Having a Hottop Roaster at home…

Over the last few days we’ve had a little Hottop roaster in the kitchen, busily working away as Anette roasted up lots and lots of coffees for her folks to take back to Norway.
I’ve been exposed more to commerical roasting than I have to home roasting, and the one thing that jumped out was the one big difference between home and commercial espresso brewing:  The mess!

Ok – it isn’t that bad, it is just less tolerable at home than at work.  That and the smoke, and everything seeming to take a little longer.  If you are roasting for espresso this doesn’t seem to be a roaster that likes to run anywhere near its capacity.  However, what it did roast seemed pretty good.
I’d like to spend more time with it, but I think the general slowness of it all would frustrate me, as well as the lack of control in the roast.

However – I did recently get some greens from Sweet Marias and I plan to roast them in a home roaster, and brew them with my home setup to see what kind of espresso I get.

Freshly roasted El Salvador La Fany:

Cooling tray full of coffee:

Empty cooling tray (bar a little chaff):

18 Comments

  1. Having access to some of the worlds best beans which are roasted by some of the industry`s Gurus, has most definetly corrupted your inner child Jim.
    Home roasting is just so much fun…. granted the Hoptop is however a little limited.

  2. I confess I am a very lucky chap. I actually quite annoyed that I didn’t get to taste more of what anette roasted as her parents disappeared back to Norway on Sunday.

    I am sure it is a good piece of kit, and the newer versions look much improved.

    However I am across to see Steve tomorrow so I may just have to pinch a few things, or at a stretch – pay for them! :)

    Quite fancy some of that lovely peachy Yirg he has in stock…

  3. Hi Jim,

    As a Hottop owner, relatively new to its charms (heading for 60 roasts now) I was confused by your “If you are roasting for espresso this doesn’t seem to be a roaster that likes to run anywhere near its capacity.” are you commenting on the 250gm batch size or something else?

    The only other roaster I have used is the IRoast2 (approx 130 roasts), in comparison I find the Hottop to be a better product for my needs. I don’t find the Hottop to be limiting, I understand it doesn’t have the ability to adjust the profile, etc but with a judicious adjustment of batch size and length of roast I seem to be getting some pretty good results???

    Don’t worry, I’m not posturing for a defensive tirade on the superlatives of the Hottop. Just curious about the comment.

    By the way, love the macro burrs.

  4. I struggled to get a good dark even roast suitable for some coffees to be brewed for espresso when running at maximum capacity. Granted this is possible if you drop the amount roasted, but it seems odd to claim capacity when this is only really true of lighter roasts.

    That said – it could also be my misuse of it….

  5. Strange. I don’t doubt your experience but it seems out of the ordinary.

    I have the digital model and simply set it for 20 minutes; though I don’t let it roast that long. At approx the 14-15 minute mark I get first crack and 16-17 minute mark I get second crack (simply an average and there are instances when it is outside of these averages based on ambient temp/type of bean etc) from that point on it is only a matter of when I want to terminate the roast. On one occasion I let the roaster run fully a minute past the start of second crack and I think it was a fairly dark roast; I’m sure I could have turned it into a coal mine if the mood struck me. All of this at 250gms no less and I rarely modify the 250gm batch size.

    I doubt it is your misuse, but it makes me wonder about your Hottop. See if you can play with another one? From comments I have read on a European coffee forum prior to buying the Hottop there were quite a number of well satisfied Hottop users who appear very knowledgeable.

    I’m sure you will figure it out, I only wanted to point out your Hottop seems to be messing you around.

  6. Shaun – I think what is highly likely is that I am simply having a bad experience with an older machine. (No digital anything on this one, just buttons for temp from 1 to 7).

    You can get a decent dark roast with older, dryer coffee but with very fresh greens there is no chance. Plus it won’t roast consecutively, which is a bit weird.

    I am guessing they solved a lot of problems in your model – which makes sense to me.
    I am jealous now!

