Gene Cafe to Ikawa Home Roaster

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

#1: Post by LidoGirl »

Hello All,

I am thinking of selling my Gene Cafe and getting the Ikawa Home Roaster for less smoke and more repeatable, light to medium roasts for pour overs. Any thoughts on the software for the Ikawa? Is it pretty upgradable or am I gonna have a roaster I can't turn on after a few years because it is completely controlled by my phone? Also, can the software be used on a desktop, say an iMac?

Also, not that I am really even considering it for the price, but is the main difference between the home vs the professional Ikawa the software or is the machine totally different (ie - better) too? Wanting to get something that is gonna last me 10 plus years :)........

pcofftenyo

#2: Post by pcofftenyo »

The Ikawa Pro seems to have has been pretty well received by the professional roasting community. I know three people in my Midwestern town of 1.5 million that have them so there are probably others. One is an importer the other two roasters, one is the largest specialty roaster in town. Purchasing reasons were to go through many samples quickly, easily, and consistently. They use regional presets for cupping but develop production roasts on different machines.

All were sort-of later adopters (last 2-3 years) with no reports of bugs or down-time. That could change.

I do know that the profile can't be changed once the roast is executed but can easily be manipulated prior to hitting the go button. Because of its repeatability and true hands off roasting after charge and discharge pretty large volumes can be achieved. They're bluetooth so I bet a laptop/ desktop could run it.

I want the Pro but have other priorities at the moment. The Bullet would be my next choice far before the Ikawa non-pro. I also saw a couple lower priced Ikawa competitors about a year ago.

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LidoGirl (original poster)

#3: Post by LidoGirl (original poster) »

Oh, I would love a bullet, but I live in an apartment, so not sure with the smoke how practical or possible it would be. Do you remember the names of some of the competitors to the Ikawa? I looked at a Santoker before I bought the GC, but decided against it because at the time.

walr00s
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#4: Post by walr00s »

This https://sway.office.com/tfqj3vUqjfiA30Eu review by DaveC of the Sandbox seemed flattering to me. Pretty sure DaveC is a reseller of the product through Bella Barista, and I admit that my understanding of roasting is amateur-level, so there may be some room to read between the lines and I didn't catch it. The smoke is too much for my oven vent, but so is most smoke from the stove top.

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Peppersass
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#5: Post by Peppersass »

I have the Ikawa Pro V3, but I did look into the Ikawa Home before purchase.

For both models, the app is integral to using the roaster. It's used to download profiles, edit profiles, create your own, load them into the roaster and store roast logs. However, once a profile is loaded into the roaster, it doesn't need the app to execute the roast. To answer your specific question, I think it's very unlikely that Ikawa would remove the app from the app store or make changes that aren't backwards-compatible, so I seriously doubt that you could end up with a roaster you can't turn on.

The software only operates on iOS and Android. I run it on my iPad for the larger screen. There's no software for other platforms like Mac OS, Windows or Linux.

The main differences between the Home and Pro are:

1. Temperature probes

The Home has only an inlet temperature probe. This means the profile is based on the inlet temperature, which is what's shown on the roast graph. So the graph isn't showing the bean temperature, only the temperature of the air before it enters the roast chamber. So the bean temperature has to be inferred from the heat being applied. I'm not sure how that's done by people who create profiles for the Home machine, but clearly it's possible.

The Pro has probes for both inlet and exhaust temperature. The exhaust temperature is essentially a measure of the heat coming off the beans, so it more closely correlates to bean temperature. The exhaust probe readings may not be the same as a probe immersed in the bean mass, but it's not a given that such probes, whether in a fluid-bed or drum roaster, really measure bean surface temperature or some combination of surface temperature and air temperature coming off the beans. And no probe can tell you what the internal bean temperature is.

Roast graphs on the Pro show both inlet and exhaust temperatures, and while the exhaust temperature generally follows the same slope as the inlet temperature through much of the roast, there are times when they're not the same. For example, if the profile needs to quickly increase the slope of the exhaust temperature, say at the beginning of the roast, there's usually a steeper rise in the inlet temperature. Same with decreasing the slope of the exhaust temperature, say right around 1C -- the inlet temperature will drop a lot more than the target exhaust temperature drop. All this is to say that having an exhaust probe gives you quite a bit more information about bean temperature than just an inlet probe.

In terms of profile execution, the Home simply adjusts the heater and fan so that the inlet temperature and fan speed follow the values in the profile. The Pro does the same with the fan profile, but it adjusts the inlet temperature so that the exhaust temperature follows the time and temperature values in the profile (i.e., the curve.)

2. Roast Phase marking and RoR curve

The Pro app lets you mark Dry (Color Change), 1C and 2C. I don't believe the Home app allows this. However, even if not, the most important thing is to note when 1C occurs (and 2C if you're roasting that far), so you can determine how much development time has passed before the roast is dropped (enters the cooling phase on Ikawa roasters). You can easily do that manually and record it in the roast log notes (I'm not 100% sure the Home has a roast log with editable notes, but I suspect it does.)

