Gas vs. Electric roaster; the main differences

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In some cases, it isn’t possible to utilize gas facilities. When it comes down to roasting coffee, this means a lot of machine options fall off. At Giesen, we developed three electric roaster models for people that want to roast coffee at a location where using gas isn’t an option. Another possibility is that you choose electricity for other reasons, like environmental considerations. After all, these machines operate on electricity only. In this blog, we explain the main differences in specifications, use, and result between gas and electric roasters. 

Electric roaster types

Before talking about the differences, let’s elaborate on the different electric models we offer at Giesen:

WPE1 – Electric sample roaster (50 – 200 gram per batch roasting capacity)

Our WPE1 is the smallest electric roaster we offer at Giesen. Designed to roast indoors without gas and easy to operate and install. 

W1E – Electric shop roaster (0,1 – 1,5 kg per batch roasting capacity)

The W1E is an electric coffee roaster, designed to roast indoors without gas. A perfect in-between solution that fits between sample roasting and high-capacity production roasting. 

W6E – Electric shop roaster (0,5 – 6 kg per batch roasting capacity)

When you are looking for a machine that allows you to roast electrically but with a high capacity, the W6E is the best option. 

The main difference

When comparing our electric models to their gas equivalents, there is one main difference; the heating element. An electric roaster runs on your main net, while a gas model relies on your gas connection or separate gas bottles. This means our electric roasters do not emit any noxious gasses; the chimney is purely to dissipate odors and air.

The heating spirals on a Giesen W6E
The heating spirals on a Giesen W6E

Electric roasting; a unique approach

One of the main characteristics that our electric roasters have compared to the gas versions is their different response time. A change made on a gas roaster is applied in an instant and is directly recognizable in your statistics. An electric model, however, needs time to work its way to your settings. This gives you a very smooth increase or decrease in temperature, which can be seen in your software.

Look at it this way; when you turn off the power on a gas model, the machine will cut the gas supply which immediately results in a decrease in temperature. On an electric model, however, the heating element needs time to cool down when you lower the temperature. This because the electric supply to the heating element is cut, but the element itself is still hot. The same goes for the increase in temperature; a gas model will increase immediately when more gas is supplied, while an electric model needs time to heat up to reach your temperature setpoint.

The burner bed on a Giesen W6A
The burner bed on a Giesen W6A

Heating sections on an electric roaster

To compensate this, the heating element in an electric machine is made up of different sections that can be turned on and off separately. This allows the temperature to be controlled very gradually and you can create a smooth rise and fall in temperature. When you are used to roasting coffee on a gas-operated machine, the roasting approach on an electric model will take some getting used to. However, when you know the machine and its characteristics you will notice that roasting on an electric machine can achieve very smooth roasts and great results.

Progressive insights

While the electric heating element smooths out radical changes in temperature, it does require the operators to use their progressive insights. After all, you cannot implement changes immediately and you have to take the growth and decrease to your desired temperature into account. This isn’t insurmountable, since many coffee roasters feel that power changes should be few, and subtle. Drastic changes in power during roasting most likely are to recover from mistakes or the lack of progressive insights. The properties that electric burners have therefore do not have to be a disadvantage at all; you could even see them as an advantage.

Roasting with an electric machine also is very safe because of the moderate response when changing the temperature. If your profiles are well constructed, you can work very well with an electric machine. Gas and electric roasters have different characteristics but especially in this situation counts; you can get used to anything.

Why choose an electric roaster?

From a practical point of view, getting an electric roaster up and running can be very easy. You do not require a gas fitter and permits. when you have the ventilation done and sorted, it is plug and play.

When roasting coffee using gas, a rapid temperature change can be detrimental, even if it is to correct your profile mid-roast. You can win the battle of controlling your roast curve from consistency in temperature gain, not by making large adjustments during your roasting session. Good roasting fundamentals is a controlled and predictable temperature gain. these characteristics can easily be realized with an electric roaster.

A coffee roaster that runs on gas is great, responsive, and powerful. But when you are new to roasting it is very easy to put too much energy in your roast and destroy the final result. This is amplified when you involve the machine’s other variables, like the underpressure, the drum speed, and the burner power. With an electric roaster, implemented changes are less radical and need more time to have a direct influence on your roast compared to a gas model.

Another thing to keep in mind is the air pollution gas roasters cause. With electricity, this problem doesn’t exist. Electric heating elements do not emit any harmful odors and fumes.

Financial advantages

Using an electric machine can also bring financial benefits. As said, you already haven’t got any costs for the permitting and connection work, but there are even more advantages. Depending on the country you live in, there could be several subsidies that you could take advantage of. Looking at the situation in the Netherlands, the government stimulates using electricity among entrepreneurs given its sustainability. Therefore, the government offers subsidy options. Of course, this depends on the country you live in and the options your country offers. However, it is definitely something to dive into as it can save you a lot of money on your initial investment.

In summary

You could consider a gas roaster when you;

– Are looking for a high-capacity machine that is capable of roasting more than 6 kg per batch

– Want the ultimate responsive control over your heat supply and don’t want to compromise

– Have no problem setting up the gas and ventilation connection and can receive all applicable permits

You could consider an electric roaster when you;

– Are looking for an ecological, sustainable solution

– Are pleased with the capacity and described characteristics of our electric models

– Haven’t got the option of realizing the gas connection and / or required permits

– Are about to buy your first machine

Do you want to read more about the science behind coffee, the unique capabilities of our machines, or other subjects related to Giesen? Check out the Giesen blog articles here.

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