[Homeroast] Quest M3 Arrives, Is it worth it?

Hank Perkins hankperkins at gmail.com
Mon Dec 6 18:59:52 CST 2010

Today my Quest has arrived.  I thought I would give a short review,
and why I bought it.

Over the years I have roasted on popcorn poppers, A Freshroast, a Hot
Top  (6-7 years), a Behmor (about a year), and now the Quest.

Over this time I have roasted from 1/2 pound a week up to 5 pounds a
week (Hot Top).

Using the Behmor the most I have roasted is 3 pounds in a week but
only on rare occasions.

18 months ago I could see the writing on the wall, the Hot Top was on
her last legs.  I don't know how much coffee I ran through her but it
was a good bit.  It was frustrating to be limited to 1/2 pound but she
roasted really good coffee even for the occasional espresso I would
pull on the old Gaggia.  I priced all the parts to rebuild her and it
was totaling around $300 as I recall.  I looked at the prospect of the
rumored 1 pound Hot Top but it looked like this was not going to
happen in time to meet my schedule.  I didn't like the filters either.
 The filters were a total pain and were expensive. So I ordered the
Behmor knowing that if I didn't like it I could change again in a year
and be about where I would be if I just upgraded the Hot Top and hope
for a 1 pound Hot Top in the future.  Well the 1 pounder has never
materialized and about 3 months ago I began looking at full up
commercial roasters, 1 pound sample roasters, and the Quest.

Commercial rosters and sample roasters were just not practical for my
usage.  Permanent Installation, gas lines,  ventilation systems, and
possible fire suppression systems made this not worth it for me.  At
this point I had three choices stay with the Behmor, order a new Hot
Top, or go for the Quest.

I knew where I was headed if I went for the Hot Top.  I decided I
would either differ the decision and ride the Behmor for a while
longer or go for the Quest.

I was not satisfied with the Behmor at all.  I tried all kinds of
different adjustments to improve my control and the coffee taste.  In
the end I resolved that without being able to dump the beans and
without a solid metal drum I was not going to be satisfied.  In the
last few weeks I have begun to believe that the problem I have had
with the Behmor being unable to produce a tasty product revolved
around 3 issues.  First lack of temperature control, second the lack
of an ability to stop a roast before when I wanted to,  and third the
lack of a solid drum.  I ruined a large number of beans in the Behmor.
 More than in the Hot Top by a large margin.  Initially this was due
to trying to cook a full pound in an unclean roaster.  I had beans
never hit C1 here.  Then I cleaned the roaster and reduced the bean
volume. I began cleaning the roaster after each roast and I installed
a thermocouple in the roaster. The thermocouple shwed variance in the
roasting temps with clean roasters and holding times, weights,
profiles constant.  For the most part this solved the under roasting
issues but now I had issues stopping the roast where I wanted without
having a fire or just having the beans continue to cook with the
residual heat.  Finally I had some successful roast with the Behmor
hitting the end where I wanted ( but not in a consistent fashion) but
the flavors just weren't as good as I expected.  I wondered why.  In
the end I hypothesized this is due to the mesh drum the Behmor uses.
Coffee roasts using 3 types of heat convection, radiant, and cooking
via direct contact.  I believe each of these types of roasting effect
flavor.  Much has been written on the differences in convection and
radiant.  Little has been written about direct contact.  This is where
I THINK the Behmor suffers.  So, I went ahead and ordered the Quest.

So, what about the know issues with the quest?   Roast load size and
smoke venting?  One big difference in my roasting habits, I roast
smaller loads more often now and with the ability to roast loads back
to back it looks like I can push out as much coffee out of the quest
as the Behmor.  The Smoke load out of the Quest is low,  I was shocked
just how low.  I didn't even open the windows in my shop when I ran it
the second time.  The manual controls are a dream to operate.  As the
user I feel like I have total control over the roaster and am more
than the spectator I was with the Hot Top and the Behmor.

Lastly, will my opinions about the solid drum vs the mesh drum become
a valid consideration?  I don't plan to sell my Behmor for a while
specifically to evaluate the both roasters in head to head
comparisons.  I would love to hear the thoughts of others on the solid
vs. mesh drum cooking process.

By Christmas I should have run enough coffee through this baby to
provide a better review.  Any ideas on the head to head with the
Behmor are welcome comments.

But, after 2 roast to different degrees of doneness I really like the
way the Quest works.  With the 125 gram sample of Ethiopian Jimma I
was able to get the magical 3 minutes between cracks to allow the
flavors to develop fully on my first try.  Time will tell if the
coffee is as good as I expect it to taste, but I never hit more than
45 seconds with the Behmor roasting this bean.

More to come.

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