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Which coffee roaster is right for me?

Which roasting machines are available for home use? How do coffee roasters work? Gene Café or Hottop, what are the differences and which one is right for me?  In this post I'll answer a few questions I've heard a lot in the last few weeks.

Which roasters are available for my home and which is the right one for me?

We are passionate home roasters and have tested all models currently on the market ourselves. We then chose the two manufacturers whose products we can fully support: Gene Café and Hottop.

They are suitable for the coffee you drink yourself - they are too small for commercial roasting. Even if the capacity is partly a little higher, it is about 250 grams, which you can roast with it. The coffee is roasted very gently and you can influence the roasting curve directly and very easily. This gives you the opportunity to tickle out all the flavours you like from a high quality coffee. The roasters work with electricity and comply with CE regulations regarding safety, power consumption, etc. 

Even if at first glance they have a lot in common, the models differ greatly - on the one hand in technology and on the other in handling.

Roasting with convection vs. conduction

Gene Café's roaster works with a hot stream of air around the beans. Therefore it is a so-called convection roaster. The beans are filled into a glass container, which has a hole on both sides through which the air flows and roasts the coffee. 

The models from Hottop work in principle both the same, the difference lies only in the control and I will come to this in a little more detail. The Hottop roaster is a closed system and the beans are in a roasting drum, which is heated by a heating element (like in the oven). Thus the roasters function with conduction heat - or a mixture of both (convection and conduction), since they also have a built-in air flow. 

Both technologies are widespread and established in the roasting world. The biggest differences lie in the handling of the devices. 

Roasting with Gene Café CBR-101

Hottop Röster

The Gene Café roaster has a very simple design. It is very easy to use, reliable and therefore very popular with home roasters. The beans are put into the glass bulb. This rotates continuously so that the beans remain in motion and are roasted evenly. On both sides of the piston there is a hole through which the air flows. 

The device is operated via two rotating wheels. One sets the target temperature and the roaster heats until it is reached or then maintains the set temperature. The temperature is measured where the air flows out of the glass bulb again. The second wheel is used to set the roasting time. Both (temperature & time) can be changed at any time during roasting.

The hot air comes out in the black box on the side of the roaster. At the same time, the chaff resulting from roasting is collected there.

Plus points:

+ Super price-performance ratio

+ Simple and intuitive operation

+ Reliable, very good roasting

+ Easy to clean

+ Many roasts can be made one after the other, e.g. if you want to roast a kilo of coffee.

Less good:

- The roasting curve cannot be programmed, but must be set manually

- The cracking of the beans is quite difficult to hear

- The built-in cooling is no good, you should build your own cooling system, e.g. with a fan and a spaghetti strainer

Suits:

For all those who enjoy roasting themselves, but are not dependent on precisely controlling and repeating the roasting curves. If you want to make several roasts in succession, the Gene Café Roaster is very suitable. In addition, especially in German-speaking forums you will find a lot of information about the roaster as well as "tuning" tips, such as the installation of dimmers, additional sensors, influencing the air flow, cooling,...

Tips and links:

To the product click here

In the knowledge section you will also find tips on roasting in general, but also a few concrete tips for this roaster.

Roasting with Hottop manuell (KN-8828B-2K)

Hottop roasters are drum roasters. The drum rotates throughout the roasting process so that the beans are roasted evenly. The energy comes from a heating element in the drum, at the same time you can adjust an air flow and gradually adjust it, which is a great function, as this combination of convection (through the air) and conduction (through the heating element) can very well influence the roasting. The sweet, floral or fruity notes of the coffee can thus be worked out very well. 

By feeding the beans directly into the roaster when it reaches the desired temperature, the starting temperature and the whole roasting curve are very precise and repeatable. 

The cracking of the beans is very well audible, which helps to understand at which point in the roasting you are standing. In addition, the machine has a very good built-in cooling system that brings the beans back to room temperature in a few minutes, which is important to prevent the beans from roasting any further. 

The manual model (KN-8828B-2K) works in such a way that you start the roasting (the device has a pre-programmed automatic program). You can have as much influence as you want during the roasting process. You can adjust the air and energy supply at any time and the desired roasting time. At the end you can save a roast if you like it. You can then repeat them, but you cannot, for example, adjust or reprogram them.

Plus points:

+ Solid processed

+ Very precise roasting 

+ Reliable and high-quality roasts

+ Simple and intuitive operation

+ Roasting process clearly visible through the window, well audible and good to smell (grass phase, hay phase, bread phase, first crack)

+ Very good built-in cooling

Less good:

- After roasting, the unit needs approx. 15 minutes to cool down again and preheat to the right point for the next cooling

Suits:

For everyone, since it is also very easy to use, but above all for lovers who want to work out even more flavours and nuances from the coffee. For roasters who want to work accurately and follow and repeat their curves. Especially in English forums you will find a lot of information and tips about the Hottop Roaster.

Tips and links:

To the product click here

In the knowledge section you will also find tips on roasting in general, but also a few concrete tips for this roaster.

Hottop roasters are drum roasters. The drum rotates throughout the roasting process so that the beans are roasted evenly. The energy comes from a heating element, at the same time you can adjust and gradually adjust the air flow, which is a great function, as this combination of convection (through the air) and conduction (through the heating element) can very well influence the roasting. The sweet, floral or fruity notes of the coffee can thus be worked out very well. 

By feeding the beans directly into the roaster when it reaches the desired temperature, the starting temperature and the whole roasting curve are very precise and repeatable. 

The cracking of the beans is very well audible, which helps to understand at which point in the roasting you are standing. In addition, the machine has a very good built-in cooling system that brings the beans back to room temperature in a few minutes, which is important to prevent the beans from roasting any further. 

The model with PC connection (KN-8828B-2K+) is the ideal roaster for ambitious home roasters or professional users who want to develop roasting profiles for the production roaster. The roaster is connected to the PC via USB and connected to a roasting program - such as Artisan, the free software that is also used by most professional roasters. The heat supply can be adjusted very precisely in 100 steps, the air supply in 10 steps. Both bean temperature and ambient temperature are read out on the display. In Artisan, the roasting curve is recorded live on the PC and important information such as rate of rise or development time and % is displayed live. Subsequently, the roasting can be documented in detail and can also be evaluated and saved with Cupping Scores. The roaster works very consistently, so that you can repeat the roasts very precisely and develop roasting profiles that either taste perfect to you or are templates for roasts on production roasters such as Probat, Giesen, Diederich or similar..

Plus points:

+ Solid processed

+ Very precise roasting 

+ Reliable and high-quality roasting

+ Roasting curves can be repeated

+ Roasting curves are documented live and shown in great detail with additional information such as Rate of Rise

+ Roasting process clearly visible through the window, well audible and good to smell (grass phase, hay phase, bread phase, first crack)

+ Very good built-in cooling

Less good:

- After roasting, the unit needs approx. 15 minutes to cool down again and preheat to the right point for the next cooling

Suits:

For ambitious home roasters who want to document and develop roasting curves to get everything out of the beans and roast them perfectly for themselves. In addition, the device is very popular with professional users who develop the curves on the roaster, which they later implement on the large drum roasters in production. 

Tips and links:

Click here to go to the product.


Ingo Albrecht Kaffee

More questions? We're here for you.

Do you have any further questions about the roaster? I'm a trained roaster and a member of the Specialty Coffee Association and the Roasters Guild of Europe, working with the machine every day. Please contact me at any time.

Telephone +41 76 261 97 17 or Email ingo[at]roastrebels.com

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