  7. For beans I want well and truly dark-roasted (it’s a rare occasion, but once in a blue moon…) I limit the load on my Hottop (the older — choose any number between 1 and 7 and only 7 really matters — model) to about 225 grams. No worries, even with the freshest of beans.

    On the other hand, I don’t generally equate dark-roast coffee with espresso; quite the opposite, in fact. I’ll dark-roast on a dense, high-grown bean that’ll be served in a press, sure. But when roasting for espresso I make every effort to limit bean perspiration; I want those coffee oils *in* the bean and ready to give up their essence only in the form of luxurious crema. For that, I’ll load in as much as 270 grams with pretty tasty results.

    In general I roast on the high side of the HotTop’s nominal capacity. I think it slows the roast a bit, and allows for a bit more development. ‘Course, your mileage may vary.

    ;)

    -deCadmus

  8. Chatting to a supplier as well as you guys it seems likely that the element in this Hottop has seen better days. Perhaps time for a new one.

    Thanks for all the feedback on this!

  9. One more thing Jim on your consecutive roasts issue, the probable reason is the requirement for the Hottop to cool down to a setpoint between roasts (I think it is 160 degrees). A good way to cool it down quickly from my experience is to pull the chaff tray, bean chute cover and then the rear filter immed after ejecting the batch (suggest you only do this outside of your residence). By the time I have fiddled around slapping the roast description on the canning jar, weighing out my next batch and generally goofing around the Hottop is ready to go for the next round. If you haven’t done so already, take a look at this site http://home.surewest.net/frcn/Coffee/HOTTOPFAQ.html it’s one of several out there that I found very handy.

  10. I got a Hottop August 2005 and have made between 2-5 batches/month since. Only in the last two months has it started to act funny: no warning before ejecting the beans, just a single beep and then immediate eject.

    Since my staple coffee is Celebes/Sulawesi, and I like it very dark, it used to take two seperate roastings in the machine to get it to that stage. I’d run the beans through twice, set at ’4.’ If I used less than 200 grams, I could use setting ’7,’ and then the maximum ‘plus’ at the appropriate time. All of this was for a Bunn coffee machine; we liked it with the oil on the skin of the bean.

    A number of things have happened this month– bonus check at work meant that I could upgrade to an Andreja espresso machine; am also playing with other coffee beans, and the roaster is consistantly (sp?) misbehaving, doing the one beep and immediate discharge of roasted beans.

    As posted by someone else, I will check the heating element. My knowledge of electronics is such that I’m reverse engineering the circuit board and am planning on making the machine completely manual. Meaning that I will control all aspects of the operation of the machine, via toggle switches. Awating arrival of temperature probe parts from Fluke for my multimeter at present before I try this. Thus far, for those who want to know, it looks like control of the drum, heating element on/off, fan, tray, tray fan, and eject are all controlled by 5VDC from the controller board to the power supply board.

    Todd94590

  11. Hi Todd94950 – I’ve posted some details for a simple, cheap way to manually control the hottop (heater & fan) at: http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1172066309.

    I can get a vastly superior roast manually – and when I don’t at least it’s my fault – rather than the standard built in hottop profile. Admittedly I use my own thermocouple – but it seems you nowadays pick up a TC and meter from Sears for $10US.

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  14. Okay, I used to really like the Hottop (had the digital model) until mine caught on fire last year (try googling “hottop” and “fire” to see how often this actually happens).

    The guy at the US office refused to give me a new one under warranty saying that I must have not followed directions. So I settled for a new one with a pro-rated charge of $300.00 to get it.

    Well, after just one year the replacement has gone belly-up. Just stopped working in the middle of a roast- no power although the AC is present at the circuit board. In taking it apart I was appalled at the horrible design. There is no protection of the electronics- they were covered by chaff. The machine is really cheap and is just a mess inside. I would not recommend anyone buying one of these.

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