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HotTop VS Gene Cafe it may be time for a new roaster
I've grown tired of fighting my current roaster setup, I really would like a new roaster. I still haven't figured out my thermocouple issue.

In doing some research, I found these two roasters and saw that used HotTops can go for around the same as a Gene Cafe. Ideally I would spend less than $400, even that will take some fuzzy math and selling some stuff to support the habit, I mean hobby.

I like the idea of the HotTop being upgrade-able and being able to measure BT. Is there anything that the GC does better than a HT? I would assume chaff collection is easier with the GC and venting as well with the new chaff collector.

Is parts availability really bad for GC? Is upgrading a HT difficult?

I think if you go through the forums you will find answers to your Gene Cafe and Hot Top questions.

There is a huge amount of information on upgrading the Hot Top and if it is easy or not; basically it depends on your skill level and money.

The Gene Cafe has some issues that always come up and I think that will also get those questions answered.

Some members get tired of responding to the same question over an over so you may not have too many takers on your queries about Hot Top v. Gene Cafe.

I understand Ginny, I actually answered my questions last night after posting by looking on the device specific forums and I am leaning toward HotTop, but it would require selling some other luxury items. I'll raise the funds and in the meantime I will keep an eye on the trading forum and eBay.
Gene Cafes are currently distributed by an outfit which insists on doing all repairs and will not sell parts. If you're planning on purchasing a DIY project, don't buy Gene.

The Gene is a fluid bed/drum hybrid which transfers energy with a mix of convection and conduction; while the HT is a perforated drum electric which transfers energy through radiance, conduction and convection. As a result, they have different taste signatures. The Gene is a good overall roaster which does an especially good job with coffee's top notes (fruits and florals). The HT is good at bright roasts, if not quite as good as the Gene; but significantly better with the low note flavors like chocolate and nuts.

The Gene is barely OK at cooling. The HT is excellent.

Neither roaster can batch roast. Although with some user kludging, "resting time" between roasts can be reduced well below their respective manufacturer's recommendations. If you're interested in roasting more than 1kg per session, neither is a good candidate.

They're functionally equivalent for adjustment during roast. But when the HT is modded with thermocouples supplying real time information, the ability to adjust means a lot more. On the other hand, the Gene is more responsive to adjustment.

The HT can be modded to do all sorts of things which the Gene cannot.

Neither is agile enough to allow the user to make major changes in real time. That is, both require a greater degree of proactive planning and "going with the flow," than a "real" commercial quality drum roaster -- although the Gene is better than the HT in that respect.

Each is more than good enough to work as a sample roaster for defects and finish levels for a commercial operation. But the HT -- because it can be modded with thermocouples -- is more useful for developing profiles which will be used in a bigger roaster.

Gene's are good for sight, sound, smell profiling -- more than good enough for home use; but not capable of the sort of sophistication or consistency of an HT, which counts for a lot in the home too.

Bottom line:
They're both good roasters, but the HT brings more to the table.

Edited by boar_d_laze on 01/06/2014 12:12 PM
USRC 1lb Roaster, Chemex+Kone, Espro, Various FPs, Royal Siphon Vacuum, Yama Ice Drip Tower, Bunnzilla, La Cimbali M21 Casa, Ceado E92.
Randy G


boar_d_laze wrote:
They're functionally equivalent for adjustment during roast.

The semantics of "functionally equivalent" aside, it has been quite some time since I had a GC here, but comparing the GC to the Hottop "B" model, the B has heat control of 0 to 100% in 10% increments and fan speed control of 0 to 100% in 24% increments. If I recall, the Gene has no fan control and only binary heating control. Has that changed?

Life's too short to drink bad coffee.


If I recall, the Gene has ... and only binary heating control. Has that changed?

If by " binary," you mean "off and on," the "two knob" Gene was never binary heat. Heater control comes from adjusting the target temperature with the rotary dial. I can't recall the range of adjustment off hand, but it's substantially more than "absolute zero" or "surface of the sun."

The most common strategy seems to be setting the Gene to full and lowering the target temp at 1stCs in order to control Development. However, as I understand it, you can dial the target temp up or down during the roast if that's your heart's desire. This may be crude compared to the HT's heater control, but the Gene responds with less momentum by virtue of its greater airflow (which is binary).

You might want to take a look at SM's Gene pages. Dave (Boldjava) knows a lot about the Gene. Maybe not as much as you know about the HT, but more than I know about either. On the other hand, I did use a HT for three years and am not completely ignorant.

There are many wonderful things about the HT but quick control over RoR is not one of them.

As high-end home roasters, the Gene is good, and the HT is substantially better. But at some point, the difference in quality becomes a difference in kind so let's not confuse the amount and/or type control either offers during the roast process with a "real deal," professional roaster.

Edited by boar_d_laze on 01/06/2014 6:00 PM
USRC 1lb Roaster, Chemex+Kone, Espro, Various FPs, Royal Siphon Vacuum, Yama Ice Drip Tower, Bunnzilla, La Cimbali M21 Casa, Ceado E92.
I was leaning toward the HT because it is more serviceable and parts are more available, but I noticed a lot of activity in the fluid bed forum and I am thinking I might be more inclined to build my own.

I also noticed lately in roasting with my first roaster, the whirley pop, that the profile is completely different than my modded poppery. I like that fluid bed taste that I got with the poppery and that would point me toward the gene in that it is more of a hybrid, but I know that it is hard to monitor temperatures in the gene, so I would only get frustrated and if I'm going to spend that much money, I might as well have complete control and mod-ability.

I don't know if I would feel comfortable modding a HT that cost me the high end of three figures.

I really would like to roast between .5lb and 1.5lb in a fluid bed with re-circulation possible in a variable fashion. I will start a thread for it once I have a better grasp on my vision. Thank you all for your input, it has guided me despite the fact that I probably will build my own roaster next rather than buy either of the above mentioned units. In particular the last paragraph of the last reply by BDL in which he describes a difference in quality being a difference in kind of roast rather, was very helpful.

if you decide on the Gene or Hot Top I would go Hot Top for sure..


you can build a Kosmo, Jack like roaster that may give you just what you want.
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