Roaster Comparisons

darrylr

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Jan 26, 2005
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Hi everyone, I'm researching roasters to use for a small mail order operation I'm planning to run. I'd like to pick a small shop roaster that will be pretty automatic to use and easy to maintain and will give the best possible results. Hopefully those requirements aren't self-contradictory! So far I'm getting info on the following models (listed low to high price)

Cafe Roaster (aka Sonofresco or Coffee Kinetics roaster)
Delaware City Torrefattore
Ambex YM 2
Diedric IR 3

Does anyone have comments on the pluses and minuses of these models in terms of performance, ease of use, and maintenance effort? Or, can anyone suggest questions I should be asking to makers to help draw a comparison? Are there other makes/models I should consider?

I've already submitted questions to the makers on installation and maintenance requirements, but to really get a sense for how well these machines work and compare to each other in practice some user feedback would be the most helpful. I'm most concerned to pick a machine that will give the highest possible roast quality and consistency.

Regards,
Darryl
 

LiftOff

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Nov 3, 2004
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Arizona
I have had experience with both the Ambex & the Diedrich and they are very good at what they do. As for the others on your list, I've never used any of them, so I can't say.

What is the price difference between the least expensive & the Ambex?

I should also say that the customer service, support, you get from Ambex
is first rate!

Hope this helps.
 
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darrylr

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Thanks Liftoff. In your experience would you say the Ambex and Diedrich roasters are pretty comparable, or is one superior to the other in features, performance, or maintenance?

Regards,
Darryl
 

LiftOff

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Nov 3, 2004
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Arizona
Darrylr...yes both the Ambex & Diedrich are comparable in the sense that each does what it is designed to do & does it well.

Both need to be kept clean & maint. performed as spec'd by the manufacturer. Other than that it boils down to a preference, each have their own quirks, as a user you might find you like certain traits of one & not the other.

You will be spending a lot of time with whatever machine you decide to go with, so I might suggest trying to familiarize yourself with each machine. Give Ambex & Diedrich each a call & ask for a list of roasters in your area using their machines.

If that doesn't help let me know & I'll see what else I can do for you.

Good Luck!
 

BeanGrinder

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Aug 11, 2004
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North Georgia, USA
Darrylr:


There is a similar thread going - I encourage you read some of those comments.

I have both the Sonofresco (sold exclusively through Monster Coffee) and the Ambex YM-2. As a beginner in roasting and needing to supply my small coffee kiosk, the Sonofresco was great. Having said that, I have to say that I now have the Ambex roaster and wish I had put my money there to begin with.

The first point I would make is that it takes four times as long to roast using the Sonofresco as it does the Ambex. The YM-2 can roast anywhere from 1/4lb to 5lbs per batch. The Sonofresco requires an exactly measure 1.3lbs per batch. Any more or less and the airflow is thrown off. I've also found different beans have different results based on their size and weight. Then there is the flavor of drum vs. air roasted coffee that must be considered.

The bottom line is this...the Ambex is a traditional roaster that gives coffee a depth of flavor that air roasting doesn't seem to achieve. The air roaster is convenient and roasts your 1lb of coffee with the push of a button, but it lacks the ability to finesse the roast. As one user of the Sonofresco roaster explains, he circumvents the roasting profile by setting the roaster on its highest roast level, then shutting the gas off when he feels the beans have achieved the desired roast. That is because it uses pre-set time and temperature to achieve different roast levels.

The downfall I see in the fluid-bed roaster is that it measures the temperature of the air as it exists the roasting chamber/chaff collector. In order to match the roasting profile, it controls the heat (on and off) for a timed period to achieve the prest level of the roast. This can be greatly affected by outside air temperature. So, roasting in a temperature controlled environment (such as a shop) with little change in temperature and moisture, will give more consistent results. You still have to work around the finesse, and you might find that you lack the caramelization that gives drum roasted coffee more depth of flavor.

So, I use my Sonofresco as a backup now, but really all of my roasting is done in the Ambex...especially the special blends we sell.

I don't know where you are located, but come over for a visit - I would be glad to give you time on both roasters to get a feel for them.

-Steve
 
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darrylr

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Jan 26, 2005
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Hi Steve, thanks greatly for your reply. So far I think I've narrowed my search to either the YM 2 or the Diedrich IR-3. I'm still hoping a few other people will chime in with opinions.

Have you tried roasting batches around 1lb in your Ambex? If so do you find the results to be good or does the roaster need to run closer to full capacity for best result? I'll usually be roasting closer to the low end of the capacity range than the upper.

