SwissMar Alpenrost Roaster Tip Sheet from Sweet Maria's!
Also of interest:
Roasting Less than 8 Oz in the Alpenrost
Alpenrost Cleaning Instructions
Alpenrost Simple Diagnostic
Read your owners manual for the Alpenrost before using. This is a “tip sheet” ...not instructions. The Alpenrost is a for the roasting hobbiest. Because you can't visually observe the roast during the cycle, it takes more dedication and experimentation to acquaint yourself with it. I think the air roasters with glass chambers (Hearthware and FreshRoast) are better for the new roaster
- Home roasting is fun and you will be amazed how easy it is. Don't be afraid of crackling coffee beans and pay attention to the process, especially toward the end of the roast.
- Coffee roasting produces a wonderful fragrance, unobtrusive with light roasts but smokier if you roast dark. Operating any type of stove hood fan helps if the smoke is too intense for you. You can roast on a porch or near a partially open window weather permitting. But cold temperatures will effect the roast, and may make the roast stall completely! As a larger capacity 1/2 lb roaster, the Alpenrost will produce more smoke than other home roasters... Venting is mandatory!
- Roasting produces chaff. Chaff is a fine skin that detaches from the bean as your roast is agitated. Your roaster takes care of chaff, but if you are careless, you may have to do some sweeping. Empty the chaff collectors between every roast. You may want to periodically clean the chaff from around the burners with a vacuum. Also, remove any charred coffee beans from the drum or chaff tray between roasts.
- 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.) However the inside reflective surface of the Alpenroast cover is important in making sure the beans get up ot temperature and roast properly. This area especially ought to be keep free of built up oils.
- Never leave the room while you are roasting coffee, even though the roaster is automated.
- We have found the Alpenrost 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 digital scale for this purpose). 8 oz. roasted on 8 is a City roast (Medium) while 7 oz. roasted on 8 is a Full City/Vienna Roast... 6 oz. on 8 will be dark French! Nonetheless, I would suggest roasting your first batch at “8”, but this may be too light for most people. The Alpenrost results do vary based on the input voltage and ambient temperature, so an “8” on my unit at the shop can be different from yours. But in general this should produce a lighter City roast. Also, never lift the hood of the roaster during the roast cycle ...you will let the heat escape!
- Some small or long-bean coffees will wedge into the perforations of the drum during the roast process. This doesn't effect the quality of the roast overall, but since they are charred, they should not be used for brewing coffee. This can create a lot of smoke. In general, Yemeni beans and very small peaberries can cause this problem.
- Also, the machine needs to be level in order to roast evenly and to a dark roast. Be sure the roaster is on a level surface or the beans will pool at one end and not be exposed to the heating element properly.
- I prefer to dump the coffee into a stainless mesh collander after the cooling cycle completes, just to get the coffee away from the warm surfaces. When the coffee is room temp. I transfer it to canning jars. Coffee is better after 4 hours of “resting”, which allows the CO2 to de-gas from the coffee. It is at its flavor peak at 12-72 hours. When you open the jar, you will know what I mean!
- No home roaster is designed to do serial batches! All home roasters need to cool before roasting another batch. This also improves consistency. Wait 20 minutes or longer - is the roaster feels cool to the touch - then if is safe to run another batch.
SwissMar provides an excellent 1 Year warranty -on the roaster and they handle all repairs and replacements directly. -send in the registration card right away! Call them directly 800-387-5707 if you ever have a mechanical problem with the roaster. And READ their instruction book!!! They have expert technical advice available to them, and can recommend troubleshooting procedures for any problems with the unit.
In a nutshell, here is the roasting process you will be observing:
- For the first 5 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 minutes on the Alpenrost you will hear the "first crack," an audible cracking sound as the real roasting starts to occur: sugars begin to carmelize, 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.
- Carmelization 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 volitile 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 minutes on my Alpenrost. The cooling cycle begins when you hear the sound of the Alp. vent doors click open.
- As the roast becomes very dark, the smoke is more pungent (oils burn against the hot surfaces of the roast chamber) as sugars burn completly, 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."
This page is authored by Tom Owen and Sweet Maria's Coffee, Inc. and is not to be copied or reproduced without permission.