I just wanted to take a moment and explain to you my experiences with the RK Drum. I am currently using a Fiesta 36,000BTU setup. I also have Ron's Gear motor setup as well. I must tell you that the combined setup does extremely well. I have now probably roasted two 70 Kilo sacks of coffee through the RK Drum and I always get consistent reliable results. The coffee always cups very nicely and my customers are pleased. I am actually starting out as a roaster and found the entry level costs on roasters to be quite prohibitive. I would recommend this solution to anyone. Due to our increasing volume, I am thinking about building another setup. The only drawbacks I can think of is that it is slightly cumbersome removing the pin from the drum door when it's hot and you're trying to cool the roast in a hurry. However; it only takes a couple of roasts to get the hang of it and you can usually pull the roast, get the pin out and get it into the cooling tray within about 10 seconds. As to construction, the drum is really a very fine piece of work. Not a single complaint on its reliability or sturdiness or design. It really should last a lifetime. Highly recommended!
Old Spanish Main Coffee Company
Flowery Branch, GA
(Posted at www.coffeegeek.com)
I have been looking at coffee roasters for well over a year, but have been disappointed by the current options. Basically, most of the current crop of home-use roasters (with possibly the exception of the Behmor) seem somewhat flaky and poorly constructed. I looked at more than a few of them, and they just didn't seem likely to last out the year. It seemed to be stretching things to pay the amount of money that many cost if I wouldn't get that much use out of them. Also, all of the posts about voltage problems in houses with these roasters had me pretty alarmed. I read posts about people needing variacs and line voltage problems with the roasters, and that combined with the construction problems I had seen were just too much of a red flag. So I put off getting any of the roasters.
But then I noticed www.rkdrums.com and it seemed like a very good solution. The drums looked well built and unlikely to fall apart in a year. Also, since it used a propane grill, no worries about voltage issues. My only concern with rkdrums was assembling the thing. This was solved very easily though when Shane Lewis (see buying experience below for more details) agreed to assemble one for me.
I have done 6 roasts with the unit so far, and that seems to be enough at least to get a review started I think. Using the unit is very easy:
(1) Preheat grill to 500+ degrees F with drum outside of grill
(2) Insert beans in drum and close drum.
(3) Insert drum in grill.
(4) Flip switch to get drum rotating and start timer.
(5) Control temperature profile during roast. There are many recipes at www.rkdrums.com with sample
profiles. I found it not very hard and all of my roasts have turned out pretty well (if I say so myself...)
(6) Take drum out of grill. With one hand you can hold the rotisserie handle but you will want a nice glove for the other hand. The rkdrums site recommends ove glove. I bought a pair of foundry gloves from
amazon.com (for under $30) that can withstand prolonged (i.e., more than temporary) exposure to 600 deg F temps so that I could sit there all day holding the spit if I wanted to.
(7) Remove pin from drum door. This is really the only design flaw I see. I think maybe some other sort of latch would have worked better. I see why they opted for the pin, though. It is simple and you don't worry about the heat ruining a spring or anything like that. It's not like it is very complicated either (rather easy, actually). It's just that this step could be smoother if you just had to flip a latch or something.
(8) Put beans in a kitchen sieve over a fan. I notice some people had assembled box fans on a wooden frame. Because I am lazy, I bought a 20" circular fan with stand (a workshop-ish one) that can be pointed straight up and just put the 20" sieve right on top of it.
(9) Stir beans (not long, they cool down in just a minute or so.)
(10) Clean everything up, put away grill, etc.
All in all, it is very direct. You don't have to fiddle with some electronic program to get it to do what you want it to do. Just set the temp as you like it. It seems much more direct and pleasant. I did a range of roasts, from city-ish to full city to vienna, and am satisfied with all of them. It is very easy to hear the beans cracking, even though I had previously only read FAQs about what to expect.
The unit is constructed extremely well. In fact, it is painfully obvious that the only shoddy construction is that coming from the grill itself or the rotisserie spit. The drum looks build like a tank. The motor assembly is mounted to an extremely thick metal plate and looks very solid. It all looks like commercial quality contruction.
The $490.00 price is for the 4 lb combo and drum and motor and mounts. I actually paid more than this because I asked Shane Lewis (the new person running www.rkdrums.com) to assemble/buy an entire unit (grill + drum + motor + sheet metal work) for me. He did this very quickly and cheerfully (and with minumum charge) and shipped everything to me. There was some damage to the grill in shipping, but he sent a check for $12 to cover the replacement parts from the grill manufacturer. I am very satisfied with all of my dealing with him and the buying experience was very pleasant.
Manufacturer: Ron Kyle Quality: 9
Average Price: $210.00 Usability: 9
Price Paid: $490.00 Cost vs. Value: 9
Where Bought: www.rkdrums.com
Owned for: 1 month Overall 9:
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned:
Bottom Line: Sturdy, no voltage problems, multi-pound capacity
Positive Product Points
• Very sturdy construction.
• Straightforward: Put beans in drum and heat drum.
Negative Product Points
• Pin that holds door closed not the best design option IMO.
I've only been roasting coffee since June of this year (09). I needed to get a larger roaster, seems like every week I roast more and more. I did alot research and just did not want to pull the trigger on a $3500.00 plus roaster.
I contacted Shane and talked to him about a drum. I ended up ordering the 4# roaster, bought a new grill and did the sheet metal mods. Shipping was fast and correct. The drum is built to last a lifetime, the only thing that I should have done different was to get the 6# drum for $90.00 more. (Shane should have talked me into getting the 6# roaster.) LOL
It was simple to set up and get it going. I've more than maxed it out a couple of times, beans came out great. You can see the mods i've made to the grill and the simple bean cooler I built on Shane's web site.
Bottom line is that the drum is top notch, works great and is well worth the money! Shane is also a great guy to talk to and will treat you right.
Well, 700+ lbs of coffee roasted in the last year and a half since purchasing my Drum....and still banging out some of the best coffee to be found anywhere.
(if I don't say so myself) My friends, family, and even a couple dozen "Customers"?....people who have adopted me as their coffee supplier will attest- good beans, fire steel (the RK ) and man it makes some good coffee,
thanks much again,
Glacier Coffee Roasters.
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
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 (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.