Used Hottop, is it worth it?

Discuss roast levels and profiles for espresso, equipment for roasting coffee.
Riliu123

Postby Riliu123 » Mar 16, 2019, 9:57 pm

Hi all,

I know very little about roasting but like to get into it. I have an opportunity to pick up a used hottop, just want to get insight from folks here whether it's a good deal.

The model is KN-8828B. The seller mentioned that he modded the unit to have extra functionalities. When I compare against the picture on hottop site, this one has 3 extra switches/buttons. According to the seller, the mods include an eject button for the beans, manual fan control switch, and tray fan control. There is no usb on the unit itself, but he's including a phidget adapter that can connect to laptop and monitor the bean and environment temp.

I will be the first to admit that I know very little about hottop. He's looking for $525USD.

My question is what does these mods do and is this a good deal? Or am I in over my head with this unit? Around my area, used home roaster rarely come up on sale. There is the occasional behmor, but mostly used commercial units. So this piqued my interest.. but like to understand what I am getting myself into.

baldheadracing

Postby baldheadracing » Mar 16, 2019, 11:18 pm

I can't comment on the price because it really depends on the machine's condition, how many roasts, how old, when it was last taken apart and cleaned, etc.

The documentation for the Hottop is excellent and I would say that it would be worthwhile to download and read the manual before purchasing. It covers starting roasting, not just the machine. The manual was authored by Randy G., a member here.

Parts, etc., are available from greenbeanery.ca in Toronto.

For mods, the previous owner of my Hottop documented pretty much every mod possible over at homeroasters.org
Part 1: https://forum.homeroasters.org/forum/vi ... ad_id=2759
Part 2: https://forum.homeroasters.org/forum/vi ... ad_id=2785
Part 3: https://forum.homeroasters.org/forum/vi ... ad_id=2815
Part 4: https://forum.homeroasters.org/forum/vi ... ad_id=2978
Part 5: https://forum.homeroasters.org/forum/vi ... ad_id=2999
Part 5.1: https://forum.homeroasters.org/forum/vi ... ad_id=3236

If the extra switches are like the ones described in the links above then I'd go out on a limb and say that they aren't fully useful unless the reverse airflow (RAF) mod has been done. The stock Hottop's strength and limitation is that it was designed to warm-up, roast 1/2lb of coffee (more or less), and cool down. If you want to roast kilo's of coffee in a session - well, that's where some of the mods come in :D

I used my Hottop regularly for quite a few years, but I recently moved to a small commercial roaster - not because I was unhappy with the Hottop, but, like you, I'm in an area where used roasters are few and far between.

Good luck! :)
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann

RobertL

Postby RobertL » Mar 16, 2019, 11:34 pm

That's a good price for a used Hottop.

Riliu123

Postby Riliu123 » Mar 17, 2019, 12:37 am

baldheadracing wrote:I can't comment on the price because it really depends on the machine's condition, how many roasts, how old, when it was last taken apart and cleaned, etc.

The documentation for the Hottop is excellent and I would say that it would be worthwhile to download and read the manual before purchasing. It covers starting roasting, not just the machine. The manual was authored by Randy G., a member here.

Parts, etc., are available from greenbeanery.ca in Toronto.

For mods, the previous owner of my Hottop documented pretty much every mod possible over at homeroasters.org
Part 1: https://forum.homeroasters.org/forum/vi ... ad_id=2759
Part 2: https://forum.homeroasters.org/forum/vi ... ad_id=2785
Part 3: https://forum.homeroasters.org/forum/vi ... ad_id=2815
Part 4: https://forum.homeroasters.org/forum/vi ... ad_id=2978
Part 5: https://forum.homeroasters.org/forum/vi ... ad_id=2999
Part 5.1: https://forum.homeroasters.org/forum/vi ... ad_id=3236

If the extra switches are like the ones described in the links above then I'd go out on a limb and say that they aren't fully useful unless the reverse airflow (RAF) mod has been done. The stock Hottop's strength and limitation is that it was designed to warm-up, roast 1/2lb of coffee (more or less), and cool down. If you want to roast kilo's of coffee in a session - well, that's where some of the mods come in :D

I used my Hottop regularly for quite a few years, but I recently moved to a small commercial roaster - not because I was unhappy with the Hottop, but, like you, I'm in an area where used roasters are few and far between.

