The shop that I am currently working for is taking the step to become a roaster retailer. The owner has decided to purchase a Deidrick 12 kilo IR model. This decision is based mainly on the premise that it was the first roaster someone recommended to him and that it is not as expensive as a Probat.
Here is the question. Is the Deidrick necessarily the best one to go with? I have not really heard a lot about these roasters. How does it compare to a Probat, or any other brand for that matter. Any suggestions, new or used, on a roaster that is somewhere in between a 12-25 kilo.
One is not better than the other. They are different. The big issue is heat source. Probats have high-powered direct flame jets. The "IR" in "IR-12" stand for "Infrared", in this case the gas combustion heats ceramic panels, that in turn heat the drum. Direct flame is more responsive, but less gentle. IR is less responsive, but more gentle. Scorching beans on an IR is something of a challenge, unless you overload the thing. What the IR lacks in Heat control it perhaps makes up for in air control. The complicated part is that IR heat is radiant heat, with heat exchanger to get clean air form outside heated up, in order to then heat the drum. Diedrich makes the claim that this means beans are not rolling around in un-combusted gas, and that the whole system is more energy efficient. Some folks be-moan the lack of control with IR, some like the fact that it seems to lend itself well to slow, gentle roasts. that being said, I can roast a glorious batch of coffee on an IR in 12 minutes, while someone else might do something equally lovely on a Probat in 15 minutes. Its up to what your in to. The best thing you can do is understand how your roaster works, and use its strengths to your advantage. Both of these manufacturers have very tried and true records. If the coffee sucks, its you, my friend. Happy roasting.
Thanks for the advice. It sounds like the Diedtrick is a nice roaster. I have been looking in forums at different roaster's roasting techniques and they all seem to reference a roaster that has a direct flame. A couple mention the Diedrick. The only reason why I am still hesitant is that it seems that it is almost a beginner's roaster.
In reading the way different people roast, I see some becoming technical down to the second in their roast profiles. It seems that control is very imperative. I wonder if it may be better to go with a direct flame roaster even if it costs more.
I do believe in saving energy and being as efficient as possible; however, I am more concerned with being able to reveal the best possible flavor in the coffee. I don't mind ruining a few batches trying to control the power on a roaster, but I don't want to find myself down the road not being able to really geek out on a specific SO because I can't get total control.
Thanks again. Let me know your thoughts or if some of my concerns are unfounded.
I have roasted on both Probat and Diedrich (currently on an IR-12). That said, I would be delighted to own either.
Having control down to the second depends on the operator, not the roaster. The Probat (as Ian pointed out) has a harsher heat while the Diedrich produces a softer heat. Once again, scorching and other roast defects are a symptom of operator error more than the roaster. The Probat allows for more radical swings in temperature when running a profile, but the Diedrich can easily follow a similar profile. You just adapt to the roaster and find it's rhythm to produce the best profile for the bean.
Either roaster (and there are many other fantastic roasters besides these two) is a good choice. It is like trying to decide between a Honda Accord and a Toyota Camry. They are both good choices and neither will drive you off the road, only you could drive you off the road.
Practice and accurate recording of profiles followed by incessant cupping is what will produce the best results. That and knowing how much you don't know. Always seek like a beginner and you will always learn more.
They aren't the strongest premises on which to buy a roaster, ask him to consider US Roaster Corp. As a start-up roaster I think they'd have more to offer him. The pre-purchase customer service and post maintenance support are really good too. Also, in terms of best roaster money can buy after probat, this is it, in my opinion. And for bean flavour development, these would come first according to blind taste tests done in 2010. But I have only ever roasted mine in the frying pan so what would I know.
And you'd still be buying an American roaster which I assume is important to American people?
Hope it all works for you guys. We're doing something similar in the UK
US Roaster Corp
All American made and all have devout followers in the industry. It would be tough to find a reason NOT to buy any of these.
Not to nitpick, and this is not a criticism, but I'm pretty sure that at least one of the roasters above has parts that are manufactured abroad--(and I'm not talking about electronics, but the major components, like drums and frames).
I think that most roasters are capable of producing a quality roast--it's what you put in your roaster that really counts--but some are more forgiving, or are heavier duty (for instance: are there dedicated motors, or are they doing double or triple duty?), or have better cooling capability, or are better fit and finish.