The Pro app can also compute the RoR and optionally displays the RoR curve. That's a good thing, but so far I've found it to be of limited use. First, I think the scale is too compressed to get a real sense of what the RoR is doing. I've suggested to Ikawa that they expand the scale or let the user define it. Second, the RoR curves on my roasts, most of which have been really good, don't usually follow the Roa "always declining RoR" rule. There's usually a time between dry and 1C when the RoR flattens, then it's pretty jagged through the end of the roast. This could be a scale issue or just the Roa rule not being applicable to the roaster design (tiny fluid bed.)

3. Pelican Case

The Pro comes with a really nice Pelican case with wheels and extendable handle. I don't use it for storage because I have a convenient appliance barn next to the stove where I roast (under the stove hood with fan set to low to vent the barely perceptible roast odors.) However, the case will be great if I have to send the roaster to Ikawa for maintenance or repair (there's an annual service option, but I don't do enough roasts to justify that.)

4. Service

I don't know if Pro users get better service, but Ikawa has been very prompt in answering my questions, and I get the sense that being a Pro customer gets their attention.

I should mention that on the Pro the roast profile can be changed during a roast, either by manipulating the graph or editing the times and temperatures. I'm pretty sure I was able to do that on the fly once or twice, though it was a little tricky because there was an interaction between the exhaust temperature and airflow timelines -- if I shortened one it would give me an error message that the other one was too long, or something like that.

I'm not sure if profiles can be edited during roasting on the Home, but they certainly can be edited before roasting. Even if you can't edit on the fly, I don't think it's a big deal. In my experience, it isn't terribly useful to significantly change a profile partway into a roast. If the roast is running too long -- i.e., 1C comes earlier than expected and it looks like the roast will develop more than desired, you can manually drop it after the desired amount of development time (or DTR, but I prefer DT.)

In fact, that's how I've been doing most of my roasts. I roast mainly for espresso, and use a slightly shortened version of Ikawa's Espresso Roast 1 profile (drop shortened from 10:09 to 9:30). I just let it go until 1C, then manually drop after the desired DT. This way, I can manipulate the roast anywhere from light to medium. Most of my roasts drop in 8:00-9:00 minutes, which is why I shortened the profile.

If I happen to run into a bean that has 1C later than expected by my edited profile, I can try to extend the roast by editing the profile, but more likely I'll let the roast finish and try again after editing the profile to lengthen the time to 1C. After all, it's only wasting 50g (and I'll probably cup the bad roast just to see how it turned out.)

The pre-roast editing I've described can be done on the Home version, but it may be trickier because you can only change the inlet temperature and airflow. Also, the Pro lets you edit the profile either by manipulating the graph or my typing new values into a spreadsheet-like text version of the profile. The Home only lets you manipulate the curve. Not a big deal, though some may prefer the text-entry method.

I've not seen a Home, so I can't compare build quality. But I can say that the Pro V3 is built very well, heavy-duty with premium materials. I believe it's rated for some ungodly number of back-to-back roasts, but can't recall how many (I think it's 80.)

All that said, if it's repetition you're looking for, the Home should be great once you find, edit or create a profile you like.

I've not used a Sandbox, but based on the video I saw I don't think the Sandbox will give what you're looking for.

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happycat

#6: Post by happycat »

LidoGirl wrote:Oh, I would love a bullet, but I live in an apartment, so not sure with the smoke how practical or possible it would be. Do you remember the names of some of the competitors to the Ikawa? I looked at a Santoker before I bought the GC, but decided against it because at the time.
Roasting with Quest in condo or apt for 7 years. Half pound capacity. Open door to balcony, point exhaust at gap, roast.

I'm not sure why there woukd be a lot of smoke. Mine is mostly steam I think.
LMWDP #603

LidoGirl (original poster)

#7: Post by LidoGirl (original poster) »

Wow, thank you so much for that in depth response! I will have to go and learn more about many of the things you mentioned, but now I really need to weigh whether I should maybe wait for a used Ikawa Pro rather than purchase the Ikawa Home?

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tiptongrange

#8: Post by tiptongrange »

Did you get a quote on the price? What's the cost of the Pro V3 and Pro 100?

Another option is the Kaffelogic roaster, they are rumored to be coming out with a 110v/120v version for the US market this fall. Does anyone know how this compares to the Ikawa?

walr00s
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#9: Post by walr00s »

Peppersass wrote: I've not used a Sandbox, but based on the video I saw I don't think the Sandbox will give what you're looking for.
Mind elaborating on that? Mostly just curious since there is virtually zero substantive analysis of this roaster here on HB

I will say that I'm mostly happy with my results and experience with it, though it is my first roaster so I'm not acutely aware of what my range of results could look like with different products.

LidoGirl (original poster)

#10: Post by LidoGirl (original poster) »

tiptongrange wrote:Did you get a quote on the price? What's the cost of the Pro V3 and Pro 100?

Another option is the Kaffelogic roaster, they are rumored to be coming out with a 110v/120v version for the US market this fall. Does anyone know how this compares to the Ikawa?
Cool, how much are they?