop is the best of both worlds, I get the long
roast cycles and can closely monitor the beans, smells, sounds, and color
(with the right light).
So to answer your first question: No
And to answer your second: depends on the units involved
John - getting ready to drag out my computerized FR and do some tweaking.

3) From: John F Coffey
<Snip>
hmmm tough question I think.
My Alp has NEVER worked very well.  I think it was broken from the 
factory, but then I haven't spent alot more time or beans on checking 
it out lately.
The Alp is alot harder to use.
You can't see the roast.
It is hard to hear the cracks over the machine.
The FR is very visual/audible by comparison.
I'm still playing with my garage sale rosto .. it has the dreaded 
dead thermal sensor.   at least I'm 99.9% sure that is the problem 
and will probably modify it tonight or tomorrow to check that out.
My guess is that the Hottop would be the best of all worlds if it 
were supported and not so expensive.
My second choice after using the FR and the Alp will probably be the 
rosto when I get it working...
Have I confused the issue yet ??
--John
-- 
John Coffey			email: john
Network Access Services, Inc.	voice: (360) 733-9279
P.O. Box 1948			fax:   (360) 676-0345
Bellingham, WA  98227		WWW:  http://www.nas.com/

4) From: Bob Trancho
Ginny,
I agree and disagree with John (see snip below)
My Alp was (is) very inconsistent and frequently has trouble getting to second crack.  From other posts I've read, I'm not alone.  I
think that Swissmar has real QC problems.  I would not recommend an Alp to anyone. Should you get lucky and purchase one that is
properly calibrated and runs a bit hot, you can get good roasts.  Mine did that for about 2 months and then started giving me
trouble.
That said, The Alp isn't so much harder to use than harder to get consistent results from.  You can definitely hear the cracks
better in an Alp than an air roaster with it's fan churning away.  I roasted with a Rosto for several months and never came close to
hearing 2nd crack.
I've done about 25 roasts in my HotTop so far and every one has come out the way I wanted it.  Taking into account the quiet
operation, consistent profile and solid construction, I'm very happy to have spent the $500.  I started off with the Rosto, then
connected a thermocouple, a DMM, and a variac, and was on the verge of doing the Mike McG mods when I realized that I was less
interested in playing with the roaster than getting well roasted the coffee.  I then bought an Alp and, well, you read the first
part of this.
Those folks who are building BBQ roasters and modding their MBIIs, FRs and Rostos are doing us all a favor because the manufacturers
are surely lurking on this list and getting the benefit of their research.  Right now, if you want the ideal roaster, you have to
building/mod it yourself.  But if you want a roaster that will give you a good roast without requiring rewiring and metal
fabrication, I'd recommend the HotTop.  Keep in mind that Hearthware is supposed to come out with their new unit soon, which may
have more control and capacity than their previous model.
Bob Trancho
<Snip>

5) From: Ken Mary
<Snip>
Think again, John.    8^)
But on the other hand, I am now drinking the result of a 20 minute profile
from my homemade "toy" drum roaster, cooled in a popper to emphasize the
spice. It is not bad at all, in fact I am enjoying it. Pleasant caramelly
roasty spicy flavors, not burned at all due to the slowly falling ramp
during second crack. It is an interesting change-of-pace from my usual
tongue biting, in-your-face, sensory overload short air roasts.
--

6) From: Rick Farris
Ginny asks:
<Snip>
The Alp is different.  It does  not allow for any kind of
profiling, so from that standpoint it is "set it and forget
it."  Unfortunately, to get to the same roast endpoint takes
a little longer with each subsequent roast.  That means that
you *must* be attending the Alp as the roast completes.
Still, for roasting a lot of coffee without much input, it
works great.  I typically roast three pounds of coffee in
three hours while I watch TV or read.  I set a timer to go
off about the time I expect the beans to enter 1st crack,
and then I attend the roaster as the batch finishes so that
I can manually start the cool cycle.  Unloading and
reloading take another two or three minutes, so it takes a
total of thirty or forty minutes of my time to roast three
pounds.
Contrast that with my Hearthware Precision (HWP).  When I'm
roasting the the HWP, it takes me about 2.5 hours to roast
two pounds, and that 2.5 hours is spent hunched over the
roaster taking temperature readings and modifying the heat
cycle every 30 seconds, or so.  When I'm done I'm exhausted.
I think I get better results with the HWP, but for everyday
coffee (that I roast for myself and two other heavy coffee
drinkers) I use the Alp.
As to your second question, I think I've answered it
already, but to be explicit, coffee roasting is *far* easier
in the Alpenrost, but I don't think the quality is as good.
-- Rick

