New Shop Roaster -Ambex vs Toper vs Diedrich + New vs Used


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Jan 19, 2008
Cocoa Beach, FL
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I'm outfitting a new coffeeshop without breaking the bank and am looking for a good roaster. 5K-10K running Natural Gas. I've talked with the Ambex folks. Toper seems to be popular and I've seen some used DIEDRICHs and Primos. If you were opening a new shop and had to live with your choice for a few years while learning, what manufacturer and model would you choose? Which ones handle small batches for experimentation best?
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I'm ripping this from a forum on another site becasue it seems like good info:

There is a whole range of avenues you could take.

You will find most companies that make roasters spend lots of time money and research on larger copacity roasters, i.e. 60kg plus copacity. This is obviously because this is where the money is for them. This is unfortunate because I believe the only way to achieve the highest level of quality in the cup possible every day in an espresso bar is to have an in house roaster. But what it does mean is that whatever small roaster you buy in order to get the most out of it you will have to tweek it, so hopefully you have a mechanical/engeneering type mind.

You can find if you look little roasters for as little as $2000 on ebay, then theres offcoarse installation costs. This option could prove profitable for someone with extensive roasting knowledge and new how to tweek it to get the most out of it.

Then theres cheap Turkish roasters such as Toper, benefits:- Cheap. Shortfalls:- Flame directly on drum, and drum not perferated which causes too much conductive heat which results in extensive scorching and tipping; Vey low effeciency which results in roaster not being able to effectively roast its designated capasity i.e. a 30kg toper will probably effectively roast 15kg no more, this is caused by small flame and the metal casing surrounding the drum doesnt hold the heat well so you lose a lot of heat around the sides and bottom of the drum. Again with a lot of skill and knowledge a good roaster can achieve a half decent result with a toper.

Old faithful you might call her, any one who knows anything about roasting will know this name, mostly because theyve been around for at least 40 years.
Popular in Italy where they are still doing things a bit old school, not so popular in Aus, NZ and Scandanavia where thers a bit more creativity and invetivenes going on. I don't know a lot about there technical aspects but I do have friend who visited there factory overseas and he wasn't impressed by them.

Brombati (not sure if this spelling is right)
Seem pretty popular in Aus
The salesman for them is a guy named Danny, I forgot his last name. But i am pretty sure he has fairly extensive knowledge and is quite helpfull.

Petrichini (not sure if this spelling is right)

Flame on drum in smaller models, flame incased in a large kiln type box well below drum in larger models. Great heat effeciency. Dean Morgan from Morgans Handcrafted Coffee brings these in and is great at teaching.

American roasters made by Joper very forward moving and inventive.

American roaster, and another very popular name amongst roasters, also very expensive. Has infra red discs below drum, no flame. This is to achieve more convective heat and heat effeciency.

Just remember some cheaper roasters look attractive because they are cheap, but their heat effeciency isn't great so in the long run you spend more money on gas than you would on say a Detriech, Probat or Joper. The price of these is more in the beginning but the long term cost is lower.

Scottie ... 1157248025
Renegade does not use Joper as a base anymore. They are built from the ground up in San Diego. Great machines, not for beginners. You'll drive yourself nuts trying to roast for the first time on one of these.

U.S. Roasters Corp. is another nice machine made in the US with US parts. Dan is a nice guy, worth checking out.

Ambex are solid machines, long history of good service and training. Lots of people get their starts on Ambex

Diedrich machines are great as well, good service and training and not really more expensive than any of the other American/German made roasters. Different approach to roasting with the IR system, once you get behind you'll never get back on profile...

Joper is a great company, Portuguese I believe. A few people have had a hard time dealing with the US rep.

W.Roure makes great machines, Spanish with a perforated drum and a really nice jet burner system. Not a "starter" machine. Dan from US roasters imports these.

Probat is solid and the L series or "probatone" as they have been renamed is built like a brick outhouse. Built in Memphis, longer lead times are common and if you can find an old refurbished pre 1996 model you'll get an even more solid machine.

Samiac is another solid brand.

I have only used toper a few times and have not found them to be to my liking. Erratic and unpredictable and really hard to control airflow.
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I'm looking at a used Deitrich pretty seriously. Are they really much more efficient then direct heat? I think I read a quote somewhere of 40% more efficient, if that can be believed.

Any thoughts on Primo? How are their IR systems? Other than a comment from Topher about noisiness I haven't found much good or bad.
"Different approach to roasting with the IR system, once you get behind you'll never get back on profile... " this is very true. Especially the older model. Older Diedrich is not efficient. I don't like to go much over 15 pounds on my. I heard the newer one is pretty good, but I have no first hand experience with newer IR-12. Newer IR-3s that I tried has plenty of heat to do full batch.
Think about having an under powered 4 cylinder car full of NFL linebakcers inside trying to merge into a 75 mph highway. If you don't have an early start building up the speed, even if you put the metal to the pedal, you still can't get up to speed. If you have a Maserati on the other hand...
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Uhhh, are you saying that the IR elements take longer to get up to roasting temps than the gas burner therefore they do not achieve the same initial profile?

