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Quest M3 Roaster - New Asymmetric Heating?
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Discussions > Coffee > Home Roast > Quest M3 Roaster...  
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pngboy
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Joined: 24 Jun 2011
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Posted Mon Sep 24, 2012, 6:06pm
Subject: Re: Quest M3 Roaster - New Asymmetic Heating?
 

Coffeeshrub was out of the quest a couple months ago so I bought mine as soon as they got this new shipment in.   I figure with my roaster I'll give it hell right off the bat, that way I'll know if there are any issues and hopefully can get them work out right now rather than 3 yrs down the road when I decide to see what it can take.   If you wanted a faster roasts you could always roast less.   How much do you normally roast at a time?
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Endo
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Posted Tue Sep 25, 2012, 3:58am
Subject: Re: Quest M3 Roaster - New Asymmetic Heating?
 

pngboy Said:

Coffeeshrub was out of the quest a couple months ago so I bought mine as soon as they got this new shipment in.   I figure with my roaster I'll give it hell right off the bat, that way I'll know if there are any issues and hopefully can get them work out right now rather than 3 yrs down the road when I decide to see what it can take.   If you wanted a faster roasts you could always roast less.   How much do you normally roast at a time?

Posted September 24, 2012 link

Not a bad idea. They are more likely to replace items like heaters if they fail the first week. Who knows if they will even be around in 5 years.

I started roasting 150g and then went up to 170g lately. This takes about 9.5A. The most I did was 225g at 10A and it went too fast. This made me think that this new roaster (with heating concentrated on the left side mostly) needs only a very small range of 9.5A to 10A to cover the entire range from 150g to 300g. Could it be the lazy right heater kicks in more above 9.5A? It sure seems to get brighter on the right (more efficient?) above 9.5A.

I know it doesn't seem logical, but I will test out the theory tonight with a full 300g at 10A.
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Endo
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Posted Tue Sep 25, 2012, 3:32pm
Subject: Re: Quest M3 Roaster - New Asymmetic Heating?
 

Coffeeshrub says it didn't sound unusual and not to worry about it unless there is some issue roasting. Good to hear, but not much help.
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DavecUK
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Posted Tue Sep 25, 2012, 3:35pm
Subject: Re: Quest M3 Roaster - New Asymmetric Heating?
 

Endo Said:

My new roaster arrived, and it seems the left heater is much hotter than the right. (Left burns bright orange and the right only dark red). At first I thought the left heater had a problem, but Mr. Yen says this is as designed (to provide more heat on the bean side).

Posted September 10, 2012 link

Doesn't really make sense with a rotating drum does it?

The roaster works by transferring heat via the metal of the drum to the beans (the airflow effect in the quest is very different to a commercial roaster, very little is done by convection via the fan). Radiant heat doesn't pass thru metal, so the whole asymmetric heating thing doesn't seem right. In fact a cynic might could say that that area of metal is heated and then moves away from the beans for a full rotation, therefore transferring less heat (which is equally silly). If I was buying a Quest roaster now, I certainly would be worried by seeing the image posted of the heating elements.

Just looks like they may have a bad batch of either heating elements or some other control system in the roaster.

P.S. I have owned a quest for ages, great roaster, I had one of the very early ones, reviewed it for a UK Retailer....., difficult to get them to come to a proper retail supply agreement so the thing could be properly certified, legally sold and well supported. Oh and some good comments here about some of the very bad advice on another web site about how to use the roaster....definitely would shorten it's life. For my 3+ year old UK model, I:

Never use more than 870W unless it's really cold (and you absolutely need a watt meter to roast)
Never Back to back roast by dropping more beans in whilst the 1st batch is cooling in the quest....NEVER EVER (no airflow is very bad for the heating elements)
Never use less than 4.5 airflow and ALWAYS start airflow at max and reduce, to ensure fan is spinning (check this as well)
Never roast more than 4 batches in 1 session (inside motor section gets VERY hot)
Always check the computer type cooling fan under the roaster is operating periodically (use finger on spinner)
Never add extra heat via a heatgun up the little hole in the back
ALWAYS reduce heater to zero whilst cooling beans (again because of no airflow across heating elements.
Try not to push the roasts along to fast....it's not a race as some seem to think and helps extend the life of the roaster (gives better coffee too).

