We talked last month about roast profiles and how we go about describing the level of roast on our coffees. This got your writer thinking about the machinery itself and how we went about deciding to use Loring roasters. You may remember the brief history of our roasting machines last October – it seems it is the month for thinking about roasting so let’s embrace it.
We chose to move onto Loring Roasters when we moved into our roasting site at Spa Terminus. With the kind of investment it takes to change machinery one really wants to be sure of the decision and we spent a number of years considering our choice. We visited roasters we admire in the UK, Japan, USA, New Zealand and Australia to see what other machinery was being used and how people were getting on with it.
Typically a business might buy three or four roasters over its lifetime so it is a real commitment. So what made us choose the Loring? When they first came out we were a bit sceptical of the way they worked but the more we learnt, and the more we tasted the coffees roasted on the Lorings, the more we liked what we saw.
The Loring set-up is like a hybrid of a drum and a hot air roaster. A drum roaster typically has the main burner underneath and is heated directly while the drum keeps the coffee moving, whereas with a hot air roaster the burner is separate and hot air (funnily enough) is sent through the roasting chamber which doesn’t move. The Loring roaster combines these two methods and has one burner which sends hot air through a mechanically rotating drum. The result is an efficient use of heat and good control of the heat transfer. Where the Loring gets more interesting is how it then uses the excess heat from the process. With many systems the hot air coming off the coffee is usually sent to an exhaust system which then exits to air, often through an afterburner. The Loring, conversely, uses this heat and sends it back through the roasting burner to both be cleaned and returned to the roasting chamber to keep roasting the coffee. It is a recirculating system.
We were worried at first that there might be a smoky after-taste to the coffee or some kind of hot air taint. But there was nothing of the sort. The recirculation was much cleaner than we anticipated and the efficient heat transfer really let the coffee show us what it was all about – the high notes were crisp and the natural body and sweetness of the coffees came through.
There was an absolute peach of an added bonus. Because of the recirculation there is no need for an additional burner to help deal with the smoke produced in the roasting chamber. This has reduced our gas usage by half and we are stoked. It is delightful when all the stars align and the better choice for the environment is also the best machine for our coffee and roasting style.
Like many other companies we have been looking at our environmental impact over the last few years and have made some changes with more to come. The most recent happening has been to retire our very old and end-of-its-life diesel van and buy a new electric van – a shiny Nissan env200.
We have some more changes coming up in the next few months and the new year that we’re excited about. Keep a look out for a real corker if everything goes to plan. In saying that, with all the shipping and petrol and frosts and the virus and everything else the
wake-me-up-when-its-over twenties wants to throw at us, who knows what might happen? In the interim we are working on some exciting projects we hope will come to fruition soon.
All the best, have a fun Halloween and see you on the slide to Christmas.