Bbq > sf6

poison

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Aug 31, 2012
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Yeah, I've been roasting for 8 years on the BBQ drum, at LEAST 20k lbs, 2 lbs at a time. I've roasted at all hours, in all weather. My coffee has been in the gift bags at the Oscars, imbibed by celebrities (perks of my day job, I have access to them), and in general gets great feedback. But as you guys know, consistency is difficult. Every gust of wind, temp change, etc, affects the roast. I've lost 2 wholesale accounts because of it.

So finally, I'm about a week away from taking posession of a spanky new San Franciscan 6lb roaster. It's coming with all the bells and whistles: ability to log with Artisan or similar, air flow damper (which is new), bigger fan, and ability to add an additional fan for separate cooling needs (making it a continuous roaster). It's matt black, with hammered brass. It's gorgeous.


I drove up to Reno last Fri to train in on the 6. Mine wasn't quite ready, so I used someone elses that was sitting there. I spent 4-5 hours learning about the machine, maintenance, cleaning, and of course roasting. I got the handle on the basics of different profiles, and the general idea about what to do when. I apprenticed for 2 years on a Diedrich IR12, but that was 10 years ago, I haven't touched a commercial roaster since, and of course the SF is not a Diedrich. It was incredible to have a trier handy, to have two accurate sources of temp, to have accurate gas control, to have a mufuggin chaff cyclone (no more 'pthew, ugh, ahh, chaff in my eye!')....Ah, man.


Someone important recently asked me "what's your 'why'?", when asking questions about what I do. The question kind of took me aback, and I just looked at him and said: 'Remember, 20k lbs 2lbs at a time. What good reason would anyone have for doing that? I can promise you it wasn't for the money, because it's not there. There's only one good explaination. What is it?'.


"Because you love it."


Yeah, man. I've come so close to taking a sledgehammer to the BBQ so many times, you know, when I already worked a full day at my day job, it's 1am, I have to get up at 6am, it just started raining, and I blew a roast. I've thought of quitting. But I stuck in there, the new roaster is coming, and I'm ready to knock it the hell out of the park.
 

BuzzRoaster

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Feb 20, 2012
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Congratulations on your new purchase. First let me say BBQ roasting is not for everybody. Secondly, and I hope I don't incur the wrath of any BBQ roasters out there but, most are doing it completely wrong. At least in the sense their setup and execution is flawed.

Roasting on a BBQ grill is naturally prone to inconsistency due to differences in ambient temps and wind conditions. Now let's think about this logically. Why is this? It is because a gas grill has more holes than a fine Swiss cheese.

I learned early on that the key to consistency is more control. In order to gain more control over my roast I needed to seal all of the holes in my gas grill. A little sheet metal goes a long way. Sealed up properly, with a small hole in the bottom for intake and a small hole at the top for exhaust, my BBQ produces very consistent results.

With the addition of a digital thermocouple I am able to monitor my temps and actually profile my roasts. A speed controlled computer fan on my intake acts as a fine temperature control while my burner control is the course adjustment.

Using this method allows excellent control over my roasts. I can produce consistent results time after time.

My roasting business has grown exponentially over the past few years for no other reason than that I roast a product that is "consistently" good and is every bit as good as coffee roasted with professional equipment.

My intention is not to anger anybody, only to defend BBQ roasting. Admittedly, my business has grown so much that I may have to give up the BBQ in favor of something with a little more capacity.
 

JumpinJakJava

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Dec 12, 2011
389
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Thomaston, CT
Way to go Poison! Congrats. Been there and done that with a modified electric roaster, outside in the winter in a garage tent. Had to wait for the 30+ degree days with sun to roast.I should have taken pictures back then(around 199:cool:. Insulated the housing of the roaster, and lights at night. Hated the dechaffing. Did well over a 1000 roasts that way and learned a lot about coffee. Best results roasting 2lb. 10 ounces of green. Tried to keep the roasts under 20 min. I do miss the bees hovering around in the summer months(yellow jackets & bumblebees), the spice in the Aceh Sumatra at about 11- 12 minutes brought those creatures around. Seems they got intoxicated with the coffee aromas! Ha! Ha! I do love my 10k propane roaster now! Do not miss the smoke whirling around at times on those darker roasts or dumping the drum and having it ascend straight up into my face, certainly do not miss the chaff all over me. My wife would laugh at times, when I came in with it on my hat and hair etc. But for me, there is one thing that I really miss.
The aroma!! I know you get it dumping into the cooling tray, and checking the trier, but for me it is not the same.
 