Thanks for the invite to stop by. I'm in Washington State but if I'm ever in your area I'll drop a line.

Regards,
Darryl
 

topher

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Aug 14, 2003
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Boca Raton
darrylr,
I used to have a ambex 2 kilo(sold it to steve...didn't have time to play with it) I have roasted all the way down to 4 oz on that thing...I miss it :cry:
 

BeanGrinder

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Aug 11, 2004
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North Georgia, USA
Darrylr:

Don't listen to Topher - he doesn't miss the YM-2...he has one exactly like it only 5 times bigger! All kidding aside, this is one well-built roaster. I would recommend you try to visit a roastery and get some hands-on experience with them if you can - that way you can feel the features you like and don't like. With airline tickets as cheap as they are, it would be worth a couple hundred bucks to spend a day getting your hands on the roaster before you shell out thousands.

-Steve
 
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darrylr

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Thanks Steve, that's a good suggestion. I'm in the Puget Sound area of Washington State so I may be able to find a local roaster who has one, otherwise I'm sure Terry at Ambex can suggest someone not too far away.

Darryl
 

Sinister703

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May 31, 2004
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Windsor,Ontario
Hey Darryl, Im sure Terry will be at the SCAA conference in April this year also, he lugs a YM 2 to conventions, so you'll be able to see one there. Its really well built!
I just got the 10 kilo in this week! Now I just gotta hook it up...stay tuned!

PS its a really solid, beautiful machine too!
 
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darrylr

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Hi Ron, thanks for the suggestion. I spoke to Terry on Friday and he also mentioned he'll be at the April conference. I'm planning on attending though I may well be able to make the roaster decision before then. So far the Ambex is looking like the stronger of the contenders and I'm considering possibly their 5 kilo model instead of the 2 kilo. Lead times on both are shorter than I would have guessed--4-8 weeks depending on the model. I think Topher had to wait months for his.

Darryl
 

Sinister703

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May 31, 2004
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Windsor,Ontario
Hi Darryl, I had to wait a few months for my 10 kilo also, but Id rather wait for this machine than get another. I researched a LONG time before I got my machine, and heard many, many positive comments on the Ambex roasters. The wait was for bodies to get made, but sometimes they have extras in stock (so I was told) and you can get them faster if they have any extras in the size you want.

The 10 kilo was only $2000 more than the 5 kilo, and when you consider shipping is the same, hookup costs are the same, etc, I think it may be wiser to get the 10 kilo - you save bout 1/2 your labour making the same amount. I also think the 10 kilo is a great size for resale, but unless your really lucky :) you probably wont outgrow it in the near future. Kepp in mind that you can roast up to about 85% of the max rated weight, in the case of the 10 kilo, thats about 18-19 lbs green coffee, which ends up to be approx 15 lbs roasted coffee. This amount was suggested by the people roasting and Ambex and elsewhere, in short, so you get proper airflow and consistent results -its not a good idea to completely fill the roaster to max rated weight of coffee.
Anyhoo, something to consider, good luck!
 
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darrylr

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Hi Ron, thanks for your suggestions. I've started looking at the 5 Kilo Ambex for some of the reasons you mention, as opposed to the 2 Kilo. I haven't done as much research on the Diedrich yet but I'm calling them this week to go over some of my questions. So far it looks like both makes are highly respected. In my research so far I have already found some things about the Ambex that I really like. I spoke to Terry last week and today and he was super helpful.

Darryl
 

Coffee Guy

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Oct 19, 2003
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Seattle,Washington USA
Hey Now! I've come back from the mountain side to visit my earthly friends only to find that's there's someone in my own back yard wanting to talk about the Diedrich Roaster... :lol:

I know Topher has used both Ambex and Diedrich so I know he has some great words of wisdom to share with you. I on the other hand have not used an Ambex, but I can speak to you about the Diedrich, and I'm located in Shoreline about a 30 minute drive from the ferry just north of the UW. I use a Diedrick IR 24, and it's a great machine and very operator friendly. Their tech service is second to none and I know everyone at the manufacturing plant personally from the president to the office people oh yeah and the techs.

You can either pm me directly and I can tell you how to contact me locally or you can respond back here if you'd like. In any case I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the Diedrich roaster...

O.K. I've done my good deed for today, time to go hit the juice...

Shut up Topher :twisted:
 

lachris

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Aug 7, 2008
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Kentucky
YM-2 fractional sized batches

Topher - tell me about your experiance roasting small batches on the YM-2. 1/4 lb, 1/2 lb, 1lb. I'm interested in drop temps and gas settings and any other good info I can find.

Thanks, :D

lachris
 
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