Small vs Big Roaster - Page 2

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

I roast 2-3 100 gram batches in my Ikawa every weekend. I'm the only one here who drinks coffee. Like has been said before once you have a profile that works, you can pretty much leave it alone. I always have my IPad with the app up when roasting and wear headphones listening to music. The app stops music whenever the roaster needs attention so even if I wander around it tells me when to come back. It is astonishingly repeatable and easy to use one you have a good profile.

Capuchin Monk
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#12: Post by Capuchin Monk »

I use gas fired drum roaster rated for 400g which belongs in small category for drum type. 400g is the max batch recommended but works better with around 300g which I think is typical for roaster rating vs actual use. I was about to upgrade to a bigger roaster but after roasting blends (espresso) for a while, it dawned on me that I may be better off blending after roasting each bean to its own potential. So, rather than roasting 2 or 3 batches of 300g blends every 2 weeks, I now roast 300g of 2 or 3 single origin beans and then blend. So my small roaster stays. I think for home roasters, small offers better options unless it's a mini size like Fresh Roast.

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#13: Post by Jimmy_The_Saint »

I can't offer a full perspective as I've not used any larger home/micro-commercial roasters but I've found the Ikawa home perfect for home use.

I roast about 600g a week. Half filter and half espresso. I started out doing once a week which would take around 50 mins from setup to finished and tidied away but as I get through espresso quicker I now roast 300g twice a week which takes about 25 mins.

I'll typically roast a batch on the same day I finish drinking a bag to give 5 days or so rest.

I'm also limited on space to roast so to be able to just get the Ikawa out of the cupboard and roast next to a window for half an hour and tidy it straight back up is great. The fact the beans are cooled before ejection is also nice as it means I can just bag the beans up straight away.

If I ever end up regularly roasting 1kg+ per week I'd definitely switch to a Bullet or similar but for my needs the Ikawa is ideal. The coffee I've had from it is also fantastic.

Another bonus of the Ikawa is that you can kind of tailor the complexity of how you're using it. You have full 'easy mode' - buy Ikawa greens, scan qr code, run profile' through to using third party greens and building your own profile. You can also tweak recommended profiles as a sort of halfway solution which is what I tend to do. This means there's basically zero learning curve to get decent results.

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Brewzologist
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#14: Post by Brewzologist »

Jonk wrote: The main reason I sold the KL is that I never found a profile that could reliably roast light well, without venturing into the extreme. I enjoy light roasts but not waiting a month or two to find out if they taste good or still crap.
Thank you for the detailed post. If I were to summarize, you found the KL repeatable. But the process of roasting with the KL (Ikawa too) requires trying a profile and seeing what comes out, vs with a drum roaster where you can manually tweak the roast in real time to get an acceptable result. I get this by way of analogy having used a DE1 and a manual lever for espresso. I learned a lot from DE1's data, but found I could reproduce my favorite shot profiles on a manual lever too, with the manual lever being perhaps a bit more forgiving because I could more easily adjust during a shot pull than with the DE1.

Have you gone back to roasting light on the Quest then? Are you able to get better light roasts on it vs. the KL? (IMO many uber light roasts need a lot of rest regardless of the machine they're roasted on).
drgary wrote: I like the Ikawa because it'll allow me to do reliably good roasts of exceptional but expensive greens. If there's one green I particularly like on the Ikawa, I can reliably roast multiple batches back-to-back. I did that with a Haitian Blue Mountain that I roasted very light. It'll also give me a sense of how much development I want on a new green I plan to roast in my North 1 Kg propane drum roaster. I don't expect to create comparable profiles, but I should be able to decide on a roast level. The downside with a large roaster is that it extends the learning curve because with large batches, you don't get as many tries with a given coffee.
This is a good description of exactly what I have been thinking/wondering would be the benefit of adding a KL/Ikawa. But, when you say very light, do you have any numbers/comparisons? I am more of a light (not very light/nordic) guy so not necessarily looking for another roaster to solve that problem.
GDM528 wrote: I also wouldn't discount trying to understand and close the gap between fluid bed and drum roasting - just keep adding science!
Personally, I'm less concerned with closing the gap than appreciating how each roasting method might be used to highlight a particular coffee.

Milligan
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#15: Post by Milligan »

I have the Ikawa Pro 100, a Cormorant, and a USRC 5kg shop roaster. There isn't much to be learned on the Ikawa that translates to a drum roaster. The Ikawa smooths over any unique characteristic of how a specific coffee roasts. You'd never know a coffee may be, for example, susceptible to a crash after first crack start, needs more heat during dry, takes off half way through Maillard, etc. This is especially true using the exhaust temp profiles.

