Finally! North Coffee TJ-067 - Gas Version

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

#1: Post by smite »

Fellow HBer's,

After a long and painful wait my roaster finally arrived. This weekend is the first time I have been able to spend some time with it. Many of you have been asking frequently about details on the gas version of this and if it has been worth the trouble of importing and the wait. I opted to start a new thread rather than post anything further in the early discovery thread since the focus on that started with the electric version.

After setting this machine up including ventilation and temporary propane connections, completing 4 break in roasts, and finally 6, 800 gram roasts under my belt today I can say without any doubt, that, yes, it was well worth it.

This roaster in spite of being a bit rough around the edges is nothing short of amazing for the money. Without throwing out a list of brands, I have used much more expensive commercial roasters and this one feels incredibly well built, responsive and easy to control.

Lets recap what it includes:

PID, which controls the flow and ignition of the propane through the use of a solenoid, automatic restart and yes ignition safety does work.

Gas Setup
Yes, they included a cheap standard class 1 propane regulator and yet they provide a decent control valve and a very nice looking well functioning pressure gauge. I will be eventually connecting this to a whole house propane tank so while the one they sent is a decent temporary option for connecting it to the inside of your propane tank for initial testing, I opted for something else. I had a spare 6' regulator and hose from a Weber grill and I figured I might as well use it until the LP company comes out and does the real connection to the main line. The one they sent, while it does not seem to be bad quality, is not something that I personally would recommend using long term. Why risk it, as I would consider it a cheap throw away item when you can simply look for a better locally supplied option for little money anyway. Checking prices online Amazon and other places that sell these things they are ranging from $10 and up depending on brand and length of hose. Big box stores have them also but seem to stock very limited options in store so buy one in advance. To swap out the regulator & hose with one made by Weber, I had to remove the existing brass connector that was below the LP pressure gauge and replace it with one I bought for $3.50 at Ace. I used Teflon tape on both sides of the threads. This took very little time and effort.



Electrical
Yes, it is 220v, but that is not an issue, as they include an over-powered converter (rated much higher than is needed) that all you need to do is swap out the included plug on it, with one that fits a standard grounded 110-120v outlet, connect the roaster to the included outlet in the converter and you are good to go.

Being propane the roaster only pulled 200w total, so my original concern went away since using this is really no big deal. I still may end-up getting the 220v outlet anyway, but after putting the machine and converter through the paces for several hours today and seeing that the one they included was as cold as when I first plugged it in it is not required. I suspect that the one they include with the gas version is the same that they provide with the electrical version which obviously requires much more electrical power.

Exhaust & Cooling
They also include a full sized cyclone for exhaust using a quality blower that's has variable control through the control panel and it is very responsive. This really helps with temp control and stretching out when you need it.

For the exhaust they also include a brand new 3" x 8' dryer vent and 2 relatively cheap screw in clamps to hold it in place to the cyclone. I decided to replace the 2 clamps with better ones that I could pick up for $1.49 each. Oddly enough the same dryer vent as the one they provided was about $10 at the store. I ended up connecting the cyclone to the included steel pipe on the roaster using the dryer vent to the input for the cyclone and then one more section of the vent from the cyclone exhaust to the window vent. The included 8' was enough for me with some to spare, but others may need more depending on your location.

Another thing they include is an additional blower that pulls air through the cooling tray. This really made a difference and cooled the dropped loads very quickly.



I have to say without doing any mods this roaster has put out some very nice looking roasts and functions like some of the larger and much more expensive roasters I have used.

OK, so what is not so great?

Importing was a bit of a pain and added to the cost (anyone who really wants details on this can find tons of information on the other thread), there is a less than useful manual, the fit and finish on some of the mass produced details are not perfect, and last but not least communications with the company can be confusing.

Bottom Line
Still even though the machine feels handmade, it does not feel cheap or poorly put together.

In fact, it does feel surprisingly well engineered and designed, that implies a decent knowledge of the roasting process by someone involved. I really felt very comfortable using it. Honestly, it was almost too comfortable, so much so, that I could not stop myself from doing too many back to back roasts to try to push the limits of this thing. It felt like slipping into old yet still really comfortable good fitting jeans or driving a well made car. Everything just fit together well resulting in an accessible, comfortable, responsive and easy to use roaster. More on the fine details related to this usability factor with specific examples, soon to come.

Update: Added some annotated pictures to the shots that the sales team sent me previously. This looks very much like the one they sent me.

I will be posting additional pictures over the coming days aligned within the details I have included above.

If you have specific questions please feel free to post them.

John

Flair Espresso: handcrafted espresso. cafe-quality shots, anytime, anywhere
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TomC
Team HB

#2: Post by TomC »

Good write up John! Looking forward to seeing some pics of the setup in place.

smite (original poster)

#3: Post by smite (original poster) » replying to TomC »

Tom, Thanks for the note. Writing this was the only thing that could help me resist the urge to run back out to my garage and do some more roasting. I can say for the first time in a while that after today, my neighbors and I do not need any more roasted coffee for a while. Well, maybe not for the next few days. Hmm, who else do I know who needs coffee?

