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Thread: New roaster - Probat Diedrich Giesen Toper - please advise

  1. #1
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    Question New roaster - Probat Diedrich Giesen Toper - please advise

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hello!

    We are beginning with coffee roasting, expecting monthly production of 1,5 ton. We decided to choose 12-15 kg coffee roaster (to have a satisfactory reserve for future growth) and did a huge research across many coffee roaster producers. From what we found, we tend to choose Probatone12 roaster, but we are not 100% sure in our decision. It would greatly help us if you write the pros and cons of the roasters considered and also your own opinion about the selection.

    Our requirements and possibilities:
    - we want roaster with profiling system and preset profiles to have some help for start and comfort possibility to tune the roasting process in the future,
    - we want "conventional" roaster which will have no specialities during the roasting process (so everyone who knows how to use the coffee roaster will know how to use the chosen roaster),
    - we want available and reliable service in Europe,
    - sure we want high quality roaster,
    - the price doesn't matter but higher price must be worth it.


    The considered roasters:

    Probatone12 - our favorite, but we need to be sure it's the best solution for us

    Diedrich IR-12 - we are little afraid of the IR technology and its service life and also if the roasting process is the same with this technology than without it

    Giesen W15 - we are little afraid of non-standard behaviour and system control of the roaster compared to other brands of roasters (as people write down on many forums)

    Toper TKM-SX 15 - we don't see any disadvantages here but consindering the much lower price than the Probat, we think there must be any


    Many thanks in advance for all your advices and opinions.

  2. #2
    TOK
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    A "quick reply" (huge topic), and before i start I would like you to note that you should not take too much notice of what you read on the internet on this topic. Busy, successful roasters dont have time to write reviews on their machines, and you need to go and visit the manufacturers or agents you are thinking of buying from. They in turn will take you to, or set up appointments with various equipment clients, that you can visit and drive crazy with questions. Then you make up your own mind.....


    As far as I know Probat wont put PLC / profiling on anything under 60 kg (please check for yourself). I dont know about Giesen.

    Giesen used to make the smaller Probats under Licence, and on a quick reply, both are at the top of your list in terms of quality, capable equipment.

    Toper is at the bottom of your list and it is reflected in the price. the standard of build of the european and american machines is significantly better HOWEVER. it works well enough and the company is magic to deal with. They care about their clients. In addition to a number of other roasters, I have a 5 kilo Toper bought direct from the factory in Izmir, and it works very well for basic roasting technology. They will sell you profiling technology for just about any of their models and when I visited them , I was able to run some roasts through a 2.5 kilo machine for purposes of testing the profiling technology.

    Be aware there is no such thing as "standard" or "default" profiles. The profiling technology you buy with a roasting plant doesnt have "defaults" pre-programmed. You work them out yourself as you go, and the machine memorises what you want and can then repeat that.

    Note there are basically two type of "profiling" systems. On larger roasting plants the PLC systems actually manage the roasting process with automatic loading and unloading controls and roast management inbetween....while for smaller plants where it is not worth fitting automatic controls, the profiling technology doesnt load or unload, it just manages the roast (but in a much more basic way than on larger or more sophisticated equipment).

    If you have the capital you would be crazy not to go for the european machines, however for a small machine the Toper will be good value for money and will do a great job while you are learning the roasting ropes in a start up business.

    Dare I say, if the price on the american machine is similar to that of the european machines, you would be crazy not to go for a european machine every time.

    I am not in Europe, however I owned a medium size older Probat for many years. The machine worked reliably for me for over a quarter century, which is just as well because the service support here was non existent. I have moved to another european machine also of extremely high quality, and the servoce is only marginally better. Dont expect "service support" of any kind unless you happen to be close to the factory or agent. Most pro roasters do their own thing...

    Note....there are a few other european manufacturers that make excellent plant.

    That's about as short as I can make it in a huge topic really.
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  3. #3
    TOK
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    ...And, to add just another small but incredibly important detail:

    For the size of machine you are considering, and the fact you are considering expensive equipment already, you need to decide whether you want "old school" roasting technology (albeit well tried and proven) or "state of the art" roasting technology.

