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The Gene Cafe: Air heat source with off-axis drum rotation.


Simple, well-designed controls allow infinite time and temperature adjustment before and during the roast

Gene Cafe now ships with the double size chaff collector as a standard part. This used to be an add on but makes for a better machine so I am glad to see it as a standard issue.

There is a handy way to empty chaff from the collector; just open and vacuum out the insides. Empty the chaff collector after every roast. Remove visible chaff from the roast chamber every roast and dislodge any small beans that may have become stuck in the chamber. Every five roasts, tip the machine to empty out any chaff that may be in the housing, not quite in the chaff collector


Glass roast drum for great roast visibility, and true 1/2 Lb capacity. Yes, you can roast smaller batches too. There is a handy stand for holding the drum upright while you load it.

Easy to load and operate. Don't force the drum into the chassis.

There is a fuse now on the back of the machine near the plug - be sure to check that if you find the machine will not start.

We also created a bare bones Gene Cafe page that has a link to a .torrent file of my Gene Cafe Movie (about 48 megs). -Tom

The Gene Cafe is a machine I tested for over a year, through the stages of prototype development. It had been sold for a year in Korea (where the manufacturer, Genesis, is located), the UK, Europe and Japan before finding its way to the US market. The machine has CE approval - which is like UL for Europe. We have carried this machine since May 2006 and it has performed well so far and the documentation that comes with the roaster is very good.

The so-called "Analog" model we offer here impressed me from the start, even when I tested prototypes that did not function well. Let's call it the 2 Knob Gene Cafe. It is simple, and allows you, the operator, to dynamically change the roast time or temperature during the roast process. The readout shows you time and temperature every step of the way. Combine these simple, effective controls with a glass drum through which the coffee is highly visible, and you have the best roast control system ever invented: YOU! There is a so-called "Digital Model" that I tested ... it did not work. Even if it did, I did not like the controls

The Gene Cafe has a half pound batch capacity, and uses a unique off-axis mechanical agitation with a hot air heat source. The roast is easy to observe, and the controls make it easy to modify; change the roast time or roast temperature any time you like, and as much as you like. It features an oversized chaff collector that can deal with the most chaff-heavy coffees.

The roaster is extremely quiet compared to air machines, and even compared to other drum roasters. All 1/2 Lb roasters produce a quantity of smoke if you go into the darker roast stages; the Gene Cafe is no exception. But I would not call this machine especially "smoky" either in operation, nor in the cupping results. Speaking of the roast quality; it is very good. I get improved body over air roasting, without diminished brightness. Targeting an exact "degree of roast" takes some experience, since (like all drum roasters) the coffee tends to get a bit darker from the roast level at the time you start the cool cycle especially since the beans stay in the chamber - they do not dump into a cooling tray. You need to stop roasts a tad short of where you want it to end up..

What's not to like about the Gene Cafe? Well, I wish the cooling was more rapid, and it cooled to a lower temperature. Unlike the Hot Top, the Gene Cafe cools in the drum where the coffee is roasted. You can finish the cooling by removing the coffee from the glass drum as soon as the cool cycle stops, and put it in a wire mesh colander. The Gene cools to 140 f. before the drum stops rotating, allowing you to remove the batch. It does not cool a set amount of time, and will give you an audible signal both when the cool cycle begins and ends.

The manual that comes with the machine is very well written but okays some things we would not - so we have an additional Sweet Maria's Tip Sheet. (Specifically the manual says you can use this for a small cafe - which we would strongly advise against - this is a home machine - not a commercial unit. Also they talk about doing multiple batches and setting the machine and walking away - both things we think are a bad idea.) The machine controls are so easy to understand but here is a small list of items I would underscore from the manual:

  • Take care in handling the glass drum. When you seat the drum into the roaster chassis, it fits in at an angle. Do not force it in, let it drop it.
  • The drive motor stops at a particular position (vertical or just a tad before vertical) to allow the drum to be removed. I noticed that a couple times, after the cooling cycle finishes, it sometimes stops a little out of position. If this happens, turn the roaster off, then on (push the red knob twice). The drum rotates once and will land on the correct position to remove the drum. Don't try to remove the drum or replace it into the chassis if the motor is in the wrong position.
  • Always use the provided "drum stand" when the drum is out of the roaster. It's a nice gadget that safely stand the drum on end so you can load it.
  • The manual suggests 300 grams as the maximum batch size - but I never use that much. I use a 8 ounce or 1/2 pound batch (226 to 230 grams). You can roast up to 300 grams - but not with dry processed coffees - see note below.
  • I suggest using the highest temperature setting (482) for the coffee up until the start of first crack, then bring the temperature down to finish the roast. In my tests , 482 @15 minutes is going to be in the neighborhood of a City roast. PLEASE NOTE: The roaster will not actually get up to 482 degrees- that is way hotter than you want the machine to go for roasting coffee. Maybe if you want charcoal, but not for coffee roasting.
  • I suggest anticipating the roast color/degree you want, and stopping the roaster a bit shy of that. Your City roast will tend to "coast" into City+, just as it will on the other 1/2 Lb drum roasters we offer.
  • The drum and instruction booklet designate a different roast volume for "Brazil Coffee." What they mean is that chaff-laden dry-process coffees will heat up the roast chamber more than less chaffy wet-processed coffees. So not just Braziian but natural Ethiopian, Yemen, Indonesian coffees - or any blends containing these coffees. In my tests, all dry-process coffees and wet-processed (and decafs, which have no chaff) roast fine at an 8 oz. batch (measure by weight, not volume for better accruacy). The maximum batch size for dry processed coffees is 240 grams. Keep an eye on the roast (which you always should) to adapt the heat setting and roast time to make adjustments for dry processed coffees. After all, their "Brazil Coffee" setting does not account for pulped natural Brazils (less chaff) or anomalous wet-processed coffees that have tons of chaff (Bolivia Cup of Excellence comes to mind). One person reported some chaff igniting in the chamber - which caused no damage - but can be a result of using a full batch of a chaff-heavy dry process coffee.
  • Read the instruction book! The roaster is so easy-to-use, the controls so straight-forward, there is a temptation to throw coffee in and start roasting. But this is a big chunk o' change for this machine. Take a few minutes to get to know it better.
  • Cleaning: Empty the chaff collector after every roast. Remove visible chaff from the roast chamber every roast and dislodge any small beans that may have become stuck in the chamber. Every five roasts, tip the machine to empty out any chaff that may be in the housing, not quite in the chaff collector ... better yet, use a shop vac to suck out any chaff from the exit air of the drum , and drum where the chaff collector attaches to the chasis. Every 20 roasts, I would take apart the chaff collector and clean off the screens by soaking ans scrubbing the in hot water.
    Roaster Size: 19 x 10 x 9 with chaff collector installed
  • Here's a link to the pdf with the Gene Cafe Tip Sheet

    Interested in what Gene Cafe users are saying about this machine? Check out the Using Drum Roasters section of the Sweet Maria's Forum.