Kamado Joe Classic 3 Review: Sloroller als paradepaardje?
A few months ago I received a brand new Kamado Joe Classic 3 from Kamado Joe Netherlands. You could already see the new model of the acclaimed Classic Joe at work in the last episode of the Tendends series on WTV. Since then, however, I have not been idle and have been rolling out quite a few dishes of the Kamado Joe Classic 3. Enough to provide a review of the device with some of the new accessories. The power of this kamado BBQ should be in the “Sloroller” which should provide a more even distribution of heat and smoke in your dome. You can read exactly how this works and if it is an added value in this post.
Disclaimer: The Kamado Joe Classic 3 that is reviewed here was donated by @Kamadojoenl. This post contains affiliate links. All opinions expressed are personal and sincere.
Before we move on to the discussion of the Sloroller I’d like to take you through the other upgrades of the Kamado Joe classic 3 compared to the Kamado Joe classic 2, which I was already very satisfied with, of which I can immediately say that the elements that satisfied me at the time are also integrated in the new model. For example, in the Kamado Joe classic 3 you can use the “Air Lift Hinge system” which allows you to open the lid without need to use any force. In comparison to the other kamado models I’ve worked with, this brings an absolute extra comfort. Moreover, the combination of the stainless steel lock and the “Wire Mesh Fiberglass gasket” (fiberglass reinforced felt) ensures a perfect closure of the kamado. Besides, this fiberglass mesh gasket lasts much longer than the regular felt (after 2 years of intensive use I see little wear and tear on this old model’s gasket). But also the patented collection tray for the ashes makes the removal of remnants very comfortable (although some other brands have a similar system nowadays). Next to that there was the divide and conquer system which, together with previous points, was the decisive factor for me to choose Kamado Joe as a collaboration partner.
KAMADO JOE CLASSIC 3: IMPROVEMENTS?
DIVIDE AND CONQUER
As mentioned earlier, the features of the Kamado Joe Classic II are still present, but some even got upgraded in this new model. The “Divide and Conquer system” for example, got an extra set of hook to can hang the grids on. This way with the classic Joe 3 you’re able to expand the cooking surface to 3 levels instead of 2. However, you will need to invest in extra grids to do this. Plus, when using the Sloroller, it will not be possible to reach the maximum cooking surface (more about this later). If you don’t know the divide and conquer system you might need some explanation. While other Kamado BBQ’s usually use a grid and plate setter (heat shield) for indirect grilling, Kamado Joe was the first to divide the deflector into two separate parts. This gives you the space and flexibility to combine zones of direct and indirect heat and you can vary the distance to the coals to your preferation. Moreover, this set can be supplemented with extra accessories such as the soapstone, cast iron grids, … .
When looking at the pictures you may have noticed that the appearance of the Kamado Joe classic 3 differs quite a lot compared to the classic 2. I must say that at first I wasn’t a fan of the elongated egg in combination with the robust cart. Although this seems to be a matter of getting used to it because in the meantime I don’t pay attention to it anymore (and even start to like it). Moreover, the cart is certainly an improvement compared to the previous model. Especially if you have to move the BBQ regularly it’s a lot safer with the new cart of galvanized steel. Contrary to the old chassis this version is made out of one piece so the cart doesn’t fall apart as soon as you lift the egg out. It also just feels a lot more solid and reliable. The same goes for the foldable side boards made of powder coated aluminium. I don’t use the side tables very often, but when I do it, it’s often to put a hot skillet on temporarily or to get rid of some material quickly. With the previous side tables made of HDPE plastic this was always a bit of a challenge. Before you knew it, a piece of your side table melts away. Not only does this look sloppy, it’s a lot of dirty work to clean your cast iron. An inattention and you had bad luck. With the new side tables I can happily be my scattered self without doing any damage to my gear.
Another addition to the new model providing some extra comfort is the charcoal basket. This basket has a partition so you can divide the charcoal into two zones. Initially I didn’t see the added value of this as I usually use the devide and conquer system to create indirect zones. In my opinion this works just that little bit more accurately than placing your coals on one side. On the other hand the basket provides a nice airflow around and through your coals which benefits the temperature control. Moreover, you can easily shake the small coals and ashes from between your coals so you can start with nice new blocks the next session. All you have to do is slide out the drawer and drop your ashes before you start your new smoking session.
