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Thread: The right roaster for me?

  1. #1
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    The right roaster for me?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi all,

    Im currently trying to decide which roaster I should buy. I am lucky enough to have my parents offer to buy one for my birthday that is coming up later in the year. Ive been looking around and Ive always loved the look of the Hot Top, and this is a particularly attractive prospect now that they are being sold in Australia. The only problem with this is that I live in an apartment with just a small balcony area. I gather the Hot Top is quite a big machine and Im not sure if it would be "apartment friendly".

    I suppose the other option I have if I want something smaller is an "iroast". However, I havent been too encouraged with some of the comments on here about them (fast roast, noisy, cant hear cracks etc).

    So I guess my question is whether those of you out there who use a hot top would consider it something that is "apartment friendly"or at least worth it for the better quality. Or alternatively whether, all things considered, the iroast would suit me better.

    The smaller quantity of beans in the iroast doesnt worry me all that much as I am used to using a popper. But could the iroast be used indoors with no troubles? Does it have good chaf collection and smoke filtering?

    And for the Hot Top, the general consensus seems to be to go for a programmable version. Is this correct? If I am used to using a popper (and listening for cracks etc) is there any major benefit in upgrading to the programmable version?

  2. #2
    Senior Member redzone121's Avatar
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    Re: The right roaster for me?

    Hi TD

    A balcony would be a great place for the Hottop IMO. Or if you have a extractor above your Oven, I have been told these work well. I am a big fan of the Hottop although I now enjoy the Corretto as we have lots of space.
    The cracks are easy to hear with the Hottop its not a noisy machine. I had the D model as
    recommended by a fellow CSer that wrote the manual for Hottop USA (Randy G)
    Cant comment on the Iroar ! I mean Iroast, as I have not used one.

    You will get great advice here from people who know lot more about this than me, but thats
    my 2 cents worth ;)

    Chris

  3. #3
    Senior Member Brewster's Avatar
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    Re: The right roaster for me?

    Hi TD

    I recently purchased a Hottop myself and initially thought that the P (programmable) version would be the way to go, but after reading a lot more I began to see a trend of more and more people favouring the B model as it gave them a lot more control over the roast.
    I eventually decided on the B model and am extremely happy with it. I bought mine from http://www.thingscoffee.com.au who do a sample roast in your machine prior to shipping and then send you the details of the roast profile (together with the roasted coffee and some green beans) to get you started.
    I havent used the iRoast but did research it. I was put off by the smaller batch size and the reported noise levels which many say makes hearing the cracks very difficult if not impossible.
    Info from sites like these may help you decide which is best for you: http://www.hottopusa.com/BorP.html
    http://www.coffeetamper.com.au/kb/reviews/gene-hottop/

    Hope this helps and good luck with your decision

    Mal

  4. #4
    Senior Member speleomike's Avatar
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    Re: The right roaster for me?

    Hi

    For an apartment the Gene Cafe would fit better. Have a look at the pics of it on sponsor sites or on this forum. It looks good. I have been using a Gene now for nearly two years. An excellent roaster and many ppl here on CS have them. Its smaller than a HT and very compact and a bit less pricy and it is definately better than an IRoast. Again sponsors here sell them.

    Mike

  5. #5
    Senior Member Koffee_Kosmo's Avatar
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    Re: The right roaster for me?

    I am with Mike above on this one and also vote for the Gene for your situation
    Although I am building a turbo oven roaster I would not say no the Gene

    KK

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    Re: The right roaster for me?

    Thanks for the input guys, much appreciated. So it sounds like the hot top is most definitely worth persevering with at this stage. To be honest I think I would regret not going that direction, its been something Ive had my eye on for years now!

    Thanks again!

  7. #7
    Site Sponsor pullman's Avatar
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    Re: The right roaster for me?

    T.D.

    Having tested many, many Hottops (for customers) and "played" extensively with my own..... I also prefer the B model.

