Posted Fri Jan 9, 2004, 8:07am Subject: Which Heat Gun?
I've been using my popper for a while and I think I'm beginning to outgrow it. Now that it's gotten a bit cooler outside I have to work pretty hard to get the temp high enough to get a good 2nd crack. I'm also sick of having to roast such small batches. I've been reading about the heat gun method and it seems like the way to go. I have 2 questions:
Which model to buy? I found two on the home depot website, both by wagner. They seem to have the same specs as far as heat production goes, but one is $29 and the other is $69. The more expensive model has variable temp control. Is there a difference between these two models as far as home roasting is concerned?
Wagner Heavy-Duty Flameless Heat Gun With Cool Down Feature - $69.95 --Variable temperature control. 750 - 1,000 deg. F temperature range.
Wagner Flameless Heat Gun - $29.95 --Multipurpose gun with 750 deg. F to 1,000 deg. F temperature range.
Also, can I roast outside with the heat gun on cold days? Here in Austin a cold day is in the upper 30s.
Posted Fri Jan 9, 2004, 12:31pm Subject: Re: Which Heat Gun?
Of the five heat gun roasters that I know of on this board, two are using the Wagner HT775, two are using a Makita 1100 and I don't know what the fifth person is using. I myself opted for a heavy-duty Wagner (HT 775) merely because it was commercial quality and the heating element can be replaced if need be. Variable temperature is probably not a big deal since you will probably control temp primarily by distance of the heatgun muzzle from the beans.
And you can roast outside on cold days. I am roasting outside in typical Seattle winter temps of 40-45 degrees, with a few roasts in the 30's and one at 15 degrees. Jim Liedeka, from the frigid Midwest, is roasting outside in the 20's. At most, very cold ambient temps increases the roast time by a small amount, or you can put the dogbowl in a cardboard box to retain the heat, being careful not to set the box on fire.
Posted Fri Jan 9, 2004, 7:23pm Subject: Re: Which Heat Gun?
I'll pipe up and say I use the Wagner Model 775 in some relatively chilly temps. The cooling feature on this model is what sold me but in retrospect I could live without it. This model has a sort of dial on the side that nominally adjusts the temperature from 500 to 750 degrees F. The fan speed varies inversely with the temperature. I've found the 500 degree setting more useful and rarely stray from it. I think the better air flow contributes to a more even and controllable roast. BTW, I found mine for less than $60 retail at a regional home improvement chain store.
I only wish a cold day here was in the upper 30s. Here you'll occasionally see people in shorts when it gets that warm. (I'm not making this up) We usually get a really bad cold snap for a week where the temp is below zero without the wind chill. I won't be doing any roasting on those days. :) I just hope for enough notice so I can roast an extra pound to get me through.
COBoy Senior Member Joined: 24 Nov 2003 Posts: 50 Location: Colorado Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: La Pavoni Europicolla Grinder: Kitchenaid A9 burr Vac Pot: none Drip: French press Roaster: Heat gun - Milwaukee 1220
Posted Tue Jan 13, 2004, 8:43am Subject: Re: Which Heat Gun?
I'd love to know if that $29 model worked well. This sounds like a great method to do larger volumes but I don't want to plunk down a lot of cash on this hobby. Has anyone looked at the $29 heat gun? Does it look cheap??
Posted Tue Jan 13, 2004, 6:19pm Subject: Re: Which Heat Gun?
I bought the Wagner HT3000, which is I believe the next model up in the line relative to the HT1000. The only difference, I think, is that the HT3000 has variable heat control, via a thermostat (as opposed to an air intake control). However, I got cold feet before putting it to roasting use, and returned it. There were a couple of reasons behind that decision, but the most relevant was my concern about the air output. I was expecting it to move a lot more air. The heat was there alright, but I was afraid it wouldn't provide much agitation to the bean mass.
I don't doubt that Michael is right when he says that technique is far more important than method, and I wouldn't be surprised if the cheaper Wagners are able to roast well. For all I know, the more expensive 775 model has the same cfm spec as its brethren. Does anyone know? I can't find any numbers, and I've looked throughout Wagner's website.
I do intend to get into heatgun/dogbowl roasting, but I'm going to continue playing with a popper for now.
Posted Tue Jan 13, 2004, 6:23pm Subject: Re: Which Heat Gun?
The Northern Tool hardware site sells the Wagner HT775, and it says that the heatgun moves air at 19 CFM (cubic feet per minute) with the side louvers closed (the 750 degree setting) and 23 CFM with the side louvers open (the 500 degree setting). Heck if I know what is the CFM measurement for the other models. I saw on some other sites that most of the Milwaukee heatgun models are at 14.8 CFM.
Martin Lipton, who experimented with a heavy-duty Porter Cable model heatgun that moved air at 27 CFM, thought the air movement was too vigorous and blew too many beans out of the bowl.
So I wonder if there is an optimum range of air velocity to be a good roasting heatgun.
Posted Tue Jan 13, 2004, 7:57pm Subject: Re: Which Heat Gun?
I tried out the HT775 model last night and it seems to work ok. My first roast didn't go so well. I just couldn't get enough heat.
On my second roast I was a lot more aggressive and held the gun an inch off the beans. That seemed to help a lot. I never really got a good rolling 1st or 2nd crack, it was more like the beans would crack when the gun was directly over them. I also did not like the fact that bits of chaff were catching fire while I was roasting. The beans seem well roasted though, I guess I'll have a better idea in a couple days when I try the beans.
I'm using a large shallow metal mixing bowl to roast in. I'm thinking I might try using one of those larger size folger's cans so that more of the heat is retained around the beans. I think having a higher ambient temp would speed the roasting process as well as give me a more even roast.
Posted Tue Jan 13, 2004, 8:14pm Subject: Re: Which Heat Gun?
I think your suggestions from the second roast are spot on, particularly the distance at which the heatgun muzzle is held from the beans, and using a smaller-diameter roasting vessel to retain the heat. See my recent post in the 'several roasts done' about using a roasting vessel with too much surface area and how it adversely impacted both the roasting temperature and time.
The chaff bursting into flames disconcerted me at first too, until I recalled that this happens with a lot of roasting techniques, particularly drum roasting, and does not seem to adversely impact the flavor. I think it is because the chaff is blown away so quickly.
Posted Tue Jan 13, 2004, 8:22pm Subject: Re: Which Heat Gun?
Sorry I didn't pipe up sooner - I hadn't check the board for a few days. I'm using the Wagner HT1000, I think my wife got it at Wal-Mart. I'm in Austin also, so ambient temp. wise, we're definitely in the same boat. I've been roasting with the heatgun/dogbowl setup on a gas BBQ grill with the grill on high, and with the gun on the lower temp setting (750). I'm using the lower temp because the cheapo gun puts out a lot more air on that setting. You may want to try this secondary heat source (the BBQ), if you're not already, and be sure to roast in a container that has a reasonable bean depth, as others are reporting it to be harder to keep the bean mass heated when you get it too shallow.
I honestly doubt that the ambient temp has too much effect, at least in the range we're dealing with. Doesn't seem to be much different for me whether it's 40 degrees or 70, and some of the folks are doing this in Seattle, where I imagine they have to melt the ice off the dogbowl before starting :o)
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