7) From: Rick Farris
<Snip>
I beg to differ.  The HotTop reputedly does an excellent job
of roasting, but that is because it is a drum roaster but
mostly because IMNSHO it has a profile.
The Alpenrost is simply an oven with a rotating drum inside.
Other than compensations for line voltage and ambient
temperature there is no attempt at varying the temperature
at different points in the roasting cycle.  The Alp simply
heats up to 550 as quickly as it can get there and then
regulates on that temperature.
I was seriously disappointed in the results from my Alp
until I learned a few little secrets.
-- Rick

8) From: EuropaChris
Secrets??? Wanna fill us in???
I've only roasted a dozen batches on my Alp, but so far, so good.  It gets to a rolling second crack in 18 minutes in a 55F basement, and has been consistent throughout.  The coffee is exceptional.
I've tried all sorts of popper profiles, including the 'coast' finish, where I switch off the popper entirely just as the beans start second crack, and let 2nd develop into a nice rolling crackle before I hit the cool switch.  That was better than the average air roast, but not as good as the Alp roast.  Guess I got a good one!
Chris
"Rick Farris"  wrote:
<Snip>
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9) From: Bob Trancho
Ginny,
I agree and disagree with John (see snip below)
My Alp was (is) very inconsistent and frequently has trouble getting to second crack.  From other posts I've read, I'm not alone.  I
think that Swissmar has real QC problems.  I would not recommend an Alp to anyone. Should you get lucky and purchase one that is
properly calibrated and runs a bit hot, you can get good roasts.  Mine did that for about 2 months and then started giving me
trouble.
That said, The Alp isn't so much harder to use than harder to get consistent results from.  You can definitely hear the cracks
better in an Alp than an air roaster with it's fan churning away.  I roasted with a Rosto for several months and never came close to
hearing 2nd crack.
I've done about 25 roasts in my HotTop so far and every one has come out the way I wanted it.  Taking into account the quiet
operation, consistent profile and solid construction, I'm very happy to have spent the $500.  I started off with the Rosto, then
connected a thermocouple, a DMM, and a variac, and was on the verge of doing the Mike McG mods when I realized that I was less
interested in playing with the roaster than getting well roasted the coffee.  I then bought an Alp and, well, you read the first
part of this.
Those folks who are building BBQ roasters and modding their MBIIs, FRs and Rostos are doing us all a favor because the manufacturers
are surely lurking on this list and getting the benefit of their research.  Right now, if you want the ideal roaster, you have to
building/mod it yourself.  But if you want a roaster that will give you a good roast without requiring rewiring and metal
fabrication, I'd recommend the HotTop.  Keep in mind that Hearthware is supposed to come out with their new unit soon, which may
have more control and capacity than their previous model.
Bob Trancho
<Snip>

10) From: Rick Farris
Chris writes:
<Snip>
Ah, but then they wouldn't be secrets, would they? :-)
<Snip>
I suppose that if you value roast tastes over origen tastes
the Alp might shine.  Maybe that's why Tom recommends it for
"darker roasts."
-- Rick

11) From: Chris Beck
Hmmm.  I find the Alp does a nice job on lighter roasts, too.  But, I do 
use it mostly for espresso, however, preferring a nice slow air roast 
for vac pot coffees.  I would have no problem making Charbux coffee with 
my Alp, though.  Yuck.
chris
rick wrote:
<Snip>
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