    To put my comments into perspective - Im a control freak! I FAR prefer a manual car.... you can use engine breaking, change down to be in the best gear BEFORE the lights change...... and its just a lot more fun driving a manual.

    Well the P model is like an automatic car..... you decide what you want it to do before the roast..... and it does it! You can adjust the "target temperature" of a segment once in it..... but thats about all. When it starts a new segment (a few degrees higher than the last) it increases the heat to the target for that segment and then stays at that temperature until the next segment - there is no anticipation of what is required in the next segment so it waits until the timer moves control to that segment.

    You can pre-define lots of profiles on the P and just select the one you want and its more or less "set and forget" after that.

    The B on the other hand gives you total control of the heater power and fan speed throughout the roast. If the temperature is increasing faster than you would like..... you can cut back on the heater power.... or increase the fan speed for a small reduction. *You can only save the profile after the roast (if you wish) but you can also "tweak" a saved profile during the next roast - in real time. There is limited capacity to store profiles (just 3).

    The B (correctly driven) produces an excellent profile whereas the Ps profile tends to be more "stepped" as it moves from one segment to the next.

    So the choice is really up to how you want to use the roaster.... the P is very automated (which to me detracts from the roasting experience) where as the B is far more "hands on" and satisfying.

    Taste wise the results are virtually identical....... just the method used (and the amount of satisfaction gained from the process) varies.

    So thats my personal comments (for what they are worth!) and I hope they are of some benefit in making your choice.

    Robin.

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    Re: The right roaster for me?

    Mike and KK: Having used both, one of the things that initially surprised me is that theyre actually a lot closer in size than they look in photos of each unit on its own. While the Hottop is 12cm taller than the Gene, theyre both exactly the same length and the Gene is actually 1cm longer than the Hottop. So unless the extra height is a particular problem, I would say either would be roughly as good or as bad as each other, based on size alone. Check out this comparison photo of the Gene next to a Hottop and you get a better idea:



    Yep, I was surprised too but thats the way it is. Dimensions are:
    HT: 48cm x 25cm x 35cm (wxdxh), 11.5kg. (same height as a Silvia)
    GC: 49cm x 25cm x 23cm (wxdxh), 5.5kg

    As sponsors of CS, we sell both the Gene and the Hottop at thingscoffee.com.au, and several other sponsors also sell the Gene.

    Good luck with whichever way you go!
    Greg

  9. #9
    Senior Member Brewster's Avatar
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    Re: The right roaster for me?

    Hi again TD
    One thing I forgot to mention in my previous post was the excellent job the Hottop does in cooling the beans after the roast is completed. Ill let you read about it in the links mentioned above, but again, to me this was another important consideration.
    Once again, good luck with your decision
    Mal

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    Re: The right roaster for me?

    Id put in a big vote for the Gene Cafe - if you want to roast hassle free, but still enjoy all the fun and great coffee you get from home roasting then I think the Gene Cafe is great.

    We live in a tiny terrace house and roast on the kitchen stove - its really great if youre tight for space....

    Jen S

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    Re: The right roaster for me?

    Gday TD,
    I have to vote for the Hottop. Mine arrived from Robin last week and its amazing. It looks terrific and fits under the old cupboards in our kitchen. The looks and the cooling were well worth the extra. I dont think I will regret it and the beans taste great.

    Thomas

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    Re: The right roaster for me?

    TD,

    One thing I would say, with all due respect to the comments posted in this thread, is that I believe *MOST* who have voted here have quite possibly never used or seen the unit they voted against. I dont say this to devalue those comments in the slightest but merely to put them in context. To vote effectively one way or the other, one must have an informed view of both contenders. Thus far we have three votes each for the Hottop and the Gene - does that mean those six voters each tried both and three went one way and three the other? Possible, but unlikely. Its far more likely that these votes and their comments show there are owners of both units who are sufficiently happy with their purchase to recommend it to others. Providing you do your research into each unit properly (preferably reading impartial side by side reviews of the units in question) and make your decision based on how the strengths and weaknesses of each unit will affect you, youll probably find youre happy with your purchase whichever way you go. Neither roaster is perfect, so an understanding of their shortcomings is important in making a decision either way.

