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Home Coffee Roasting with an RK Drum and a Gas Grill

RK Drum roaster in gas grill

Second, a minor problem -- I had to bend the ends of the grill's flame shield ("vaporizer bar") upwards so that the center would be lower. This was so that the drum wouldn't touch the flame shield. Slight bends with a 10# hammer solved this issue.

Third, another minor problem with my Charbroil setup: temperature control was horrible. Perhaps that's a function of where I placed my thermometer, which was 1" below the CharBroil logo in the front of the cover. This puts it close to the exit for all heated air from the grill. As a test, though, I pulled out my digital thermocouple that I used with my Hottop. I ran it through a hole in the side of the grill's hood and found it read anywhere from 35-50 degrees higher than the New Braunfels thermometer. Not what I expected, since the indicated roasting temperature was already well above the targets -- and I had trouble or couldn't get low enough for the target temps. That, and the fact that my 1st and 2nd cracks were towards the end of the acceptable time ranges, made me think that the thermometer was reading way high. Hummm...

Finally, another problem with the $99 CharBroil -- ignition. This has the only burner I've ever seen which has the gas holes on the top of the side seam. Couple this with the standard boxy igniter, screwed to the top of the burner so the box hangs BELOW the gas holes. Since the purpose of the box is to capture some gas to ignite, the lighting is awfully difficult. It's easier to light it with a butane starter.

Roasting was the fun part. I could watch the temps rise up, fall, twiddle the gas valves for more or less gas, and listen, listen, listen. When it was finished, I dumped the beans into a metal mesh colander on top of a 10" box fan and stirred the beans and chaff. Note: I didn't want a 10" box fan, I wanted a 20" but that's hard to find in September. I finally found one and bought it, because the 10" didn't push enough air.

If I was starting over, I would: 1) buy the Brinkman grill at $200 or the Charbroil "commercial" at $300 from Lowe's 2) buy the "premium" rotisserie, or at least buy one that had a full-size spit rod 3) get a high-rpm motor BEFORE the first roast. 4) find a 20" box fan and not settle for a smaller size.

I'm now using my digital thermometer with thermocouple in addition to the large analog thermometer. This gives me a quick-response indicator of temperature changes, while the analog one responds more slowly. After a few roasts where I just stuck the thermocouple about 4 inches into the grill body through one of the 1/4" holes in the side of the top, I pulled out my 1/4" copper tubing and tubing cutter. By running the thermocouple through the copper tubing, I have a way to place the thermocouple's bead (the actual sensing mechanism) where I want it. If you zoom the pictures above, you can see the copper tubing entering the grill lid from the left side.

(If you can't zoom the pictures, then try Firefox or Opera. I think you'll like them more than Internet Explorer. OK, OK, I decided to have mercy on the I.E. users! I made the pictures into links that will open larger versions of the same pictures)

It looks like my Hottop coffee roaster is going into retirement. I guess I will hold onto it for a while. I'll probably sell the Hottop in a couple months.

Roasting with the RK Drum is fun!

Coffee Roasting |  2 |  Hottop |  2 |  Hottop Tips |  RK Drum |  2 |  3 |  4 |  5

Copyright © 2003-2006 Terry A. Stockdale

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