Loring vs other roasters energy usage - Page 9

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

#81: Post by archipelago »

Almico wrote:Spent the evening at Brooklyn Roasters, with their Loring Peregrine and RH. Loring was sponsoring the event. It was a great time with pizza and beer and lots of elbow rubbing. Big thanks to Dave and Mike of BR for hosting the event.


My takeaway, the Loring is an amazing machine. For mass production roasting, it is hard to argue its efficiency. But I'm still waiting to taste a Loring coffee that knocks my socks off. Sure, everyone's frame of reference is different, but once I tasted what a strictly controlled RoR can do for every coffee I've tried it with, there is no going back. For my small production needs, roasting only for my coffee shop and retail customers, I don't need efficient production nearly as much as I want to roast the best coffee I can. And I need flexibility to accomplish that and I need to be able to see and control the RoR during a roast.
I'm a big fan of Rob - another Ohio boy. But he and I don't agree on the 'crash anomaly' explanation. There are a number of threads in previous discussions that I've contributed to talking about the reasons it registers that crash - but I find that when I eliminate the crash/flick, my coffee is sweeter and has better structure.

I'd be happy to send you some coffee to try that we roasted on a Loring, if you'd like! Just DM me your address.


#82: Post by Dokkie »

Nice report Almico, great insight! If you're able you should get some coffee from Coffee Collective in Denmark, it's awesome and they use Loring(s).

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#83: Post by EddyQ »


I appreciate your through writeup and open views of the meet. Being an engineer, I love seeing all the data and having the "knobs" available for my choice of turning. I love hearing from someone (like you) who is not an engineer who feels the same.
This is well said IMO:
Almico wrote:I feel I would be losing a valuable roasting variable, since I've been playing with more and less air while maintaining the same profile and finding a noticeable difference in the coffee.
Unfortunately, I saw several other roaster manufactures who have headed down a similar path with "computer control" at the SCA expo. As you say, it helps the high production folks, but does nothing for those that want to fine tune their roasts to perfection.
And remember, computer "algorithms" and control is something crafted by some engineer. What experience does he have? Did he do a good job testing to developing such algorithms? Who really knows? I work with enough engineers to know they cannot be trusted. And mix that with a marketing puke and were does that bring you. Exactly. I'd rather manage my roaster thankyou very much. And a good roaster will provide me the data to make good management choices.

As for Loring, it seems like they are holding a lot of information back from buyers. No more than many other roaster manufacturers. But since they tout that their roaster is superior, maybe they should back that up with real data. Is it really an air roaster?? Show us proof. Make measurements of the drum temps and correlate them with a computer model that computes heat paths to the bean. Something more than theories.
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#84: Post by Almico »

Lorings are superior to many roasters in many ways. If I needed an afterburner, they would be hard to resist. But if I don't have to have a 1600* cyclone furnace running in my building, I'd rather avoid it.

Lorings are pretty noisy also, and the whine of the cyclone is not a pleasant sound. I'm not a production business roasting in a warehouse. I'm a roaster/retailer (need to find a better name for it) and my biz-model is to roast where my customers can see, smell and hear the magic. Lorings do not lend themselves well to this.

As far as automation, yes, everything is going this way. For some reason car mfgs don't think I can turn on my headlights and wipers by myself. Now cars are parallel parking themselves and soon will be driving themselves. But until they install a gas chromatograph in the roasting chamber to guide the roast parameters, competent manual roasting seems to be the ticket for best results.

When I was at BR I happened to notice their bagging machinery. They use bags as well as cans for retail coffee. This morning I was bagging up a dozen bags to replenish my retail shelf. I poured beans into my scooper/filler, peeled and placed labels, stamped a roast date, filled the bags and sealed each one by hand one at a time. I thought "I might need one of those baggers one day". Then it occurred to me, that I would rather give someone a job and pay the extra labor than buy a machine. For me it's not about squeezing every last dollar out of my business. It's about being an integral and contributing part of a community. And giving someone a job so they can buy their first car is more valuable to me than me buying a more expensive car for myself. Crap, I must be getting old.

If I was in coffee strictly for the $$$, I would have an automatic roaster. But I happen to really enjoy watching the data and turning the dials and air vents. Ask me if I feel the same in 10 years, but I still get a big kick out of turning out great roasts again and again and I still want to get better every time. If it was just about filling a bin, vacuuming coffee into a hopper and pressing a button, I would be doing something else.


#85: Post by crunchybean »

Almico wrote: If it was just about filling a bin, vacuuming coffee into a hopper and pressing a button, I would be doing something else.
Doing something else like sample roasting and profiling a bean for a better curve? Or produce more coffee, faster and more efficiently? Let alone less bothersome to the neighbors and environment. You might even have to go pull out the rake from the shed to pile up some money. And who knows I hear at banks they have this mythical account called "savings" but I assume it's just fake news.

