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Topic: Alp!! Alp!! Questions regarding roasting in an Alp (16 msgs / 436 lines)
1) From: Greg Scace
 
Hi:
I'm a really new home roaster, having received an Alpenrost for 
Christmas.  I have several questions.
My first question refers to exhausting the alp thru a range hood.
Before I did my first ever roast, I built an exhaust  system for the Alp, 
which consisted of a folded aluminum adapter to my overhead range hood, and 
flexible 4 inch diameter aluminum dryer duct which led from the hood to the 
exhaust vent of the Alp.  The 4 inch diameter was too small  to completely 
cover the exhaust, but the suction was sufficient to extract all of the 
smoke from the roaster.  By leaving the tubing round, rather than ovalizing 
the opening to approximate the Alp's exhaust port shape, the range hood 
could take en excess air around the hood.  To me, this seemed like a good 
idea in that the range hood was not forcing too much air thru the Alp, 
which could pull too much  heat out of it.  I then attempted my first roast 
and heard my first popping sounds at around 14 minutes into the roast.
I made a mistake in my exhausting scheme in that I assumed that the renge 
hood was reasonably tight downstream of the exhaust fan.  In actual fact it 
was not and I filled the hood up with smoke, which escaped into the 
kitchen.  It wasn't too bad really.  I didn't set off the smoke detectors, 
but it sure smelled strongly.  So I solved the problem by punching six 1.5 
inch diameter holes in my aluminum box, upstream of the exhaust fan, to 
suck up any smoke that escaped from the range hood duct.  I also covered up 
obvious holes in the duct with aluminum tape.  In order to appease my sense 
of design, I cruised the plumbing aisles at Lowe's, searching for a 
flexible (rubber) coupling that would nicely connect the exhaust duct to 
the exhaust port on the alp.  I was successful in finding such a part.  Now 
my alp was connected to the range hood by a flexible duct that fitted well 
to the alps exhaust port.  I turned on the hood's exhaust fan and tested my 
system by holding some cat hair near to the holes that I had punched in my 
aluminum adapter.  The fan happily sucked them out of the 
house.  Hooray!!  I also felt air being drawn thru the alp.  This concerned 
me in that I didn't want to change the roasting times to some incorrect 
value by sucking heat out of the alp with my efficient little exhaust device.
So I took the plunge and roasted my second batch of coffee.  Hooray!!  I 
didn't get any smoke in the house and hardly any smell either.   The first 
cracking noises that I heard were again at just after 14 minutes.  My 
question is this:  I know that my exhaust fan has to be pulling some heat 
out of the alp because it is augmenting the airflow thru the alp by 
combining its suction with the suction from the alps exhaust fan.  I think 
that this might be a mistake, but I'm looking for guidance.   Do you vent 
your alp to a hood and did you decouple your exhaust fan from the hoods 
exhaust fan by fitting a large diameter duct around the alp's exhaust port 
so that you  could suck room air into the exhaust duct along with the smoke 
from the alp?  Or does your exhaust duct fit tightly around the alp's 
exhaust port?
My second question has to do with roast consistancy.
I roasted 228 g of green coffee in my first  batch, which I set to 11 based 
on reccomendations from 1st line equipment.   Not having any roasting 
experience, i listened carefully to learn what first crack sounded 
like.   I began hearing popping noises at around 14 nimutes, but these 
noises were somewhat infrequent.  They grew in frequency over the next 
couple of minutes, but i had trouble discerning if they were first crack or 
second crack or whatever.  The timer on the alp switched the roaster into 
cool mode and after the cycle completed, I opened up the roaster to 
discover beans that were dark and slightly smoky smelling. I put them in a 
jar and loosely fit the lid to let them degas.  The next morning I looked 
at them carefully.  Some had spots of oil on the outside.  Some were 
lighter brown than the dark brown to almost black of the bulk of the 
beans.   The blackest beans tasted slightly of charcoal, but most tasted 
like I expected.
Last night, I roasted a second batch of coffee.  I decided that I would pay 
careful attention to the sound of the coffee and stop it sooner.   I 
roasted 220 g of coffee and set the alp to 12.  The first cracking noises 
again occurred at just after  14 minutes.  The bulk of the noises occurred 
later and  by 16:30 the popping had  quieted down.  I hit the cool button 
at 17:10.  This time, I found roasted beans ranging in color from moderate 
to dark brown, with no oil at the surface the next morning.  None of the 
beans tasted of charcoal, but a few of the beans looked as if they were 
under-roasted and I pulled a couple out that looked like green coffee.  I 
ground up some of my roast this morning and it made a great cup of coffee, 
but ...
Coffee that we have been buying from our local roaster, Quartermaine, is 
much more uniform in color.  Is this what I should expect from the alp?  Am 
I doing something wrong that I can fix?  For instance, would I get better 
uniformity if I loaded the drum with less than 1/2 lb (228 g) of 
coffee?  If so, how much less?  200 g?
Are coffee beans being hidden from view of the heating element?  For 
radiant heat transfer to occur between the elements and the beans, the 
beans must "see" the element.  If the beans get stuck behind the vanes and 
hidden from view, then they will not get as hot.  Do other alp users 
experience this?
This brings me to another question.   The alp reverses direction at the end 
of the cool cycle to unload the drum into the nifty receptacle, much like a 
cement mixer does.  Why doesn't the alp bunch the coffee beans up at the 
other end during the roasting cycle?  I've noticed that the reflective 
shielding around the drum is getting more oils on it near to the exhaust 
side of the roaster.  Is that because the beans are getting bunched up 
there?  Wouldn't this thing work better with parallel vanes in the drum 
than spiral vanes?  I guess you'd lose the automatic unloading feature, but 
so what?  Anyone got an opinion on this?
Okay.  Enough questions for now.  Thanks for your answers.
-Greg Scace