SLOROLLER VS. DIVIDE AND CONQUER
That Kamado Joe offers good quality is common knowledge in the BBQ world. In addition, the men behind Kamado Joe are always looking for ways to further improve the existing model. In the advertising of the Kamado Joe classic 3 there is a strong focus on the Sloroller as optimization of the model. The Sloroller could best be described as the evolution of a platesetter and aims to distribute the heat and smoke in the BBQ more evenly. The sloroller looks very unwieldy but is made of Teflon coated cast aluminum which makes it very lightweight. The disadvantage of this is that you can’t use the Sloroller above 260°C. No problem for grilling because you can still use the devide and conquer system or you don’t even need shielding anymore. But for maintenance higher temperatures would be handy. Because of the coating I don’t want to rub too hard on the sloroller and burning off the grease and dirt is not an option since the temperature limit. As a result, you’ll have to do an extra wash (unless I overlook something) and let that be just what I want to avoid when firing the BBQ and unfortunately dare to lose sight of it.
Edit: In the meantime I’ve checked with Kamado Joe how they recommend dealing with this. In a way the advice given is logical: “We recommend using a drip pan or a layer of aluminum foil or aluminum metal to catch the dripping fat. In this way you prevent the fat from becoming disgusting when you forget to clean the sloroller”. In other words: “Better prevention than curing the problem”.
IS IT WORTH THE PAIN?
In other words, is ther an added value in the use of the sloroller that justifies the extra work? According to the sales sheet is. The device is based on technology developed by the University of Harvard. By creating different air pressure zones in the kamado the circulation of air (and therefore heat and smoke) is optimized with the following advantages:
- A more even distribution of heat with up to 80% fewer hotspots. Hotspots are places where the coals burn brighter and consequently the local temperature is hotter than the generally measured dome temperature.
- More taste for an equal amount of fuel as the smoke circulates up to 20 times better. This allows the same amount of smoke to penetrate the meat and develop flavour up to 20 times more efficiently.
- Cleaner combustion of your fuel due to a more optimal airflow.
- More accurate temperature control.
But good sales pitches are not the same as experiences. As a user, do you notice the difference in operation and does 20 times more efficient means your meat will taste up to 20 times better? That would be awesome but seems too impressive for a model that was allready nailing it. My main concern before I saw the sloroller in operation, however, was whether this would not eliminate the convenience of the divide and conquer system. In short: see first and then believe…
More even distribution of heat
Am I a fan of the divide and conquer system? Definitely! Yet there are some disadvantages. Unfortunately … this became clear to me at a time when my dome thermometer had broken down with the classic joe 2. Some soot had formed around the sensor causing wrong temperature indication. I noticed that between the two half moons there was clearly a hotspot which caused the middle of my flesh to darken faster than the sides (read burn). This isn’t noticeable when cooking at a lower temperature, but there is a difference that can also be logically explained by the space between the two stones. With the sloroller these “openings” are directed towards the walls of the Kamado so the heat never radiates directly to the meat and therefore hotspots are minimized. It also strikes me that with a full lattice of chicken wings, the complete grid can be used and all of the wings were cooked and colored evenly. Even with larger pieces of meat, this can undoubtedly have an influence on the preparation of slow cooked piece. After all a constant and even distribution of heat is an important condition to achieve good results when smoking meat.
In short: There is certainly a better distribution. I didn’t notice any hotspots and saw at different occasions a more even cooking of the meat.
2. More Taste due to better smoke circulation
The smoke would circulate through the sloroller up to 20 times more efficiently, which would lead to more flavour with the same amount of smoke wood. From this you could quickly get the idea that your meat will also taste 20 times better. If only this were true, but alas it’s not a realistic idea at all. In the end, many more factors influence the taste so the comparison can’t be made. Moreover, I personally find the comparison between the “divide and conquer/platesetter” system very difficult to make. The smoke may circulate 20 times better, but compared to the other flavors, the smoke taste remains only one of the components and the percentage difference on the total taste experience is perhaps hardly noticeable? In my opinion, both systems do equally well in this respect.
