HotTop Roasters Details Page

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The HotTop Roaster is for those who want larger batches than the air roasters, longer roasts, a commerical type roast-and-cool cycle, and a more robust machine. Roasting with the HotTop takes an extra effort: you need to understand the sights, sounds and smells of the coffee roasting process to get the best results. But this method, roasting with your senses, is rewarded in a machine that gives a close-up view of the coffee during the roast cycle, and ... well ... produces so much roast aroma (read this as smoke!)

Yep, if you roast more coffee you are going to get more smoke. There's no way around it. With the HotTop, you are going to need ventilation to the outdoors, ideally by installing it under a kitchen vent hood.

The roast profile reproduces the results of shop drum roaster more than the small home air roasters. This especially suits folks who roast for espresso extraction, but in cupping the HotTops lighter roasts, I am impressed with the aromas and delicate balance of the cup quality.

The HotTop is now available with two different control panel configurations but everything else on the roaster is the same (the two pictures below are at slightly different angles). The difference in the control panels is explained below.

From our experience, the real strength of the HotTop machines continues to be the fundamental design, which allows the beans to exit the drum to cool. Other drum roasters available require you either to keep the beans in the hot drum for the cooling cycle, or you can juggle a hot roasting chamber. HotTop USA has great support on the machine through Michael Chiang - he knows the machine backwards and forwards. He is able to troubleshoot problems with customers and send replacement parts either under warranty or sell them so you can keep an older machine working. Machines come with a one-year manufacturer's warranty.

Interested in what HotTop users are saying about this machine? Check out the Using Drum Roasters section of the Sweet Maria's Forum.

Two HotTop Models are available:

The HotTop Basic Model KN-8828B

The HotTop Programmable model KN-8828P

HotTop Basic Coffee Roaster with coffee
$1100 (30 Lbs. Ship Weight)
Now with FREE UPS Ground Shipping!

The new HotTop Basic is the latest model and features the following improvements over either of the earlier analog or digital models.
- Color LCD display
- Built-in line voltage control, no variac needed
- Built-in temperature safety features. User must press any key to continue roasting if darker roast needed when Hottop temperature display 415 F, otherwise Hottop will dump the beans and shut off the machine automatically.
- 15 - 17 minutes for a 250 grams (i.e. 9 oz or 1/2 lb) batch
- Target time, target temperature, fan speed, or heater power can be changed during roast
- Adjusted profile can be saved and played back
- Capacity: 225g - 300g per roasting (250g optimal)

For $10 more, you can get a 5 Lb bag of your choice of Sweet Maria's green coffee with a max. value of $37 or less (Island or Cup of Excellence coffees are not allowable at this point - any 5#s that is over $37). Because of the 9 ounce batch size, this offer is for 5 lbs. of a single type of coffee or blend ... not a sampler. You will be asked which coffee you want to add after you add the roaster to your shopping basket.

HotTop Progammable Coffee Roaster with coffee
$1250 (30 Lbs. Ship Weight).
Now with FREE UPS Ground Shipping!

The Hot Top Programmable model is built on the very solid foundation of the Basic machine - with an even more dynamic user interface; the programmable model allows the user to create a "roast profile" - that is there are 8 stages to the roast for which you can set time, temperature and fan speed. Up to 9 programmed roast profiles can be saved and recalled. The machine has an Auto mode - so you do not need to program it. The LCD display gives you feedback on the roast at every point - so you can see where you are in the process. Programming the roast profile seems to be the "holy grail" for home roasters - because it gives you better control over the process.

For just $10 more, you can get a 5 Lb bag of your choice of Sweet Maria's green coffee with a max. value of $37 or less (the Hawaiian and Jamaican and Puerto Rican are not allowable at this point). Because of the 9 ounce batch size, this offer is for 5 lbs. of a single type of coffee or blend ... not a sampler.
You will be asked which coffee you want to add after you add the roaster to your shopping basket.

The HotTop in Detail ...

Below are some details to help you decide if the HotTop is right for you. Further notes and tips are on this tip sheet page. The Hottop comes with a one year manufacturer's warranty. Some of the images below are from older models, but most of the information is pertinent since the chasis has changed little (the user control panel has changed significantly). Below this section we offer the HotTop Parts and Accessories.

Side view of the HotTop; it's like a scaled-down shop drum roaster that automatically dumps into the external cooling tray. The machine is a bit smaller than 20" long x 10" wide x 15" tall.

