I got one of Ron Kyle’s roasting drums for gas grills. Just a little one, 8″ in diameter and 12″ long. All stainless steel-perforated with little holes, with solid end plates and big stirring vanes inside. I had him put the holes for a roticery connection in the endplates, in case I want to use it in a gas grill instead of just on the roller system I have in my brick oven. First roast-I’d finished roasting my orders for the day, and the oven was down to max. temp of 450 degrees, so I just put
of straight Oaxacan Pluma beans. I could see the beans flowing and flying in the drum, looking through the roticery hole in the end plate. Love the cha cha cha sound the beans make as the drum turns. A strong, even, first crack started at 9 minutes into the roast, finished a minute later, and at the 12 minute mark it smelled right and just before any second cracks sounded I dumped and cooled. Perfect light full city roast. Every bean fully developed and nicely colored. Impressive, better than I usually get for that roast stage with my regular drum that only has some cable (like a Hot Top) for agitation. Cupped as good as it looked the next day.
Next days roasting- I had several orders to fill, and couldn’t waste time with 1/2 lb roasts. Ron figured the drum is good for 4 lb roasts, so I put 4 lbs of beans in,(a blend of 50% Pluma, 25% El Salvador Bourbon, 25% Organic Bolivian) got the oven to 500 degrees (a little lower temp than I usually roast at, counting on the fast agitation to make a difference) and got started. A few beans started to fall out the holes for roticery attatchments, but not many. At 12 minutes first crack began, and lasted for about 3 minutes, then stopped. I lowered the temp to about 460 and kept going, but by now beans started pouring out the end plate holes and burning on the hot bricks. Dammit!
Second crack began at 17 minutes, and judging from the beans falling out, the roast was amazingly even. At 18 minutes I unloaded, dumped and cooled. Even though the drum isn’t very heavy I noticed that I need new welders gloves-today!-ouch, that felt hotter than my ss mesh drum. It cooled almost imediately after the beans were out, though. Perfect roast. Not one burnt bean, no tipping, no scorch marcks, nary a divot. Exactly the roast I wanted (full city plus, no oil) I’ve never done Along those lines, are also neat and clean, save for the occasional sloppy Virgin (they do exist). (or seen) a more even roast, wow. I pluged the end plate holes with some short bolts and washers, then loaded it with 5 lbs of greens. That still only fills the drum to about 1/3. Same blend, only I needed some Vienna Roast-rolling second crack, a slight sheen of oil. I was a little nervous about roasting “blind”, with no way to see the beans. The temp, time, sounds and smell were easy to follow, and after another 20 minutes I had a perfect Vienna Roast-again, not one burnt bean, nothing stuck in the drum, nothing fell out during the roast. Super duper mixing as it turned, at least as much motion as a hot air roaster. 6 more roasts after that, mostly 4 lb ones, and every one was perfect. I’m a happy camper. I tried at a slightly higher oven temp and took 2 minutes off the time. I’ll carefully try at even higher temps untill I finally burn some beans, just to find out the limit. I’m going to make a square tube tryer to put in the end plate hole that faces me as I roast, and drill some holes in that plate, too, just because I like to be able to see at least basic bean color. Other than that, I’m a very satisfied customer. This drum will outlast me. I will order a longer(18″) one for 8 lb roasts, and Ron says maybe he can put a glass window in the end. Thanks, Ron! I’ve been waiting 6 months for my local machinist buddy to make me a new drum. Who knows when that finally would have happened, and I’m positive it wouldn’t have been so finely made. The old one wobbles and moves on the rollers, and catches and burns some beans in a few spots. Not yours, it’s a beauty.