How Much Work Can A Probat L5 Take?

aeneas1

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Mar 22, 2005
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hello folks!

what a great forum you have here! if i can't find the answers to my questions here, i'm not sure i can find them anywhere :grin:

here is my sitch: i own a cafe for which i purchased an l5 some 10 years ago. my plan was to a) roast for my cafe's coffee and espresso business needs b) bag and sell 1lb packages to my customers and c) create a buzz by roasting during cafe (food & beverage) business hours for the benefit of my curious customers.

unfortunately i never had the time to fully commit to roasting and never ended roasting much at all - i ended up usually just roasting on weekends to attract customers... as a matter of fact, i stopped roasting completely about 3 years ago and had decided to sell my roaster at the beginning of the year.

well things have changed and i am now motivated to commit to coffee roasting once again - but, before i do, i was hoping that some here might be able to tell what is the absolute max batch output i can expect from my l5 without killing it! assuming, of course, that it is meticulously maintained...

when i was roasting (many moons ago), i believe that the actual roast time per 5k batch was about 7 minutes once the roaster was heated with an additional 5-10 minutes added for cooling.

so my questions are as follows:

- can my l5 be run every day?
- what is the max amount of hours per day it can be run?
- how much time must be allowed between batches?
- how much cleaning/maintenance is required between batches?
- roughly how much propane is used per hour of roasting?

if my very unprofessional calculations are correct, i am guessing that 4-5 batches per hour would not be out of the question. assuming 5 batches per hour and ignoring shrinkage for the moment, that would be roughly 25 lbs per hour, 100 lbs per 4 hours and 200 lbs per 8 hours...

am i dreaming? are these numbers crazy? if they are not crazy, could my l5 handle this amount of output 5 consecutive days a week (1000 lbs/wk) assuming a thorough machine cleaning/maintenace was scheduled on the 6th day?

i'll stop here and hope that some might find the time to share their opinions...

robert
 

topher

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Aug 14, 2003
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I think you are mistaken...there is no way you got 4-5 batches per hour...more like 3 and if you are killing it you might get the 4 started..
 

ralphshade

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Jul 28, 2004
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Madison, WI
Probat L5

I learned to raost on an L5. 3 batches an hour was about average, so figure 33 lbs per hour. Before I graduated to an L15 we were roasting 10 hours a day, five days a week, for a weekly production of around 1500 lbs. Never had a problem.
 
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aeneas1

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Mar 22, 2005
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thanks very much for your replies guys... very much appreciated.

i spoke with a couple of folks at probat/burns this morning and was told that the l5 should have no problem producing 4 batches per hour assuming a cooling time of 3.5-4 minutes which they said was all that was required (when i was roasting i was cooling for closer to 6-8 minutes).

since my post here, i have logged more than a few internet hours researching roasting times and it appears that, depending on who you talk to, they can range anywhere from 6.5 minutes to 15 minutes. i had a very nice conversation with a master roaster (who uses a 25 kilo roaster) who said that he never roasts for less than 10 minutes and likes to achieve 12 minutes for most of his roasts.

ralphshade:

since you have experience with the same roaster i own, i found your response especially helpful. i'm glad to hear that my machine is the workhorse that i thought it was as evidenced by the 10 hour/5 days a week roasting schedule you put yours through. if you don't mind, could you please let me know what sort of cleaning and maintenance you did during the week?

again, thanks very much guys...

robert
 

ralphshade

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Jul 28, 2004
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Madison, WI
L5 Maintenance

We vacuumed and brushed out the chaff chamber and the area under the cooling tray on a daily basis. When we were in really heavy production we would vacuum out the chaff chamber after 4 or 5 hours, just to keep the volume of chaff manageable. We also cleaned the screen of the cooling tray while we were roasting, it was an efficient use of time while waiting for the first crack, when we didn't have a roast cooling. We also used the cooling tray for blending when it wasn't in use. One of the most important things to do on a weekly basis is to clean out the pipe leading to the fan and brush the fan free from chaff as well. There should be an access to the pipe straight back from the access door to the chaff chamber. On a monthly or more frequent basis you'll want to remove the cooling tray and brush out the cone underneath, it collects a layer of chaff as well. Finally, every six months or so you'll need to brush out your exhaust chimney. It's a pretty simple process, and the brushes aren't expensive, but you may want to hire a chimney sweep depending on your setup. Good luck!
 
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aeneas1

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Mar 22, 2005
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ralphshade:

i just cut, pasted and printed your excellent post - i especially liked your recommendations regarding the cooling tray, i.e., cleaning while roasting as an efficient use of time as well as also using it to blend while roasting...

thank you very much for taking the time to put together such a thorough and helpful response - it is very much appreciated!

robert
 

RoastingGuy

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Mar 1, 2005
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hour/roasting time = roast per hour

Normally you can roast and cool at the same time. You only need to calculate the roasting time to know the batch/hour. L series Probat roaster is able toast all the day all the week. For sure you need to maintenance it. But the cooling is supposed to be shorter than the roasting. If you need more info PM me.
 

topher

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Aug 14, 2003
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I have used Probat in the past...I used the L25. It was a nice machine...cleaning was a headache though. If you want to clean under the cooling bin you have to dis-assemble the bin....what a pain!! Yes it was a work horse but I am using an Ambex and it also is a work horse...and a fraction of the cost. The longest day I put in on it was a 21 hour day...that wasn't fun but I got my work done! Now when I say I worked 21 hours that included set up and clean up....as well as breaking half way through production to clean the chaff collector....also I can clean the whole thing in half the time of the probat. :wink:
 
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aeneas1

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Mar 22, 2005
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"Normally you can roast and cool at the same time. You only need to calculate the roasting time to know the batch/hour."

actually, i'm not sure this is correct... if memory serves me, you can't roast and cool at the same time (with the l5, at least) because the flue needs to opened once the beans are ready to be dropped and cooled and it needs to be closed when roasting...
 

rollman

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Feb 28, 2005
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L-5

I would contact Probat for a copy of the operation Manual on the machine.

The L-5's I have not had a lot of, but they can start a batch while the other is cooling. If yours is roasting to fast it could be needing some work but the machine is worth fixing! They are a very good machine and will bring twice the money used as some other machines will bring new because the are so well built. Did Probat build tanks at one time?
 

Uber1000

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Jan 9, 2013
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I know this is a very old thread, but Robert asked a question that I am trying to find the answer to.

"roughly how much propane is used per hour of roasting?"

Say I'm roasting 3 batches an hour, what is the weight of propane used on average.
I'm just looking for a ball park figure to do some initial costings. If anyone can give me any idea that would be great.

Thanks!
Kate
 

CoffeeJunky

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Dec 7, 2012
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Michigan, US
depends on how much you are trying to roast and also the different roaster would require different propane output.... Some of the roaster use different heating system.....
 

Uber1000

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Jan 9, 2013
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Ah, I thought I said, the roaster is an L5 Probat.

I'm trying to work out the cost of running the machine, so the hourly propane usage based on 3 batches of 11kg per hour would be perfect.
The hourly usage might not be a figure people have to hand, so if anyone roasts on an L5 and can give me the typical propane usage in a week, that would be really useful to me.

Any help appreciated...
 

topher

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Aug 14, 2003
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Boca Raton
Have you contacted Probat directly? Here is their info...
PROBAT BURNS Inc.
5334 Republic Drive
Memphis, TN 38118
USA

Phone +1 (901) 363-5331
 

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