The Ikawa is great for what it was designed to do, trying many different greens at various roast levels and comparing between them for green buying purposes. This aligns well with a curious home roaster's desires of trying many coffees and experimenting with various levels of roast. Another benefit is being able to work with small quantities of many types of coffees without worrying about messing up a few roasts getting to know each coffee. For this reason, I think there is a lot to learn about coffees using the Ikawa, but not much to learn about the mechanics of roasting or manual thermodynamic control.

Move on to the Cormorant or USRC and one has to be able to control air flow, charge temps, be worried about ambient temps, turning point, delicate gas changes, monitoring ET to predict BT behavior a few seconds in advance, make changes 30s in advance to anticipate trouble ahead, crash, flicks, worry about scorching/tipping due to heat application versus coffee process/varietal, etc etc. There is SO much more to be concerned with when doing a gas/electric drum that it is practically a separate hobby altogether.

The major benefit to gas/electric drum is once one is hundreds of hours/roasts into their machine then they get to know it very well and will have a nice library of roasts to pull and iterate from. I personally don't feel as "connected" to the roast when using the Ikawa. At this point on the Ikawa I've found a good profile, load my beans, hit start, and walk away. I find I have a more passionate urge to play different phases, new gas profiles, new air adjustments, and such on my gas drum roasters. It's simply fun. It is also much easier to share 1lb roasts than 80g roasts :D

Briefly since the title is Small vs Big Roaster, the Cormorant and the USRC are different to work with but not as far apart as the Ikawa is from either one of them. Learning general things about a coffee on the Cormorant helps with moving to the USRC. I use the same probes so drop temps are roughly the same. However, the USRC is easier to be consistent on especially between different coffees. This makes sense because it has such a huge thermal mass that it smooths over coffees that want to behave weird on the Cormorant. The stakes are higher when I'm roasting 8lbs of coffee. Never a good thing to toast $60 worth of beans...
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Brewzologist
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#16: Post by Brewzologist »

Thanks Tim. Having used my current gas drum roaster for 6+ years, I know my rig well and agree with what you said about your drum roasters. I also have a plethora of previous roast profiles to draw from. But here is what I'd like to tease apart more on:

-- I get the Ikawa/KL doesn't teach roasting and will likely never be able to duplicate the nuances of a profile on a drum roaster. By definition they are largely controlled by a computer trying to hit pre-defined targets without much control/intelligence over the greens currently in the roaster.

-- But, on the other end of the spectrum, you can't really experiment much on a larger roaster without being willing to waste a lot of coffee and time.

So, say you get a new crop of a green in. Here's what I do:

I typically use a drum profile from my library that is close to the green and start from there. But since I'm not buying much coffee (just for my consumption), and the coffees I buy are more spendy, I don't typically do a lot of roasts with cupping afterward to dial the new green in. I get to "good enuf" and am usually happy, but then wonder if I am really getting the most out of the green. Hence the thought of getting a smaller roaster so I could try more roast levels and cup more before developing/tweaking my profile on the drum roaster.

It appears you use the Cormorant to dial-in for the USRC? So what role then does the Ikawa play in your shop?

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drgary
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#17: Post by drgary »

Brewzologist wrote: This is a good description of exactly what I have been thinking/wondering would be the benefit of adding a KL/Ikawa. But, when you say very light, do you have any numbers/comparisons? I am more of a light (not very light/nordic) guy so not necessarily looking for another roaster to solve that problem.
I didn't measure it with the DIY meter that I now have available. Here's what I wrote in the review:
drgary wrote:I tried Haitian Blue Mountain greens and roasted them as light as possible with short development, using the IKAWA legacy filter recipe for Brazil Sitio Matinha Filter. This was a wonderful melding of roast profile and green, where the very low acidity of the coffee worked well when roasted for low density greens. Because the acidity is low, I pulled it as an espresso. It has a creamy, buttery mouthfeel and is extremely well-rounded. The sweetness/acidity balance is like very mild apricots.
Gary
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What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

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#18: Post by Milligan »

Brewzologist wrote:Thanks Tim. Having used my current gas drum roaster for 6+ years, I know my rig well and agree with what you said about your drum roasters. I also have a plethora of previous roast profiles to draw from. But here is what I'd like to tease apart more on:

-- I get the Ikawa/KL doesn't teach roasting and will likely never be able to duplicate the nuances of a profile on a drum roaster. By definition they are largely controlled by a computer trying to hit pre-defined targets without much control/intelligence over the greens currently in the roaster.

