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HotTop 2k+ as Sample Roaster?
TimPiazza
HI folks, I'm a new member here.

I'm interested in opening a small volume craft roasting business, producing ~500 pounds per week. A 3-6 kilo roaster is in my future. I'm a former espresso shop owner and have been buying micro-roasted beans for my decade-old Expobar so I'm not going into this entirely blind. Locals in my community consider me to be a coffee expert.

While I'm putting together the business plan, looking at locations, ordering equipment and getting everything lined up, I'd like to start developing my roast profiles. Ideally, I'd like to use a HotTop 2k+ as a sample roaster.

Will the 2k+ roasting profiles scale to a 6kilo roaster? In other words, can I develop a profile at home, then go into the roasting house and use that profile to produce the same result in a larger quantity?

If no, what are the obstacles?
 
turtle
Hottop are unique unto themselves. You would not have an easy time porting a profile from one to a commercial roaster.

you would be better off purchasing a sample roaster from the same manufacturer that you will be purchasing your commercial roaster from.
Mick - "Drinking in life one cup at a time"
"I'd rather be roasting coffee"

Roaster 1: San Franciscan SF-1
Roaster 2: Hottop B-2K+
Roaster 3: 2 kilo Chinese drum
Grinders: Mazzer Major - Forte BG (x3)
Pour over: Hario - Bee House - Chemex - Kalita - Bodum
Drip: Bunn CWTF15-1 & CW15-TC (commercials)
Espresso: Pasquini Livia 90 auto
Vacuum: Cona - Bodum
Press: Frieling - Bodum Colombia
 
Randy G
DISCLAIMER: I WORK FOR HOTTOP

In the past we have sold quite a few of the older models (B and B2-K) to customers as sample roasters. They are in use in South and Central America as sample roasters on small farms and processors where gas in not always available but electricity is. One was used in Hawaii to create the first all-Kona espresso blend. At $1600 retail the B-2K+ is not cheap, but it is very capable of profiling and it has been shown to be very consistent roast to roast.

Now, with an electric roaster you can profile successively but you can't expect any 250 gram capacity roaster, and particularly one that is electric, to be able to behave like a gas roaster, and particularly one that has a capacity 24 times larger. What it can do is allow you to create a number of different saved profiles in Artisan that can be used over and over to run the B-2K+. This can help you find a profile for a specific bean or lot or blend that works when cupped. It would then be up to you to manually "translate" that to the gas roaster in a form that emulates or copies what you found on the Hottop. How to do that will depend on the roaster you choose and what level of control it affords.

I do not think you can find a small roaster off the shelf at the Hottop's price point that can do what the B-2K+ can.

I do not get paid from roasters sales, and I am just trying to make the point that the "+" is the first roaster we have sold that can profile on a temperature-priority basis which is critical.

Compare what else you have found and contact me over at Hottop USA and I would be glad to discuss it further with you. I will say that our roasters are not warrantied for commercial use. Although they are user-repairable, and parts are readily available, it is a point to consider.

MODs: Feel free to delete this message if it is out of line, and no hard feelings nor explanation required.

Life's too short to drink bad coffee.
 
turtle
I was never able to port any roast profiles made on my modified hottop to my 1 lb San Franciscan. More than likely the issue was more me than the hardware. Just saying
Mick - "Drinking in life one cup at a time"
"I'd rather be roasting coffee"

Roaster 1: San Franciscan SF-1
Roaster 2: Hottop B-2K+
Roaster 3: 2 kilo Chinese drum
Grinders: Mazzer Major - Forte BG (x3)
Pour over: Hario - Bee House - Chemex - Kalita - Bodum
Drip: Bunn CWTF15-1 & CW15-TC (commercials)
Espresso: Pasquini Livia 90 auto
Vacuum: Cona - Bodum
Press: Frieling - Bodum Colombia
 
TimPiazza

Quote

turtle wrote:

Hottop are unique unto themselves. You would not have an easy time porting a profile from one to a commercial roaster.

you would be better off purchasing a sample roaster from the same manufacturer that you will be purchasing your commercial roaster from.


Is it reasonable to infer, then, that you think a profile created on the 500G gas-powered North Roaster from Mill City would port to their 3kg and 6kg roasters?
 
