Our Unique Roasting Process
Our coffee is roasted in a "hot air - refractory lined" roaster with an extraordinary level of control. A computer program controls a "fully modulated" burner. The power output of a modulated burner can be completely regulated. Many small coffee roasters use a single or two stage burner which offers very little control during the roasting process.
The significance of relying on a high volume of hot air to roast coffee beans can't be understated. The older and more traditional method of roasting is to rely on conducting the heat from very hot metal surfaces to the surfaces of the coffee beans. This results in excessive trauma to the surface of the beans. A roasting machine that is referred to as a "hot air roaster" means that the heat is transferred to the coffee beans by means of a fluid (air) that flows in, and amongst the beans. This is a much gentler method of roasting coffee. Relying on hot air as the method of transferring heat to the beans is one of the most significant advances that has occurred in the evolution of coffee roasting.
The roaster is completely lined with refractory material, providing a superior roasting environment when compared to conventional roasting machines. The refractory significantly reduces hot spots which can damage coffee beans and produces a much more even roasting environment.
The most significant aspect of our roasting process is that the computer program is responding to the temperature of the beans themselves. For an in depth description please see the discussion of our Linked Temperature Roasting process. This is unusual, even for large companies that utilize computer technology. A common practice of larger companies is to force the beans to follow an arbitrary roasting schedule that is based on time. Coffee beans are a product of nature and as such, they always differ from one another slightly. Batches of coffee beans never behave exactly the same. During the roasting process, the beans express themselves most clearly by temperature. The beans tell us when they are ready for more or less heat, and they tell us when they have reached the state of perfection. Each batch of beans being roasted has its own "personality" which our process treats with respect.
A prominent feature of our roasting process is that the roasting temperature is reduced as the roast progresses. This is known as "contour roasting". Controlling the "heat contour" precisely according to the bean temperature, and being able to repeat any given contour formula every time is where we stand out.
Judging the degree of roast by eye is the common method at the micro-roastery level. This method is simply not accurate enough. The chemistry of coffee is very complex and things happen very quickly during the roasting process. Driving coffee beans with too much or too little heat at the wrong time, or stopping the roast at the wrong time, results in coffee that is just not as good as it can be. We get all the flavor potential out of our beans by working precisely with them rather than forcing them or approximating their degree of roast. The proof is in the cup... cup after cup. The bottom line on our roasting process is that relying on sophisticated technology enables us to achieve results that are simply beyond that which a human being is capable of. We know, we've used both methods.