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

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

#1: Post by SolaRoaster »

Hey everyone. This is my first post here. I've already learned so much from reading other posts.

Alright, I'm needing some advice/suggestions from you awesome roasters. I have a long-term goal of opening a coffee truck while roasting the coffee for it. I have been roasting for close to a year now-so hard to believe!!! I started with a popcorn popper and moved to the Hive Roaster, which I love for super small batches.

Well, now I am ready to move to a 1-2 lb manual roaster. My goal is to learn about roasting and develop skills and techniques that will translate well to larger commercial roasters later on (remember, long-term goal). However, I'm also drawn to fluid bed rosters due to price and simplicity.

I have thought about several different roasters: Arc 800, Aillio Bullet, Artisan 3-e, Sonofresco, and even the Mill City 1k (though this is way out of my budget). I've heard good things about all of these, but I'm mostly drawn to the Bullet and Artisan 3-e.

So after spending more time researching, here's my big dilemma: should I go with a drum roaster or a fluid bed roaster? I want to learn as much about roasting as possible since I honestly enjoy roasting coffee more than drinking it (kinda). Will the fluid bed give me the control/ability to really learn about all the different nuances of a bean that a drum roaster would? Would a fluid bed be a good foundation for future roasting endeavors? Would a drum roaster be too steep of a curve if I wanted to sell good coffee sooner than later?

I honestly have no clue why I'm so hesitant. Part of me feels like fluid bed roasters are "cheating" if that makes sense? It just seems easier, maybe? Or maybe I'm just secretly drawn to the drum roasters because that's what comes to mind when I think of roasting.

Those that have been through this part of your roasting journey, do you have any wisdom concerning my next roaster? I'm open to all feedback, criticism and encouragement. Happy roasting!


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#2: Post by Nunas »

In my opinion, one of the best roasters on which to learn is the SR-series fluid bed roasters. No computers, no complicated controls, no PIDs. It's just you and a very simple roaster. You can make use of all of your senses...make that you must use all your senses. Sure, they're relatively small, but you can hear, see and smell everything that's going on with the roast.

SolaRoaster (original poster)

#3: Post by SolaRoaster (original poster) »

I appreciate the suggestion. I was surprised how much of those senses I was able to experience with the popcorn popper. I actually almost bought an SR540 with an extended chamber but ultimately decided on the Hive Roaster.

While I totally agree with what you're saying, I feel as though that would put me in the same predicament I'm in now: not enough capacity. I gave coffee to friends and family for Christmas last year and it took almost 10 hours of roasting (not much coffee either).

Do you have any experience with any of the larger capacity roasters?

Thank you, friend!



#4: Post by luvmy40 »

I recently picked up a couple bags of coffee from a small roaster in Cicero, NY. The Ink Corner Cafe. I was surprised to see that they were roasting in a large fluid bed roaster. I have no idea what the max. capacity of it was but it certainly looked like it would hold 3 kilos or more.

The coffee was excellent.

Team HB

#5: Post by baldheadracing »

As long as you have the physical facilities, I'd keep a constant lookout for a used 1kg commercial gas drum roaster that has a good reputation. A machine with a good reputation will cost more, but also holds its value.

While all roasting machines turn beans brown, how one controls the roaster varies. Learning what happens during roasting/what one wants to accomplish in a particular roast is not the same as learning how to control a particular roasting machine to get the results that you want.

Note user Almico has journeyed from an Artisan (the company) fluid-bed roaster to a series of drum roasters. I think that you might get all the answers that you need following his posts over the past half-dozen or so years.

Good luck!
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

SolaRoaster (original poster)

#6: Post by SolaRoaster (original poster) »

That is solid advice. I'll go check out his posts. Thank you!

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#7: Post by another_jim »

If you intend to sell your roasts commercially as specialty or artisanal, an air roaster is the kiss of death.

This is not a question of roast quality, there are some exceedingly good laboratory and very large convection forced air roasters that are better than any small drum. But commercial air roasters in the 1 to 10 lb range are designed for the clueless, bankrupt in a year, "wouldn't it by nice to have a cafe" crowd. They are not good, and they are sold on the premise that you can use them while remaining clueless about coffee orgins, cupping, and all the rest of the knowledge you need to roast good coffee.

Buy a drum; it's not a choice.
Jim Schulman


#8: Post by tglodjo »

Damn, man. I've trusted your opinion a ton on this forum, but this just isn't true. I sure hope the OP disregards it in his search.

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#9: Post by civ »

I would respectfully ask that you moderate your tone.
There are many other ways to say "I don't agree with your opinion".

That said, you may want to consider stating/documenting why instead of disqualifying it outright.

With 47x more posts on HB than you (and only the gods know how many in a few other relevant forums), my money is on another_jim, eyes shut.


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#10: Post by another_jim »

tglodjo wrote:Damn, man. I've trusted your opinion a ton on this forum, but this is just isn't true. I sure hope the OP disregards it in his search.
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?
Jim Schulman