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

Tom & Maria - Sweet Maria's Coffee sweetmarias at sweetmarias.com
Tue Dec 14 13:48:58 CST 2010

I appreciate this conversation and have been holding back from 
weighing in here. People are entitled to their opinions, and home 
roasters have never held back. I look at each roaster as something 
unique, each with ups and downs. I think you can get good roasts in 
many of these machines. There was a real change around here when I 
decided I could no longer roast all my samples on a home roaster. The 
volume of samples was just too great, and I needed a multi-barrel 
roaster that could roast and cool at the same time. But I still use 
most all the roasters (I even have a Poppery 1 on the bench, across 
from a vintage  3 barrel electric Probat and a 3 barrel Gothot gas 
roaster). I do not "profile" sample roasts - it's a straight line 
from start to finish, within a range of about 9-11 minutes, with 
minor adjustments in a session if I find the roast times creeping up 
or dropping off. I use the green coffee batch size to adjust the 
roast as well. If I roast a batch in the Quest (or the Poppery 1 for 
that matter, or I Roast or Behmor or Hottop) I don't expect it to be 
better or worse. I expect it to be slightly different, that's all. We 
compare roasts regularily- I did 6 separate batches of a decaf 
arrival in the Probat (imagine how much time it would take in one 
behmor!) and we did a Behmor batch as well. Behmor cupped quite 
favorably. My Probat allows me great control, as the quest m3  does, 
as well as much greater opportunity to ruin the coffee as well. In 
not of this are we talking about larger batch roasting, which we do a 
bit of in the L-12 Probat, and on that we use several basic 
adjustments to air and gas during the roast. The key on the L-12 is 
to have it properly installed, and very clean ducting because it has 
low air flow. I think the L-12 roasts are nice, but I feel that the 
critical factor is what you are putting in, the coffee. I can say for 
sure that i MIGHT like an L-12 batch of a particular Kenya, but it 
will have a different taste profile than my sample roasts. Usually I 
produce many sample roasts of each coffee, and if I toss one L-12 
batch on the table with these many sample roasts, I guarantee you I 
will find one of the sample roasts I like better.

My point is this; It might seem that it's about the machine, and the 
operator. True, it is. But you have no chance of quality without 
putting in good ingredients, and without targeting a specific end 
point. With small (home roast size) batches, I get many snap shots of 
the same coffee, and several seconds difference in degree of roast is 
where some coffees can really shift. Getting really good at targeting 
that roast degree is difficult; doing it in a Behmor is even harder. 
That (and cooling within the same space you roast in) are my gripes 
with most home roasters, and those factors make a difference in 
successful results. To a large degree, other differences are 
secondary. If a Behmor no longer meets your needs and a Quest might, 
fine. That would be like me at the point I found I could not possibly 
produce enough samples in a home roaster. A Quest is not a Behmor. A 
Quest is not a 3 barrel Probat nor an L-12. All are tools with 
different capabilities. It depends on what you are trying to do with 
them. The thing I find endlessly amusing is that you can produce 
AMAZING coffee in an air popper.

There is not one right way. If you spend 4x as much money, you can 
still produce horrible coffee. People do it every day on $250k of 
roast equipment. With care, and accepting some limitations, a $2 
thrift store find can result in great coffee.

Anyway, just trying to chime in with some perspective from a 
different place... now I am going to go roast a Guatemala sample in 
the Behmor!

"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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