ElPugDiablo said:
Think about having an under powered 4 cylinder car full of NFL linebakcers inside trying to merge into a 75 mph highway. If you don't have an early start building up the speed, even if you put the metal to the pedal, you still can't get up to speed. If you have a Maserati on the other hand...
The IR heating system is best thought of as gentle and even, that said if you adjust the airflow and/or reduce the energy input too much you can easily fall behind your desired profile. The response time of the IR system does not allow you to catch up. The most common roast defect with a diedrich is baked coffee, the most common with a probat is internal scorching.

You can develop and maintain profiles with Diedrich machines. They provide extremely consistent results.

In capable hands Diedrich machines can produce exceptional coffee. Ecco Cafe, Vivace and Metropolis Coffee have a long track record on Diedrich machines. Interesting to note, all three of these guys made their names on espresso which requires a slower, more drawn out roasting process.

I've roasted on Diedrich, Probat, Gothot, Ambex, Renegade, US Roaster Corps, W. Roure and Sivetz air roasters. Mostly on Probat and Gothot which are tanks and overbuilt in every single way, including burner capacity. It is very easy to roast too quickly on these two, an opposite but equally significant problem to the slow recovery time of a diedrich.
I''m an italian engineer and I build coffee roaster machine and other equipment related with coffee, hope I can help you with some considerations about machinery.
Please accept my apology for my english that is very poor.
First of all I do not consider the IR an improvement or good substitute of gas burner. Gas burner as well need to be setting by skilled people or risults may different when you roasting coffee from batch to batch or slow process, even high consuptions of fuel.
Brambati and Petroncini may provide some good equipment but costs are huge also if you need further service
About Dietrich and Probat I dont have great feeling, honestly I dont like.
However in order to make a good evaluation of your investment these point are very importants.
1 Low fuel and electrichal power consuption- There are machinery that recycling warm air with a great benefit in terms of roasting process costs.
Lots of machinery does not mach this part.
2 Installation and extra parts. Some manufacturer does not provide the whole equipment and you will need some extra money later.... chaff collector(cyclone), destoner, predisposition for outlet pipes ..... So install your equipment it may be more expensive too.
3. Service availability in case of trouble.
4. Pollution, smoke ect.. pay attentions to this point it may be a trouble and after-burners and installation are not free of charge.
5. Safeties If you dont know roaster equipment (some) may fire up in some cases...easily
So if you are able to find supplier that meet those point well is a good one.
I dont work for Italian machinery supplier I''m living in Thailand, I advice you without personal intrest and I do not promote my machine''s so feel confidente... I had seen lots of situations and different equipments there are few nice machine built also in your Country problem is about the price I dont know if meet your possibilities.
Well, Sasa samiac has long tradition in roasting machine, and this is an advantage but I dont know their equipments.
Those GE10 and GE30 looks good but it still an old view of roasting process machine.
May be they want build cheap solutions probably is matter of final price. Those guys for sure are capable to do much better.
As you can see they are not so different from Toper machinery.
Please do not think that I'm here in this forum just because I want "infamize" manufacturer around the world. Those companies are in this market for many years and they have my respect any way.
I only want advice with a technical point of view.
Restrictions and law about smoke and atmospherical pollution become more and more tight, are you sure you will not face with trouble when you buy this type of machine? How it will the final cost to fix those problem with after burner or other solutions? How much fuel you will need only for those after burner? Monthly running costs ?
I have seen something about mini roaster that electrical power supply is 2 time then what I require for power up my machine which is 10 times capacity. those concept are nice even smokless but I will never ever trust this way expecially in this time where all countries are talking about saving energy and improving new energy power resource.
Sorry I did not answer you.
According to Sasa web side there are not description about the construction. There is and heating chambre were warm air is generated and blowed in to the drum - what material is used for this eating chambre- refractory stainless steel ? (I dont think so) warranty time limit ?
Chaff collector is an option or supplied with the machine?
All conductive pipe to transfer air are insulated and preserve warm and save energy (I dont think so)
Motor controll has fix speed or can be adjusted?(will be good)
To preserve mechanical parts there is a kind of soft start for the drum rotation motor
The cooling unit where the coffee is unload after process does not release smoke opened in this way?? any possibility to close it, with a wide gate (door) on top monitored by sensor wich disable the mixer arms for safety.
Then of course there are other questions related to roasting process most important, costant temperature curve between batch to batch,
3 to 5 seconds to rise 1 C degrees till the setting temperature.
The last 3-4 C degrees can be slower if there is a air flow control valve or gas burner may controlled (more difficult)in order to obtain this.
Some roaster prefer to have this opportunity expecially those italians that are following an old tradition.
As you can see I still have no answer but much more questions, roasting coffee is not a game to play for fun and our investments has to be done with a certain awareness.