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hankua
Supporter ♡

#4: Post by hankua »

Variable speed air control is awesome; not many machines have this feature.

smite (original poster)

#5: Post by smite (original poster) »

I thought I would go back to the other early discovery thread and pull out the outstanding questions posted throughout the many pages.

If I miss anything please feel free to repost them here in this thread.

slickrock wrote:

John, when you get the gas roaster, please confirm with some tests, if the roaster fully integrates all the safety features of this controller
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Yes it does. It functions very much like a glow plug and they also integrated the control of the gas flow through the solenoid.

slickrock wrote:

According to the wiring diagrams, it does look like the drum and exhaust fan are ganged together, but not necessarily to the operation or the heater or igniter. Now if the exhaust is adjustable down to zero (something else to have the early adopters verify), then this isn't much a problem because I would always want the drum going when heat is entering the system, but clearly there are reasons one may chose not to have the exhaust fan running (e.g. at warmup, drying phase, etc.).

The diagrams also show the stirrer and cooling fan motor ganged together as well, though it make sense to run these at the same time.

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The drum rotation and exhaust fan turn on when the power to the roaster is started, but you can decrease the speed of the exhaust fan on the cyclone to very close to 0.

There is also a different exhaust fan that starts when you hit the cooling button. This funs fully independent of the exhaust system on the cyclone and only runs at full speed when the cooling tray is turned on.

Embedded questions in several posts:

What is the standard drum solid or perforated?
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Mine is solid, made of steel and very heavy duty with good balance.

Is rate of rise limited to 10 deg?
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No, rate of rise is truly variable and goes up or down in increments of one and is fine tune controlled through the gas valve and either increasing or decreasing pressure displayed on the gauge and/or in combination with the variable speed exhaust.

Is the roaster noisy?

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No it is surprisingly silent even with the exhaust going I could hear 1st and 2nd crack on several runs.

I am sure I missed some so please feel free to repost them here.

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tamarian

#6: Post by tamarian »

Congrats, it looks awesome.

I did not realize this roaster is PID'ed. I'd love to hear your impression with the PID precision and control, once you get a feel for it. What sort of ignition safety does it have?

If you open it up for pictures, I'd like to see that gas solenoid up close, or if you have model name or specs.

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JK

#7: Post by JK »

Can you send me a digital copy of what ever you received with your machine?
There wasn't a scrap of paper with mine..
-----------------------------
I'm on a Mission from God!

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saoye

#8: Post by saoye »

Happy for you John! All the memories floods back of the excitement I had and the touch feel for the first time and the sigh of relief realising this thing is real value for money and more than what I had envisioned.

I have easily roasted 1.2kg in the roaster...this is a true 1kg roaster that will allow you to end with 1kg worth of roasted coffee in a single roast.

Looking forward to photos of it's final working station.

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boar_d_laze

#9: Post by boar_d_laze »

The relief at not only finally having it, but having it installed and working must be palpable. It's wonderful that you're already getting good profiles.

I'm looking forward to seeing some plots, and hearing about things as they further develop.

A raised morning mug to your continued success.
BDL
Drop a nickel in the pot Joe. Takin' it slow. Waiter, waiter, percolator

smite (original poster)

#10: Post by smite (original poster) »

tamarian wrote:Congrats, it looks awesome.

I did not realize this roaster is PID'ed. I'd love to hear your impression with the PID precision and control, once you get a feel for it. What sort of ignition safety does it have?

If you open it up for pictures, I'd like to see that gas solenoid up close, or if you have model name or specs.

Thanks for the note. In the other thread I included a picture and the layout of the ignition controller which is on page four 2nd post down North Coffee TJ-067 / JYR-1DA Roaster Early Discovery Notes. It is the Sunrays GR-3A and it seemed to work very well in my controlled tests.

It is worth noting and clarifying that the PID does not control the temp of the roaster it simply displays and alarms when certain temps are achieved. I controlled the amount of LP pressure through the valve as displayed on the pressure gauge.

Update and slight correction: Based on a PM from JK, it seems the PID can actually control the temp by switching the burner on or off. I simply had it set much higher and I controlled it using the valve....

In terms of accuracy of what the PID displays I noticed a discrepancy between what I perceived as the level of roast by sight, smell and color versus the temp displayed on the PID, but I suspect it is less an issue with the accuracy of the PID/Thermocouple but more related to the placement of the existing thermocouple. For these first roasts I chose to use the stock PID and thermocouple, only as a point of reference at certain times combined with other factors to manage the end to end roasting process. I will most likely add in the threaded K type thermocouple in the threads of the glass as Dillon did. I may also experiment with moving the existing thermocouple higher to see if I can use it to display ET. I did notice that the responsiveness of what is displayed on the PID seems good. When I adjusted the gas or the ventilation, the displayed temp seemed to react very quickly.

Once I do get the other thermocouple installed I will do some comparison tests to see if there is a difference in terms of accuracy or responsiveness putting aside the placement variable if possible.

I also thought I read somewhere that connecting more than one thermocouple to the stock FOTEK PID was possible and having it cycle through the temps. It might be an interesting test to see if it is possible even though it seems to only take one input.

Johnny, send me a PM with your email and I can email you the manual I have. Unless someone knows of some other way to upload the manual.