I have never felt the need to modify it in any way apart from the addition of a vent tube, it's never had a problem and still working on the original elements.
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pngboy
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Posted Tue Sep 25, 2012, 5:49pm
Subject: Re: Quest M3 Roaster - New Asymmetric Heating?
 

sounds like your roaster can still handle what ever you dish @ it endo.   I'm glad its working for you.
 Thanks for the advice Dave the more opinions and experience on this matter the better!   There seems to be much controversial info out there on the quest from a few different websites.    I'm curious what your roasting routine is like?   I've been dropping the beans with about 5A ,bean trap door open to create passive ventilation for about 3 min and no fan.   I figured  since the beans are giving off steam and  MET is not 2 crazy high that it would be ok for the elements just during the dry phase....
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DavecUK
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Posted Wed Sep 26, 2012, 10:26am
Subject: Re: Quest M3 Roaster - New Asymmetric Heating?
 

pngboy Said:

sounds like your roaster can still handle what ever you dish @ it endo.   I'm glad its working for you.
 Thanks for the advice Dave the more opinions and experience on this matter the better!   There seems to be much controversial info out there on the quest from a few different websites.    I'm curious what your roasting routine is like?   I've been dropping the beans with about 5A ,bean trap door open to create passive ventilation for about 3 min and no fan.   I figured  since the beans are giving off steam and  MET is not 2 crazy high that it would be ok for the elements just during the dry phase....

Posted September 25, 2012 link

My advice for what it's worth:

- 250g batch winter and for certain coffees during the summer time, 275g batch summer but only for certain coffees (Or high/low ambients if not roasting outdoors).
- Heat up roaster till stable at 800W (not too much power) for around 10 minutes to stabilise @ 200 - 215C, fan at 4.5 during this.
- Up power to 850-870W (depending on ambients), Drop beans, fan stays @ 4.5 (Beans won't tip or burn because there is not really enough thermal mass in the roaster for this to happen)

- Keep hatch closed, wait until needle points straight down on my roaster (140C) and check that 4-5 minutes have elapsed, less than 4 it's going to fast more than 5 it's going too slow. Increase or decrease power as appropriate. Specific Drying phase - don't  bother it's a gentle enough ramp that it won't be a problem. Also having the fan on is a great way to remove the moisture (quickly) that would otherwise collect, this is highly desirable.

- 1st crack 10-12.5 minutes depending on coffee and result desired, after 40-60s of 1st crack reduce power to 600-670W (again depending on bean and ambient). 1st comes at around 210 to 215C on my gauge and I don't ever let the temp go higher than  225C. Of course this may vary on your roaster depending on whether you use a thermocouple, or the old fashioned needle gauge, batch size and exactly where the needle is in the roaster. In addition, listen listen listen and look for the smoke tell tales leading up to 1st and of course second. If 1st is too vigorous, you entered it too fast (pushed the roast along), if it's a bit lacklustre, you may not have entered it fast/hot enough...note for next time you roast that bean. Resist the temptation to push the input power if it's too slow as you may well end up ruining the roast, because by the time you realise you have a poor 1st crack it's probably too late..

- 2nd will come around 2.5  to 3.5 minutes later (use airflow to temper roast e.g. slow down or speed up (more air slows, less air speeds up, but not less than 4.5), for larger changes change input wattage.

- drop at bean result desired e.g. just before second, at second, into second. Probably best no more than 20 seconds into second for any bean.

Amps are meaningless for me, as it's not a measure of the power going into the roaster, because this can vary depending on voltage, hence all my talk in Watts as it's a "standard unit" of measurement for both you and me.

- Overall roast times aim for 14m fastest and 16m 45 slowest.

- After roasting turn down element fully, cool beans increase airflow to max.

- After a few minutes cooling, if roasting again, turn up heater to 850-870W, airflow to 4.5, wait 20 seconds then drop beans in...don't worry about the drum temp being too hot, in fact simply don't worry about it..

