Whether you are new to coffee roasting or already established, taking care of your coffee roaster and operating it safely goes way beyond just reading the manufacturers manual. We supply a range of books from established roasters that can guide you in the art of roasting excellent coffee, but you also need to keep your equipment clean and well maintained the produce the best coffee from it.
Your user manual will indicate cleaning times for various parts of the machine based on roast hours, however one part is particularly essential to keep clean - the Chaff Collector or Cyclone as it is sometimes known. The chaff collector must be cleaned out after every batch of roasting, the fine skin from the coffee beans that collects in it is highly combustable, but don't just remove the obvious build up at the base of your chaff collector - the hottest part is the top and you need to access the top through the upper door of the chaff collector and remove the fine particle build up that collects on the sides like a moss. It is this build up that will catch out the unwary - causing fires in the chaff collector. Scrape the sides and top of the chaff collector walls and hoover it out as well.
It is also important to clean the area under the cooling tray, this can be accessed by a door and needs to be cleaned after every roast - build up of chaff flakes in this area combined with long roast days can again lead to a fire, and debris left on the mixer motor will make it overheat and fail. A few minutes cleaning before starting a roast session will prolong the life of your machine and it's components.
There will also be a tray below the front of the drum that can be removed and emptied, this collects the debris that falls between the drum and front wall. It is also worth remembering to check your drum alignment - you should have a small gap between the drum and the front wall of the roaster - too big and coffee beans will fall into the burner area, too small and when the drum gets hot it will rub against the front wall - consult your user manual on how to adjust the drum.
General cleaning of the chaff collector top and mixer arms can be made easier you a cleaning solution like Urnex Sprayz designed specifically for coffee roasters.
When you are roasting coffee, generally you can roast no less then half your roasters load capacity - so for a 20kg roaster you can roast 10kg minimum. But be advised when you roast less coffee, it needs less heat to roast it in the same time - so you will need to adjust the burner pressure tap to lower the flame if you are roasting less coffee. Getting the gas flame height perfect is an art, and will help to ensure you coffee roasts in the time you wish it to - use to big a flame and the coffee will roast far too quickly - and use to low a flame and it will take a long long time baking the coffee. Learning the correct amount of heat to apply to different origins so they roast in the time you desire is part of the art of roasting coffee.
Cleaning of the exhaust fan and top tube should be done after a set amount of roast hours, consult your manual and be sure to clean it on the schedule advised. Ducting will also need checking and cleaning periodically, depending on your outside cowel to prevent water and birds getting in the ducting - you might need to clean the mesh of fine coffee dust that builds up. Even small blockages in the ducting will affect air flow - this typically will cause the burner to cut out - most often at turnaround and first crack. The burner will go out and then re-ignite - when this happens you have an air flow blockage - and you need to start checking the ducting.
Bearings on your roaster need greasing regularly, for the front bearing be mindful you should use a food safe grease in case any drips into the cooling tray - we supply a food safe grease. Front and Back Bearings need greasing, and check your chain at the same time.
The motors that make your roaster run are susceptible to the heat caused by extended roast sessions, if a motor fails you can reset the fuse in the roaster fuse box to see if it had just overheated. If the motor continually trips you can try replacing the start/stop/run capacitor - the white tube attached to the motor - this will have the rating marked on it - typically 20uf for Toper roasters motors. If replacing the capacitor does not help you will need to source a replacement motor. You can help your motors last longer by keeping the body and back fan clean of dust and debris - the back fan blows air over the metal fins on the body helping the motor stay cool - if they get blocked up the motor will overheat.
Keeping your coffee roaster clean and well maintained will prolong it's life - and produce better tasing coffee - so there really is no excuse not to spend that little bit of extra time caring for your equipment.