HomeRoast Digest

Topic: Need advice on upgrading from Fresh Roast (17 msgs / 322 lines)
1) From: Renaud Dreyer
   A few months ago I decided to try home roasting after reading about
its wonders from various sources. Since my funds were very limited,
and I wasn't sure whether this hobby would be the thing for me, I 
decided to buy a Fresh Roast (I'm not much of a tinkerer and live in 
a small appartment, so a popcorn machine wasn't an option).
   I was trying to attain two goals: have much better coffee (I drink
almost exclusively espresso from a Rancilio Audrey/Rocky combo) and
try to save money by buying the much cheaper green beans.
   Well, you've read about all my trials, failures and successes with 
the Fresh Roast. I can now get excellent results, much better than 
anything I've ever had commercially through a few tricks: cooling the 
machine down every 2.5 minutes for about 15 seconds, and cooling the 
base and chaff collector in the freezer for 4 minutes between roasts.
   So I'm very happy with my coffee, but growing incredibly unhappy 
with the tediousness and time of the whole process. I have to pretty 
much monitor the whole roasting process from start to finish, all to 
get a ridiculously small amount of beans (about 2 double espressi's
worth!). I calculated it takes me about 1 hour to make 4 batches, 
which is enough for 8 double espressi, and lasts me 24-36 hours at 
most. At this rate, it takes at least *5* hours of roasting to get 
a week's worth of beans, and the roast has to be looked out during 
almost the whole process.
   The incredible espresso I'm drinking makes me want to become a 
Sweet Maria's customer for lige, but the tediousness and time is 
about to make me want to drop the whole mess altogether. My other 
option would be to upgrade to a machine with a bigger capacity, but 
since funds are limited, I feel really bad about having bought the 
Fresh Roast first (unless Sweet Maria's has a trade-in program :-) or
has an HWP on clearance to sell me :-)).
   So, assuming I can actually upgrade, what would you recommend? The 
Alpenrost looks to be out because of the expense and the smoke 
generated (I live in a small appartment). That lives me either 
waiting for a new yet unreleased machine (what happened to the larger 
capacity Fresh Roast I saw mentionned on Usenet earlier?), or getting 
the HWP.
   So, if I can somehow land an HWP without taking too much of a hit
from having bought the Fresh Roast first, would it be a worthwhile
upgrade? It seems to have about 40% more capacity, so it would
dramatically cut down my roasting time. Now, can it pretty much roast
on its own (except maybe near the end of the roast) or does it need to
be babysitted like the FR, and cooled down periodically? A slow roast
is important to me, because I drink almost only espresso, so sweetness
and body are at the top of my list (the uncooled FR gives a result
that is much too sour). Also I have wild variations of voltage in my 
appartment, does the HWP really adjust itself according to voltage? 
With the Fresh Roast, I currently have no idea how long a roast will 
take from one hour to the next, which means once again I have to stay 
pretty much glued in front of the FR the whole time.
  Thanks for having read all of this, and thanks for your advice! 

2) From: Michael Allen Smith
Go for the HWP, but keep the FR.  The FR serves as an excellent backup
when/if the HWP needs serviced.  Another option you have is oven roasting if
you don't mind a little smoke in the apartment.
San Diego - HWP, FR, WB2, soon to have a gas oven

3) From: Renaud Dreyer
Thanks for the advice. However our kitchen is small and badly 
insulated from the rest of our appartment, so a little smoke would be 
a little too much... However it looks like smoething I should try at 
least once! Thanks,

4) From: Simpson
Renaud, I keep thinking that you could go a long way towards improving the
situation by improving the ventilation. Fans in windows, range vent hoods I
don't know... tell us your situation in some detail, if you wish, and we can
try to help you with getting the smoke out.
Here's why I say that... the suggestion I have for you is a whirly-pop...
cheap and I think you can do a 1/2 lb at a time or so and the roast profile
can be ideal for espresso. WP users can tell you more. But this method,
because more beans are being roasted, WILL produce some smoke. I still bet
you could use it, even if it meant using a gas table stove and the
whirly-pop in your bathroom by a window, for instance.

5) From: Renaud Dreyer
Well, I have a small appartment in a building that must have been
built by someone who imagined Northern California had Hawaian weather 
all year long. Isolation is almost non existent though smells in the 
kitchen take forever to dissipate. There's a small hood+fan over the 
ovn but it's fairly weak. In the fall and winter we need to keep all 
windows close or the appartment becomes an ice box (and since I lived 
19 years in Ottawa, the second coldest capital in the world after 
Ulan Bator, I now what cold is...).
Well the bathroom is another disaster where steam from a short shower 
takes half the day to evaporate, and another great source of heat 
dissipation sao I doubt it would work (besides, it's minuscule). But 
thanks for the idea, I'll certainly start looking into the whirly-pop 
and what's wriiten on the topic as SM's site. Thanks!

