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Gene Cafe to Hottop


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hi been roasting about once a week for a while learning the art of roasting, been an interesting journey so far exploring different types of coffee and roast profiles. Been mostly good but have gone over a couple of times with roasts a bit darker than planned. Been using an unmodded Gene Cafe that i got from a member on this forum. Was about to do the mod when found the Hottop as a good fit for 'upgrade' -  found a couple of external links and done a bit of research. Have placed an order so should get in the next few days with any luck! would be good to hear from any other hottop users on this forum of their experiences 

 

thanks

Jamie

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Posted (edited)

hi the Hottop arrived this weekend (KN8828B-2K+) so ill look to share experiences as i learn.

Why I decided to switch over from the Gene Cafe:

- Mainly I didn't feel I was getting the best taste and flavours out of my green bean roasts (ended up going to dark). I was going to do the mod, but didnt feel it would give me as much improvement as was looking for

- wanting more control / visibility over the roast process (air, temperature)

- liked the idea of built in cooling tray

- ability to record roasts graphically so could get more detail about what was going on

- Electric was only option as gas wasn't viable for me

The Gene Cafe is a good machine, however didnt feel i could progress in my opinion without more control over variables.

First impressions are that it's very well built and robust. Was well packaged and no issues found so far. Comes with a good manual that describes all of the functions and gives a good beginners guide as introduction to the machine. Plan to connect to Artisan via PC and use that for more visibility into the process. Plan is to roast more Ethiopian coffees as like the floral type flavours. 

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Edited by Jam1e1
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So here is a couple of findings from initial roast:

- Ethiopian Yirgaceffe washed green beans 140g - decided on a smaller batch as given learning, if messed up didnt loose as much. Did a bit of research and aimed to align roughly to a profile for beans from this region.

Results / profile:

- charge 190c,  turn point 1.17m, - dry time 4.15m,  FC 6.30m, - drop 8.30m.

- Used Artisan to monitor.

- Aim was light city roast

Observations:

- Artisan is relatively easy to pick up on very basics, got drivers to install ok. However, i do get couple of disconnects where PC stops recognising device intermittently, think may need a USB isolater - welcome anyone else with similar issue

- Whilst these beans are slightly harder to learn with, i prefer these types and got more appreciation of what looking for so can in my opinion learn from taste

- I Need to increase air and lower heat for longer initially as roast went to FC too quickly , will make couple of adjustments for next time as can see where need to dial in

- FC is so much easier to hear than the Gene - like twigs breaking as opposed to muffled chips

- You need good lighting to see the beans well - i used phone torch on a mini tripod to illuminate

- a little smoke does come out the top where drop beans into towards / around FC and beyond, apart from that smoke suppression is surprisingly good - until the drop when as expected all the smoke breaks loose as beans drop into tray

- Its a whole new game controlling air and temp, gene is just temperature

- seeing bean temp and environment with graphs is so useful as really helps to see where you are at roughly - as well as intuition

- the bean cooler is great, cools really quick and does amazing job. As does chaff collector

- Beans do get stuck and can char in the back of drum - think a bit of design flaw but not much i can do. Need to check and when beans get stuck does require removal of drum - whilst straightforward its annoying.

Taste: (24 hours later)

- Whilst realise it was first roast and didnt expect near perfect results, from cupping I definitely got some of the floral (but less fruit) taste that i really struggled with the Gene. Was definitely improvement despite accelerated roast time. Wasnt quite the rounded cup that you'd get from pro or experienced roaster, it was definitely a step forward. 

Next steps

- plan to retry Yirgaceffe for a couple more sessions and try to dial in settings , whilst learning to use this machine and get more to grips so can predict more

- plan to stick to 140g batches to avoid waste if mess up, will then look to scale back up to 250g once get more confident

J

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very interesting :)
yeah the time till fc was probably too quick but still if you want the acidity you don't want to wait too long

looking good 

 

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The peculiarity of espresso beverage is the simultaneous presence of three dispersed phases coexisting within a matrix, namely a concentrated solution of salts, acids, sugars, caffeine and many other hydrophilic substances. These phases are: an emulsion of oil droplets, a suspension of solid particles and an effervescence of gas bubbles, which evolves into a foam.