TimPiazza
I'm sure it's apparent at this point that I have never roasted coffee in a popper, or with a heat gun. I've never operated a commercial roaster, or hung out on the roaster forums. Other than buying micro-roasted beans from all over the USA and pulling shots, I'm about as green as they come. I do appreciate your views on all of this. Keep it coming, and if we are rehashing old info, please feel free to point me to the appropriate thread. http://forum.homeroasters.org/images/smiley/forumsmiley2265.gif

Quote

Randy G wrote:

What it can do is allow you to create a number of different saved profiles in Artisan that can be used over and over to run the B-2K+. This can help you find a profile for a specific bean or lot or blend that works when cupped. It would then be up to you to manually "translate" that to the gas roaster in a form that emulates or copies what you found on the Hottop.


That is what I had concluded based on my own research. My thought was that the B-2k+ would provide a good testing platform to create an initial profile and then adjust single variables to better understand their effect on the roast.

This would only teach me about the bean, not tell me how to achieve the same result on the larger roaster.

Given that, what % of the effort goes toward understanding the bean and what % goes toward sorting out how to hit that target with a commercial roaster? Breaking that down could be a deciding factor because the B-2k+ provides a data-driven process where single variables can be tweaked, while working with a small sample size. But if the learning curve on a gas roaster is still massive (even knowing the target) I might be better off starting out with a 500G gas roaster and paying my dues.

Quote

I do not think you can find a small roaster off the shelf at the Hottop's price point that can do what the B-2K+ can.


No argument from me. The new USB feature is a home run, as far as I am concerned. I sure like the idea of a data-driven process. Too bad there's not a 3kg HotTop. :-)
 
TimPiazza

Quote

turtle wrote:

I was never able to port any roast profiles made on my modified hottop to my 1 lb San Franciscan. More than likely the issue was more me than the hardware. Just saying


Turtle, looking at your experience so far, if you were starting out today, which roaster would you choose to start with?

Tim
 
turtle

Quote

TimPiazza wrote:

Quote

turtle wrote:

Hottop are unique unto themselves. You would not have an easy time porting a profile from one to a commercial roaster.

you would be better off purchasing a sample roaster from the same manufacturer that you will be purchasing your commercial roaster from.


Is it reasonable to infer, then, that you think a profile created on the 500G gas-powered North Roaster from Mill City would port to their 3kg and 6kg roasters?


I would contact Mill City directly and ask this question of them.

If you are serious about starting into commercial coffee roasting you should give yourself as much advantage as possible so that your venture succeeds.

Set aside enough capital so that you get the tools you will need when you start as there will enough headache and heartache without introducing them.

.
Mick - "Drinking in life one cup at a time"
"I'd rather be roasting coffee"

Roaster 1: San Franciscan SF-1
Roaster 2: Hottop B-2K+
Roaster 3: 2 kilo Chinese drum
Grinders: Mazzer Major - Forte BG (x3)
Pour over: Hario - Bee House - Chemex - Kalita - Bodum
Drip: Bunn CWTF15-1 & CW15-TC (commercials)
Espresso: Pasquini Livia 90 auto
Vacuum: Cona - Bodum
Press: Frieling - Bodum Colombia
 
TimPiazza
Just to wrap up this discussion, I had a great conversation with Mill City Roasters. They were leaning me toward the 1kg roaster, reasoning that I could pay for it with the beans I would roast. I still felt the 500g capacity was more appropriate as a sample roaster, as 2lb roasts would be wasteful during my learning phase.

Also, the 3+ month wait time means I wouldn't even start getting hands-on experience until sometime in August.

So I picked up a HotTop B-2K off eBay for a good price. It already has K type thermocouples installed along with a Phidgets board to log data in Artisan. It also takes the least expensive upgrade kit to turn it into the 2k+, should I decide to go that way. I get to start roasting in a week or so. I'm confident that the HotTop will provide a good "boot camp" experience.

