Friday, January 17, 2014

Meet Frankie, Part 1

Jim has roasted on a variety of roasters, from an antique 5-kilo beauty, to a modern 120-kilo. Every machine roasts a little differently, so getting the best roast out of one requires getting to know its individual nuances. That's where coffee roasting becomes an art.

Jim's current roaster, a 12-kilo Probat, has been particularly challenging. Smaller roasters usually don't roast continuously and don't cool the beans quickly enough, especially on a dark roast. Most small roasters only have one heat control, making it more difficult to be precise. Jim is used to a bigger roaster with three controls, which enabled him to cut the heat at the right time, and bring it back up precisely to develop the beans. This roaster has two heat controls--a brand new challenge. Also, continuous roasting was not possible because there was only one blower to control the roaster air flow and the cooler air flow. So one batch would have to cool completely before starting another batch. What Jim really wanted was a small roaster that would function like a large one. That created a coffee engineering conundrum.

Let me just say it's a good thing we're fully insured, because in his zeal to build a better roaster, Jim tried his best to burn down the building. In my next post, I'll try to describe the modifications he made and how Frankie the coffee roaster came to be. Stay tuned!


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