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Mini 500 Roaster - Page 4

Postby chang00 on Wed May 19, 2010 12:37 am

popeye wrote:anything new on this roaster? I'm considering getting one as well. I've stopped roasting lately as it just takes too many roasts on my Hottop to make it through the week.


For those interested, I have been using the Mini500 for about six months and not used the HotTop.

BellaTaiwan apparently offers an upgrade on the damper control, similar to their larger model, the Evo/Feima 801N. It may be a worthwhile upgrade, as I find Mini500's dial to be continuous, but approximate. Of course, this can probably be solved with a magnehelic gauge, which I am investigating currently.
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Postby chang00 on Fri Jul 09, 2010 11:31 pm

It's been about eight months since getting the Mini 500. These are my thoughts and observations since then.

The Mini 500 has a separate blower for the cooling tray, which is generally not available in other gas roasters of this small size. The roasts are cooled in well less than three minutes. Originally I connected the cooling vent via a Y to the cyclone, but found there will be some back pressure and smoke. To avoid punching another hole in the garage, now I just connect a vacuum filter mesh to the cooling exhaust to collect any residual chaff.

Recently I started to monitor the exhaust air temperature, but have not found it to be truly useful yet. For example, back to back roast, I was hoping to use the exhaust air temperature as a baseline for subsequent roast. Back to back roast currently can be a bit tricky, as even though it is easy to monitor the ET and exhaust air temperature, I find the drum temperature itself can alter total length of roast and sometimes tipping. It is currently more reproducible to time the duration between roasts, as opposed to ET reading. It makes sense as the drum is one heavy piece of metal.

The initial roast can start at 10C higher. For example, I generally start the first roast at load temperature of 140C, and subsequent roast at 130C. I started to roast in centigrade, as it is easier to observe rate of temperature change, to stay at approximately 10C/min mentally, without resorting to fancy software. For the same beans on the same day, the roasts can generally be within 30 seconds, sometimes less.
So far I have been using only ET and the trier to observe different roasting stages. It may change as I become more obsessive compulsive and add BT.

I have done a few roasts side by side with the HotTop. The dry processed Ethiopians generally show much more enzymatic flavors in the Mini 500, compared with the HotTop. For roasts of the same degree, the Mini 500 roasts generally age later, by about 2-5 days. For example, the espresso is generally drinkable in the HotTop on day 2, but generally not until day 3-5 on the Mini 500. The appearance of surface oil is also a bit different. If a roast is stopped at 3 minutes after start of first crack, the HotTop roast may show oil on day 3, and not until day 5 on the Mini 500 roast.

It may be helpful if an electronic control system can be fabricated to correlate ET, BT, time, and gas flow. For 3-5 roasts each time, the current low tech set up is sufficient. Although I am a home roaster, I can see this roaster used as a true sample roaster and in a small farmer's market business.

I have seen the Probatino, Toper, and new Diedtrich IR-1 in Anaheim. The Mini 500 has more rough edges compared to the Probatino, but more refined than the Toper. It is probably of similar fit and finish to the Diedtrich, but does not offer any software profile control/automation. The Probatino is like a Mercedes; Mini 500 is like a Honda. The Mini 500 control is purely all manual. Overall, the Mini 500 is definitely a step up from HotTop, with its reproducibility, infinite control, and roasts that show the beans' terroir flavor.
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Postby coffee.me on Sat Jul 10, 2010 3:54 am

Henry, thanks for a great report; and especially for comparing the results to ones from your Hottop. What are you thoughts on the "whys"?
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Postby networkcrasher on Wed Jul 14, 2010 5:19 pm

Henry,
Sorry to post off topic, but have you seen the new "T-1000" on their web page? Wondering if you know anything about it. Looks to be a 1kg version, which is the sweet spot for the size I'm looking for.
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Postby Whale on Wed Jul 14, 2010 9:26 pm

I also saw that and was very curious about it. I e-mailed Bella Taiwan, for information on it and the Mini 500, in English, but I have not received any response... :(

The Price posted for it is around $4000.00, which for a 1kg roaster is very affordable. I assumed that it would be a stripped down version of the Feima 801N but this is pure speculation.

Henry, or anyone else that can manage the language, if you could get some information for us it would be greatly appreciated. But, If I cannot buy it because I do not speak the language than I am no better off... :?
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Postby germantown rob on Fri Jul 16, 2010 6:37 pm

Here is the Feima site that has an English tabhttp://www.feima.com.tw/en/index.asp
I do not see anything about the T-1000 though, also the Bella site has the 801N as a XJ-101 and the 803N as a XJ-104 so I don't know what that all means.

