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How a home roaster cannot compare to a high tech commericial roaster
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malkore
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Joined: 17 Jan 2008
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Location: NE
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Mon Jun 8, 2009, 9:31am
Subject: Re: How a home roaster cannot compare to a high tech commericial roaster
 

MGLloyd Said:

Having roasted my own for about ten years now, I am confidently say that no one roasts to my tastes better than myself.  

Posted June 7, 2009 link

This.

I'm not a professional, but I know what I like.  Having someone else roast my beans would lessen my enjoyment, because I like doing things myself.

I still buy beer sometimes, but mostly I drink what I homebrew...again, because of the added enjoyment of drinking something I crafted.

If I could grow and process my own beans, I would, but Nebraska isn't known for its coffee fields :)
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swines
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Posted Tue Jun 9, 2009, 6:47am
Subject: Re: How a home roaster cannot compare to a high tech commericial roaster
 

I have only used drum roasters and cannot make any comments on fluid bed roasters.  Having roasted on two professional drum roasters and two different home roasters - here's the difference - most home roasters do not have the heat control that you get from a commercial roaster.  

With a drum roaster, you have three different types of heat: conduction, convection, and radiant.   The two heat types with the most affect are conduction and convection.   In the beginning of the roast, most of the heat is from conduction as the beans are in contact with the heated drum surface and 70% of the "roasting air" is bypassing the drum.  

The drum has a large thermal mass and can easily heat the beans rapidly through conduction.  For example, you may drop the beans at a drum temperature of 400F.   The beans are room temperature when dropped into the drum and within 1.5 minutes will be at 160F and rising.

At a point in the roast, you change the air controls and at that point, most of the heat (up to 80%) is from convection as the hot air within the roaster is being directed through the drum.  The point at which you change the type of heat being applied affects the roast profile as it must be done in connection with the burner control.  

You can increase or decrease the profile at that point from stalling the roast to a heat increase of 30 degrees per minute.  You also have a choice of going 50:50 during the roast where 50% of the roasting air is going through the drum - so, there is the choice of 30%, 50% or 80% roasting air.  When the air controls are used in conjunction with the burner control you have infinite control over the roast profile.

One of the closest home roasters to a professional drum roaster is the Diedrich HR-1 as it incudes the same air controls as a professional drum roaster.   The smaller drum (sample roasters) like the 1 lb San Franciscan, Ambex Mini, Toper Cafemino, etc. can also duplicate what you get from a commercial drum roaster as they have the same air controls as a larger drum roaster.   Heating methods (gas versus electric) doesn't affect the roast if you remember the difference between the heat types - gas applies the change instantaneously, while there is a lag in electric systems as the elements have to heat up.  To compensate for the lag you only have to apply the heat change sooner with an electric system to allow for the elements to heat up.

However, where commercial drum roasters can surpass most home roasters is in consistency through an automated roasting systems.   The profile is infinitely variable as most system will allow you to establish the profile through either programming or tracking manual roasting  control changes and putting those changes into memory as a program.  Once the desired profile has been established for a bean type, the roaster can exactly duplicate that profile every time the type of bean is roasted.

As for quality differences between home roasting and commercial roasting - if you are careful about what you do with a home roaster, make roasting notes, and track your profiles - the roast quality is every bit as good as the best commercial roasters.

Does that provide enough "enlightenment" for you....?
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JonR10
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Posted Tue Jun 9, 2009, 7:08am
Subject: Re: How a home roaster cannot compare to a high tech commericial roaster
 

swines Said:

...if you are careful about what you do with a home roaster, make roasting notes, and track your profiles - the roast quality is every bit as good as the best commercial roasters...

Posted June 9, 2009 link

For me, it all comes down to developing a "feel" for the bean and the roasting process.  While it's certainly true that a commercial drum roaster with digital controls allows more possible profiles and precise repeatability, if the result is poor then being able to precisely repeat that result is no great advantage.  

Some of the commercial roaster-folks I know have a superior feel for the process that allows them to really get the most out of a bean, and having the ability to precisely repeat a profile is desirable in this case.  

In my opinion, the upside to using primitive equipment for roasting is that it requires the operator to develop a feel for the bean and the process.  In my own case, I can NOT precisely duplicate any roast profile, but I do get consistently good results.  That is to say that while my roast profiles are not digitally reproduced, I do accurately repeat the process and get consistently good results.  Of course some days are better than other days  :-)  


And while SOME roasters are truly superior, many are not.  Tasting the wares of of the high-end artisan roasters out there is very humbling for me and I realize that I'm merely an amateur....but I still prefer my home roasts to the majority of roasted products available in the marketplace right now.

