Ikawa Home vs Bullet

Discuss roast levels and profiles for espresso, equipment for roasting coffee.
pcofftenyo
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#1: Post by pcofftenyo »

" I am currently between buying the Ikawa Home Roaster or Bullet (assuming I can source one). I am brand new to roasting and know next to nothing at this point but want to learn. Any thoughts on the best direction to go?"

The most appropriate comparison to the Ikawa Home would be Sweet Maria's Popper Roaster. It's fully manual so there's no programming like the Ikawa but its about $150. Super easy to use and produces decent coffee pretty easily. I'd suspect the Ikawa has an edge from repeatability once a good roast is obtained. Also, while the Ikawa only roasts 100 grams its plug and play so subsequent back to back roasts add volume pretty quickly. I won't speculate on cup differences here.

The Bullet is a different animal from either. Much larger capacity at 300 gram minimum effective charge. Can easily repeat previous roasts through playback mode. Can easily adjust roasts on the fly. Needs a laptop for operation. Probably a bigger learning curve than the Ikawa but using playback will shorten that a lot.

As far as the cup, I've had some spectacular coffee from my buddies Ikawa pro but nothing on that level from the Bullet. BUT I've only had my own Bullet roasts and still learning. I bought one recently and think it is capable; just challenged at this point. 4 years working a Huky so I'm not new to roasting.

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yakster
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#2: Post by yakster »

I have the Bullet but have no experience with the Ikawa. I started roasting on a thrifted hot air popcorn roaster with a thermometer but quickly got tired of the small batch size and upgraded to a Behmor (350 g) and now a Bullet (700 g).

I'm very happy now with my roasts, but agree that there was a long learning curve from the Behmor to the Bullet. I haven't used any of the playback recipes and roast fully manually once the automated pre-heat cycle on the Bullet is complete and when I broke my laptop continued roasting successfully with the Bullet without a laptop, just using the front panel display and controls which were more than enough.

I'm not sure if you can really roast manually on the Ikawa so that's probably one differentiator. Do you want to roast from pre-programmed profiles for consistent results or do you want to rely on your senses and instrumentation to make real-time roast decisions during the roasting process. I fall into the later group.

Beyond that, the big difference is batch size. I'm roasting two 700 gram batches every two weeks to keep up with household demand for a three person household plus occasional small entertaining socially distanced in the back yard. I typically do a darker roast that I drink first then a lighter roast that is enjoyed later after further resting. With the batch size comes smoke production. The Bullet can put out a lot of smoke and has no provision to absorb, catalyze, or mask the smoke so you'll want to vent the roaster outside.

Those are my thoughts, it would be interesting to swap Ikawa and Bullet roasted coffee and compare, but I don't know how long it would take to ship to where you are.
-Chris

LMWDP # 272

mikelipino

#3: Post by mikelipino »

I came across a video that is along the same lines. It's a comparison of three home roasters roasting the same beans with an SR-540 (very comparable to air roasters like the Ikawa and SM Popper), a Bullet, and a Whirley Pop stovetop, followed by a blind cupping. The pct weight loss are about 1% different, but there's a trend for air roasting to focus on bright, fruity notes and the Bullet to focus on deeper notes. The reviewer chose the roasts from the SR-540, but also said it was probably because he liked the roasts coming from his roaster. So it's probably up to your tastes for which you prefer.

For me with an SM Popper, I actually prefer the smaller batch size taking into account there is no preheat time and I can roast enough coffee for 1-2 weeks consumption combining 2-3 batches (~20-40 min) in the time it takes a larger roaster to preheat. And that means I'm always with freshly roasted beans, particularly for espresso.I'm also still learning and playing with profiles, so the smaller batch sizes mean that my mistakes are less costly. If I were roasting anything larger or for sale, then the larger capacity Bullet would make more sense. I also really like how the Bullet operates and integrates with Artisan, so I may pick one up in the future.

patrickneil

#4: Post by patrickneil »

Thanks! This was super helpful and I just went ahead and ordered the Ikawa.

Legend_217

#5: Post by Legend_217 »

I have both and I definitely recommend Ikawa if you have 0 experience and only want good fresh roasted coffee every week. Keep in mind you will learn next to nothing with Ikawa

GDM528

#6: Post by GDM528 »

The Ikawa is in a significantly different league than the cheaper air roasters: tight temperature control, crazy thermal agility, highly uniform bean agitation, and toaster-like UI. I'm currently learning a lot with it (see postings elsewhere) and doing some probably dumb things, 50-100 grams at a time. No on-the-fly adjustments with the Home version (at least until I hack it), but the roast progression is so fast that I'm not sure if I could make an intelligent course-correction in a matter of seconds anyway. You have a clear view of the beans and can dump the roast if you think its overdeveloping anytime. It takes me longer to grind and pull an espresso shot than it takes to roast up a batch of beans, and the Ikawa takes up as much counter space as my burr grinder.

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yakster
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#7: Post by yakster »

GDM528 wrote:It takes me longer to grind and pull an espresso shot than it takes to roast up a batch of beans.
How long does it take you to roast a batch of beans?
-Chris

LMWDP # 272

GDM528

#8: Post by GDM528 » replying to yakster »

About 12 minutes to: plug in / drop beans into hopper / start roast / dump chaff / drop beans / store. Add about 10 minutes for any additional roasts if I want to roast less often. All done in my kitchen - no going out to the garage to set up for a roast.

Actually drinking the stuff takes me about 15 minutes to: preheat (bulk of the time)/weigh/spray/grind/WDT/tamp/load/preinfuse/pull/dump/rinse.

I get there are some peeps that consume a LOT of coffee, in which case the 50-100g batch limit of the Ikawa would be infuriating, and take longer than running a kilogram in one pass through a drum roaster, even with all the setup/teardown time.

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yakster
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#9: Post by yakster »

That's true, the Bullet pre-heat cycle--after I dump the chaff from previous roasts, do any cleaning required, and plug it in--takes about 30 minutes, time I use to weigh my green beans and get ready to roast. Since I roast every two weeks and not more often, it seems like 50% of the time the Aillio RoasTime application has and update to install which I install during the pre-heat.

Typical roast times of 10 - 12 minutes and I don't remember the exact timing between batches but it's probably about 5 - 10 minutes to pre-heat the roaster back up to the drop temperature. I always do at least two batches since I'm already committing 30 minutes to pre-heat the roaster in the first place.

It clearly takes quite a bit more time to roast with the Bullet, but that's balanced by the batch size and decreased frequency of roasting required. Since I roast only ever two weeks with large 700 gram batches, this means that it takes longer to adjust and perfect my roasting. Roasting smaller batches more frequently, doing experiments, and tasting the roasts would help lower the learning curve.
-Chris

LMWDP # 272

mgrayson
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#10: Post by mgrayson »

It's very simple for me. I have no way of getting rid of smoke. My family can tell when I've been using the Ikawa, but they don't complain. After a Behmor session, there were threats of bodily harm. :lol: