Mastering the art and science of roasting is not an easy task. There are many variables to take into consideration. How will you best accentuate the idiosyncratic characteristics of the beans? How will this coffee be brewed? What are consumers looking for? All these factors are under the Roast master’s discretion. However, what about the equipment, tools and accessories that can aid the roasting process? Are there any tools that can help you increase efficiency, ensure quality, and maintain consistency?
Improving efficiency should be a concern of every Roaster regardless of the size. However, for a medium size to commercial roaster, efficiency, or the lack thereof, has a substantial impact on operational costs. One of the biggest concerns as a growing roaster becomes ‘how can we move things from point A to point B using the least amount of energy, time, and labor?’ This is when installing conveyors is optimal. According to Jeff Dudas, CEO of Spiroflow “Some of the main benefits of automating conveying are the decrease of labor costs; improvement of sanitary conditions; dust control; improved efficiency; and reduced energy consumption.” In addition, “Conveyor’s will avoid repetitive stress injuries employees may suffer during the operating process,” says Dudas. According to Karl Seidel, Marketing Manager at Cablevey Conveyors, “Getting efficient means constantly examining and improving upon processes. Getting a grasp of what those efficiencies are for your unique brand is what building a business is all about. A conveyor is one small part of the mix – but it’s a business decision based on efficiency, safety and your ability and willingness to grow your business.”
Moreover, many roasters are trying to diversify by providing not only different origins and roasts, but also flavored coffees for consumers. One of the latest trends Dudas sees is “Companies are interested in adding flavors and vitamins.” For this, “Spiroflow provides Flexible Screw Conveyors that will automate that process by adding the mixed ingredients to the ground coffee.”
To increase quality, as well as ensure consistency, the Agtron scale or tiles are essential. Carl Staub, President of Agtron says, “We want to make people aware that they can have more control over the roasting process.” Staub continues to explain; “The M-BASIC II does not look at the color of the coffee or the lightness or darkness of a sample. Instead, it measures the amount of near-infrared energy at specific wavelengths reflected from the surface of a sample. The wavelengths selected relate to compounds that directly correlate to the development of soluble organics.” Since the flavor of coffee is related to soluble organics, by ignoring color and concentrating on the development of organic compounds, the M-BASIC II is capable of identifying subtle changes introduced by various roasting strategies. It also provides a much more accurate and repeatable method for monitoring roast consistency.
The Agtron scale is not targeted only to big commercial roasters. It is designed for any roaster that wants to create an exceptional cup. According to Staub, “We were surprised to learn that 40% of Agtron scales are sold to specialty roasters that roast around 12 kilos” Roasters that are motivated by more than consistency but achieving excellent quality should be looking to use this device.
Another important step in ensuring quality, as well as creating different roast profiles is sample roasting. Sample roasting allows you to determine the characteristics of the bean and quality, while experimenting around with roast degrees. Some of the most widely used sample roaster brands are Probat and Sample Pro by Coffee Direct Pro. Nevertheless, sample roasters can be expensive. A good and cost effective option is using a home roaster that will still give you a good impression of the coffee. According to Marisue Drumm, National Sales Manager at Nesco, “The Nesco Coffee bean roaster is designed to roast small batches of raw coffee beans…Warm air combined with a powerful agitator create an even roast and uniform color.”
In addition, Drumm suggests diversifying income sources “By offering a home roasting product, roasters also have the ability to sell raw beans directly to consumers, which can expand their sales.” Be aware of your consumer; determine what they are looking for and find ways to expand your product offering according to their needs.
Increasing quality, efficiency, and sales is a constant effort our industry is looking to achieve. However, it is not an easy task to ensure your roasting business is constantly thriving to achieve these goals. “Roasters respond best to offerings that provide them with the flexibility and control needed to achieve a consistent high-quality product,” says Matt Cook, President of LBP Manufacturing, Inc. “As a solutions provider, we understand that it’s all about staying true to the integrity of the bean because – now more than ever – that’s how customer satisfaction is built and maintained.” Having the right tools and equipment is an investment that will help save time, money, and energy while improving your processes and methods. Not only is this essential to be a profitable business, but also to guarantee customer satisfaction.