Roasting Safety

Discuss roast levels and profiles for espresso, equipment for roasting coffee.
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Randy G.
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#1: Post by Randy G. »

For those who do not know, and for transparency, beyond my long history with Hottop in general, I have been the Hottop Americas customer support agent for just over a year now. I wanted to share some safety tip here in the midst of the holidays for everyone who roasts and particularly for anyone who may receive a new or their first roaster this season.

I had a conversation with Joe Behm (of Behmor) at one of the coffee shows about roasting and customer support. He told me what he does when a customer contacted him and said that his roaster caught fire. He tells them, "Our roasters do not catch fire. The beans in them catch fire." his continued from there to assist his customer.

I have overhauled a few roasters for customers over the last year which had suffered fires, and every one of them, regardless as to their condition post-conflagration, would successfully and correctly operate and roast coffee before any work was begun on them. Every one was caused by operator error. To that end, and regardless as to what roaster you use, I offer the following (likely incomplete) list:

- Read the manual and understand it before using the roaster. Then read it again before roasting for the first time.
- Follow all the safety warnings in the manual.
- Always use a GFI protected outlet.
- Learn the level of maintenance that the roaster requires and perform it as necessary.
- Watch for the signs of impending ignition- very dark beans, very oily beans, decrease in the frequency of the sounds in second crack, increase in the volume of smoke.
- Roast the recommended mass of coffee, carefully weighed on a gram scale.
- Roast the same mass of coffee each time until you learn the nuances of how the roaster works.
- Roasting very dark is not recommended.
- Have a spray bottle filled with water handy just in case.
- If you are not sure about something, contact the seller or manufacturer's representative.
- Never leave a roaster unattended while it is in operation

That last one does NOT mean just being near the roaster nor sitting near it in the same room. It means watching the entire time, staring at the beans, paying attention to the color, sounds, and temperature of the beans, operating the controls in such a way to prevent over-roasting, and being ready to deal with a fire should one start.

Be safe, folks, your family needs you and so do I. Where else will I find readers for my no-profit website?
EspressoMyEspresso.com - 2000-2023 - a good run, its time is done
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Brewzologist
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#2: Post by Brewzologist »

Thanks Randy. This reminded me of an older post by Tom related to potential health safety risks when roasting. More applicable to commercial operations perhaps but still worth knowing about as home roasters: Diacetyl in Coffee Roasting and Grinding

Capuchin Monk
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#3: Post by Capuchin Monk »

I think this thread needs a poster. :idea:

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Randy G. (original poster)
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#4: Post by Randy G. (original poster) »

Capuchin Monk wrote: I think this thread needs a poster.
Try this on a poster:
BEFORE AND AFTER:

As bad as this looks, all I had to do was to tear off some melted plastic and jumper the wires for the chaff tray switch (which was melted) and the roaster was able to operate. The frightening thing was that they were roasting in the kitchen and, '...were right there the whole time...'
EspressoMyEspresso.com - 2000-2023 - a good run, its time is done

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mckolit
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#5: Post by mckolit replying to Randy G. »

But how did the coffee taste? :lol:

Marcelnl
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#6: Post by Marcelnl replying to mckolit »

I guess; just how it looks.... :mrgreen:
LMWDP #483

Trjelenc
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#7: Post by Trjelenc »

So the gist of this post is that the Hottop cannot hit 4th crack...

Capuchin Monk
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#8: Post by Capuchin Monk »

Randy G. wrote:Try this on a poster:
BEFORE AND AFTER:
Ah, kind of like the 80's public message on drugs. Maybe something like "These are your coffee beans, these are your coffee beans in unattended roaster, any questions?" :idea:
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TomC
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#9: Post by TomC »

Brewzologist wrote:Thanks Randy. This reminded me of an older post by Tom related to potential health safety risks when roasting. More applicable to commercial operations perhaps but still worth knowing about as home roasters: Diacetyl in Coffee Roasting and Grinding

I think it was this one.

Tips For Safe Use of LP/Gas Roasters In a Residential Setting
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Randy G. (original poster)
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#10: Post by Randy G. (original poster) »

I googled for coffee roaster fires (prompted by the demented curiosity of an ex-firefighter) and there was a deja vu link here on HB:
HotTop Roaster caught fire.
Reading the entire thread I came across four responses from me, some with most of the same info: 'Due diligence and attention during a roast and a hand-operated spray bottle filled with water are the key points with any small roasting appliance.' A pair of gloves at hand is also good.

Because I am now roasting with a gas roaster I have a full-size commercial water extinguisher mounted on the wall just a few feet from where I now roast. I roast right at the large door opening and the cart is on wheels. In an emergency is will likely avoid THIS.
EspressoMyEspresso.com - 2000-2023 - a good run, its time is done