[Homeroast] Gene Café, some first impressions

Stephen Nagy stephen.s.nagy at gmail.com
Tue Feb 4 20:03:25 CST 2014

Hello list! This is my first post to the list. It has been a pleasure to find Sweet Marias and to learn about roasting!

Used to use a NESCO but it gave up on me after about eighteen months, so upgraded to the Gene Café, as I enjoy dry-processed, high chaff coffees, which it handles well.

I am in agreement with many points on the SM tipsheet, and note that if one does not turn down the temperature setting after passing the first crack, it seems that the beans very rapidly go to a French Roast, black and shiny.

Also, the idea of putting the exhaust under the stovetop vent seems well-intentioned, but insufficient. 

My kitchen windows are casement-style, hinge on the side and swing open, so my only option to use this as a vent was to open the window fully, make a snug fitting plexiglass window that fit the inner dimensions of the window, and to vent near the top of the window. 

Looking at other post on the list for inspiration,  I got a 1/8" sheet of plexiglass cut to order at the local hardware store, used adhesive-backed foam weatherstripping in 1/8" depth of the foam, and covered all edges with Duct Tape.  I got a 3.25" diameter hole bit with a central pilot drill bit to cut out an exhaust hole, then ran 3" flexible duct tubing to the hole in the plexiglass, attaching it to the chimney with a hose clamp. The weight of the hose tends to pull it over, so I tape the top to the window frame for the short time I'm roasting. Even at 3.25" hole size, the nominal 3" diameter tubing needs to be stuffed through the hole with a good strong arm, but the heated tube doesn't seem to melt the plexiglass, even when running at 482. 

This apparatus vents both smoke and sound successfully... not completely helpful! 

I found that I could hear the first crack clearly outside on the porch, but not inside standing right next to the machine. As for hearing the second crack with this: no way!  ...so it's largely a visual assessment to determine how far the bean has come in the roast cycle. (It did occur to me to run a microphone from the end of the hose back inside, but that meant a trip to Radio Shack, an improvement for another weekend. This might be worth trying.)

To get the best look at the roasting beans, I lift the curved plexiglass shield, use a small bright LED flashlight, and watch like a hawk. There are some changes in the scent, but the chaff at the swinging leaf is the most impressive change, obviously marking the first crack. I do strongly suggest turning the heat down from the maximum setting at this point or you will be horrified to see dark, glossy beans very quickly!

See photo just below for current apparatus.  Yes, that is an inverted baking sheet over the sink.

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Does anyone know where the temperature sensor is located in the machine, before or after the  drum?

I hope these comments are helpful to someone later.

Best wishes,

Stephen Nagy

Sent from my iPhone

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