Then once I'm ready, I'll order a 2kg roaster, which offers a 25% improvement in value based on price/per pound capacity over the 1kg model. It's small enough of a roaster to put in a garage I built for my motorcycles (not riding anymore), or in a trailer if I decide to become a "food truck roaster". With a (my calculation) 500lb/week operating capacity, it allows me the opportunity to build my clientele before making a lease commitment, and hopefully enables me to build enough revenue that I'm comfortable opening a commercial operation with a larger roaster in a more desirable location with retail potential.

Thanks, Randy and Turtle for your insights. It was all helpful in getting me to this point.

Tim
 
turtle
You will enjoy using the hottop. I still take mine out for a roast or two every other once in a while.

Get yourself a small stand with wheels if you want to roast outside. That way you can keep it set up to cut down on your set up time.

I've used a couple carts with mine from a large one to a small antique typewriter stand with fold up "ears"

i1066.photobucket.com/albums/u414/turtle-web/food/coffee/Hottop/6-25-2015_cart_zpskjcua8hl.jpg

i1066.photobucket.com/albums/u414/turtle-web/food/coffee/Hottop/HT_outside_6-4-2014_zpsc8331e2c.jpg
Mick - "Drinking in life one cup at a time"
"I'd rather be roasting coffee"

Roaster 1: San Franciscan SF-1
Roaster 2: Hottop B-2K+
Roaster 3: 2 kilo Chinese drum
Grinders: Mazzer Major - Forte BG (x3)
Pour over: Hario - Bee House - Chemex - Kalita - Bodum
Drip: Bunn CWTF15-1 & CW15-TC (commercials)
Espresso: Pasquini Livia 90 auto
Vacuum: Cona - Bodum
Press: Frieling - Bodum Colombia
 
TimPiazza
You have a nice setup there.

My situation is a little different. I live in a log cabin, there isn't any storage to speak of in the kitchen (or elsewhere). I'll be roasting in my woodworking studio, since I have temp and humidity control, ceiling-mounted ventilation, and plenty of horizontal surfaces, including a couple of rolling cabinets.

Once I sell the Indian and the motorcycle lift it sits on, I'll set up a "coffee roasting facility" in the bike crib. I've been hanging onto that bike too long. It's time to get rid of the beast and repurposing the space is just the incentive I need. :-)
 
turtle
Never leave your roaster unattended while in operation. Even for a second.

Every roaster I have purchased was involved in a major roasting fire before I owned them.

A good, well charged, fire extinguisher is a wise addition.

Just a heads up
Mick - "Drinking in life one cup at a time"
"I'd rather be roasting coffee"

Roaster 1: San Franciscan SF-1
Roaster 2: Hottop B-2K+
Roaster 3: 2 kilo Chinese drum
Grinders: Mazzer Major - Forte BG (x3)
Pour over: Hario - Bee House - Chemex - Kalita - Bodum
Drip: Bunn CWTF15-1 & CW15-TC (commercials)
Espresso: Pasquini Livia 90 auto
Vacuum: Cona - Bodum
Press: Frieling - Bodum Colombia
 
TimPiazza

Quote

TimPiazza wrote:

Ideally, I'd like to use a HotTop 2k+ as a sample roaster.

Will the 2k+ roasting profiles scale to a 6kilo roaster? In other words, can I develop a profile at home, then go into the roasting house and use that profile to produce the same result in a larger quantity?

If no, what are the obstacles?


Well, it's been about 10 days, and I think I can answer my own question now. The HotTop B-2k is a fine roaster, but there are some limitations. A gas roaster can get hotter, which influences how quickly you can build and recover heat. The drum of the HotTop is single-speed, which is fine given the small size of the drum, but larger commercial roasters offer the advantage of controlling drum speed to match the charge. A larger, heavier drum is going to heat more evenly, there is more turbulence in a small drum like the HotTop, which makes temperature measurements less precise.

However, I'm completely satisfied that the HotTop 8828B-2k is an excellent learning tool, especially once I upgrade to the higher output heating element, and will make a decent benchmarking tool with the + upgrade. For the present, I'm going to run with just a couple of k thermocouples and a Phidgets 1048 with logging in Artisan, but after I get comfortable with the machine, I'll do the + upgrade for the increased heat and bi-directional control.
 