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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Prof
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Prof
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Posted Tue Jun 9, 2009, 8:20am
Subject: Re: How a home roaster cannot compare to a high tech commericial roaster
 

]

espressoaddict Said:

Click Here (www.youtube.com)
Unless there is some roaster out there that can perform to a smaller scale, please enlighten us or show us a way to do so.

Posted June 7, 2009 link

Who is "us"?

The video reminds me of the info-commercials where the seller and assistant giggle, smile, and laugh on cue.  Hard to watch.

Looks like a brand new Diedrich roaster.  I'm surprised its not more automated what with that LCD touch-screen, or maybe Velton needs to be in control.  But I'm sure it makes excellent roasts and will pay for itself in the long run.  

But if my Behmor makes repeatably great roasts, and my Poppery I roasts wow my friends I'd say that I don't need to buy Velton's roasts.  But I do wish him success.

 
LMWDP # 010
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swines
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Posted Tue Jun 9, 2009, 8:32am
Subject: Re: How a home roaster cannot compare to a high tech commericial roaster
 

JonR10 Said:

For me, it all comes down to developing a "feel" for the bean and the roasting process.  While it's certainly true that a commercial drum roaster with digital controls allows more possible profiles and precise repeatability, if the result is poor then being able to precisely repeat that result is no great advantage.

Posted June 9, 2009 link

I'm not sure you understand profiling and automated roasters.   There is an infinite amount of profiles available - not a set amount.  The roasting equipment makes NO decision as to how the beans are roasted - that's the total purvue of the person doing the roasting.  The automated system only gives the ability to repeat the exact roast profile developed specifically for that bean by the person doing the roasting.  That profile may be done through programming OR through the "superior feel" method where the roaster records the changes made by the person roasting the beans.


Some of the commercial roaster-folks I know have a superior feel for the process that allows them to really get the most out of a bean, and having the ability to precisely repeat a profile is desirable in this case.

Yes, that is the exact benefit of an automated system the ability to precisely repeat a profile specifically developed for a certain bean - without having to manually operate all of the controls each time.  

In my opinion, the upside to using primitive equipment for roasting is that it requires the operator to develop a feel for the bean and the process.  In my own case, I can NOT precisely duplicate any roast profile, but I do get consistently good results.  That is to say that while my roast profiles are not digitally reproduced, I do accurately repeat the process and get consistently good results.  Of course some days are better than other days  :-)


Again, I don't think you understand the whole process.  The operator ALWAYS has to have a feel for both the bean and the process because a good roaster will try a number of different profiles for the same bean and then cup the test roasts prior to making a decision about the final profile.  They will also want to manually roast a batch of beans at the profile they have decided upon prior to using that for automated roasting.  When done correctly, there is NO difference between the manual profile and the automated profile - only exact repeatability of the BEST profile.


And while SOME roasters are truly superior, many are not.  Tasting the wares of of the high-end artisan roasters out there is very humbling for me and I realize that I'm merely an amateur....but I still prefer my home roasts to the majority of roasted products available in the marketplace right now.

Okay - some people don't roast very well  - while others roast very well... your point being?   Roasting success is independent of equipment.  While good equipment helps, it is no substitute for  the knowledge gained through astute observation of many good and bad roast outcomes.
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JonR10
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Posted Tue Jun 9, 2009, 9:08am
Subject: Re: How a home roaster cannot compare to a high tech commericial roaster
 

swines Said:

I'm not sure you understand profiling and automated roasters.  

Posted June 9, 2009 link

On the contrary - your statements lead me to believe that perhaps you missed the intended point of my post.  I do have experience with PLC-controlled drum roasters (and hope to someday own one myself)


swines Said:

... your point being?   Roasting success is independent of equipment.

Posted June 9, 2009 link

Exactly.  This was the point I was trying to make, so it looks like we agree.  

The quality of the final product is independant of programmed vs. manual, it's the operator that determines the roast.  The critical element is that the operator must develop an appropriate understanding and do some experimentation for each bean.  Better equipment adds more dimensions (profiling/programming, repeatability, etc.), but the PERSON is the key.