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I'm toying with getting my first roaster as an upgrade to my 'popper with chimney' that I started out with a few months ago. Would I be better jumping straight in at the level of a hottop or cormorant or would I be better starting out on a less advanced machine?

 

Would appreciate your thoughts since you have experience with both. 

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Depends on a) amount of cash willing to drop b) commitment to roasting c) gas vs electric.

My justification was:

- I wanted electric so discounted the cormorant otherwise i would have definitely considered

- love to learn so would have been ok with whatever

- wanted something 'longer term' as opposed to stop gap, hence why was sort of ok with dropping more cash (i.e. sold a few bits to fund!)

My experience of the gene was that there was a fair level of control over it, other people have had more success, but personally I found was wasting more money on over roasting good beans and not getting the flavour profiles i was hoping for. For me there were too many unknown variables and was driving in the dark to a degree. Hence why i wanted more control and better understanding of airflow, heat, turn point, rise rate. bean and environment temperature so can adjust parts of the profile in a semi consistent way. Roasts werent bad, just not what hoped for. Others have done better with gene and similar, so worth getting others opinions/views as I may have missed out on key aspects to better roasting with it.

Im learning loads already, but got way more to go. Looking up online youtube resources and couple of books definitely helps and there is quite a lot of free resources that are super helpful. I'll be posting more as roast when I get the opportunities to! 

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Did you buy from alibaba?

I would go for either this or the sandbox r1 when it's available. If the Sandbox is significantly cheaper I'd probably get that. 

I have a gene cafe modified more than most and can produce good roasts on it. One of the best coffees I've ever had was roasted on it and it has easily paid for itself.

I would say get something that's easy to use and allows tuning of profiles so you can just enjoy drinking the coffee. The gene is very much a manual experience and you need to spend time getting to know it to get the best out of it. I'm going to mod mine shortly for computer control but I wouldn't use it as stock.

Have a look at what else is out there for a reasonable price too.

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ACS Minima (Beta) with Bianca Paddle -- Reskinned Ceado E8, Niche Zero --- Gene Cafe CBR101 with Dimmer Mod and Bean Mass Probe

WATER CALCULATOR

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Great thread. I share your experiences with the Gene.  Still learning to work with it and tweaking things to get away from the too dark roasts. 

The negatives I see with the Hottop is the 250g limit and the size for storage. It looks like something you need a large utility room or garage/shed to store.  If that is the case a 600G or 1KG roaster is possibly a better choice.

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Vesuvius, Mazzer Major Doserless, Genecafe, Push Tamper,Motta Leveller, Cheap scales

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Great thread. I share your experiences with the Gene.  Still learning to work with it and tweaking things to get away from the too dark roasts. 
The negatives I see with the Hottop is the 250g limit and the size for storage. It looks like something you need a large utility room or garage/shed to store.  If that is the case a 600G or 1KG roaster is possibly a better choice.

The hottop footprint isn’t actually that much bigger than gene , given lack of heat pipe due to filters it’s actually on par in a way or smaller if take heat pipe exhaust into account. It’s taller but still fits in my cupboard in same spot gene used to be. Agree if need larger batch size another roaster would be better bet!


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1 hour ago, Jam1e1 said:


The hottop footprint isn’t actually that much bigger than gene , given lack of heat pipe due to filters it’s actually on par in a way or smaller if take heat pipe exhaust into account. It’s taller but still fits in my cupboard in same spot gene used to be. Agree if need larger batch size another roaster would be better bet!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

Thanks Jamie good to know.  I am probably like a lot of people not there yet with regard to spending the €1500 plus needed for the next level up from the genecafe.  Might have to wait and treat myself on retirement.  

 

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Vesuvius, Mazzer Major Doserless, Genecafe, Push Tamper,Motta Leveller, Cheap scales

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just finished latest batch today, went for 250g of Ethiopian Samii Lot 1 (Werka) Washed, planned for City roast

Went for 150c charge, 30% fan till FC and ramped heat down before FC - based on roastrebel profile. The coffee took about 50s longer to get to drying / FC than the base profile so adjusted accordingly. Credit to them as they have posted some great templates that i plan to use.

