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Which roaster to get (2017) and update (2019)

jp2112

New member
Aug 8, 2017
6
0
SO this is the typical and ultimate newbie question. I'm not trolling but honestly seeking advice. My wife and I are looking into roasting coffee. I have contacted several roaster manufacturers and am unable to make up my mind. I hope to lean on your collective experience. We want to purchase made in the USA and have narrowed our choices down to the Sanfranciscan SF6, the Diedrich IR-2.5, and the US Roasters Corp 3k. I am very tempted to go a size up on each of these but am trying to temper our enthusiasm. Truth by told, we have no roasting experience so we are definitely diving in head first.

I appreciate any and all advice.
 

John P

New member
Jan 5, 2007
1,045
0
Salt Lake City
JP,

All those are great choices. As far as roaster choice goes, it comes down to your ability to maintain and service your roaster and the responsiveness of the manufacturer. (ask questions, use your judgement). Your roaster is a tool. Take time to talk to each company - see how they respond to you, maybe narrow it down to 2 of the three and take a couple trips to see everything in person. It's a big investment, take the time and eyeball their operation and the people who you will need to have a great relationship with for years to come.

THE most important issue is "Can you roast?" The basics are simple, but there is a giant chasm between managing a great looking roast and crafting a beautiful and nuanced coffee.
I like the idea of "all in". Practice. Practice. Practice. Taste and adjust. Repeat 1000 times and when it's right, THEN "go to market."
 

Musicphan

Well-known member
May 11, 2014
1,593
30
Kansas City
John's advice is spot on...

Regarding machines - I run a USRC 12K and I'm happy with the roaster. It's not the fanciest or the most polished but it does a good job (for example, the manuals aren't great). When it comes to tech support, USRC tech support is pretty solid. I also like the fact I can drive 6 hours to their plant if I HAD to. I had a issue today (which was tracked down to a lose wire) and I have to say we worked on it for a few hours and the tech guy was great. I've heard other similarly positive experiences about San Franciscan... I have no experience with Diedrich.

With all that being said... I would suggest you look at a starter roaster to learn, use it later on as a sample roaster. I home roasted for years... before I moved into business I spent a lot of time/beans really learning on how to be consistent, what each origin flavors taste like - I.E. - could you tell a Sumatra / Brazil / Guat apart from each other? If I had a 'do-over' ... I would probably invest in a nice gas 500g/1K (look at Mill City / nice economical roasters) roaster to learn...then I would buy a 5k/12k machine for production once you have all the basics down. Use the 500g/1K roaster as your sample roaster - you will need one to evaluate green coffee.

Regarding sizing - are you going after wholesale business? If so, one or two nice customers could have you roasting 50-100lbs a week... keep that in mind. You may want to look at a larger roaster. And if you are going after wholesale customers, they will want 5lb bags. If your roasting on a 3K roaster you only get about 4.5lbs of output per roast.
 

expat

New member
May 1, 2012
430
1
Ireland
If you're serious and this is going to be a business you are going to grow into a career . . . . get a bigger roaster.
 

almico

Member
Feb 17, 2015
85
0
You might want to look into the Artisan 6 fluid bed roaster from Coffee Crafters. It's not as sexy as an SF6, but it will roast anywhere from 1/3# to 6#, is very easy to use, has very few moving parts and only costs about $5K. I've been using one for 3+ years without issue and am about to move from part time farmers market roaster to full time coffee bar.

It's a big advantage being able to roast very small batches while you're learning. If you get a 1K to start, you can always use it as a sample roaster when you upgrade.
 
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jp2112

New member
Aug 8, 2017
6
0
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
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Wow. That is a very different approach than the propane fired drum roasters that I have been looking at. It is a very attractive pricepoint. Do you get an even and consistent roast?
 

almico

Member
Feb 17, 2015
85
0
Wow. That is a very different approach than the propane fired drum roasters that I have been looking at. It is a very attractive pricepoint. Do you get an even and consistent roast?

Fluid bed roasting is the most consistent. Also, convection heat provides a greater heat transfer rate than conduction. Yes, drum roasters are partly convection, more or less depending on the roaster, but fluid beds are almost all convection.