-- But, on the other end of the spectrum, you can't really experiment much on a larger roaster without being willing to waste a lot of coffee and time.

So, say you get a new crop of a green in. Here's what I do:

I typically use a drum profile from my library that is close to the green and start from there. But since I'm not buying much coffee (just for my consumption), and the coffees I buy are more spendy, I don't typically do a lot of roasts with cupping afterward to dial the new green in. I get to "good enuf" and am usually happy, but then wonder if I am really getting the most out of the green. Hence the thought of getting a smaller roaster so I could try more roast levels and cup more before developing/tweaking my profile on the drum roaster.

It appears you use the Cormorant to dial-in for the USRC? So what role then does the Ikawa play in your shop?
I primarily use the Ikawa to roast green samples sent to me by green suppliers. They typically send 250g-1lb of coffee to sample depending on the supplier. I usually do a medium-light roast first and quickly weed out the bad. Then with what is left I'll do another round of roasts where I roast the beans to their intended roast level depending on where I'm wanting to slot the beans in my offerings. When the beans I decided to buy come in I'll do a few roasts on the Cormorant to get to know them, share them with my tasters, and decide on a final roast level. Then they move to the USRC which I've developed a few roast profiles that I tweak depending on what I found on the Cormorant. I also adjust the phases and drop temp as well. I tend to iterate over the next few roasts to make it "perfect."

I do use the Ikawa sometimes to play with personal higher end greens that I only get small amounts of. I wouldn't want to send the only pound of $30 Geisha through the Cormorant hoping for the best so I divide it into smaller roasts on the Ikawa. For example, I had Hacea's Cherry Madness on the shelf for a couple of months that I was looking forward to and finally had time to roast it. I decided to put it through the Cormorant and use a nice light-medium profile that I thought would work. I dumped the beans in and started roasting. Instantly the TP was too low and it was struggling to take off. I applied more heat and it still wasn't recovering well. Finally around dry end I realized Hacea changed their small bag portions from 454g to 500g. I had 10% more beans in the machine than I realized. Totally threw the roast off. I should have used the Ikawa! Even if I had made a dumb mistake on the Ikawa and ruined a roast then I would have had several more to try :oops:

I wouldn't say I use the Cormorant to dial-in the USRC to a fine degree. It helps me be informed about how a certain coffee may react, what roast level to target, how much gas it may need, etc. It gives me some base line idea of the coffee that I can translate to my USRC. As I've said, the USRC is more forgiving than the Cormorant so I find a lot of times I don't have any trouble areas like I may have had with the Cormorant.

I think I could find a solution that would fill the Ikawa's purpose for much cheaper. Like the Kaffelogic. If I had to do over again in today's market I'd likely go for an Ikawa Home or a Kaffelogic since I'm really just using it to compare greens for purchasing decisions and not trying to maximize their flavor potential on those. With the savings I'd replace the Cormorant with a heavier unit like a MC 500g/1kg or Arc800. I find the Cormorant to certainly be more geared toward a home user than someone like me that uses it quite a bit. I'd like it to be more thermally stable (heavier drum, heavier build, etc.)

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#19: Post by GDM528 »

Brewzologist wrote: -- I get the Ikawa/KL doesn't teach roasting and will likely never be able to duplicate the nuances of a profile on a drum roaster. By definition they are largely controlled by a computer trying to hit pre-defined targets without much control/intelligence over the greens currently in the roaster.

Yeah, about that 'intelligence' thing...

Once I added an exhaust humidity sensor, it delivered me a wake-up call on what's happening during the roast. The higher-end small-batch roasters will tout their precision - which is true - but once you drop in some new greens they can take over your best-laid plans.
Single Origin versus Single Varietal

So, using a roaster that does exactly what you program it to do, doesn't necessarily diminish the art of roasting. It's just done differently. It appears that in addition to different batch sizes, smaller roasters tend to be faster, to the point where making mid-roast adjustments are impracticable. I choose the profile in advance, just let it play out, and make adjustments for the next roast. If anything, it's a calmer, more meditative way to find your favorite roasting profile.

Even at 12-15 minutes, piloting a drum roaster on the fly still sounds very challenging to master. I wonder: do drum roaster pilots drink coffee just before roasting coffee?

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#20: Post by GDM528 »

Dunno if they've already been pitching this, but those precision small batch roasters could be used to thermally characterize the greens prior to running a large batch roaster - an alternative method compared to measuring green hydration and bean density. The small batch roast results from a characterization run would likely be undrinkable, but the data could be useful to inform the roasting plan for larger batches.