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HotTop Coffee Roaster:
Roasting produces chaff. Chaff is a fine skin that detaches from the bean as your roast is agitated. Empty the chaff tray between every roast. Every few roasts, tip the HotTop forward to remove any residual chaff and beans that are trapped around the chaff tray compartment. Consider using a ShopVac to suck out any residual chaff or beans in the roast compartment every few roasts, and remove the drum every few roasts as well (see HotTop booklet on routine maintenace ). PLEASE NOTE: Dry processed coffees produce more chaff - and so there is a greater danger of a chaff fire with a dark roast on these beans. Watch the roast carefully - if a fire is ignited in the drum - do not eject as more oxygen will increase the strength of the fire. It is best to pull the plug and let the fire go out on its own. It is a good idea to have a fire extinguisher or water nearby.
Built-up coffee oils in the roaster are of no real consequence until they build up to 1/16;. (In fact, a professional drum roaster requires hours of roasting initially to properly season the drum). But you are going to need to keep the viewing glass clean (every 3-4 roasts, it seems).
We have found the HotTop is very sensitive to changes in the WEIGHT of the green coffee you use in a batch. You must weigh the coffee, and be consistent! (We currently offer an accurate Salter digital scale for this purpose). 9 oz. (250 grams) is the recommended roast batch size. If you are not getting roasts dark enough to your taste, you can reduce the batch size to 7 or 8 oz, and effectively shift the entire roast range toward a darker roast. Whatever you chose, be consistent with the batch size.
The HotTop will consistently produce the same degree of roast at the same settings when it does its first roast of the day (or is absolutely cold). But we have found that subsequent roasts vary depending on how hot the machine is from the previous roast. The Pre Heat Cycle is supposed to take care of this variable, but doesnt always. Even when using a custom profile, we recommend that you monitor the end of every roast, adding additional time if necessary and hitting the eject button to end the roast when doing subsequent batches. This allows you to target the exact degree of roast that you want, although it is less convenient than relying on the automated presets.
I have found the HotTop cooling
cycle to be very effective, so I just let it do its job, and use a modified
funnel to transfer the coffee to glass jars when it is room temperature.
Coffee is better after 4-24 hours of resting, which allows the
CO2 to de-gas from the coffee. It is at its flavor peak at 12-72 hours.
For espresso, sometimes it is best on the 4th or 5th day!
For the first 8 minutes the bean remains greenish, then turn lighter and emit a grassy smell. The beans start to steam as their internal water content dissipates.
The steam becomes fragrant. At around 15-17 minutes on the HotTop you will hear the "first crack," an audible cracking sound as the real roasting starts to occur: sugars begin to caramelize, bound-up water escapes, the structure of the bean breaks down and oils migrate from their little pockets outward.
After the first crack, the roast can be considered complete any time according to your taste. The cracking is an audible cue, and, along with sight and smell, tells you what stage the roast is at.
Caramelization continues, oils migrate, and the bean expands in size as the roast becomes dark.
At this point a "second crack" can be heard, often more volatile than the first. Small pieces of the bean are sometimes blown away like shrapnel! It can be more difficult to hear than the first crack though. This happens around 19-20 minutes on my HotTop. Use the PLUS button to add time to the roast during the final roast stage (during which roaster beeps to let you know it is almost done).
As the roast becomes very dark, the smoke is more pungent (oils burn against the hot surfaces of the roast chamber) as sugars burn completely, and the bean structure breaks down more and more.
Eventually, the sugars burn completely, and the roast will only result in thin-bodied cup of "charcoal water."
HotTop provides an excellent warranty (via the importer Vineus USA) on the roaster and they handle all repairs and replacements directly ...send in the registration card right away! The warranty is for one year from date of purchase. Call them directly 401-497-1008 phone/ 401-946-0268 fax if you ever have a mechanical defect problem with the roaster. And READ their important, well-written instruction book!!! Email us if you have roasting questions (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The roaster diagram comes with the HotTop roast booklet. The book is very informative.
Here are some images of the HotTop drum, and how ti is removed from the drum chamber. It is very easy...
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