Not necessarily bigger than our other home machines, but perhaps better for those looking for a roaster more closely resembling a production machine
It never ceases to amaze us just how many of our Sweet Maria’s customers have made the jump from home roasting for themselves, to turning their craft into a roasting business. Some might say they’ve graduated to becoming a “professional roaster”. But the term “professional” implies that all others are amateur, which isn’t an accurate assessment of most home roasters I know. They tend to be methodical, detail-oriented, and not to mention extremely curious.
With that in mind, we do our best to stock roasting machines that meet the various skillsets and desires of each individual. There’s nothing wrong with using popcorn popper – that’s my preferred home method, being that it’s extremely quick and easy to get up running. But as mastery of a machine is achieved, many folks wish to explore the “next best thing”.
For Sweet Maria’s, Gene Cafe and Hot Top roasters are at the very top end of that quality spectrum. They’re built to last, and full control of heat and airflow allows you to play a much more direct role in the roasting curve of a coffee. These are fantastic roasting machines, an end-point for many of our longtime customers. But for those interested in advancing one step further, in comes the Quest M3s Drum Coffee Roaster, which is currently only available on our sister site (and wholesale business), Coffee Shrub.
The Quest M3s is a lovely stainless steel A roaster with a rotating drum that provides agitation to the beans, while a heating element (typically either electric or gas) provides heat. The metal drum conducts heat to the beans, so drum roasters heat. It looks a lot like a miniature commercial machine, replete with sightglass and bean trier, but with a footprint of a kitchen appliance. Heat is delivered by two electric heating coils straddling the drum, and along with airflow, are manually adjusted. Regulation of heat is also assisted by internal heat exchanger tubes, which also function as air inlets for airflow. In short, you have the ability to easily curve roast batches roughly 1/2 lb. in size, and with a similar fit and feel of a larger commercial machine.
We’ve shied away from offering the Quest on Sweet Maria’s, basically due to the minimal security features to keep a Netflix-sidetracked roast operator from burning their house down. There’s paperwork involved in buying one from us, both an application and liability waiver are required. But in our opinion, if you’re a savvy roaster whose relatively comfortable dialing in roast variables (heat, air, charge temp, etc), then there’s no cause for worry if the M3s sounds like a potential upgrade to you (in fact you have to set a timer for up to 30 minutes which enables the roaster to run, effectively cutting power once the time is up).
The Quest is a popular option for small roasting shops to use as a sample roaster, more or less a way to evaluate small sample batches of coffees being considered for purchase (see Controlling Quality: Sample Roasting for more info on our protocol). But a quick google search reveals that a lot of folks are using the Quest as their main machine, roasting for personal consumption, and even running quasi-retail ventures such as online subscription roasting, farmers markets, and other sorts of small roasting business models. It’s easily disassembled and modified (check out www.home-barista.com for a seemingly endless stream of user mods), and a robust build, heat efficiency, and ability to roast and cool roast batches at the same time, make them an attractive option for back-to-back roasting.
Don’t get me wrong, this roaster is not for everyone, nor is it the end all machine for advancing your roasting skill set. I’m a firm believer in the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. And thankfully the life expectancy of the roasters we carry (both in terms of function-ability and in regards to the rate of technological advancement of roasters in general, which is SLOW), tend to outlast most other home appliance that sees weekly if not daily use.
You can read more about the Quest drum roaster on our order page, as well as our review of the updated model M3s HERE. We’ve also put together a 5-part article series titled “Day After Day Job”, offering the prospective business-minded individual some pros and cons of turning their passion into their day job.