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

Tom & Maria - Sweet Maria's Coffee sweetmarias at sweetmarias.com
Mon Dec 6 19:41:09 CST 2010


Wow Hank - amazing review. This is very interesting and I appreciate 
the criticisms and comments of a long-time roaster. You are 
definitely the right type of person for Quest M3 ownership. I see the 
controlibility as an asset in the hands of someone like you, but a 
liability in the hands of someone who hasn't been through a few 
stages of home roasting. Learning the relationship between air speed 
and heat settings in the Quest is like driving a fickle manual 
transmission car, and for someone used to an automatic it could be a 
real challenge. My Quest roasting habits have tended toward a stable 
heat setting and using air to shape the roast profile more. As far as 
drum roasters, I don't think we can compare the Behmor to the Quest 
or the Hottop. I too was dubious of the open wire drum, but it is 
really a radiant roaster. The fact that pro shop roasters are not 
like this doesnt mean it is a bad thing (not saying that you imply 
that, just riffing on this topic). It's just different. The issue 
with control though is key. The ability to slow a roast down is a 
great tool, a professional-level tool. The need to cool outside of 
the heat chamber is definitely an issue with home roasters, Behmor 
included.

By the way, I actually like the results from 1/2 Lb in the Quest, 
even though it's not the spec for this roaster. Also, watch for beans 
in the tube between the front and back, as well as chaff that gets in 
between the drum and the outer drum cover.

One of my goals for the Quest M3 is to get it into the field, to be 
used at regional or farm-level cupping labs. The more they cup small 
batches at the wet mills, the more they start to understand the 
variations in quality in coffee processing, and making improvements. 
The Quest is simple enough to use, could be easy to repair in places 
without access to proprietary parts, and I think it works under a 
range of conditions too (low voltage etc).  I wish it was less 
expensive, but seeing as they are completely hand built one at a 
time, the price makes sense too. I hope it measures up to your 
expectations! Keep us posted.

Tom
PS: I am going to paste this into the Quest thread on the forum too.

>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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-- 
-Tom

____________________________________________________________________________
"Great coffee comes from little roasters" - Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting
               Thompson & Maria - http://www.sweetmarias.com
____________________________________________________________________________
     Sweet Maria's Coffee - 1115 21st Street, Oakland, CA 94607 - USA
             phone/fax: 888 876 5917 - info_at_sweetmarias.com



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