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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swines
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Posted Tue Jun 9, 2009, 9:36am
Subject: Re: How a home roaster cannot compare to a high tech commericial roaster
 

Without getting into a pissing contest and parsing each line - this is what you said -

For me, it all comes down to developing a "feel" for the bean and the roasting process.  While it's certainly true that a commercial drum roaster with digital controls allows more possible profiles and precise repeatability, if the result is poor then being able to precisely repeat that result is no great advantage.

I would suggest you read this statement as if you were seeing it for the first time.

To me, this statement implies that somehow a poor result from an automated roaster is the fault of the roasting equipment.  The interaction of the person operating the equipment is not clearly stated, and in fact, you separate "feel" as being something seemingly mutually exclusive from an automated system.

As any automated roaster merely repeats what is programmed into it - it has NO affect on, or interaction with "feel" once it is programmed.   Good or bad programming comes from the person operating the equipment - which you've not stated as a variable independent of the equipment.

As you know, if you've operated an automated roaster, there are not "more possible profiles" - as the equipment has no profiles only the ability to repeat what has been programmed into it - meaning it has an infinite number of profiles limited only by the person operating the equipment.  Perhaps that's the problem of attempting to communicate over the internet - what seems crystal clear to one person is not to the one reading it.
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BlueMoon
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Posted Tue Jun 9, 2009, 9:38am
Subject: Re: How a home roaster cannot compare to a high tech commericial roaster
 

For me it comes down to this:  I can spend $20 per 36 ounces roasted or so for green coffee, have a variety of 10 to 15 different coffees on hand and spend 30 minutes of week in my garage roasting my coffee while working out, or I can spend $51 for 36 ounces of roasted coffee from their selection.  I have no doubt that what is a 92 point coffee in their hands is an 88 in mine, but:

a) I can't tell the difference
b) It isn't worth it TO ME to spend $51 per month for Terroir when I can spend $20 - plus, by the time I reach the last 12 ounces of the Terroir coffee, it has already on its way to being stale.

I had the pleasure of going to a Stumptown cupping last summer -- they had DP Koratie from Ethiopia, a coffee that I also had in my "cellar."  I could not tell the difference between theirs and mind.  I am not saying that there is not a difference, but to my dense palate, I could not taste it.  

The same reason why I roast my own rather than buy someone else's is the same reason I only have a brown belt in Judo instead of a black belt -- diminishing returns.  It's the same reason I was a B+/A- student instead of an A+ student -- it is not worth it to me to expend the extra resources to get there.  It is totally worth it to me to get B+/A- home roasted coffee over C/C+ Starbucks...
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Clingstone
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Posted Tue Jun 9, 2009, 9:45am
Subject: Re: How a home roaster cannot compare to a high tech commericial roaster
 

I really enjoy reading these home v. commercial roaster threads, especially when one side or the other gets passionate or bent out of shape regarding his/her position. IMHO, as a 100% home roaster, I happily concede that professional artisan roasters blow us away, either on their big honking roasters or on my Behmor. Their craftsmen/women who've probably forgotten more about roasting than I'll ever know. That being said, find me someone who gives me a roasted SM Monkey blend for +/- $5/lb. and I'm all over it. Otherwise I'm happy with roasting my own just as I'm sure others are happy with getting their roasted beans on the outside.

My two cents.

 
"AND THE BOSTON RED SOX HAVE WON THE WORLD SERIES! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!!??"
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JonR10
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Posted Tue Jun 9, 2009, 9:53am
Subject: Re: How a home roaster cannot compare to a high tech commericial roaster
 

swines Said:

To me, this statement implies that somehow a poor result from an automated roaster is the fault of the roasting equipment.

Posted June 9, 2009 link

In this case, I apologize for creating confusion for the reader.  

That was not my intended point at all. In fact - far from it - as I stated (hopefully more clearly) in my last post.  
It is ALL about the operator (and/or programmer)


swines Said:

As you know, if you've operated an automated roaster, there are not "more possible profiles"

Posted June 9, 2009 link

Here it seems you're nitpicking at semantics, and again losing the intended emphasis. Perhaps my words could have more accurately been "larger number of controlled variables for creating profiles" ?  

(The intended meaning is the same to me)


swines Said:

Perhaps that's the problem of attempting to communicate over the internet - what seems crystal clear to one person is not to the one reading it.

Posted June 9, 2009 link

Again - my apologies if my initial words seemed misleading to you.

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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