Technology is something we all use, from small to large-scale applications. Technology advances every day, even in our industry. There are many benefits to applying technology in the coffee industry to achieve consistency and success. Over the past two years, we at Unique Coffee Roasters have invested in the very latest in roasting and packaging technology.
As we decided from whom to purchase our equipment, we explored every option available. For example, we traveled throughout Europe to compare the different applications of roasting and process technology. What we wanted to ultimately achieve is a roasting machine that gave us complete control over the roasting process: airflow, recirculation, convection, conduction, quenching and emissions, just to name the basics. By allowing us to control every stage and variable in the roasting process it can then allow us to produce consistent coffee.
Any roasting machine can turn your beans brown; even your household toaster oven can do that for you. But the important thing to remember, as my father says, is that “making coffee is a lot like making a pot of gravy—you can buy the same tomatoes from the same grower but have your sauce come out different every time.” Meaning that they agricultural products will always be different no matter how or where they are grown. So how do you achieve your perfect pot of gravy every time? How and why are your beans turning brown? A lot of people say that it is their favorite recipe, which is what we say when we want to make our coffee.
Our roasting machine allows us to create a recipe for each of our desired roasts. We have complete control over the roasting process. We can control the airflow with the temperature of the hot air as well as the volume of hot air we are putting through our drum, as well as controlling the volume of fresh air allowed into the combustion chamber. We can control the speed of the drum allowing us to change the roasting process mid-cycle from convection to conduction and vice versa. We can choose to re-circulate hot air back into the combustion chamber, allowing our burner to modulate and not work as hard to reach temperature—which is also energy saving. Our computer PLC system as well as a number of sensors on the machine, monitors all of those above phases of the roasting cycle. We can roast and follow a curve exactly every time. This is important when roasting in your time- to- temperature ratio. We can even control how fast or slow we would like to cool our coffee in the cooling basin as well as controlling the volume of air when pulling the coffee to the destoner (this is, to improve breakage percentage from city roasts to French roasts).
Why is this different then roasting with your drum roaster with manual discharge and your basic burner? It is impossible for one person to achieve a consistent roast profile without measuring the above variables. Atmospheric variables have the greatest impact on coffee roasting before, after, and during the roasting process. Even an experienced roast master cannot control these variables. Our system can control these variables by measuring humidity and barometric pressure modulating the roaster automatically to achieve its time to temperature ratio giving us our consistent taste profile. Without using a similar system you can absolutely achieve a consistent roast shade. However, changes due to outside variables can cause your sugars in the coffee to become extracted at different stages during the roasting process.