    The machines you listed are all old school as in...drum batch roasters. Roasting by conduction.

    Latest technology combines drum roasting with air roasting. These machines look like drum batch roasters, but they roast using both conduction AND convection.
    These machines are also by now well tried and proven and are used by many pro roasters, but I wouldn't necessarily look at manufacturers offering "convenient pricing...".

    It could be said that the more expensive brands in the machines you listed, are quite expensive in the scheme of things if they are "only" conduction roasters. There are manufacturers offering machines that do both conduction and convection, for less or no more than expensive conduction machines.

    And that will take you to other good roasting plant manufacturers that you did not list.

    Hope that helps.

  4. #4
    TOK
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    Thanks TOK. I really appreciate the time and effort you spent to write such an interesting and informed reply to my question .

    It has been a real help.
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    Hi Tok,

    I see here not a single mention of any roasters supplied in AUS by Coffee Roasters Australia.

    I have a 1kg Probatino and am gearing up to move to a minimum 12kg roaster and now asking the same question. Which brand deserves my hard earned $$$.

    I hear the software with the Probat is average, even requires a computer running windows 98 or vista. The app or tablet software is not worth using due to interference due to the roaster motor running.

    Coffee Sweet Roast Profiling Technology which is an optional extra on a 15kg Proaster looks like a brilliant way of being able to produce consistency and automation.

    How many times have do we hear about a roaster not being able to replicate a profile.

    Any feedback would be great.

    There's just so many variables to consider.


    Cheers

    ABGR.

  6. #6
    TC
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    G'day and welcome AGBR,

    You can do a whole heap worse than to seriously consider any of the Coffee Roasters Aust. product with Coffee Sweet profiling.

    Mark knows his stuff and this technology just works. The software is also always current if you have a 'net connection. You also won't require a dinosaur to run it.

    Most of the Has Garanti and Proaster roasters imported by Coffee Roasters Aust. now leave for their new owners fitted with Coffee Sweet. It's ground breaking at these capacities and I can't wait to get my new one. It will make the rock solid consistency job a whole lot easier. Having had 3 Has Garantis so far, this will be #4 and I see no reason to choose another brand. They work brilliantly.

    Cheers

    Chris

  7. #7
    Senior Member GrahamK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by meloun View Post
    - we want available and reliable service in Europe,
    Could be the reason CRA is not an option for them?

    GrahamK
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  8. #8
    TC
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamK View Post
    Could be the reason CRA is not an option for them?

    GrahamK
    Yes- but I was responding to AGBR's question.
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    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    AGBR.....Joper?? Locally built, has a PLC version, comes in a 15 kg model.

    I have also used a Buhler, 20 kg with PLC.....

    From my experience with the Buhler, I would never purchase a PLC controlled roaster unless you can

    'break into' the profile manually whilst the roast is underway.

    PLC's are also ridiculously expensive; much more than a computer and purchase price of software.

    Andy's open source Roastmonitor, which I am currently using, also works a treat for hundreds ( maybe thousands??) of people.

    I believe "Coffee Sweet" is available as stand alone software??

    When you say "roasters can't replicate a profile" do you mean roaster=person or = machine??

  10. #10
    TOK
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    Quote Originally Posted by ABGR View Post
    ....How many times have do we hear about a roaster not being able to replicate a profile....
    Cheers ABGR.
    Really? I guess you are talking about the human operator rather than a machine fitted with roast monitoring or controlling technology.

    Please note, a lot of importance seems to be given these days to roast controlling technology. However, that does not preclude the operator from having to know what he is doing in the first instance. As stated above you dont buy control technology that has "defaults" set. The technology depends on the human roaster firstly working something out that he wants te technology to memorise and therefore repeat....

    **********

    Mark from Coffee Roasters Australia is a sponsor here and I have always found him to be professional in all his dealings with me, and I bought a 2 barrel sample roaster from him a while back. Its a beaudy.

    There are others in Australia, but as stated he is a sponsor here.

