Cormorant First Roast

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

#1: Post by davecx365 »

I received my Cormorant last week I would like to share my initial impressions.

Cormorant First Roast Notes
My roasting experience is with a Hottop 2K+ and an old unmodified Behmor 1600. I have roughly about 260 roasts on the Hottop and about 100 on the Behmor. I have also tried a Whirly Pop (correct name?) that a friend had but did not like the results or the process. I mostly roast for myself and family, but this has expanded to my circle of friends and acquaintances. I enjoy roasting as a hobby and have no plans for a roasting business.

I choose the Cormorant because I liked the overall design and wanted gas heat. The vast majority of the past user reviews were very positive as well. For now, I have no need for capacity beyond the 600 grams (1.3 pounds). I also wanted a manual control over all the roasting variables but with an automatic recording means (via Artisan on my laptop). The CS600 met all my requirements and had some other intriguing features as well. Other roasters I considered include the Kaldi wide, Huky, the Allio BulletR1, Mill City MCR-1 and the Buckeye BC1.

The most significant determent to getting the CS600 was the long wait time (9 months). But at the time I still had a working roaster that produced consistent & acceptable results so I could afford the wait. In the end, all the other positive reviews and the other features of the CS600 made it easy to make the purchase decision.

Getting it Home
The shipping process took a little longer than expected and there was also the unforeseen customs duties. From the time Johan dropped it off at the shipper (Exeter, Devon UK) to delivery (Vancouver WA), it took a week. The box was very well packed with a minimum of Styrofoam (hard to recycle here). Nothing was broken and final assembly and hook up took me less than hour. The instructions for final assembly were easy to follow with a minor omission about the Phidgit hub (mounting location).

I'm still tinkering Artisan (Version 2.4.4) to meet my expectations. There are more variables than what I had before (variable drum speed & damper) and other events to note as well.
During the setup, I found that there is very little movement with the Diffuser. Maybe a quarter of an inch (according to Johan and this is by design.) Somewhat counterintuitive of which direction is out and in. But it is clearly labeled.

The First Roast.
The hardest challenge was learning to control the heat with gas. I have never used a propane device before, so getting the propane tank regulator to work properly took a while. The gas control on the CS600 is fairly sensitive and that took some getting used to as well. But like any other new device/gadget it has its quirks and you just have to "drive it" to find out what they are.

The heater warmed up very quickly to 356F (180C) in less than 10 minutes. I had the regulator too high and it took me awhile to adjust it on the propane bottle to the correct level. I used a standard US 20 gallon bottle that can be found with most gas grills. My regulator is 0-30.

The other challenge was getting used to manually logging all my control changes in Artisan as opposed to controlling everything in Artisan as I did with the Hottop.

I followed the instructions that Johan includes with the roaster. This was a 600 g batch of Rwanda high-grown (1700m) Bourbon variety coffee.

It took awhile to find the right gas setting on my regulator and the roaster regulator for an even gas flow. At first it would give a popping sound as if the burner was being starved for gas. This was resolved by adjusting by fan speed and remembering to keep the flower valve shut.

Once I figured out the nuances of heat control, I then started with my roast. One of the features of the CS600 I really liked is the large bean hopper; it easily holds the full 600g of beans and more. Because it is directly above the drum, it actually warms the beans a little as well.

The hopper chute flap has little movement but to load the maximum batch load it only took a couple of seconds. As per the instructions, my initial drum speed was on 8 (25 rpms). After all the beans were in the drum, I then raised the drum speed to full 14 on the gauge which is about 62-65 rpms drum speed.

My turning point was 58 seconds. This roughly the same as for my Hottop with an average batch size of only 250g. The rest of the roast I was experimenting with the controls to get a better feel for the roaster. So the roast did not look like my other profiles. First crack took a little longer than I expected but I have never roasted 600 grams before. I had some flicks and a crash after 1c but that was from my experimenting with the controls than anything else.

The drop procedure was a little more "hands on" than my previous roaster but that was to be expected. Again it just the nuances of the machine.

The overall result was a full city+ roast. After letting it rest for 30 hours, we made a pot and it was very good. Mild acidity, hints of chocolate and some fruit flavors that I could not identify. Close to the vendors description (Coffee Bean Corral) of what to expect. Not one of my best but it still beat the store bought varieties I have drinking this last month while waiting for the roaster to arrive.

What I liked so far
It amazed me after the first roast of how efficient chaff collection is and smoke removal. There was no chaff in the collection bowl and none left in the roasting chamber. I usually have to go through a secondary chaff removal process on my other roasters. Emptying the chaff collector, showed that that this was a very chaff prone bean and there was a fair amount of chaff in the collector.

Smoke suppression is wonderful. Previously I watched some YouTube videos and was concerned about smoke escaping when dropping the beans into the cooling bowl. Unlike my old Hottop which emitted smoke from everywhere and would sometimes set off smoke detector in the house, the CS600 almost completely removed all the smoke to the outside via the ducting system. There was a tiny bit of smoke when first opening the drop flap but not enough to be noticeable and it did not set off my garage smoke alarm. (I roast in my attached garage).

All in all after just one roast, I am very pleased with the Cormorant CS-600. There is still much to learn (and to unlearn) but I always enjoyed the journey as well as getting to the final destination. I will provide a more detailed report after doing more roasts and gaining more operating experience.


#2: Post by AndyC »

Dave, great post and very timely as I received my Cormorant back in Feb. Due to a house move, haven't had a chance to try a first roast yet.
Regarding the phidget, did you have Johan install it or buy separately?


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#3: Post by okmed »

Thanks for taking the time to share your impressions. I found it most interesting since I have a Hottop and seriously considering the Cormorant. I look forward to your following posts.

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#4: Post by Brewzologist »

Thank you for your impressions. I'm happy with my souped-up Huky, but if I were buying today the Cormorant would be on my short list. Also know there 'may' be opportunities to automate the fan/gas on the Cormorant when you are ready. Not entirely sure of this since I do not own one, but I automated my Huky to work with Artisan and have been very pleased with the consistency and ease of use it allows.

davecx365 (original poster)

#5: Post by davecx365 (original poster) »

Johan installed it as requested. I was expecting it to be a free standing unit, but the hub is mounted on the main body underneath. BTW the probes are very accurate, even for a small batch (225g).

davecx365 (original poster)

#6: Post by davecx365 (original poster) »

If you do get one, you won't regret it. My biggest challenge was learning to fine control the gas. But as other have posted, it is very responsive. In addition to heat andair, you have drum speed and the damper to finesse the roast. I'm still learning the effects of those.