Excellent roasting quality meets programmability to offer outstanding roasting potential.
Positive Product Points
Eight fully programmable roasting stages Memory storage for up to 9 profiles Roasting temperature adjustable during roast High roasting capacity Commercial quality roasts Cooling tray outside machine Quiet roaster
Negative Product Points
Expensive Requires frequent cleaning High roasting capacity Can get very smoky during dark roasts Not so good at dealing with chaff No adjustment of segment time or fan speed during roasting
After a two+year iRoast2 started going on me the Hottop was what I wanted to upgrade to. From the reviews the standard profiles on the analog and digital models were considered limiting so I figured the programmable was the model for profile control.
Indeed it's giving me the profile control and then some of the iRoast. Time, temperature and fan speed programmability of 8 roasting segments allows for a good deal of flexibility. From start to finish each segment has a temperature limit but you can program to skip segments to push for fast ramps or hold two or more segments at the same temperature to flatten out your curve. As well, if you find you're over or under shooting a target temp you can raise or lower target temps during roast to raise or lower the output of the heating element to give you some, albeit slow, roasting control. There is no adjustment of time or fan speed once programmed. Plus time is available to extend roasting time.
Time vs. temp target is what the element output seems to be calibrated to with the chamber temps being the regulating feedback. With the flexibility of the programmable Hottop it seems like a lot is possible.
Programmability is very intuitive and easier than the iRoast2. I think the developers at Hottop were very thoughtful in designing the programming options. You can copy a stored profile to another memory, change it or delete it. The readout temps can be changed from between C and F. Different functions are displayed with different colour backgrounds so it's easier to identfy what you're doing from programming to roasting. Only buttons you can use in any given setting flash and are usable. The display also shows all information during roasting at once from stage level, chamber temp, target temp, time left in segment, overall time remaining, fan speed...very handy if you keep notes and record roast info.
Overall, after about 15 roasts, I hit a Harrar roast that brought out all the excellent character of the Harrar bean I like. The roast brewed up like a field of blueberries. The iRoast was capable of good roasts but the control and radiant heat drum roasting of the Hottop, I feel, results in a fuller character roast than a fluid bed roast like the iRoast's. If you have some knowledge and experience with roasting the Hottop is capable of excellent roasts.
I understand as well that the Hottop is very voltage sensitive. Using the 110v plug on my stove I figure it's as close to running on a dedicated circuit as I'll get and so far I have no problems pushing a roast into the dark side. As a matter of fact a roast finishing with a high final target temp races into 2nd crack and so far I've almost incinerated one roast and gone too dark for my liking with another.
I listed high roasting capacity as both a postive and negative because for single origin roasting you've got enough for a week's worth for two but if you like to roast single origins seperately to blend roasting more than 3 SO's will get you more coffee than 2 could probably drink in a week. If you blend 3 or more SO's the only thing that works is blending green, which is restrictive if your preference favours different roast levels from one SO to another for blending.
Picked up at vendor. Orders filled and ready almost always the next day.
Three Month Followup
After about 50 roasts over 3 months I have to say I really like the Hottop progammable. The Hottop roasts are much better than anything I remember getting with an iRoast2.
After a good seasoning and watching the roasts I'm able to program in profiles that set up to 1st crack to give me good control over rest and start of 2nd. On the fly adjustability is limited to segment temperature and stretching the roasting time during the final segment, and that's a bit of a drawback, but the programmable's design to coordinate set temp with segment time I'm finding really helps ensure even, consistent roasts. The Hottop's design quality is not bad. The chaff collector is light guage aluminum tray and having to unscrew parts for disassembly/cleaning runs the risk of threading screws and damaging components but I find it easy to maintain. A hand vac with a long hose attachment does a great job sucking up chaff and stray stuff in the chamber between roasts. I look forward to a good long time of service and excellent roasts from the programmable.