Another advantage while learning is that you can see and smell the seeds continuously throughout the roast.
 

topher

Super Moderator
Staff member
Aug 14, 2003
3,804
29
Boca Raton
you can get an even roast. This is just my opinion but I feel that coffee roasted on these are lacking in body. I am basing this off personal taste experience.
 

slurp

New member
Jun 24, 2014
382
0
Hollywood Fl
After roasting on a lot of machines and owned many of them including Ambex, Ambex knock off, Probat and others I installed a Loring in the new building, I will not buy anything else now. these roasters have unbelievable control, built well, awesome customer support and roast more evenly than any other roaster I have used. The new controls released this year rock solid and easy to use with lots of information. Plus being super fuel efficient and environmentally friendly really helps.

What ever you buy it is a really good idea to make sure it has UL or CE certifications. If you are going to get building permits you will need something the building and fire department are going to accept.

Loring is a hybrid between fluid and drum roaster. Toper is correct most air roasters have a hard time with coffee development as they generally roast by air temp rather than bean temp. Loring roast by bean temp. There are a lot of new roaster technology coming the last few years. Some really cool new methods that are not proven but good ideas. Make sure you roast on it before you purchase.
 

almico

Member
Feb 17, 2015
85
0
you can get an even roast. This is just my opinion but I feel that coffee roasted on these are lacking in body. I am basing this off personal taste experience.

I've heard the rhetoric about fluid bed roasting and "lack of body", but it's just that...rhetoric. Tasting one or two air roasted coffees, and using one extensively, are two very different things. Body comes mostly from the coffee and how it's roasted, not the roaster itself.

If the argument is made that it comes from the roaster itself, then where exactly does this "body" originate and how does it make its way into my cup? Is it from the smoke within the drum "infusing" the beans? Is it from the coffee resin that coats the drum "seasoning" them? For me, if it is either one of those, I would prefer not to have it in my cup. Is it from ferrite molecules somehow migrating from the drum? Maybe. But that's way above my pay grade.

I've purchased the same coffees, both roasted and green, from the likes of Klatch and others to compare my roasts to theirs, and do not see any inherent difference in "body". I have a nice Kenya in house now that has all the syrupy body you could want at a very light roast. I also have a nice Ethiopia natural who's outer fruits would singe in a drum roaster.

In the end, a roaster is just a cooking tool. It's a way of transferring heat to a coffee seed, that's it. You have to learn how to use it to get what you want.
 
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almico

Member
Feb 17, 2015
85
0
most air roasters have a hard time with coffee development as they generally roast by air temp rather than bean temp. Loring roast by bean temp.

First, congratulations on your new roaster. I would love to try a Loring. It's far more an air roaster than drum, since the drum is not directly heated. It uses a rotating drum to circulate the beans instead of a column of air, but there is very little heat conduction from the drum going on. It likely keeps the drum very clean. It really is a very clever system. Regardless, it's unlikely the OP is going to invest $80K in his first roaster.

But your statement about coffee development is over generalized at best, and at worst, simply not true.

That's the great thing about the internet, people can say anything they want, without backing it up, and other people then repeat it ad infinitum until it becomes true by virtue of repetition.

From my experience, air roasters have the luxury of being able to place the bean temp probe directly into the bean mass since nothing is spinning. At least it is on mine. Where is the bean probe located in the Loring?

Here's a vid of my roast chamber. The probe is inserted through a hole towards the bottom and is insulated from the roast chamber. The tip is buried in the bean mass at the sides and does not touch the center column of air, so I get a pretty accurate bean temp reading. If the probe is exposed to the incoming hot air, you get a mixed reading of bean temp and air temp. Likewise, if a probe is connected to a drum, you likely do not get a true bean temp reading.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IW5w3Xf8Ihg
 
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Meshaal

New member
Aug 11, 2017
10
0
Do you mean that Loring is way better than Probat and similar brands. I'm really new in this world, and have been researching for a roaster machine to use for my coffee shop but not for wholesale.

Do you recommend a specific one or at least can you narrow my choices, you seem very experienced in this field:coffee:
 
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