    As an owner of both roasters and having used both at some length, I feel moderately qualified to comment one way or the other. In that context, I wont cast a vote either way because while I have my own preference, I know enough about these units to feel that ones individual requirements and they way they affect the good and bad points of each unit, will often have a greater bearing on the final decision than which is the better or worse unit. As the main requirement in this case was will it fit in an apartment? (which Ive already commented on as being basically a non-issue either way), its likely the final decision will rest on other factors.

    My point simply is that x votes for unit A and y votes for unit B has minimal comparative value unless you know the basis for those votes, and that any such result doesnt equate to one unit or the other being a better unit overall until that time.

    Greg

  13. #13
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: The right roaster for me?

    This is all a bit funny. Another thread turning into the gene versus the hottop, with lots of posturing. If only we voted for our pollies with such scrutiny and insight! ;D

    TD - I havent used a hottop, but am sure it does a fine job. I have used the gene and know it does a fine job. I figure though that you really like the look of the hottop, and I think that in itself is a credible a reason to select one over the other. Price difference is substantial, but if youre lucky enough for your parents to make the outlay, then go for it!

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    Re: The right roaster for me?

    As you can see in the photo Greg posted, size isnt all that different. The HT was much smaller than I expected when it turned up, and it doesnt make much smoke at all, I roast with it in my garage with doors and windows closed, and all it does is fill the house with that pleasant smell of roasting coffee :).

    If room is an issue, Id be inclined to go with the hottop due to its excellent built in cooling. I havent used the gene, but have read several write ups that all say you need an external bean cooling device = more room taken up in your apartment.

    On the other hand, Ive read the gene is neater in that its chaff collection is second to none. The hottop does a decent job (I havent personally compared them), but even emptying the designated chaff collector into a bin, I still manage to get chaff everywhere by the end of the roast (blowing out the barrel and de chaffing the odd bean that wasnt dechaffed during the roast).

    I think youll be happy with either choice, just thought Id offer my experience.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: The right roaster for me?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sammus link=1219897283/0#13 date=1220420916
    As you can see in the photo Greg posted, size isnt all that different. The HT was much smaller than I expected when it turned up, and it doesnt make much smoke at all, I roast with it in my garage with doors and windows closed, and all it does is fill the house with that pleasant smell of roasting coffee :).

    If room is an issue, Id be inclined to go with the hottop due to its excellent built in cooling. I havent used the gene, but have read several write ups that all say you need an external bean cooling device = more room taken up in your apartment.

    On the other hand, Ive read the gene is neater in that its chaff collection is second to none. The hottop does a decent job (I havent personally compared them), but even emptying the designated chaff collector into a bin, I still manage to get chaff everywhere by the end of the roast (blowing out the barrel and de chaffing the odd bean that wasnt dechaffed during the roast).

    I think youll be happy with either choice, just thought Id offer my experience.
    BBZZZZ - Wrong! You dont need any such thing. Its a personal option, just like needing a storage cellar to keep your green beans. ;)

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    Re: The right roaster for me?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis link=1219897283/0#14 date=1220423144

    BBZZZZ - Wrong! *You dont need any such thing. *Its a personal option, just like needing a storage cellar to keep your green beans. ;)
    Thanks Den, I stand corrected. Maybe shutdown, or pwned would be a better expression :)

    And here I was thinking that cellar was there before you got into roasting :P

    Out of interest, can anyone comment on how the cooling systems compare on the two roasters?

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    Re: The right roaster for me?

    Ill take the plunge! ;D I realise I run the risk of this thread turning into Dennis Gene Hottop comparison thread but I dont see any way your question (or that of the OP) can be answered without drawing comparisons between the units in question.

