Hey there. I haven't been here in a while, so I had to create a new account.
So my 7 year old HotTop Roaster caught fire last night. It's been a reliable machine for 7 years and I put about 5 lbs through it each month, year round - outside on my deck in summer and in garage in the winter. I always roast in manual mode and keep a close eye on the color, sound and temp.
So last night before going to bed, I realized I was running low on roasted beans for the Quickmill Vetrano. Since it was dark outside, I decided to roast a batch in the garage on my workbench. I weighed my usual 250 gm of espresso blend, pre-heated and proceeded to roast. Everthing seemed normal through the roast cycle up until the warning period at 410°F. Looking a the beans, I could see that they were already charred, black and oily (I usually take these beans to about 413 just before the second crack). I immediately hit the dump button and when I did, the burnt beans hit the tray and caught on fire. Thinking it was just a few, I blew on the beans which only fanned the flames, so now the whole tray was ablaze.
I quickly took the burning tray of beans out of the grinder and placed it on the cement garage floor, but by now, the plastic on the chaff tray and the side of the roaster where on fire and melting. As quick as I could, I opened the garage door and grabbed the roaster from the underside, being careful to not catch on fire myself, and I carried it quickly onto the driveway and dropped it there as it was now fully engulfed. I grabbed the hose and doused the machine until the fire went out.
I really don't know what happened. I had cleaned the machine about 2 weeks ago and had put a few roasts through it since with no problem. No change in beans or volume. Now I need a new roaster and I'm not sure I'll go the HotTop route again. Guess I'll start researching alternatives. Hopefully technology has improved in the last 7 years.