Sample roasting on a 3 kilo?

nickwin

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Sep 25, 2013
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I am in the process of setting up a small specialty coffee roaster, and was hoping I could get a little advice from someone with more experience. My business plan is to sell retail online and do a small amount of wholesale locally. In other words I am talking about a very small scale operations. I've been looking at 5 kilo production roasters because I feel that would be an ideal size for me. But, I would certainly need a smaller sample roaster to go along with the 5 kilo for sampling and profiling. I'm starting to wonder is a 3 kilo could serve double duty as a sample roaster and shop roaster as it would be about half the price as a 5 kilo + sample roaster.

I'm pretty sure that a 3 kilo would be big enough for me to start out on production wise, but my question is, is it really too big to use as a sample roaster for a small operation like I am doing? Is anyone sampling roasting on a 3+ kilo machine (1 kilo min batch) that could share there experience? As far as I can tell most green importors are providing samples of 1 kilo, so I could roast that sample on a 3 kilo machine, but I would only get one go at it so to speak. Whereas on a 1 pound US Roaster or San Franciscan I could do multiple profiles of each 1 kilo sample.

FYI the 3 kilo in question is the Joper 3 Kilo. If anyone has any experience with that machine, or with Joper in general that would be great to hear as well.
 

eldub

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I have a 12 kg machine that can roast a pound at a time. I'd be surprised if a 3 kg roaster could only go as low as 1kg batches. The trick, imo, is to roast sample batches when the roaster has't had time to get too hot.

As far as I'm concerned, a 3 kg machine is a sample roaster.
 

peterjschmidt

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Milwaukee, WI
The trick as eldub alluded to is knowing your roaster well enough to compensate for small batches; whether it's fully warmed up, how it reacts to airflow, having your temp probe adjusted so it reaches a smaller bean mass.

I roasted for years with a SC/TO (Stir Crazy/Turbo Oven... google if you're unfamiliar). Two of them will roast 6-7 batches per hour, net me that many samples or 4lbs. I currently only use them for samples. So, while they will follow any profile, they don't necessarily carry over exactly to the way I roast full batches on my Ambex. But, if you're only looking to roast/cup samples, something like that would serve you well, and then you'd develop profiles for your shop roaster after committing to full bags.

Also did you mean your samples are 1lb, not 1kilo? The importers I work with send out either 8oz. or 1lb. samples.
 

CoffeeJunky

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Love these expert roasters. lol

I just got some beans from Bixa.
They are all 1/2 pound package.
I hate roasting 1/2 pound.... I just can't seem to get good roast on my drum bbq roaster.
 
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nickwin

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Thanks for the responses guys, this is exactly why I ask first. I'm certainly not an expert, just diving into the coffee world so to speak.

I've only dealt with one importer and they do 1 kilo samples but you guys are saying .5-1 pound is more the norm, wouldn't that be even more problematic on a 3 kilo? My concern would be with constancy. I know you CAN roast .5 pounds on a 3 kilo but I guess my concern is whether you can do that easily with consistency and repeatability. I understand 3 kilos is a very small roaster in the scheme of things but is a 1 pound sample roaster not going to roast a half pound of coffee more consistently and evenly than a 6 pound roaster? Is it just not a big enough issue to warrant the extra cost? I appreciate the input!
 
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eldub

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Bingo! I don't think it's a big enough issue to warrant the extra cost. How consistent do you really need to be with sample roasts?

I've developed great relationships with a couple of importers. We usually purchase beans without ordering samples ahead of time. Specialty beans sell quick enough that if I wanted to roast and evaluate samples from the best lots our importers receive, the lots would generally be sold out between the time I ordered the samples and got back to them to place a real order.
 

poison

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Yeah, I've had that issue with one big broker in oakland: I'll order samples, cup them, find one I like, and call them, only to find they sold out in the week between them mailing them out and me calling them back. Ugh.

There are very very few places I'll order sight unseen. I like to cup them. But yeah, it's going to be very hard to roast samples on a 3kg. I'd get a coffee tech 2kg, or quest.
 

peterjschmidt

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Milwaukee, WI
There is a member at another coffee forum I belong to, greencoffeebuyingclub.com by the name of Steve Green who is importing North Roasters from China. He bought one direct (his wife is Chinese and could help w/ the language barrier) and seeing that they are well built and the manufacturer is willing to adopt design changes per his requests, Steve decided to start a business solely for importing the North roasters.