Good luck! :)


Thanks Craig for the links, made for some good read. While I can't be sure if he had done every single mods in part 5, but it does sound like most by the way he described them. Even the pictures with the extra button and 2 switches match. I can't be certain for the other parts, however he did mention that he added additional thermocoupler so that covers part 2. Though I am not sure whether he took the temporary or permanent approach.

As for the reverse airflow mod, I am quite certain it hasn't been done. I did not see any block of wood at the back or any extra exhaust pipe sticking out from the top. I have no desire in roasting kilos upon kilos in 1 sitting, currently I roast 250g in my behmor and it last me 3 - 4 days. I am ok if I can achieve similar throughput. Now he did mentioned that he had done some back to back roast, but had always been careful and limits to 3 - 4. Does this mean I should expect more wear and tear since it doesn't have the RAF mod?

Riliu123

Postby Riliu123 » Mar 17, 2019, 12:45 am

RobertL wrote:That's a good price for a used Hottop.


Robert,

That's good to hear. Seller wouldn't budge on price as apparently quite a few folks responded to his ad. I suppose it's a function of just how few used roasters pop up for sale around here, so I am incline to believe him. Occasionally I see behmor being offered for sale only to get swooped up within a day. I am not looking for a steal, I am ok as long as price is fair.

baldheadracing

Postby baldheadracing » Mar 17, 2019, 1:08 am

Riliu123 wrote:Thanks Craig for the links, made for some good read. While I can't be sure if he had done every single mods in part 5, but it does sound like most by the way he described them. Even the pictures with the extra button and 2 switches match. I can't be certain for the other parts, however he did mention that he added additional thermocoupler so that covers part 2. Though I am not sure whether he took the temporary or permanent approach.

As for the reverse airflow mod, I am quite certain it hasn't been done. I did not see any block of wood at the back or any extra exhaust pipe sticking out from the top. I have no desire in roasting kilos upon kilos in 1 sitting, currently I roast 250g in my behmor and it last me 3 - 4 days. I am ok if I can achieve similar throughput. Now he did mentioned that he had done some back to back roast, but had always been careful and limits to 3 - 4. Does this mean I should expect more wear and tear since it doesn't have the RAF mod?

I wouldn't worry about the wear and tear at 3-4 roasts done carefully. I would do a complete cleaning - see the "annual maintenance" videos on the Hottop USA site.

Sounds like the capacity of the Hottop is perfect for your needs!
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann

Riliu123

Postby Riliu123 » replying to baldheadracing » Mar 17, 2019, 1:19 am

Thanks, that's reassuring to hear. I will definitely go over the manual and maintenance guide.

One more question.. I understand that with hottop, any model can be upgraded to the latest and greatest. I perused the hottop site and it would appear they are selling the upgrade kit to 2k+ for $600 USD including shipping. That's almost 800 CDN which is not an insignificant amount. Do you know what additional useful features will I gain by upgrading? I am trying to understand whether it's worth it.. especially since this is semi-modded.

Greenbeanery is selling new 2k+ for $2200.

baldheadracing

Postby baldheadracing » Mar 17, 2019, 1:42 am

I wouldn't do the upgrade right now. I would wait until the control panel fails - which may well be years from now, if ever. The previous owner already has installed a bean temp probe running through a Phidget, which is the key thing to feed into the Artisan software.
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann

User avatar
Randy G.

Postby Randy G. » Mar 17, 2019, 11:55 am

I followed that Hottop mod and you will note a number of responses from me in those threads. I would recommend against the upgrade at this point.
Espresso! My Espresso!
http://www.EspressoMyEspresso.com

Riliu123

Postby Riliu123 » Mar 17, 2019, 3:30 pm

@Craig and @Randy,

Thanks for the recommendation. Once I pick up the unit, I will definitely do a deep clean and roast few batches first before considering what's next.

If I understand correctly from googling last few days, the main features on the latest 2k+ vs mine is monitoring temp and driving the unit via laptop using tool like artisan. The first one is covered with the phidget and thermocouple mod. For the second one, I need a HTC board to interface between hottop and laptop as well as a TC4 for thermoocouple to laptop. So does this mean the phidget acts as the TC4 and all I need is a HTC board? If so, where do I about ordering it? All the links I found are dead.