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Bullet R1 Roaster Maintenance: Basic Cleaning

Bullet R1 Roaster Maintenance: Basic Cleaning
Sept. 19, 2018

The Aillio Bullet R1 Roaster needs your attention ... but luckily not all the time. Before starting a roast session it's wise to check your removable chaff compartment in the back, and the cooling tray filter. If you're doing several back-to-back roasts it's a good idea to check the chaff compartment at some point, and the rubber plug for chaff removal in the back, used with a shop vac, is a great way to pull out chaff between roasts without taking anything apart.

But what about weekly, monthly, yearly maintenance? Well, we have found that the buyers of the Aillio Bullet are a diverse group, some who are very casual, occasional roasters who like the features, the control and the batch capacity; others who are running a business with the Bullet! Those varying uses, a couple roasts a week versus a hundred roasts a month, are going to require different foci on cleaning. But for anyone using a Bullet, if you see, hear or smell something unusual, don't keep roasting! Take a pause and check it out.

If your Bullet is running fine, here is what we recommend for cleaning. Do NOT overclean ... your chaff filter does not need to be sparkly all the time, and if it is you will likely dissolve it in cleaning fluid, ending its usable life far earlier than necessary.

Coffee residue stuck to the impeller and chaff basket Coffee roast residue coating the impeller fan (2 views) and chaff basket. This fan was used for about 75 roasts before removing it to clean.

You should deep-clean your Aillio Bullet R1 at least once a year if you don't roast too often (let's say 15 batches a month) and monthly if you roast heavily (100+ batches a month). Coffee oils, dust and chaff particles will cake itself onto internal surfaces inside your vent system. This build-up can lead to reduced airflow.

You can allow your roaster parts to brown up and cake with roast residue up to a point. For the front IR sensor, the machine is going to indicate when you should clean it. For the fan and vent components in the rear, I believe that 50-80 roasts is a fine span without cleaning, perhaps longer. It really depends on how dark you roast and what coffees you are roasting.

The rear chaff filter basket does not need to be shiny, but ideally it is allowing air to pass through. More important than its appearance, it's color, is what you see when you hold it up to a light source. Does the screen look clogged? If it does, we tap it against a hard surfafce and clean it with a shop vac. If it is still looking clogged, we use a fine brass-bristle brush, (it looks like a toothbrush).

For a deeper cleaning we soak the components in Tabz, or Cleancaf, two types of coffee machine cleaners. These are the type used to run through an automatic drip coffee maker. They are more gentle than the more aggressive espresso machine cleaners. See our video or the images below...

Parts Soaking in Taz Solution The rear impeller fan and two chaff filter baskets from the Aillio Bullet soaking in Tabz solution.

A good soak in a solution made from Tabz will loosen up a lot of the coffee fuzz and build-up from the Bullet's mesh chaff basket and impeller. Tabz are originally for cleaning coffee carafes but we find them useful for cleaning other coffee items like brewers and roasters.  Don't soak aluminum parts in espresso machine cleaners since they will eat away at the aluminum.  You can also use sodium percarbonate. If you brew your own beer, you should be familiar with this as a way to clean and sanitize brewing equipment. I also like Sodium Percarbonate, an oxygen cleaner used by home brewers. But that's me.

Tabz cleaner diluted Tabz is a gentler cleaner, at least more so than espresso machine backflush type cleaners. We make a solution by diluting it in water as you see in this image.
Clean Aillio Bullet R1 parts The chaff screen basket at impeller fan after cleaning with Tabz solution. These were submerged / soaked for several hours and cleaned with a brush. I use Sodium Percarbonate overnight and it works very well.
Rear housing of Aillio Bullet R1 Roaster To clean the housing space where the impeller fan lives (larger arrow), we simply used a cloth wet with Tabz and let it sit. We did not use an excessive amount since our goal was to clean this area without removing the entire rear housing, which is what Aillio recommends for a deep, deep cleaning.

If your entire rear housing has roast residue on it, you should definitely take the whole thing off the roaster body, remove the motor and electronics from it, and soak. That may be required once a year! To clean the transfer tube (shorter arrow), we use a shapeable cleaning brush we sell for coffee pots. (Link is below). We don't use any liquid solution to clean transfer tube!

Cleaning the Aillio Bullet R1 IR Sensor

The InfraRed sensor on the first and second build of the Bullet measures the drum temperature (it points upward at drum). The Bullet will give you a warning when it needs to be wiped off (a Q-Tip and Alcohol is ideal).

(UPDATE: Jan. 2019) Roasters purchased during and after 2019 are equipped with an updated IR sensor that self-cleans using jets of clean air. The updated IR sensor will not have a glass cover.

Remove the 6 pan head bolts in the front of the roaster.
Front of Aillio Bullet with faceplate unfastened You can use the rear chaff collector to support the front faceplate of the Bullet roaster so you don't have to take apart anything to do with the front control panel. It's a great chance to check out your drum bearing, etc.
Inside of the Bullet and the IR sensor The IR sensor, that dark dot, was sending an error message on the Bullet that it was time to clean. Aillio recommends cleaning with a single use alcohol pad, or alcohol on a swab, ie QTip. Honestly I used the corner of my t shirt! Note that you do NOT need to clean the surface otherwise, and in fact it will just put more stress on parts and wiring to be over-cleaning the bullet. You can shopvac it with a brush or blow it out with compressed air, but we don't recommend scrubbing the Bullet unnecessarily.

Extra Tip:

Jonas, the Bullet creator, recommends tipping your roaster when it's cooled down, to see if any extra chaff or trapped beans might come loose. This can get coffee out of the transfer tube that gets stuck when you charge the roaster with a batch, and any excess chaff.


Our Video

(which basically repeats the information above...)


Links to Products:

  1. Byron from Sweet Maria's Coffee
    September 25, 2018
    Do you have other methods for cleaning your Bullet? Please share.
  2. Bruce Kaplan
    January 7, 2019
    With the Bullet cool, I have been able to stick my hand in the roaster without removing the front, and feel for the sensor. Its not to hard to clean the sensor with a alcohol pad. Of course, it's not possible to monitor how good a job you've done, but I'm only doing a few roasts a month, so I think it is preferable to removing the front panel.
  3. Linda
    July 18, 2019
    I cannot loosen the set screw to get the fan off. Is there something I am missing? Suggestions are welcome.
    1. Byron from Sweet Maria's Coffee
      July 18, 2019
      Have you seen our video where we remove it?

      If that doesn't work, send us an email at [email protected] and we'll help you out.