6) From: Ralph Cohen
On Fri, 24 Nov 2000 22:45:10 -0800, Renaud Dreyer wrote:
I think an HWP would be a good alternative for you to consider.  Since
you are roasting inside under presumably controlled conditions, using
the HWP is extremely simple requiring virtually no supervision or
special cooling down times.  I use mine under a range hood in the
kitchen and roast 12 batches every week.  When I first got the HWP, I
played around with different knob settings to find the right one for
each type of bean.  Since then, all I do is set the dial, pour in the
beans, push the button and walk away.  My roasts have been extremely
consistant and I appreciate being able to walk away and do other things
while the HWP is hard at work.
Ralph Cohen

7) From: Kent Pierce
At 10:45 PM 11/24/00 -0800, Renaud wrote:
I routinely roast 3 1/3 oz. per roast in my HWP. I attend mainly to the 
temperature of the roast as well as the sound, color and smell. From start 
to finish (including cooling and cleaning) a roast takes about 15 minutes 
so I can usually roast a pound of green beans in less than an hour and a 
half. I set the HWP timer to the maximum setting (10) and manually stop the 
roast. The only extra cooling the roaster gets is when I clean the chaf 
tray and screens.
Contrary to the common wisdom (and perhaps foolishly) I do not hover over 
the roaster. I set a timer for the interval from the start of the roast to 
near 2nd crack (5 min in warm conditions) and do other things during that 
period. When the timer sounds, I go to the roaster and wait for the final 
roast temp/sound/color/smell to be achieved, and then hit the cooldown 
button. (I do have a fire-extinguisher handy).
The HWP Roast profile (time/temp curve) -- given the same ambient 
temperature -- is very stable after the initial roast. However, the HWP 
roast times are relatively short and generally produce brighter tasting 
coffee than oven, WhirleyPop or Alp roasting. You can find some time-temp 
plots for the HWP, HWG, and Alp at:http://homepage.interaccess.com/~pierces/Going the HWP route will not solve the smoke problem. The 
roasting/ventilation cabinet shown in some of the pics on the above web 
site was constructed in order to escape the aversive sounds of the smoke 
and spouse alarms... ;-)

8) From: Michael Thompson
Quoting Kent Pierce :
and a
stop the
roast to
I have come to the conclusion the roast times/profiles on the HWP are 
quite voltage dependent, or the roasters vary widely.......5 min. on 
mine in the summer gets me middle of 1st crack; in the winter when my 
kitchen is a little cooler, that is the beginning of 1st.  I basically 
do what you do but set my timer for 7 min summer, 8 winter.  Then I can 
keep an eye on the beginning of 2nd cr.  I just did a roast today that 
second crack started at 9 min and I hit cooldown at 10 min.
Get Winfire DSL high-speed Internet access FREE...with Winfire athttp://www.winfire.com.

9) From: Renaud Dreyer
Thanks for the info, that's what I'm looking for right now in a 
roaster. Ciao,

10) From: Renaud Dreyer
Hmmm... Can I still get as good as a roast I got with the Fresh 
Roast, but without the cooling down hassles? Right now, with the 
periodic cooling-down method, I get some exquisite Malabar Gold from 
my Rancilio.
Wow, what a great set-up!
I don';t have a smoke problme with teh Fresh Roast right now, does 
the HWP generate a lot more more than the FR? Thanks again,

11) From: Kent Pierce
At 01:54 PM 11/25/00 -0800, Mike wrote:
Mine does the same thing, but I think that the different roast times are a 
function of ambient temperature rather than voltage fluctuation. One of the 
time/temp graphs on the web site mentioned in my last post shows curves for 
first roasts starting at 68, 48 and 20 degrees F ambient temperature. The 
time to reach 430 degrees F (start of 1st crack from my thermocouple's 
point of view)is around 4.5, 5.5 and 7 minutes respectively.
These roasts were done in a roasting/ventilation cabinet which, if 
anything, should have made the plots more similar. If you are roasting sans 
cabinet, then you might expect the roasting times to differ even more 
widely. Others in the group have reported preferring the longer roasted 
"Winter Coffee" over the faster "Summer Roast". I'd have to agree.......

12) From: Kent Pierce
At 09:27 PM 11/25/00 -0800, Renaud wrote:
I'd guess that a hands-off HWP roast would get you closer to your goal than 
a hands-off roast with the FR. Whether the roast would be just what you 
want depends a lot on your personal preferences.
I don't have a FR so I can't make a direct comparison, and again, it 
depends on your personal preferences. Others on the list have reported 
schemes to improve ventilation for the HWP so I suspect that my own 
experience that the HWP smokes enough to reduce my respiratory comfort as 
well as the household bliss factor is not far from the norm.

13) From: Renaud Dreyer
I roast almost exclusively for espresso (no milk, no sugar...) and so 
I like a roast with body, sweetness and no acidity. Using the FR with 
the cooling-down method, I roast for about 8 minutes until I get the 
first hint of surface droplets of oil, which occurs when the second 
crack is rolling. When I roast without cooling down, I get surface 
oil even before the second crack starts, and the result is fairly 
sour. Thanks,
             Renaud Dreyer

14) From: Kent Pierce
At 07:38 PM 11/26/00 -0800, Renaud wrote:
I usually roast slightly into 2nd crack for filtered pourover and vacpot 
coffee, but occasionally roast single varietals for espresso to the point 
you reference. With the longer Winter roasts (10-11 minutes to 1st oily 
beans) my HWP produced a mellow roast with just a hint of acidity, but when 
the weather warmed up and the roasts shortened, I noticed a change toward 
what I am imagining you are calling "sour".
Some on the list who have recently purchased HWPs have reported that the 
roasting times for the new roasters are longer than HWPs like mine from 6 
months or more earlier. Maybe someone will confirm that....

15) From: Renaud Dreyer
Thanks for the info. Are there any special tricks available for 
lengthening roast times on the HWP? I remember a previous discussion
of different resistors available from Hearthware. Thanks,

16) From: Michael Allen Smith
That's true for me.  The HWP I received in July roasts about 3 minutes
slower than the one I got in Nov 99.  Thats why I refer to it as (son of)

17) From: floyd burton

HomeRoast Digest