More info here; http://www.greencoffeebuyingclub.com/index.php?topic=16743.0 You may not be able to view that w/o registering...

For the price, it may be worth looking into. There is a group-buy shipment already in action, so I don't know how quickly you could get your hands on one, if you decided to go that route. I also recognize that more and more people are developing an aversion to buying more and more stuff from China.
 
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nickwin

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There is a member at another coffee forum I belong to, greencoffeebuyingclub.com by the name of Steve Green who is importing North Roasters from China. He bought one direct (his wife is Chinese and could help w/ the language barrier) and seeing that they are well built and the manufacturer is willing to adopt design changes per his requests, Steve decided to start a business solely for importing the North roasters.

More info here; Login You may not be able to view that w/o registering...

For the price, it may be worth looking into. There is a group-buy shipment already in action, so I don't know how quickly you could get your hands on one, if you decided to go that route. I also recognize that more and more people are developing an aversion to buying more and more stuff from China.

Thanks, I will certainly check that out. I wouldn't say I have an aversion to buying stuff from China, but in my experience even though products from China might be less expensive up front, there not always a better deal in the long run… They certainly can be though. I'm open to all possibilities.
 

Dan

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Feb 27, 2012
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Israel
The FZ-94 by Coffee-Tech Engineering does 100 grams and up to 2.4 Kg
you might want to consider that
 

chast

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MA
Paul Ribich, from Roaster Dynamics in Florida, has a 1.25 sample roaster. All stainless steel construction, Watlow controller. I checked it out at the SCAA show in Boston. Price is reasonable. Quality is excellent. All USA parts and assemby!
11505_431955953545420_1552603314_n.jpg
 

Hankua

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Nov 11, 2011
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Jacksonville, FL
I'm just a hobbyist but sample roasters and profile roasters are totally different machines. My local guy ran a 12k with a GeneCafe for years. Profiling needs to be done on the big guy with production size roasts; unless you get matching profile/production machines and have very very deep pockets. My little sample roaster runs $3500 plus shipping and fees and that's on the low end of pricing. You can roast samples on a Gene or Behmor and skip the sample roaster in the beginning, just my opinion.
 
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nickwin

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I'm just a hobbyist but sample roasters and profile roasters are totally different machines. My local guy ran a 12k with a GeneCafe for years. Profiling needs to be done on the big guy with production size roasts; unless you get matching profile/production machines and have very very deep pockets. My little sample roaster runs $3500 plus shipping and fees and that's on the low end of pricing. You can roast samples on a Gene or Behmor and skip the sample roaster in the beginning, just my opinion.

Hankua, what sample roaster are you roasting on?

I understand roast curves or plans (as in burner and fan settings, drop temp…) will almost never translate between different roasters, but in my limited expereince it is possible to do similar profiles on two different machines. For instance, total roast duration, roast level, and how aggressive or mellow heat application will generally have the same effect on the bean regardless of what machine its roasted on. I'm not saying you could ever do the EXACT same profile on two machines, and it will obviously require different settings on each machine, but if you find parameters that work well for a particular bean on one machine you should be able to translate that to another. Do you guys agree or disagree with that in your experience?
 
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eldub

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IMO, there are so many variables that duplicating roast profiles on a single machine can be difficult. As the roaster warms up, subsequent batches can have different profiles due to batch size, properties of the beans as well as the different tendencies between a machine roasting the first batch of the day compared to the last.

I guess the point I really want to make in this thread is that it makes more sense, to me, to purchase a roaster you can grow into rather than grow out of.
 

Hankua

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Jacksonville, FL
Nick, I'm roasting on a 500g Yang-Chia 800n also sold as the Mini500. The 800n is a great little roaster, has a cast iron drum, adjustable air and heat, easy controls to see and adjust. Agree with your ideas on profiling, and with Eldub as well. Not sure why your going with a 3k or 5k; cost or environmental regs? The money you would spend on a commercial profiling machine would be better spent on the main roaster. How quiet is it? Can you hear 1c & 2c? Where is the drum fan located, top or bottom? Easier to clean or a knuckle buster? One exhaust fan or two?

There are some other choices for small hobby roasters you can profile on, the Huky500 and Hottop can be fitted out with thermocouples/artisan roasting software for experimentation. I'm with Eldub, get the biggest quality machine you can afford.
 
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