    Hope that helps.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by chokkidog View Post
    PLC's are also ridiculously expensive; much more than a computer and purchase price of software.
    Price is usually dictated by the number of I/O being monitored and/or controlled and any future expandability options being considered. Software design is an additional cost of course as is the type(s) and number of human interface devices. Doesn't need to be expensive if you're in a position to specify exactly what you require, to the supplier/programmer. If all of this has to be outsourced, then yes, the costs will start to add up...

    PLCs are offered in a number of standard formats with I/O counts as low as 30+, 60+ and up to many thousands. If you're not looking for full automation and coupled with something like the "Coffee Sweet" package, I imagine a fairly competitively costed system will be possible.

    Mal.

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    I know nothing about roasting but I do know a bit about combustion and control equipment.

    Omron, and I assume others, have a fairly compact PLC complete with LCD touch screen and programming software for less than 1K. Add another 1k for a thermocouple/ analogue Input card and a small variable speed drive.

    Modulating burner control is also very simple provided the burner has been fitted with a modulating valve train. Typically the burner safeguards would be hard wired and the PLC would simply control the combustion air flow from which the gas flow would follow in ratio.

    PLC programming is not too hard and anyone that can follow relay logic can program a PLC. I would prefer a PLC however given the option of engineering a system or paying 5.5k for the CRA package I think I would go for the CRA system particular for a small roasting setup.

  13. #13
    TOK
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    Quote Originally Posted by chokkidog View Post
    ....From my experience with the Buhler, I would never purchase a PLC controlled roaster unless you can

    'break into' the profile manually whilst the roast is underway.

    PLC's are also ridiculously expensive; much more than a computer and purchase price of software....
    Hey chokkidog,

    My Brambati is PLC controlled and I can change whatever I like whenever I want to whatever I want at will throughout the roast. If I leave it alone, it will just faithfully follow the prorammed profile.

    In that case I guess there is more to it than just the PLC module in the Control box & PLC command software. Its all integrated into whatever else commands the roasting plant as a whole including all the associated controls that open and shut everything automatically. I guess aftermarket software, which is not then integrated into the total function control of the roasting plant, without the requisite drive controls (motors rams etc,), will of necessity be cheaper than something integrated and "built in" than runs the plant in toto.

    Regardless, when you buy plant that is both large enough and of a certain quality standard, you dont usually get a price on the plant plus PLC control, you just get the price on the whole deal as a package, and ascertain before pushing the button on the purchase that just because it is PLC controlled and can be run fully automatically, it can still be over ridden at will (with the appropriATe password intervention beforehand...).

    But I guess that is outside the scope of the discussion for 12 to 15 kilo jobbies.

    Incidentally about 4 years ago when I added a 5 kilo Toper to my plant (I have 5 roasting "machines" of various sizes/types but 2 are unused and 1 of the 2 is a museum piece that I am emotionally attached to ), they offered me a profiling system for 5.5 k. This included the software, a couple of thermocouples and the modulating valve for the burner.....I have no idea if that was good value nor not per se, however for the 5 kg machine I perceieved it to be more than i was willing to pay at the time. That wasnt based on anything other than I wasnt prepared to pay 50% on what I was paying for the roaster just to get the profiling kit.

    I guess the whole thing is academic really, because the OP's need to firstly decide what brand plant they want to buy, for reasons of what they believe it can do for them over and above what some other brand will (do for them), and then my recommendation would be to buy the profiling system offered (and integrated into the plant) by the manufacturer of their plant. The idea of people doing their own thing and buying plant from one source then "aftermarket" controlling systems from elsewhere just indicates (to me), that they dont really understand what they are wanting to get into.....

    Good luck to all in your endeavours.

    EDIT:
    with regard to people asking for recommendations on roasting machines. Please take a look at the very first paragraph of response #2 above. That response was tailored to the original author of the topic who indicated he is in Europe, and therefore should be able to visit some manufacturers. For people in Australia, just substitute the words "importer" or "agent" over the references to "manufacturer"... That is, speak to professionals that specialise in the field of roasting plants. They will take you to see plants they have sold to others, that are already in use, and then you can talk to both the agent and the owner of the plant and knock yourself out. You need to do your own due diligence and not rely on keyboards and internet forums to do it for you.
    Last edited by TOK; 3rd September 2014 at 09:36 PM.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    Hi TOK,

    It just goes to show that machine purchasing equipment shouldn't be done by people who wear blinkers.

