1kg-3kg: Fluid Bed vs Drum (First Post) - Page 3

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

#21: Post by jscott14 »

I will second the comment about joining the Fluid Bed Roaster group on Facebook. I'm sorry, but anyone who believes that air roasting is Busch league or in ANY way inferior to drum roasting is not informed on what is possible with an air roaster. You'll find MANY successful air roasters in the FB group. Brian Shoop with Java Momma is one of them. They use Artisan roasters and do an incredible business (they have a staff of nearly 30 folks... it's not just some up-and-coming outfit).

I've owned a commercial drum roaster and now use an Artisan 6 roaster. You can make exceptional coffee on both. But I'm telling you from personal experience that you can tune a coffee profile on an air roaster that would be IMPOSSIBLE to achieve on a drum. A drum roaster has so much thermal mass, they can't change temperatures very quickly. An Artisan air roaster, on the other hand, is EXTREMELY agile. They can turn on a dime. And they are super-easy to completely automate using PID and servos.

Heck, I created the YouTube video below on how to do it. A well-designed profile where you just let the computer run the heat is the holy grail of consistency. I've helped other roasters across the country (and even in Canada) get set up on this very setup.
Get the Artisan 3e, convert it to PID control, and don't look back. These roasters are workhorses, and are simple to service if the time ever comes. The coffee is SUPERIOR to what I could achieve on my drum roaster. Are there aspects that I don't like as much? Absolutely. It is LOUD. Much louder than a drum roaster. I wear noise cancelling headphones. It's also not as energy efficient as a gas drum, but at my scale, that is a trivial difference. Electricity is only $0.11/kwh where I live, so it costs me ROUGHLY $1/hour to run my roaster, and in that hour I can easily get 20 lbs of roasted coffee (24 lbs per hour is possible).

But seriously, get some good ear protection and buy the 3e.


#22: Post by archipelago »

another_jim wrote:I'll happily retract when I see the list of air roasting commercial coffee roasters or cafes from whom you bought coffee this year. My list is empty, as is every other person's I know. Is there anyone here who regularly buys coffee from a business using an air roaster?
Everyone on a Loring.
This opinion is outmoded by 10-15 years.

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#23: Post by another_jim »

Loring moves the beans with a drum and uses convection heat, a design that goes back to the 1940, which is now the basis for many very expensive roasters well out of the OPs range. On the other hand, the inexpensive 1KG to 3 KG fluid bed roasters are mostly very poor, very automated machines sold to the clueless. The OP, Tyler, knows how to roast and knows how to source green coffees. Why should he buy something at 5K to 10K that is not very good, just becuase there are great 25k to 50K recirculating air convection roasters?

I'm trying to answer the OPs question, not to show off.
Jim Schulman


#24: Post by jscott14 »

another_jim wrote:The OP, Tyler, knows how to roast and knows how to source green coffees. Why should he buy something at 5K to 10K that is not very good, just becuase there are great 25k to 50K recirculating air convection roasters?
The wording of your question is a bit of a straw man, because it implies that $5k - $10k will ONLY get you a roaster that is "not very good". Let me flip this question around. Why should Tyler spend $25k - $50k when there are EXCELLENT air roasters available for $10k or less? The reality is that $25,000 - $50,000 is a non-starter for many would-be roasters.

Jim, you'll get zero argument from me on your assessment of some fluid bed roasters on the market. My fluid bed experience is limited to the Artisan series roasters. Speaking specifically to this roaster, I can say it is an amazing machine. With some very easy-to-install controls (that I show my YouTube video), it has ZERO drawbacks in cup quality. NONE. If there is something you don't like about a certain roast, it can be addressed by a different roast profile that you (the roaster) create.

My setup uses highly accurate/stable/low-noise RTDs that feeds data to Artisan software (not affiliated with the roaster, despite sharing the same name), which then makes tiny, granular adjustments to the heat element 2x per second. Once the PID "locks on' to the background roast curve, the computer drives the roast home perfectly every time. This builds consistency into every single roast.

Is an Artisan roaster going to be the choice of a higher volume, established coffee roaster? Likely not. They already have an established customer base. But there is this prevailing myth that a new coffee roasting venture MUST invest in commercial-grade roasters. It's just that... a myth. Speaking specifically in regards to the one series of fluid bed roaster that I have experience with (Coffee Crafters Artisan), a BEGINNING roaster should have zero hesitation in considering this roaster. They are extremely simple and reliable. They are affordable. They have the potential to produce EXCEPTIONAL roasted coffee. Those qualities make it an ideal candidate for strong consideration.


#25: Post by Alaroast »

SolaRoaster wrote:Thanks for the info! Where have you found the most success finding used roasters?
Believe it or not, on FB marketplace. I've seen fluid bed roasters and that's where I found my drum roaster. The owner had died and the family just wanted it gone so they could sell the house. The seller knew nothing about the roaster.

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#26: Post by baldheadracing »

SolaRoaster wrote:Thanks for the info! Where have you found the most success finding used roasters?
Coffeetec.com used listings are good for getting an idea of what's out there.

For North/Mill City specifically, northroasterforum.com

However, FB marketplace, Craigslist, kijiji, ebay, etc., are where the deals are. Keep in mind the shipping cost of roasters is not trivial, and you really want to see a used roaster in person before purchasing. My used roasters have come from here and coffeegeek. Bullets seem to have come up occasionally - there's one for sale now.