    Regardless of how good or bad the rest of the units are, I think theres little argument even amongst die-hard Gene fans that cooling is one of the main downsides of the Gene. By contrast, cooling is one of the strengths of the Hottop IMHO, though not simply because its often compared to the Gene in this regard - it does an excellent job on its own comparisons aside.

    Heres a snip from the review I wrote back in May 2008 before I really had a strong personal preference one way or the other:

    Standard cooling on the Gene is very poor. Youve got a hot chamber full of beans sitting at 200+ degrees C and theyre expected to cool by simply blowing air through the heated chamber? As noted it took 12 minutes to drop the atmospheric temperature from 228C to 60C. Obviously its a compromise Genesis had to make to get the design they were after but if you use factory cooling you really need to stop the roast a couple of minutes before you want it to finish which is a bit of a guessing game. Alternatively use the emergency stop feature (as we did for the last two tests) which allows you to pull the chamber out and dump the hot beans into colanders or something for external cooling. Works a lot better and a lot faster.

    The Hottop by comparison does a great job. As soon as youve finished the roast you hit the Dump button and within 20 seconds all the beans are out and being fan-cooled and agitated. They were noticeably cool within a minute or two and just warm to the touch within five minutes.
    The only thing Id add to that is that the emergency stop isnt recommended as a regular use thing by Genesis (or poor Serge who has to fix them when they get cooked!), so the preferred method is to stop the roast a few minutes early and let the factory cooling start. Regular Gene users may have found some better ways of doing it however.

    Full review is at http://www.coffeetamper.com.au/kb/reviews/gene-hottop/

    Greg

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    Re: The right roaster for me?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sammus link=1219897283/0#15 date=1220424672

    Out of interest, can anyone comment on how the cooling systems compare on the two roasters?
    Well as Greg and I have tested (and sell) both, I feel I can answer the technical aspects....

    But first let me say, how YOU interpret this answer depends on whether YOU believe fast cooling is important (or even desirable) or not. And there are two equally passionate schools of thought on that...... and I dont intend to buy into that one!

    The Gene takes a long time to cool the beans..... it continues to roast on for some time after you start the built in cooling cycle (and you need to allow for that). If you desire rapid cooling then an external device is required.... and the beans are dumped into that.

    The Hottop dumps the beans onto a cold metal tray with air drawn through it...... and agitation of the beans. *The cooling is very rapid indeed! However if you want slow cooling you cant easily do it.... You would need to dump the beans straight from the chute into a warm bowl of some sort.... without any airflow.....

    So that is the technical difference..... YOU decide what method is best.

  19. #19
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: The right roaster for me?

    Excellent responses Greg and Robin.... [smiley=tekst-toppie.gif]

    Rather than worry too much about the pros and cons of one roaster to another, the most significant variable when it comes right down to it is the person doing the roasting, as Dennis alluded to in an earlier post. There isnt really a roaster made that is fully automatic (apart from those monster Robusta kilns that Nestle and others use), it all comes down to the knowledge and experience of the operator and this is indeed where nearly all the gains in quality will be made.

    Time to forget about which roaster is best, thats an impossible question to answer objectively anyway.... ;)

    Cheers,
    Mal.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: The right roaster for me?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal link=1219897283/0#18 date=1220428240

    Time to forget about which roaster is best, thats an impossible question to answer objectively anyway.... ;)

    Cheers,
    Mal.
    Yep!

    Like buying a coffee machine, a car, or whatever...you know and have been informed that either the hottop or gene will do the job - go with the one that you feel drawn to. I think youll already be streaks ahead with your roasting results if its something you selected.

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    Re: The right roaster for me?

    Behmor Coffee Roaster
    Thanks for all the responses! Yeah, I realise its a bit of a "which colour is better, red or blue?" kind of thing, but it was more aimed at whether those people who use a hot top would recommend them where space is at a premium (as it appears to be a bit bigger in general). The other thing is I dont plan to be in a unit forever, so one day I will have more room.

    Im leaning towards the hot top I think. :)
    Brewster likes this.



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