Couple more observations of machine then coffee:

Positives

- cooling tray works really well, brings down bean temperature quickly

- FC really noticeable

- having ET and BT plus fan control really does give that next level of micro control that was after - however as expected with 'heat momentum' you need to plan/predict ahead with changes

- Window is really useful for monitoring bean colour, however it does appear slightly darker when in machine than when dropped out- can be deceptive and lead to potential under roasting

- the heat bars are a very useful safety feature - the machine looks great but does get really hot and have helped avoid a few potential burns!

Challenges

- Window gets dirty quite quickly, needs a brief wash probably every 3 roasts for optimum visibility

- Chaff collects in the drum under cage but above collector - really need to blow hard to get most of it out

- Beans seem to get caught every so often in the cage and not always noticeable, these can affect roast if not spotted and removed. For this reason i wouldn't say it makes a great back to back roaster as you do need to open window and have a good poke around with torch - no way you can do when its hot!

- the filters really do work well, however at FC and bean drop smoke does escape from the machine - in a way it sort of defeats the point to some degree. Im a bit torn on this one - i like not having a massive heat pipe taking up space and making it unwieldy, however you do need good ventilation(extract fan in kitchen) or do next to an outside door

Coffee taste

- Now i didnt let the beans degas / settle (excitement from trying something new) so did an initial taste and will see how it developed over the week.

- Used an aeropress, 0.06 ratio, 18g coffee on medium (setting 5 on Vario) grind to 300g water, inversion method and 1.30m brew time

- got a nice crema on top whilst brewing, also some some bubbles from degassing

- definitely got some floral / jasmine/ strawberry flavour, towards sweet end. Subtly different from the Yirgaceffe I did recently, but along similar lines and is a very nice coffee.

- This was first time trying from this area, looking forward to seeing how this developed as well as roasting more soon

- overall pleased with roast and still learning lots

Questions

- I need to do a bit more reading on Artisan, any idea why the RoR is so noisy? ive ordered a usb isolator that may help.....

- welcome any comments on graph on points to adjust - my only thought is roast went on for a little longer than expected, not sure what caused slightly elongated roast, may have been the moisture in beans at a guess, or maybe as first (only) roast of day

thanks for reading

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Edited by Jam1e1
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On 10/10/2020 at 11:21, tonerei said:

Grande filo. Condivido le tue esperienze con Gene. Sto ancora imparando a lavorarci e aggiustando le cose per allontanarti dagli arrosti troppo scuri. 

Gli aspetti negativi che vedo con Hottop sono il limite di 250 ge la dimensione per la conservazione. Sembra qualcosa per cui hai bisogno di un ampio ripostiglio o di un garage / capannone. In questo caso, una tostatrice da 600 G o 1 kg è forse una scelta migliore.

I also have a Gene Caffè and I can get good results, the only drawback, even for me is the quantity, 250 gr. it is little.
What do you recommend for 600gr. or 1 kg that doesn't cost too much

@Jam1e1 Excellent really good result

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54 minutes ago, genecaffe said:

I also have a Gene Caffè and I can get good results, the only drawback, even for me is the quantity, 250 gr. it is little.
What do you recommend for 600gr. or 1 kg that doesn't cost too much

@Jam1e1 Excellent really good result

There are two directions you can go in. One is to look at it as an investment and buy a 1kg machine like the Dalian or Bullet (instead of paying £30+ per kilo you can pay £7 per kilo and roast your own if you buy in bulk from Olam and Falcon and vac seal). In my case I could go through 2kg a month so that's a saving after 10 years and I get to try coffees roasters would usually charge £50+ for. The other is to look at the ease of use so multiple roasts per week wouldn't be bad which is where machines like the Sandbox Smart come in. They aren't too expensive and have excellent control and repeatability (for ease of use) but you also also have a slightly smaller batch size. Personally I'd prefer two or three roasts a week on the Sandbox than one on the gene as the gene is so involved. With the sandbox and other automated roasters (maybe even home made) you can just let the machine do it's thing while you concentrate on something else (so long as you're present in case anything goes wrong). 

The middle ground is a Cormorant I believe which I think has a 600g batch size and will cost just less than £2k. 

ACS Minima (Beta) with Bianca Paddle -- Reskinned Ceado E8, Niche Zero --- Gene Cafe CBR101 with Dimmer Mod and Bean Mass Probe

WATER CALCULATOR

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