    The Buhler was purchased by the owner of a hospitality business who didn't know the first thing about roasters.

    I was asked to run the roaster after it had been installed, so it was a baptism of fire in more ways than one.

    To cut a long story short the PLC control of the roast profile had no manual override.

    The only 'manual' control was the exhaust air damper.

    Only three heat settings... high flame; low flame & 'no flame' (!!).

    It was only able to go from high to low to flame off, in that order, and couldn't go backwards.

    All parameters like load temp, high flame off, low flame off, drum speed change temp ( only two speed ), cooling fan on/off,

    cooling mixer arm on/off had to be set prior to the roast commencing. If things weren't going right you had to wait until

    the next roast to change the preset parameters.

    After using the roaster for 6 months or so I was cranking out some great coffee but I'd had enough of just pushing buttons.

    I also came to the conclusion that a roaster such as this was best suited to a situation where staff who had no knowledge

    of roasting but who were good at pushing buttons, and staying focussed whilst doing so, could churn out

    multiple roasts of a house blend without getting into too much trouble.

    Give them an SO or a change in blend and they would struggle. ..... which happened after I left.

  15. #15
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Hmmm...

    That doesn't appear to be a very well executed system chokki'... Perhaps it was specified by someone who didn't really understand the processes properly...

    Mal.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    Absolutely Mal and good evening!.... the more I learnt about roasting the more frustrating ( in an objective sort of way ) it became.

    In the end I vowed never to buy an automated roaster for myself, just source and use great software to monitor, record and repeat.

    Andy's software is great and I'm also interested to see how the Coffee Sweet goes on Chris' new toy, when it arrives.

    After a couple of years now I have realised the the benefit of having a modulating burner, that can be controlled from the computer,

    i.e. via the heat slider on Roastmonitor. That feature will be on my next roaster, for sure.

    Cheers.

    As a p.s. to post #14 I remember that it was possible to turn the cooling pan mixer arm off manually.

    It was also the only roaster I have seen with a cover (perforated) over the cooling pan..... talk about being disengaged and remote from the process.

    It came off when the owner went overseas. ;-) Other, much bigger roasters may have them.......but I've not seen one.

  17. #17
    TOK
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    mate if you use a properly designed built integrated and executed fully auto european roasting plant you will never go back.....dont let the "auto" thing fool you. A good set up is all bypassable at will (if and when you want to for various reasons) and the things that the other requisite technology (ie, surrounding the "full auto" deal) in the total plant allows you to do things as a roast master that you never thought were possible. I cannot speak highly enough about Brambati and yes.....there was a SIGNIFICANT elevation in the quality of my roasts and whats in the cup over a period of months as I learned how to use the plant and left the old Probat behind. And take note, you have to re learn everything you know when you upgrade to this level of technology.

    For the rest of it. When my toy arrived 5 years ago it had the requisite perforated cooling tray cover.....and it is still leaning against the wall where we left it after helping the commissioning engineer to remove the thing. Its an OH & S thing, but......

    Additionally. All should please note that there is quite a diff between roast monitoring and simple roast profiling technology where you are still doing everything manually yourself, and what is involved in fully integrated automatic roasters with fully programmable multi level raost profiles that contrl an entoire automatiated roasting process with modulating motors, fans and burners so that every section of a profile can have different temp, drum and air speeds happening, and they can be changed to different separate settings throughout the one batch roast......with automatic control ONCE YOU HAVE WORKED OUT WHAT YOU WANT IT TO DO for a particular coffee. There is no such thing as a default profile.

    If you are ever in my part of the woods I will be happy to exhibit.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    Maaaate... ;-0 that's as well maybe, but I was referring to then and the effect this particular roaster had on my own development.

    I still prefer hands on, with help, but do acknowledge that there is 'auto' and then there is Auto. ;-)

    For what it's worth and apologies to the OP for the tangent here are some pics of the Buhler. I believe (was told) it was the first to be imported into

    Australia and one of the early builds by a company with a long history of industrial grain milling machinery fabrication, they had something

    to do with a stake hold purchase of Petroncini, hence their foray into roasting equipment.