2) From: coffenut
<Snip>
the
<Snip>
exhaust port
<Snip>
smoke from
<Snip>
port?
I built a vertical plexiglass chamber that just sits over the Alp exhaust
with a bath vent fan atop the chamber.  The vent fan exhausts the smoke out
the window through a homemade removable exhaust using a 4" flexible hose, a
piece of plywood and a 4" dryer vent.  I know that my contraption pulls
additional air through the Alp, but have only seen marginal effects on the
roast time (shorter).
<Snip>
It is normal for you to get some inconsistent colors especially with certain
beans.  On some beans like Mexican Loxicha, I get a very uniform roast color
while on others I get a spectrum of medium to dark beans.  The inconsistency
of color doesn't seem to affect the roast results IMO.
Seems you've done your homework and are on the right track with your Alp.
Even if you decide to use the automated settings at a later date, set the
timer on 15 and learn to stop the roast based upon listening to cracks and
timing from there.  See Kathleen's message today.

3) From: Dave Huddle
Greg,
Do you need anymore cat hair to test your system?   We have 4 resident
cats (they produce lots of cat hair) and 4 foster cats available for
adoption.
You can see these short-tail foster cats at
.
Look about 2/3 of the way down, right column for "Maizie" and her
three kittens.
 
Dave	Westerville, OH	 	just 25 minutes from SweetMaria's
<Snip>

4) From: Thom Underwood
Greg,
Wonderful and thorough questions that I am hoping you get answers for from
experienced Alp users.  I am still considering and Alp but am inclined to
stick with my Hearthware Gourmet till I'm convinced it's the right direction
for me to go.  I sure like being able to 'see' the beans at the end of the
roast (in my Gourmet) to make that final decision to go into the cool cycle.
Regards - Thom

5) From: coffenut
Dave,
Looks like you folks are doing some good work from what I saw at your
web-site.  Best wishes.
Coffenut  :^)
<Snip>

6) From: aryaniam
Greg,
I do my Alp in the garage.  I have now done about 6 batches.  I use a
digital scale and measure 8.0 - 8.2 oz. of green beans.  I do believe
results will vary based on the type of beans.  However, ambient temperature
doesn't appear to be a major factor.
The important lesson I've learned is to time the Alp from about 15 - 17.5
minutes.  At 17.5 minutes, I press cool down and get the city roast that I
want.  It is not too brown, not always even, but a wonderful coffee.  I
tried 18.5 and 19 minutes...too dark for me.  Precise measuring, however,
appears to be key.  So far..so good.
Frank