In short: There may be a difference in efficiency of smoke circulation. I doubt whether you will actually notice this in a difference in taste. Especially since the classic II already leads to nice results when smoking.
3. Optimized airflow and Cleaner combustion
I doubted very much to assess this point as a separate advantage. Often, when selling a new model, the producer is going to list benefits where one benefit is summarized under 3 different formulations. In itself, for example, the airflow is a reason for the previous points. However, I took this point separately because it is an important part of BBQ. With a bad airflow you risk a bitter precipitation of the smoke on your meat. Especially when it circulates up to 20 times more efficiently this can be a problem. But it also affects the temperature control and the amount of fuel needed for a session. Again it requires scientific knowledge to check whether the airflow in the device is indeed improved by the sloroller or the properties of the Kamado. Which in itself ensures a good flow of air.
In other words: whether the airflow has been improved by the sloroller is difficult to determine. But in view of the conclusions at points 1 and 2, I can in any case not contradict it. What’s more: the more efficient airflow in the device is most likely also responsible for the more even distribution of heat in the device.
4. More Precies Temperature Control
Although I am a fan of Kamado Joe’s innovations and professional approach, I sometimes feel that they are victims of their own quality within their promotional purposes. It goes without saying that better airflow leads to more accurate temperature control as oxygen is needed to keep a fire burning. The better you can control this flow of air (and consequently oxygen) the more accurately you can control the temperature. Again, I note that the Kamado Joe Classic 2 was already incredibly accurate (as illustrated in the review on the Ikamand). Of course, the temperature control also depends to a large extent on the pitmaster who controls the device. So I also wonder if novice BBQ enthusiasts can control the temperature faster with the sloroller compared to the divide and conquer system (or a regular platesetter).
One point that is not considered during the promotion of the sloroller is it’s flexibility. This is also logical because you would expect (certainly judging from the images) that the Sloroller is less flexible. You can’t divide it into two parts to work partly directly and partly indirect. At least that’s what I thought. I also wondered if you could easily add smokewood when using the Sloroller in the Kamado Joe classic 3. A lot of concern for nothing seems to be the case. What you don’t see on the pictures is that the Sloroller consists of different parts so you can easily remove the middle protection plate to add smoke wood. But also to quickly grill a piece of meat over direct heat while the outer edges remain shielded by the rest of the system and indirect working remains possible.
Advantages vs. Disadvantages
- Robust cart provides a higher feeling of trust and makes transport more reliable.
- Divide and Conquer AND Sloroller included
- Divide and Conquer in 3 levels
- Charcoal basket and ash tray for easier removal of ashes between coals
- Heat-resistant aluminum side tables are more durable and look more professional.
- Accurate control is still present
- By using the sloroller less hotspots and more even distribution of heat which leads to nice results on the entire surface of your grill grid.
- The advantages of the Kamado Joe classic II (see first part of the review) are retained.
- Higher price compared to the classic II
- The system to transport the kamado still has some room for improvement
- Difference in functionality lies in details and durability that may not be immediately noticeable.
- Sloroller is more difficult to clean.
The Kamado Joe classic 3 has a lot of subtle changes in finish that I still feel add value to the total package. Because of the class of the Classic Joe 2 these may seem a bit negligible at times and you might ask yourself whether it’s justified the extra cost. To be honest, I have to admit that my own portfolio would make me doubt enormously when making the choice. On the other hand, based on the experience with both devices, I can say that the improvements do have an impact on your peace of mind (more robust chassis) and ease of use compared to the previous model. Moreover, you don’t have to choose between the sloroller or the divide and conquer system, but both are included in the cost price for the Kamado Joe classic 3. In other words, you can say that the higher price can be justified somewhere, taking into account what you get in return. In other words, the question is whether you can have the patience to save for a model with extra options or rather start from the basics. In the latter case, you won’t complain about the purchase of previous models.