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

Hank Perkins hankperkins at gmail.com
Wed Dec 15 18:26:45 CST 2010

Scott,  the rotation is close to the Hot Top

Late last night I returned from a long business trip. I hope to avoid climbing in any more airplanes until 2011. I do have one more trip which I will drive. It is about 400 miles and we hope to do a over and back in one day. 

Anyhow, I just completed a 3 roast session.  And here are some additional comments:

It was really easy to hit city + to full city with a decaf

I love the back to back sessions.

Before I ordered and initially after I unpacked the Quest I was concerned with the roasters performance cooling the beans.  I felt the cooling was cheesy and planned to build a proper bean cooler.  WRONG.  I am almost exclusively roasting 125g batches and the cooler works fantastic.  With a 200-225 gram batch it works just fine. 

I ordered and received an Omega Dual temperature data logger HH806AU. Eric Severen in MD is sending me 2 thermocouples to allow ET and BT data collection. This will turn my my Quest into a true mini pro roaster. 

Over the weekend I was in Baltimore and visited the SPRO coffee shop. They brew coffees with Yama, Chemex, AeroPress, and some other methods I had never heard of as well as all the standard espresso drinks. While there I met the owner Jay. He was very interested in the Quest.     A very cool guy and a very cool place. The young barrista's made me feel very welcome. 

One last note,  It would have been fairly unlikely I would have ordered this puppy if Tom and Maria had not gone out on a limb and began carrying them. I want to publicly thank them for the offering. 

On Dec 6, 2010, at 7:29 PM, Scott Miller <peechdogg at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hank,
> Best of luck with the new roaster. I'm sitting on the fence trying to
> figure out if I should take the plunge and get an expensive, though
> certainly useful sample roaster or opt for the Quest... Look forward
> to hearing your experience with different beans and how the side by
> side comparisons work out.
> By trying some different beans and processing methods of the beans,
> you should be able to really see how a solid drum makes a difference,
> IMO.
> What is the rate of rotation of the drum?
> cheers,
> Scott
> On Mon, Dec 6, 2010 at 7:59 PM, Hank Perkins <hankperkins at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 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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