7) From: Kathleen Tinkel
What prompted you to add this exhaust system? Did you try roasting the
normal way, allowing the Alpenröst to vent naturally through its chaff
catcher?
The machine was designed for passive venting through the chaff
collector/vent, and all the calculations of temperature and time are based
on that. It's not just that you're pulling some of the heat *out* of the
roaster - by connecting the Alp to your stove vent you are actively pulling
an accelerated stream of cold (room-temp) air *into* the Alp. This will
change the roasting curve, and is likely to result in the uneven roasts you
describe.
My Alp sits next to the stove with its chaff/vent aimed up at my kitchen
vent intakes. When I see much smoke - no earlier than halfway through the
roast with even the chaffiest coffees - I turn on the hood, and the smoke
goes out the vent. The vent is rarely on for more than 5 minutes - once the
Alp goes to the cool cycle and lets out its puff of smoke, there's little
need.
I'd suggest that you try roasting exactly 1/2 lb of green beans (which the
Alp was also designed for) without all this stuff on the Alp and see what
happens. I suspect you'll get onset of first crack a couple of minutes
earlier, along with a more evenly roasted batch of beans.
Let us know how it goes...
Kathleen

8) From: Michael Rochman
Kathleen, absolute ditto to below. It's all we ever need do for venting.
Mike
My Alp sits next to the stove with its chaff/vent aimed up at my kitchen
vent intakes. When I see much smoke - no earlier than halfway through the
roast with even the chaffiest coffees - I turn on the hood, and the smoke
goes out the vent. The vent is rarely on for more than 5 minutes - once the
Alp goes to the cool cycle and lets out its puff of smoke, there's little
need.

9) From: TFisher511
Kathleen,
I roast in the garage here in Florida with the ambient temp this time of the 
year at about 70 degrees (maybe closer to 30 this weekend). I weigh out 8 oz. 
of beans on a digital scale. My Alp now starts first crack at about 15 min. 
and often roasts fairly unevenly. I keep it clean and the coffee tastes 
great, but I have a similar situation.
I take it you updated your creamed cheese scales for a digital?
Terry F
I'd suggest that you try roasting exactly 1/2 lb of green beans (which the
Alp was also designed for) without all this stuff on the Alp and see what
happens. I suspect you'll get onset of first crack a couple of minutes
earlier, along with a more evenly roasted batch of beans.

10) From: Greg Scace
 
At 04:11 PM 12/28/2000 -0500, you wrote:
<Snip>
I built the exhaust system because I had been told that the alp would make 
a ton of smoke and I didn't want it in the house.  I also didn't want to 
coat the hood and mesh (condensation / filter device near the fan) with 
residue.  It also gave me freedom to put the roaster on a counter - a 
convenience but not a necessity.  I was certainly aware that I could be 
changing the behavior of the roaster if I pulled air thru the roaster, so I 
took steps to minimize this.  Last night, I decoupled the exhaust duct from 
the chaff collector / vent and roasted two batches.  You are right that my 
exhaust system was affecting the results.  I got my first bean cracking 
sounds at around 13:30, compared to 14 minutes, the night before.  I hit 
the cool button at 18:30 on my first batch, and learned what burned beans 
smell like.   I think that I needed to do that.  During the process, the 
smoke began to smell markedly different.  Maybe this is a clue that I can 
use.  I split the difference between the roast time from Weds. and my 
charcoal experiment, and got a slightly darker roast than I would consider 
perfect, but it was my best one yet.   I'm learning!!!  I still see some 
variation in the color of the beans and the darker ones taste different 
from the lighter ones.  But the overall taste in my cup is good and I'm 
learning what various degrees of roast look and taste like.  I'm dying to 
put some thru my espresso machine.
This is fun!!!
-Greg
<Snip>

