Small vs Big Roaster

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

I'd like to see opinions from those who have used really small home roasters, such as the Ikawa and Kaffelogic, vs larger home roasters, such as the Quest, Huky and Aillio. I see a lot of interest here for those smaller roasters lately.

I've consistently moved up in roaster size from SR500 to Quest M6. I generally roast enough coffee for a week to 10-days; with the SR500, this was quite a few batches, while with the M6, it is only two. I roast before I run out, to give the roast time to off-gas.

So, with an Ikawa, does one roast every day or two? Does one stay ahead of the need for coffee to allow for off-gassing? Or, does one do a bunch of back-to-back roasts, like I used to do with the SR500?

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Brewzologist
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#2: Post by Brewzologist »

Timely post. I've been pondering this too. Hope you don't mind me also asking those with drum roasters why they've added/moved to smaller roasters like the Ikawa/Kaffelogic? Here's why I've been considering adding a Ikawa/KL alongside my drum roaster:

A) To enable easy creation of small batch roasts so I cup and experiment more than I currently do.
B) To explore differences in roasts from an air/fluid bed roaster versus a drum roaster.

I'm NOT looking at an Ikawa/KL as a way to create profiles I can apply directly to larger batches on my drum roaster. More as a way to continue learning. (If money were no object I'd get a Roest!) 8)

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baldheadracing
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#3: Post by baldheadracing »

Ikawa allows for automated back-to-back roasts; so while one still has to be attentive during roasting, once one has a profile that one likes, then there is no need to think about roasting during, ah, roasting more of the same green. It is a different experience - but keep in mind that ventilation is still needed.

I still have my iRoast2, but I only use it for cupping roasts. Everything else is roasted in the Bella Taiwan 1kg. The Hottop and Coffee-Tech sit unused.

While I had the Ikawa unit for review, I did not compare roasts between the Ikawa to the 1kg as I didn't think that it would be a reasonable comparison.
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CarefreeBuzzBuzz
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#4: Post by CarefreeBuzzBuzz »

How well do these "small" roasters translate into a drum roast of a larger batch?
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baldheadracing
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#5: Post by baldheadracing replying to CarefreeBuzzBuzz »

I would say about the same as riding a motorcycle translates into driving an F-350 dually towing a multi-horse trailer. The roads are the same; the rules of the road are the same; the inputs do all the same things ... but everything may seem different.

ETA: Substitute a smaller truck for a smaller drum roaster. For example, I've heard that the Mill City 500 is pretty agile.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

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drgary
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#6: Post by drgary »

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.
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What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

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#7: Post by Jonk »

I was going to write a TL;DR but instead I'll just apologize for the lengthy post :oops:

I used a Kaffelogic Nano 7 for one year. I liked that it made roasting convenient. Little to no warm-up (or cooldown) required, you don't need to tend to it at all during roasting unless you want to mark first crack and end the roast at a specific DT/DTR. Most of the time I just let it run to a specific temperature instead. So before the Quest can even pre-heat properly I could've already roasted 3 to 5 100g batches and put it away. There's a moderate amount of smoke/smell, but much less.

This led me to roast about as many batches in a year that I did with the Quest during the 4 years prior. It's also good for experiments with things like rehydration, as you can follow more or less the same curve (FC will shift), which would be very difficult to do with the Quest. Before buying a Quest I had been roasting for 10 years in ovens, popcorn machines, heatguns, skillets and a Behmor 1600 with varying results. After eventually installing TCs in the Quest I could finally match two roasts closely, but not close enough to taste identical.



Above are 8 roasts of the same greens in the KL. As you can see there's some variation, even though smoothing is applied (the thermocouple is in a very noisy environment). I didn't cup all of them side by side, but the ones I did were indistinguishable from each other :!: the outlier marked with arrows being the only batch roasted as first in a session (The KL lacks a pre-heating function and for some reason the first roasts tasted noticeably worse in my trials, even though the chamber is only 10C warmer than room temperature for subsequent roasts).

Nevermind the overshoot and wonky RoR curve the first 2 minutes. It's due to calibration / user input, before the PID is able to correct. To me this was a tasty, fruity medium roast at 15% weight loss. The 7 fully automated batches ended the exact same second, using roast level data from the first batch that was stopped 2 seconds earlier by me. It's not perfect and not every profile will behave like this, but I'll never be able to replicate this with the Quest.
Nunas wrote:Does one stay ahead of the need for coffee to allow for off-gassing? Or, does one do a bunch of back-to-back roasts, like I used to do with the SR500?
I've long felt like a weirdo for enjoying cupping right after roasting, often I'll even enjoy that first cup the most :roll:
Was a bit relieved to read Scott Rao writing:
https://www.instagram.com/p/CyyW-t-LV_S/ wrote:-many roasts taste pretty good right out of the roaster
in a recent post.. even though he continues with:
-the next day the coffees taste "okay"
-the coffees often taste unremarkable for several days after that
Either way, I believe it's not only about palate but also about the roaster and profile used. Extremely light roasts taste like crap even the first day, without fail. 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.

With the Quest, as long as I've started with a good amount of heat it's usually possible to get a decent roast the first try, allowing the beans to 'dictate' the profile.. It could turn out to be say a 7 minute roast or a 9 minute roast, if it tastes fine I'm not complaining. It feels like automated roasting forces the beans and that can mean much more trial and error to find a suitable profile. Several times I'd given up, blaming the beans, only to find them tasty with the Quest or even a crazy manual profile on the KL (meant for fan calibration). I wonder if Ikawa's input profiles could be a better middle ground.

On the other hand, allowing the beans to run free is perhaps not usually a good idea for medium<->dark roasts where declining RoR post FC is more challenging, so that was easier on the KL.
Brewzologist wrote:B) To explore differences in roasts from an air/fluid bed roaster versus a drum roaster.
I'd say it's more like exploring the differences between two specific burrsets, not the old (fairly useless) conical vs. flat. I mean there's a difference even from Quest M3 to Quest M3S and likely even a substantial amount from unit variation.

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drgary
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#8: Post by drgary »

I've found a way to enjoy coffee right out of the roaster, and that's to grind it extremely fine and brew it using the Turkish method, in a cezve.

How to prepare Turkish coffee
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GDM528
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#9: Post by GDM528 »

I suggest expanding the scope of the question beyond just the batch size of the roaster. The ecosystem surrounding the roaster may dictate the right answer on a per-user basis - unless the ecosystem can adapt...

My initial impression with the IKAWA Home was that the batch size was ridiculous, but then I started adapting to it. For example, I've switched from storing roasted coffee in jars, to using ziplock bags on a hangar. Cheap, disposable, labeling-friendly, and easy to push out excess air after dosing. I've even tweaked roast level on the fly to make small adjustments when my extraction time started to drift (yes, I know my grinder has a dial for that). Key point here is you can make roasting adjustments insanely fast and run a hundred roasting experiments per year if you're so inclined.

My relationships with my coffee-loving friends has also improved: They don't live in fear that I'll foist a pound of some crazy new origin on them, and I don't feel any pressure to be their freebie artisan roaster. My IKAWA has become my excuse-roaster.

If one's consumption rate is low, a roasting session every week or two may not be a big deal. I can roast about 500g in less than an hour, including setup and teardown time.

I also wouldn't discount trying to understand and close the gap between fluid bed and drum roasting - just keep adding science!

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yakster
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#10: Post by yakster »

GDM528 wrote:I can roast about 500g in less than an hour, including setup and teardown time.
That's pretty respectable. It takes me longer than that roasting on the Aillio Bullet with warm up and cool down times added.
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