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poison

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Buzz, hold up! I was not disparaging BBQ roasting. I will put my coffee up against anyone's, anytime. Many customers prefer mine to the very well known and loved 3rd wave micro roasters. In addition, I'm pretty sure roasting blind, by clock, sound, and smell only, has given me a lot of experience I wouldn't have had otherwise. We'll see how it translates to the sf. As far as consistency, regular customers never notice, but I do, and 2 cafes have, mostly because the more experienced, and have coffee from the previous batch to cup the new batch against. ImDon't roastting right now... It's windy, and it sucks, not much more to say.

Ong of my challenges will be matching my current profiles, or figuring out how to best them. A perforated steel drum with very low airflow has little to do with an sf6. Fortunately, the sf6 has control over almost every variable, so I'm sure I'll make it happen.

Jumping jack, great success story there! I'm faithfully following in your footsteps... Thanks to everyone else, too...

Oh yeah: screw chaff!
 

Redswing

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May 30, 2013
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Northern California
i've been roasting on an sf6 for two months now. gone through about 150 lbs of green. after a few years on the whirly pop then behmore. the more i roast with the sf6 the more i love it. super consistent. i just can't imagine (actually i can) not being able to see 1)bean, 2)ambient, and 3)exhaust temps, + 4)having fantastic heat control. just need more air control. last night, i tried a 50% capacity roast to see how it would progress, and if it hadn't been for the bean temp probe, i would have totally blown it, but i saw the roast shooting along and dropped the gas off, waited for the climb to steady out, and reapplied heat at a significantly lower level. drew the roast out to a similar profile to what i would with a full batch.
also, replicating a great profile is a no-brainer (almost a let down it's so easy). if i charge the beans at the same temp, apply the same heat, i can watch the temps climb at nearly identical tempo every second of the roast.
one last praise for this little roaster comes from a fantastic coffee shop i've been working with, who are kind enough to help me in tweaking a couple SO profiles. they can't believe a guy with my experience is roasting this kind of coffee. their big time supplier isn't wowing them any more than i am. i'm just going off some of willem boots suggestions and cupping against other coffees.
all this to say, i'm a believer in buying a sweet little roaster like the sf6. (no, bill kennedy didn't ask me to say any of this...)
i'm excited for you, poison!
 
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poison

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Sf can supply a bigger fan, as well as an air flow damper (but it sounds like you want more air, not less). I'm getting both.
 
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poison

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Someone we know works for an ad agency. He contacted us about participating in an ad campaign for a large corporation, some time ago. It took a while, but here's the result, it just hit the net today:

iam_billboard_04.jpg


iam_billboard_01C.jpg


Avery I Am My Business Branding and Merchandising Case Studies Page | Avery

iam_04_westcoast-story.jpg


Pretty cool!
 
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expat

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May 1, 2012
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Ireland
Man, after hearing all those inspiring stories of y'all working all night on less that optimum equipment and doing it for the love make me feel like a loser since after a bit of stove top roasting we just went out and bought our 10kg roaster.

I often think that 'passion' is such an overused throw-away word in the coffee business. Everyone and their dog in the coffee business seems to be PASSIONATE about their coffee. Somehow I don't think that's true . . . but I'd say you folks are truly passionate. All the best!
 

PinkRose

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Feb 28, 2008
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Near Philadelphia, PA
Hi poison,

Very Nice!

Who came up with the words . . . . "Their mission is to provide jaw-droppingly good coffee"?

I may "borrow" that someday!

Rose
 
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poison

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Thanks, pink rose! I've used that before, but I don't think I ever told the ad agency that. Either they were creeping my little corner of the Internet, or read me like a book.
 
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poison

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Haha, thank you! The logo and stuff are the same, but instead of hand stamping and scrawling in my chicken scratch, it'll be easier and look better. I would post pics of the current setup, but I'm on my phone. Oddly many people like that I hand write the origin and roast date now, but too bad for them, my hand will be much happier! Avery did give me some labels, but the whole thing requires some adobe program to format and print the labels. It's a fairly pricey program, and I haven't bought it yet. I hope to get these up and Rollin in the next week or two.
 

PinkRose

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Feb 28, 2008
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Near Philadelphia, PA
Hi Poison,

It looks like this thread wandered off in a totally different direction.

I was going to try to move your ad-campaign post to another location, but I was afraid of losing it.

I think it's something that our other members would like to see, but it's hidden within this Bbq > sf6 thread. If you want, you can post it again in its own thread (perhaps in the Business to Business area?)

Rose
 
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