Following the above routines will work well for most coffees, with the exception of coffees such as OBJ and Monsooned Malabar, which require a little different technique to get the best from them. A lot of people might say roast faster, but you're not in a race, and for this roaster with the small thermal mass....these times work well. It's rather counter intuitive, but with the QM3 the larger batch sizes probably work better than smaller ones e.g. 200g is probably less successful than 250 or 275g, because if you have the power, then a larger thermal mass is always better than a small one. It's why a 25kg Probat (weighing a ton or more with a thick heavy cast iron drum) works better than a 1kg roaster), the larger thermal mass of roaster and 25kg of beans also allows you to get away with roasting a little tiny bit quicker. Think about the very large ovens in a Bakers as opposed to the much smaller oven at home...much better faster and more consistent results.

I have roasted on all types of roaster from hot air, probat sample roasters, QM3, Gene, Toper 1kg, Probat 25kg gas etc..IMO the QM3 does a very good job of roasting when used properly.

P.S Someone suggested you swap the elements out to see if it then glows hotter on the opposite side.....good advice. Even better get em out and see what is stamped on them, the voltage and wattage rating should be there and I suspect the elements are not to the spec they should be. A few of these sold recently have had elements (or one element) go within 30 minutes of roasting. If the numbers on both elements are the same and the hotter one moves with the element (you're being told lies). If the ratings are the same and the same side stays hot irrespective of the element within it and they are the same rating then the control system may well be asymmetric. This could be by design, or it could just be a flaw in your roaster. Either way asymmetric heating elements, bout as useful as a sponge leg.

Dave

P.S. Never pay extra for the thermocouple....waste of money on a roaster this small, the gauge works fine.
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pngboy
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Posted Wed Sep 26, 2012, 7:08pm
Subject: Re: Quest M3 Roaster - New Asymmetric Heating?
 

Wow dave,  Thanks for all the informative information!   I'm going to have to give some of those tips a try.   Again, I can't believe there is such opposing info out there on this roaster.   Maybe just different roasting styles?  Other than an open trap door the rest of my roasts follows all the same basic steps yours does.   But I always roast 170g so my roast are usually about 12ish min to EOR.   One thing you said I'm really most surprised about is "200g is probably less successful than 250 or 275g" , thats the 1st time I've heard that about this roaster...I was under the impression that 275g was to large of a load for this little roaster.   I guess that makes since though.   I'll have to give it a try.   I've always heard that about 125-150g was the most efficient amount because you still had lots of control over the roast so you can nudge it in the direction you want.   I'm not saying your wrong @ all,  I'm just surprised because I thought even coffeeshrub says that 150g was much better than any of the higher numbers.  I deff appreciate your thoughts on this.

         Cheers

 P.S   I think checking the # stamped on the heating elements is the best peace of advice yet.  good luck.
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DavecUK
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Posted Thu Sep 27, 2012, 5:54pm
Subject: Re: Quest M3 Roaster - New Asymmetric Heating?
 

pngboy Said:

Wow dave,  Thanks for all the informative information!   I'm going to have to give some of those tips a try.   Again, I can't believe there is such opposing info out there on this roaster.   Maybe just different roasting styles?

Posted September 26, 2012 link

It's probably because people base their roasting methods on information from many different types and sizes of roaster and roasting setup, this can be quite misleading. It's about thermal mass, the amount of heat that can be delivered and the way it's delivered that affects these techniques. Temperatures are very variable, because it depends what's being measured and where, Watts heat input is a good one to use for the Quest though.

A roaster like a gas Probat with a good mix of convection and conductive heat can deliver plenty of heat energy, even at its max load. So in simplistic terms, if I want to bring coffee to say 234C, i can do it with the application of temperatures that are not as high as an underpowered roaster and during the early part of the roast considerably lower and still get a good speed. With a small underpowered roaster, to apply the same amount of total energy, I need to use far higher temperatures to get the same roasting speed, this isn't good for the coffee. e.g. take the Analogy of an electric element, if I have a 2KW element I can get 2KW of heat, if I have a 1KW element and want to get 2KW of heat out of it in the same time, I have to run it much hotter.

