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Roast It Like Rama

August 7, 2012

My home coffee roasting setup has evolved over time. Some changes were helpful, others weren’t. This is the short list of what I’d do if I were to start over:

1. Pick up the Hottop basic. Its nearly $200 cheaper than the programmable, but is much more adjustable. A lot of people with the programmable model regret it and revert the control panel to the basic version for more control. And the basic version allows you to save up to 3 programs, which is all you need. (I have two programs, one for when the roaster is cool, and one for when its warm from a just concluded batch.)

2. Get a Kill-a-Watt to monitor your voltage. This is key to consistency. Some roasters opt for a Variac to tweak power. I find this overkill when you can just adjust your batch size up or down by fractions of an ounce an accomplish the same thing.

3. Buy or build a TC4 shield for use with an Arduino.

4. Use an old laptop to run Artisan.

5. Run a pair of thermocouples through the back wall of the Hottop.

3/4/5 get you cool graphs like this, which help you make your roasts more consistent and learn what changes to the roast profile result in what results in the cup:






6. Add some beefier drum fins. This allows you to ‘charge’ 8oz at a time when your voltage is 119V or higher and not get any tipping or scorching.

Some people go further and use an Arduino or PID to control the roast instead of just monitoring it, but I find the profiles saved into the Hottop itself are accurate enough, and fine tune by hand as needed because you can’t leave the Hottop unattended anyway. (Its got an annoying safety feature that will eject the beans if you don’t manually dimiss it under certain circumstances.)

To roast, simple aim to have the beans “rise” 20F/min until first crack, then immediately slow down to 5F/min until the desired roast level is achieved and dump. Aim to complete the whole process in 12-13 minutes. It took me a couple of years to arrive at this simple recipe, but its consistently solid.

Thats it. Have fun!


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One Comment
  1. Thanks for the details about you’re roast style and congrats on #4.

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