I looked back at my e-mails and the price I was quoted for the 801N was $4900. I am not sure what you could strip down to make it $900 less but hard to tell from a blurred photo.

Edit: When I contacted Feima (not Bella) I received a response in English, although not the best english it was good enough to make an order. You will still need to get a broker to get the roaster shipped so there are more costs involved that I never bothered to investigate since a Toper Cafemino was $5500 (plus shipping) and a Diedrich IR-1 was $6200 (plus shipping and extras, those darn extras) so the savings didn't really justify the language barrier to me.
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Postby allenb on Sun Jul 18, 2010 8:42 pm

chang00 wrote:It's been about eight months since getting the Mini 500. These are my thoughts and observations since then.
I have done a few roasts side by side with the HotTop.


Henry,

In general, do most coffees roasted in the Mini 500 cup better than in the Hot Top, or are you finding just nuanced differences in some as with the Ethiopian and with other coffees little difference?
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Postby Whale on Fri Jul 23, 2010 8:42 am

I have been in contact with Feima by e-mail. They are quite fast and clear in the answers. Language is no issue with them (at least from my point of view).

Feima confirmed that the T-1000 is still in the project phase. Production has not began yet. We will have to be patient on this one.

The 800N (Mini 500) is being quoted at $2700 USD + shipping and brokerage. Same as what was quoted to Henry last year. But $300 more than what Henry paid from BellaTaiwan.

The 801N is being quoted at $5200 USD + shipping and brokerage.

Just passing on the information.
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Postby germantown rob on Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:29 pm

It wasn't so much the language was bad from Feima's emails, they told me exactly where to send the money, they just didn't answer any questions about specifics of the 801N that I asked. One thing I have gathered in my research of which 1kg roaster I was going to buy was that they all need service and attention, just like any home roaster machine, and I wanted support a phone call away to help me along the learning curve of a new machine. Perhaps if I had wired the funds I would have found many more answers to my questions but I am the type that wants those answers before I spend $.

I personally feel if Feima has found ways to bring prices down on newer models being developed that there is a decent sized market for affordable 1kg roasters that deliver results. They already have the least expensive 1kg machine I researched but piece of mind was worth some extra money to guarantee long term use for a home roaster. The fact that they raised the 801N to $5200 and a gas Toper Cafemino 1kg can be purchased at the end of the year for $5300 USD and should be less shipping costs in North America, the rest of the year they cost $5800 USD, takes away the price advantage they had. IMO the 801N from Feima offered more control then the Toper but both companies lost out from my purchase that went to Diedrich because of how their sales department handled themselves.
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Postby chang00 on Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:01 am

Recently I have found for softer, less dense Brazils I often have tipping and the profiles cannot be kept consistent, especially on subsequent roasts. Then it dawned on me it is the initial drum temperature, not the BT or ET, that has the greatest effect on tipping and a consistent starting point for the roast.

So I got a Fluke 561 infrared thermometer to monitor the drum temperature. Now the roast profiles are more consistent and reproducible.

BellaTaiwan did not respond to my inquiry when I first e-mailed in English. It took me a few months to learn how to type in Chinese, and voila, Jet, the proprietor, answered immediately. He did make it very clear that he can ship parts and instructions should I need any, but for all maintenance and service issues, I am on my own. The roaster is all manual, with minimal electronic parts, and from appearance, the motors for blower, drum, stirrer, thermocouple readouts, etc, can be sourced here in US. It does not have any type of automatic profiler to speak of, and definitely does not have the capability to translate the profile like from a small IR1 to the larger Diedrich. Built wise, it is actually less complicated than the HotTop. Because of its (relative) small size and full manual control, it should serve as an excellent sample roaster in a pro shop.

I have been thinking about the cast iron vs stainless drum a bit; ie the Mini 500 vs HotTop drums. The only analogy is pan or deep frying with cast iron vs stainless steel pan. Meat browning, also a Maillard reaction, is more prominent in a cast iron pan. How this material difference translates to coffee roasting, I do not know.

From several blogs, Feima the manufacturer in Taiwan does have a good reputation. In one blog the owner mentioned the manufacturer sent a technician on a holiday in one day to repair his roaster. But beware this is in Taiwan, where the bullet train is available to traverse the whole island in about two hours.

I wonder if a Taiwanese customer is to write Ambex, Probat or Diedrich in Chinese, and will receive a response in Chinese.... :mrgreen:
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