TimPiazza
Just an update: I'm now driving the HotTop B2K+ entirely from Artisan, and finding it works great that way. This is still a manual operation, I haven't programmed any alarms yet, but I would really like to figure out how to automate a complete roast, from charge to drop/cool, so that I can produce multiple identical roasts. Yes, I could do this manually, but the idea of running a roast and tweaking just one parameter at a time in a controlled setting intrigues me. :-)

The quality of espresso I have been drinking lately has been exceptional!

Tim
 
alext

Quote

TimPiazza wrote:

Just an update: I'm now driving the HotTop B2K+ entirely from Artisan, and finding it works great that way. This is still a manual operation, I haven't programmed any alarms yet, but I would really like to figure out how to automate a complete roast, from charge to drop/cool, so that I can produce multiple identical roasts. Yes, I could do this manually, but the idea of running a roast and tweaking just one parameter at a time in a controlled setting intrigues me. :-)

The quality of espresso I have been drinking lately has been exceptional!

Tim


That is the combo I am using as well, B2K+ and Artisan - its great. Once you get started with alarm files you will find it quite easy to get repeatable results (even for a newbie like me). I found that outside air temp can throw off the first roast starting with a cold Hottop but proper warming corrects that. Alarm files were a little weird at first for me but after a few roasts I got the hang of them.
 
HoldTheOnions
Wait, they added all this computer stuff for extra $350 and you still can't control the roaster. Whaaaaaat?
 
alext

Quote

HoldTheOnions wrote:

Wait, they added all this computer stuff for extra $350 and you still can't control the roaster. Whaaaaaat?


You can control every function via Artisan or from the control panel.
 
HoldTheOnions
Ok thanks, guess I am misreading what they are saying, cuz that seems crazy to me.
 
TimPiazza

Quote

alext wrote:
Once you get started with alarm files you will find it quite easy to get repeatable results (even for a newbie like me). I found that outside air temp can throw off the first roast starting with a cold Hottop but proper warming corrects that. Alarm files were a little weird at first for me but after a few roasts I got the hang of them.


That's where I'm at right now, trying to understand how to set up an Alarm File to duplicate a successful roast.

I don't have a problem with the outside temperature, as I found a spot in my woodworking studio to set up the roaster. The studio is temperature and humidity controlled, and a filtration system to clear the smoke.
 
alext

Quote

That's where I'm at right now, trying to understand how to set up an Alarm File to duplicate a successful roast.


Can't you chart the old roast with power and fan and replicate power/fan changes in alarms? Or do you just have the temp curves?
 
TimPiazza
I really needed to sit down and figure out how to write an alarm program for the HotTop. I took a crack at it this evening.

I managed to create an Alarm file that provides a pop-up alarm for the charge, then runs a profile into 2nd crack and drops/cools. I roasted a 250g batch of Kenya in 2 sequential roasts, and while the automation sequence worked, I did run into a couple of glitches to work through.

Do you know how to, or if it's even possible to, set the states of the motor, door and stirrer at the beginning of an Alarm file? When I run a Drop from the alarm, it opens the door to the bean chute then leaves it open. This was a problem when I charged a roast and the beans dumped into the cooling tray. :-)
 
TimPiazza
In an attempt to answer my own question, I'm going to try setting the ON Event with a HotTop Command: heater(10);fan(0);drum(1);solenoid(0);stirrer(0)
 
Randy G
Somewhere on this forum I posted a link to a zip file with my alarm file in it that runs the Hottop +. It included the recorded and saved roast data as well so that you could load it as a template.

Life's too short to drink bad coffee.
 
JackH
Found it Randy.

http://www.frcndi...5files.zip

With your permission, we can add this to the downloads section to make it easier to find.
---Jack

KKTO Roaster.
 
alext

Quote

Do you know how to, or if it's even possible to, set the states of the motor, door and stirrer at the beginning of an Alarm file? When I run a Drop from the alarm, it opens the door to the bean chute then leaves it open. This was a problem when I charged a roast and the beans dumped into the cooling tray. :-)


Not sure about doing that in the alarm file or not. What I do is to close the program and restart everything between roasts to make sure the HT is in the correct state. I did have a situation where the door was still open when I charged it and the beans went straight through :)
 
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