Most of the joking aside, I think there is plenty of merit to automation, and artisanal craft can still be found at the bar or on the sample bench...enough to outweigh a large traditional drum roaster, soaking up all of the time. Especially only being 10k less, thats like..what..two maybe three bags of coffee worth? I wonder what a fully automated drum roaster costs for production purposes? So Loring doesn't seem too much in the grand scheme. I think it boils down to 1) can you roast good coffee 2) can you sell good coffee 3) dont marry a goldigger

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#86: Post by Almico »

archipelago wrote:I'd be happy to send you some coffee to try that we roasted on a Loring, if you'd like! Just DM me your address.
Much appreciated Chris, but without the corresponding green to go with it, I really couldn't discern much. Lorings roast good coffee. I used to roast good coffee on my air roaster. But there is another huge level of flavor dynamics available when I can control RoR precisely without blowing too much air through the system. I'm also finding I get a better BT reading with less air. I'm reading more bean temp and less air temp.

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#87: Post by ira »

EddyQ wrote:Unfortunately, I saw several other roaster manufactures who have headed down a similar path with "computer control" at the SCA expo. As you say, it helps the high production folks, but does nothing for those that want to fine tune their roasts to perfection.
And remember, computer "algorithms" and control is something crafted by some engineer.
Designing software and algorithms to control a roaster does not require knowledge of how to roast coffee, it requires knowledge of how coffee roasts and what matters. An hour with Alan watching him roast and listening to him talk about what's happening and what he looks for is enough information to make a very good first pass. The problem is a puzzle that involves figuring out what you need to watch, what you need to control and tie interesting part, how to relate the two. I've written quite well regarded music scheduling software that I can't use but a couple of hundred radio stations did use. And if you ask me to pich two songs to play in sequence I'll just give you a blank stare, but I understand the problem and came up with an elegant solution that worked better than I ever expected. I'm equally certain that I could do similarly for coffee roasting with a bit of help from a friend who's a mathematician/programmer. It might be a more difficult problem, but it does not seem to be a particularly difficult problem other than my lack of higher math skills.

You might not like the idea because the hands on appeals to you, but once you've figured out what you want, repeating it is just not that hard a problem. Look at the Ikawa, it's a completely computer controlled sample roaster that some consider the best there is.


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#88: Post by AssafL »

The problem with coffee is that much of what you can measure depends on actions taken quite some time before.

That hysteresis is hard for software to predict. In an industrial situation, the operators can adjust for a specific coffee and then keep the settings for tons of coffee.

As for Alan's dilemma the question is wether the air control is necessary or not. Since low air and higher air give good quality results it is hard to determine. Also, assuming humidity is higher (I know the marketing reality - but the psychrometric one is that steam at 250C is superheated and unless pressurized will escape. Perhaps there is some humidity in the air but it can't be much) - assuming it is high - all the rules from dry air roasting and drum roasting may change. Just like an oven recipe and a combi-steamer recipe are different.

Also, I don't think one should formulate an opinion based on someone else's roast. You can't really know how it works for you until you try it yourself.
Scraping away (slowly) at the tyranny of biases and dogma.

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#89: Post by Almico »

The software I would want would be able to
read ambient temp and humidity,
hit DE, 1C and drop milestones for time and temp,
while paying respect to RoR.

There would need to be a PID function following the RoR to keep it always descending.

Adjustments need to be made in advance, so it would need to have an AI feature where I could input the particular coffee and batch size and it could learn how it reacted to heat and air changes. Parameters would need to change automatically to batch size changes.

Probe sensitivity would need to be matched to the roasters thermodynamic personality and software.

I would like to be able to input:

batch size
time/temp DE
time/temp 1C
time/temp drop

and have it execute that while maintaining a straight line declining RoR slope. And maybe max RoR and finish RoR.

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#90: Post by ira »

Almico wrote:The software I would want would be able to...
And now that you've written it down, it doesn't sound so hard. I would not consider using a PID, because I think it's the wrong approach. PIDs are misused a lot because you can buy one for cheap and they mostly work, but I watch the PID in my kettle add a significant time to first heating and wonder why the designer did not figure out that measuring the rate of rise for the first 50 degrees would allow calculating the exact time the element needs to be left on at full power to reach the target temperature. Once you get there you can use a PID to maintain the temperature. I think roasting coffee has a similar problem when trying to use PIDs. They don't look ahead and they can't know the inherent dynamics of the roaster. I certainly don't know the answer today, but I somewhat understand the scope of the problem. Trying to learn to roast on FrankenBehmor turned out for me to be an exercise in frustration and I've finally just given up and started buying coffee. But it did teach me a lot about the struggle and problems to be overcome. It's certainly not the easiest roaster to try and automate. It might be possible but the since the control inputs lag by what seems like minutes it was unbelievably frustrating and ultimately not worth the effort. Also our business picked up and my time was worth more not roasting coffee.