The batch capacity is 250 gram (9 oz) meaning you can get a full roasted 1/2 Lb. from each roast cycle. (A Salter Scale is a recommended add-on!
The perforated drum has a spiral wire (blue arrow) and agitator fins in it to keep coffee tumbling during the roast. Roasts results are very even in the HotTop.
The roast curve of the HotTop is very similar to my commercial Probat L12 roaster, but preset burner control makes for slower roast times, ideal for espresso and (as I discovered) surprisingly good for the lighter roasts too.

The drum is perforated to allow chaff to fall into the collection tray, which is easily removed for cleaning between roasts.

Front view of the HotTop. The cooling tray pulls air downward through the coffee and works well! (see my HotTop roast curve chart)
I made a HotTop Movie (Quicktime, 1 Meg.) - check it out, especially if you like the Beach Boys.

The Basic Control Panel

The automatic settings will produce the same degree-of-roast if you are starting with a cool roaster each time, but I still advocate setting it at the maximum time and using the Eject button to stop roasting.This is the Basic control panel ... you have the option of updating to the programmable control panel , or buying the roaster with it installed. The HotTop controls are fully automated, but we strongly recommend manually stopping the roast for maximum control. The Plus button adds 20 seconds to the roast in the final stage -an excellent feature!

The Programmable Control Panel

The new Programable Model allows you to set the time, temperature and fan speed for 8 distinct roast stages. Up to 9 profiles can be saved and recalled. The readout will count down the time remaining in the roast cycle, which is nice. This resolves some of the uncertainty of using the machine, and will let you know if you missed the audible signal to charge the drum with coffee, too. Readout of roast temperature can be in Celcius of Farenheit. There is a factory set program - the 0 program - and as usual we recommend that you test the machine a few times on the auto setting first before fiddling with programs - just to get a feel for the machine.

You must have a hood over this roaster, or roast outside! Buying a cheap stovetop hood ($40) at local hardware store would do the trick - connecting a duct just to the back would not capture all the smoke.

When you roast 3x the batch size of a Hearthware Precision or 4x the FreshRoast, you get 3-4x the smoke! The 9 oz. batch is ideal for some people (you can actually roast for friends and family now!). You dump coffee into the drum through the Insertion Chute (green). The HotTop has a rear vent (red) and a roast smoke filter, but this does not eliminate smoke!

The HotTop has an ingenious preheat cycle before you dump the coffee into it: this helps make for repeatable roast results, but in fact does not guarantee them when starting with a cool roaster vs. a hot one. Above are three batches roasted automatically at the "3" setting, with a detail of them side-by-side below. The difference is that on the dark batch, the roaster was cold -it was the first roast of the day. The others started with a warm roaster that had already done several batches. (However a cool roaster set to "3" will always result in the same degree of roasts, as will a warm roaster ...comprende?). Can you roast consecutive batches? Yes! But you will have a slightly different roast profile from the first "cold roaster" batch to the next batch (about a 1 minute shift in roast curve), and I would advise stopping the roast manually to truly target the exact degree-of-roast that you desire.

This is where you load the beans to the drum. Some folks have told us that they have snaked a thermopobe lead down here to get a temperature reading. There is a temperature reading built into the roaster - though i am not sure where the reading is taken.

The top vent-filter allows the roast air to flow through the drum while the rear vent is closed. The burn prevention guards on top are important - this sucker gets hot in the roast cycle! Top filter should be replaced every 100 roasts or so.

The extra smoke filter (you receive a replacement one too). This should last 20 roasts or more - so two ought to last six months.

The window for seeing inside the drum is small but does the job.

HotTop comes with this nifty funnel that fits the bean insert in chute perfectly

One of the key advantages of the HotTop roasters is the ability to cool the roast outside the drum. The pan in the cooling tray is perforated and a fan sucks hot air away from the beans. Unlike other home roasters where the coffee cools inside the drum, on the HotTop you have more control over the end of the roast - when you eject the batch, the roast is effectively stopped.

The roaster diagram comes with the HotTop roast booklet. The book is very informative. It is important to read the booklet - especially the safety warnings carefully....

From the HotTop roast booklet. As you can see the cooling tray comes right off it's spindle for easy transfer.

Another bonus: this roaster is so easy to disassemble. Cleaning the front glass view window from the inside takes 30 seconds. Drum removal takes 2 minutes.