With a small roaster I don't want to apply lots of heat to achieve the same roast times as a commercial roaster (because it ruins the coffee),  so I simply heat slower. It's not so much of a problem as you think, because during the roast for a large portion of the heating cycle things are coming up to temperature and not a lot is happening that affects taste. So a few minutes longer has no real adverse affect. Of course as the temperatures go higher above 160C then the speeds become more important, but by then the little roaster is able to push things along a bit easier (and get back towards the critical part of the curve) without damaging the coffee.

Different roasters react differently to small vs large batch sizes.  A lot is to do with the physics of the roaster. e.g. a small batch size on a Gene Cafe heats slower than a large batch, up to a certain point, Toper Electric 1Kg roasters work best with 1kg in them, the gas ones, it's not so critical. A 1965 25kg Gas powered commercial probat likes to roast 20 to 25kg, 10Kg is quite difficult (newer ones might be better). A quest (at least mine), likes to roast 250g in winter and 275g in summer, as I keep it outside.

The first 1kg electric Topers had 2.8KW heating elements and took 30 minutes to roast, I did some work for them and got them to move to 1600-1800W heating elements, the end result was roast times of 15 minutes or less....counter intuitive yes, but just the physics of the roaster and it's control system.

With all this variance and information from different types of roasters about how to roast, speed, duration etc., it's is not suprising there are many split opinions about technique on any particular roaster. Most commercial roasters find what works best for their roasters and coffees and simply get on with it. Whatever they share about specific times and profiles (not much usually) is generally only relevant for their set up.

It's about trusting your taste, experimenting and finding what REALLY works best for you, your roaster and the specific coffees you roast. Following some idea about temperatures, roast times, profiles and using those as fairly hard and fast rules (many do), may not get the best from your setup and coffees. Cupping notes can be be misleading as well as many coffees are roasted quite differently for cupping, than for actual drinking. If you think about it cupping is how water on grounds, not extraction from an espresso machine. Of course there are some rules that you don't break, but within that things can be quite flexible to accommodate different roasters and coffees.

pngboy Said:

I've always heard that about 125-150g was the most efficient amount because you still had lots of control over the roast so you can nudge it in the direction you want.

Posted September 26, 2012 link

With the quest you wont have a huge amount of control even at those batch sizes and even with commercial roasters depending on type there isn't that much (air roasters probably have the most control). So with the very small batches 125g, all it can absorb is a certain about of heat, the rest is lost, sure you can roast quicker, but it's doesn't make much difference and you may well be applying much higher temperatures than you intend. With 250g (and adequate power, which the quest does have), you absorb much more of the heat and less is lost, so the roast doesn't slow down much. The larger mass of beans actually evens out the temperatures in the roasting chamber and you get a much better roast....especially as the roast enters the higher (and more critical) temperature phase! Sweet Marias and The Willem Boot web site has some good general background information (especially the latter) http://bootcoffee.com/resources/

It also seems to always hold true that the bigger the roaster the better the coffee, the very large bean masses seeming to give a much better result. So it would seem logical to use the largest bean mass that will roast properly. I only ever roast less than 250g if I have coffee samples that are under this weight and I always ask the wholesalers to give me 250g samples if they can, often though the sample packs are 200g or even worse 170g.

Anyway, no more from me on the subject as the trolls will be along soon to argue the points, which is fine, i'm not going to feed them, let them roast their way and I'll roast mine.....good luck with getting your quest sorted out (the heating elements) and happy roasting.
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Endo
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Posted Sat Sep 29, 2012, 7:45am
Subject: Re: Quest M3 Roaster - New Asymmetric Heating?
 

Here's the latest roast using 250g.

After a bit more experimenting, I'm starting to see the logic behind the new Quest with the more powerful left side heater. It seems much more capable of larger roasts. I did 250g but I expect I could go to 350g if I wanted since I was only at 10A (1200W) and it seems I still have much more top end available (amp knob only at 60%). It's almost like they added a heat gun! At 10A, the regular right side heater really kicks in and starts glowing (see photo below). Definitely not linear...almost like 2 stages in heating.

Can't wait to try some more bigger batches.

Endo: 2012-09-07 010 (360x240).jpg
(Click for larger image)
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Endo
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Posted Sat Sep 29, 2012, 7:47am
Subject: Re: Quest M3 Roaster - New Asymmetric Heating?
 

Roasting setup.

Endo: 2012-09-29 002 (250x166).jpg
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