    The roaster I use now has variable exhaust fan speed, variable drum speed ( range of 10 Hz ) and variable burner control but is manually

    adjusted, not modulating. Although the current profile software doesn't allow automation with computer actuated frequency drives on the motors,

    the development of the profile still allows the recording of all these parameters ( fave word at the moment so it seems ) so that replication is

    possible by an operator (me) who is awake and in front of the gear.

    Next time I'm in Canberra, your invitation is accepted, I'd love to see your setup.
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    Hello TOK,

    many many thanks for your exhaustive answer, it really helped us a lot. We started with sending inquiries to the considered manufacturers and after the first replies decided not to choose Diedrich or Giesen because of a huge lack of interest and willingness in their communication, now we're planning to meet the Probat and Toper reps.

    We also found more information about the PLC and thanks for the note that there's no default profiles - we saw it once within some small roaster and then thought it is a standard - it's not, as you wrote. But it's no problem to get the PLC with the small roasters, all the roasters we were considering.

    About the roasters with combined air roasting, thanks for this hint, but we decided to learn on the "old school" technology first and consider buying this after a few years, when we know mooooooore about the roasting. Now we're at the very start, never used any roaster, so we think it will be better to start with a really classic roaster.

    ---------------------

    If anyone can compare Probat to Toper, we'll be really happy

  20. #20
    Life-long Learner DesigningByCoffee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by meloun View Post
    Now we're at the very start, never used any roaster, so we think it will be better to start with a really classic roaster.
    If you're really just thinking of getting going, might it be worth starting with a 1-2kg shop style roaster and learning the technique of roasting first?
    A 10-15kg roaster is a massive investment, and aiming at 1.5 tonne a month could be a very expensive learning curve - and if you've never roasted before on any style of roaster, it might explain some of the reluctance of the bigger manufacturers to invest the time and resources. Not wanting to throw wet blankets around, but the 'no roasting on anything yet' phrase rang some alarm bells I'm afraid… as I'm sure will do for others.
    Really want to encourage you roasting journey though - is great fun and I'm sure you could make a great little business out of it. But maybe first things first?
    Cheers
    Matt
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  21. #21
    TOK
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    Quote Originally Posted by meloun View Post
    Hello TOK, many many thanks for your exhaustive answer, it really helped us a lot. We started with sending inquiries to the considered manufacturers and after the first replies decided not to choose Diedrich or Giesen because of a huge lack of interest and willingness in their communication, now we're planning to meet the Probat and Toper reps.
    From my own personal experiences not surprised, and please note:

    Probat appears to have woken up because they have lost a huge amount of business to Brambati and

    Toper are just great people to deal with despite that their equipment is at the bargain price end.

    Technically the Probat will be light years ahead of the Toper however there is no doubt the Toper will be a very good, simple starter machine and a very good price by comparison, for someone that has never touched a roaster before in his life.

    However for the simple fact of your admitted lack of expertise and knowledge, you wont be able to work out any shortcomings that may arise in the SET UP of the Toper, unless you are dealing with an importer local to you that is setting it up for you and guaranteeing the work. As a rank beginner, you would probably have more faith in a Probat to be properly set up without problem from the get go.

    Just some thoughts from an experienced hand....

    I also agree with Matt immediately above that you seem to be very ambitious for someone that doesnt have any experience. Note roasting is a profession that really needs you to serve an "apprecticeship" over an extended period, and then you still have only learned the equipment you are using. Go to something else and you start again, although it is then an easier ride....

    Good luck.

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    Really love reading your words TOK

    Reminds me of my old buddy who thought me roasting, roasting is from the person...not the machine... Its cooking beans ;D
    Too much worrying about other stuff other than the coffee itself you re not roasting coffee but roasting your brain haha

  23. #23
    TC
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    Quote Originally Posted by TOK View Post
    Note roasting is a profession that really needs you to serve an "apprenticeship" over an extended period, and then you still have only learned the equipment you are using. Go to something else and you start again, although it is then an easier ride....
    Cannot agree more on this....It's like espresso. The more you do, the more there is to learn.

    Good luck!



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