Exploration Of the Hottop Characteristics I: Introduction
Posted on 02/15/2020 8:52 AM
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Joined: January 19, 2020
I have looked around a bit on this forum, and really have not found much detailed information or experience with the Hottop here. I have read postings from the last few years but not found very much to help me.
So, I have decided to do a somewhat "scientific" study of the Hottop, specifically my Hottop Programmable Roaster KN-8828B-2K+.
There is a lot of random information about fluid bed (popcorn-popper) roasters, gas-flame roasters, commercial roasters, and frankenstein creations with barbecues and old Ronco ovens, etc.
This information will be specifically about the more recent Hottop, but since the older ones are structurally similar, it should apply fairly well to them, if you just keep in mind that the controls are what are mostly changing.
The concept of the Hottop is a convenient home-roasting machine with some of the perks of a commercial roaster.
It has an electric heating element, similar to the old Alpenroast models, a controllable fan that extracts fumes and helps control the environmental temperature, a rotating single-wall drum, and two exit chutes (one for the normal drop and one for an emergency drop in the event of loss of control of the machine), and a very nice cooling tray with a rotating stirrer. It also has a front panel display that shows the environmental temperature and "bean temperature," from data gathered by two thermocouples, and controls that allow the user to set the heat level and fan speed. The 2K+ has an integrated "auto" program that can be used to do an OK roast safely without user intervention. This roaster does not allow for controlling the drum rotation speed, as far as I can tell.
There is a "driver" for the Hottop Programmable Roaster KN-8828B-2K+ built in to the free Artisan software, and that is what I will be using to explore this machine.
By the way, I am not just starting out with the Hottop. I have done quite a number of roasts in the last 3 months that I have owned it. I have done 1/2 lb roasts, and I did a series of roasts as small as 130 kg.
The primary difference between a roaster like the Hottop and a gas-flame roaster is the control of the environment.
The heating element in an electric drum roaster like the hot-top does not instantly change temperature. It takes some time for the change in voltage to change the temperature of the element. In addition, the maximum temperature of the heating element may be somewhat lower than that of a gas flame.
So there is a lag between "requesting" a higher ET and getting that temperature, and of course, requesting a lower temperature (turning down the heat) also has a lag. If you had the element on high for a minute or so, if you turn it off, you will of course find the ET continuing to increase for a number of seconds.
What this means is, in order to get superlative roasts from the Hottop, you must plan ahead.
Now that I have described the basic operation of the device, I am going to proceed with some experiments to get a better understanding of the response of the machine. As a side benefit, I will be describing how I get the Artisan software to control the machine. I have not found, anywhere except on quick clip on youtube, an adequate description of how to repeat a roast using Artisan.
So, for my first experiment, I have decided to do a "sand-box" roast with no beans in the roaster, make that a background profile, and then see what has to be done to repeat this roast, again with an empty roaster, exactly.
This will be the subject of my next posting.
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