11) From: Kathleen Tinkel
   >> I take it you updated your creamed cheese scales for 
      a digital?
Terry:
You've got a good memory! Yes, I got a little digital scale. First thing I
did was check it against the mechanical, and they agree exactly. 
The digital is more precise (that is, has a digital readout that is
unambiguous compared to matching up lines on the mechanical) but also has
some irritating defects: short shut-down cycle with no memory. Pausing can
be fatal...
That unevenness puzzles me. Are you using an extension cord by any chance?
KT

12) From: Kathleen Tinkel
   >> During the process, the smoke began to smell markedly 
      different. Maybe this is a clue that I can use.
Smell is important, but because of the way the Alp collects chaff (in a
tray beneath the heating unit), much of the most obvious smell with some
beans is pure chaff, which actually obscures the coffee aromas that would
help.
When I was roasting with the FreshRoast - which sends most of the chaff
flying upwards away from the heating unit - smell was easier to use. But
over time I'm learning to sort out the burning chaff smell from the
roasting coffee smell, and you probably will too.
Sounds like you're roasting up a storm there...
KT

13) From: TFisher511
In a message dated 12/29/00 4:35:16 PM Eastern Standard Time, 
KTINKEL writes:
That unevenness puzzles me. Are you using an extension cord by any chance?
I do use a 20 foot long 16 gage extension cord as I always have. Interesting 
that my HWP will warm the cord at the plug (not hot, just mildly warm) but 
the Alp seems to draw less current and the cord and plugs stay cool. I get 
uneven roasts from probably 1/2 of the bean varieties I roast, and the rest 
roast quite uniform. First crack jumped from 12-13 minutes to 15 minutes a 
couple of weeks ago. Other than time, all else is the same. Same sounds, same 
degree of roast 3 minutes after start of first crack and same absolutely 
wonderful flavors.
I'm not sure what happened, but for now it seems to be under control.
Terry F

14) From: Kathleen Tinkel
   >> I do use a 20 foot long 16 gage extension cord...
My husband the engineer says that's marginal for the Alp's needs. You don't
risk a fire, but it is likely that the power will drop somewhat. Find a
20-foot 14-guage extension cord if you can find one; or even better, 12-ga.
Mind you, he doesn't promise that this is the cause of your uneven roasting
- but it is a variable you can easily eliminate.
Lengthening of time to first crack does sound like a power drop, and that
can happen before the juice reaches your house. Another reason to get a
larger-capacity (12-ga) extension cord - at least optimize use of whatever
you receive.
KT

15) From: Nikos
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
Hmmm......Have you checked the 
positions of the transiting planets at the time of roast?? Especially, 
Mars/Uranus...Also, you might want to check the sunspot activity on the days 
preceeding the roasts...
Let us leave no stone(star?) 
unturned in our quest for the Holy Cup...
Ciao, 
Angelo 
 
  That unevenness puzzles me. Are you using an extension cord by 
    any chance? 
I do use a 20 foot long 16 gage extension 
  cord as I always have. Interesting 
that my HWP will warm the cord at the 
  plug (not hot, just mildly warm) but 
the Alp seems to draw less current 
  and the cord and plugs stay cool. I get 
uneven roasts from probably 1/2 of 
  the bean varieties I roast, and the rest 
roast quite uniform. First crack 
  jumped from 12-13 minutes to 15 minutes a 
couple of weeks ago. Other than 
  time, all else is the same. Same sounds, same 
degree of roast 3 minutes 
  after start of first crack and same absolutely 
wonderful flavors. 
I'm 
  not sure what happened, but for now it seems to be under control. 
Terry 
  F 

16) From: TFisher511
Yep, the transiting planets and sunspot activity were the first things 
explored, then I looked at noise level attributes like extension cords. Any 
other suggestions?
Terry
In a message dated 12/30/00 3:51:52 PM Eastern Standard Time, 
angelo writes:
Hmmm......Have you checked the positions of the transiting planets at the 
time of roast?? Especially, Mars/Uranus...Also, you might want to check the 
sunspot activity on the days preceeding the roasts...
Let us leave no stone(star?) unturned in our quest for the Holy Cup...
Ciao, 
Angelo 


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