I guess you did see the video on Vimeo? http://vimeo.com/13664547
Not sure if the brand of oven is visible there.
Felipe Jaramillo Fonnegra, Thank you for the reply. The convection oven brand is not visible. I was at Mast Brothers last week and got a private tour but did not take note of the convection ovens. I will call them and ask.
Please post once you know.
I am curious to know why you want to know the specific brand. In reality it does not matter. The concerns are the number of racks (which determines the batch size) as well as the evenness of the airflow (and therefore the temperature of the oven cavity) from back to front, top to bottom, and left to right.
Another concern that few people talk about is recovery time. How long does it take for the oven to return to the preset temperature after the doors are opened? There are two times ... when cold items are added (i.e., new pans with beans), and when hot items are returned (i.e., after rotating/shaking the pans).
A final note that few people talk about when using convection ovens is ... how often do they need to be cleaned? Mast Bros clean every day to remove residue left over from roasts (off the sides, doors, fan mechanism). If left uncleaned, this residue can degrade the performance of the oven as well as, potentially, introduce off-odors.
I believe Mast Brothers uses a Moffat Turbo convection oven, either the E-32 MS or the G32 MS. From my research, these seems to be the best in foot print size, price, and quality. They run in the price range of $2995/$5000 but I have seen them used for $1500. If you are looking for a new one, shop around, find the best price with no shipping cost or taxes.
If I am wrong on what Mast Brothers uses, I am sure Clay would know, if he is willing to share the info.
I don't know the brand, in fact. I am on record as saying that I don't think the use of convection ovens is a good idea because it's difficult (if not impossible) to get an even roast - even when moving pans around. I would never buy a used oven for this reason without testing it to know that the temperature was even front to back, left to right, top to bottom, when full of pans.
Furthermore, one thing I do know is that the ovens need to be cleaned very often. Like every day. They are not designed to handle the build-up of fats (cocoa butter in suspension in the air). These can clog the fans, too, so it's extremely important to be diligent about cleaning them
Another point I want to mention. Roasting is a crucial element of flavor development. Why skimp out on it? If anything, you want to ensure that you're getting the best possible roast, not the cheapest possible roaster.
There are others who disagree with this opinion, but there is no one I know who is making chocolate that is using a convection oven as a roaster that makes a chocolate that is widely held (i.e., internationally) in high regard.
Thank you for your input. I have indeed read about your concern with convection ovens. Could you share your thoughts on these points:
1. For Home Chocolatiers: I would assume you prefer a smaller roaster like the Behmor 1600 to a household oven?
2. For larger operations: I was curious to read in Askinosie's 'How we do it' that they are using a roaster and a winnower from 'Columbia' (step 13 and step 18). I assume he means Colombia, South America and not Columbia, PA.
With Colombia being more focused in Coffee than in Chocolate, would it be a good idea to look for used coffee roasting and winnowing equipment if I am located in the country?
If you are making chocolate for a hobby then the home oven may be better if it is a convection oven. Invest in perforated sheet pans on which to the roasting. Two pans in the oven may give you the same capacity as a Behmor for a lot less money. Also consider using some sort of stone "heat sink" (like a pizza stone or hearth liner) to help regulate oven temp swings when opening and closing the oven.
Coffee roasters are certainly adaptable for roasting cocoa and there should be a wide selection of new and used in Colombia to choose from. Coffee shellers may be adaptable to hulling roasted cocoa, it depends on the shape of the throat and how adjustable the gap is.
The decision might also be based on energy cost and availability. Gas might be easier and cheaper than electricity, for example, where your facility is located.
In the US, small gas roasters tend to be very expensive to purchase, even used. Electric convection ovens are easier to find (used, on eBay, for example), and tend to be less expensive to install and operate as well. They're not made to "roast" cocoa beans, so there are other operational issues to consider, such as cleaning.
If I was going to go the convection oven route and had the money, I would purchase one that accepts roll-in speed racks and rotated throughout the cooking cycle.
But that's just me. If you choose a manual oven I would test it to discover the temperature distribution. From this you can get an idea if (and then how) you need to rotate pans during roasting.
Another key factor for consideration if you need to rotate pans is how quickly the temperature recovers after opening the doors (and how low the temp drops). This needs to be factored into the roast profile calculations. Of course, you can also use stone inserts to help regulate the temperature.
I agree with the limitation of convection ovens for roasting and the need for regular cleaning. Not sure I agree with Clay's last statement, though, as I believe that both Patric and the Rogue Chocolatier roast in a convection oven and are widely held in high regard.
I also roast in a convection oven (a home model, no less), but I've hacked a drum into it that has made my roasts far more consistent. That being said, my chocolate was pretty well reviewed even before I switched to the drum.
Neither Alan nor Colin - or you - shared with me that they/you were using convections ovens. Need to revise my opinion in that case.
I won't try to recreate my lost reply since you have stated that you would revise you opinion about roasting cacao in a convection oven or at least I hope, see if it might be a viable alternative.
In regards to your November 21 reply, "why would I want to know what brand of convection oven used by the Mast Bros". It is sometimes not necessary to reinvent the wheel again and again. From what I know about the Mast Bros, they have put a lot of thought into the operation and manufacturing of their chocolate. They are the current darlings of the artisan chocolate world in the US. Thomas Keller, chef extraordinaire of the French Laundry, confers with them and only carries Mast Bros chocolate. I highly respect Keller's taste in anything having to do with food. Not to mention, the accolades the Mast bros have received in the last year. So yes, I am interested in the equipment they use. In addition, I too, have heard that Patric uses a convection oven to roast. In my book and in the world of chocolate, Patric is up there in international high regard.
Some of the professional convection ovens I have seen recently are phenomenal. The technology is there. They might be more of a hassle to clean than a conventional roasters, but have you cleaned a tempering machine. On the human level, we are masters of innovation and appropriation.
On another note, my current drug of choice happens to be Potomac's Upala 70%. Thanks Ben