Why The Power Roaster?
or, how does our machine differ from others?
Roasting coffee is a simple, straightforward process
How to roast coffee: You take green, unroasted coffee seeds (referred to as “beans”), apply heat, and after reaching a certain temperature the water inside the coffee bean changes from a liquid to a gas (evaporation) and expands. You know that the evaporation temperature has been reached because you can hear an audible “crack”, which sounds like popcorn popping, and is, in fact, the exact same process.
Commercial roasting of coffee has not changed much in the past 150+ years! Jabez Burns of New York invented the first cylindrical drum roasting machine in 1864 which is basically the same drum roasting machine that is used today throughout the world. In his machine, the green coffee was placed inside the drum, and a motor turned the drum over a wood burning fire. The most significant difference between his commercial roaster and today’s commercial roasters is the heat source; the wood has been replaced by propane. This type of roaster is still used by the majority of the big coffee companies.
Fluid Bed Roasting, a new era
In 1974 the creator of a fluid bed roasting machine, Michael Sivetz, applied for a patent. Fluid bed roasting uses hot air, powered by electricity, as its fuel source. It is called fluid bed roasting because the hot air “floats” the coffee by blowing it inside a chamber. Although this is a cleaner and more efficient way to roast coffee, very little coffee in the world, comparatively, is roasted this way. Fluid bed roasting machines tend to be very expensive and can only handle a lower volume than their drum roaster counterpart. Today’s commercial drum roasters can roast up to 300 kilos per batch!
Although roasting coffee is a simple to understand process (apply heat and wait for the cracking) it is complex to do it quickly, efficiently, evenly, and economically. It requires an understanding of heat, airflow, and chaff collection, and the interrelationships between these factors. Many of these interrelationships are counter-intuitive and require extensive testing to perfect. I just mentioned “chaff collection”… let me explain.
Coffee Chaff can be a real mess
Coffee chaff is the dried skin on a coffee bean, the husk, which comes off during the roasting process. When the coffee bean is heated this chaff is released. If not dealt with properly, chaff will make roasting coffee a messy endeavor, as well as have the potential to create a lot of smoke from burning, and even to catch on fire. This chaff issue is a major issue and has to be addressed and dealt with whatever roasting method is being used (Drum, Fluid Bed, or other). If the coffee is being roasted outdoors, its not so much of a nuisance, but if roasting indoors, it’s a major issue of cleanliness, safety, and smoke production (which can easily set-off alarms).
The Best Coffee Roaster To Learn On
Now that you know a bit about roasting coffee, let me introduce you to the Power Roaster (PR). The PR has been in the making for four years now. Extensive testing of the main variables: heat, airflow, and chaff collection, has been assembled, tested, re-assembled, re-tested, re-re-assembled, re-re-tested, over and over again, until we have reached what we consider to be perfection.
The Three Design Targets for the Power Roaster
1. Simplicity: Our goal with the PR has been, and will continue to be, introducing as many people as possible to roasting their own coffee. We believe it is the most important singular factor that anybody can do to elevate their coffee experience. There is simply nothing better than fresh roasted coffee. It tastes better, it is healthier, and the effect on the brain of clarity of thought is at its peak!
However, most people believe that roasting their own coffee is a complicated process that requires special training and special equipment. Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, all of the bells and whistles that are added to commercial roasting machines, and some home roasting machines (in the form of temperature, voltage, and time controls) do not make a difference in the quality of the roast nor the ability to achieve greater consistency. There is no way to control ambient variables (like barometric pressure, humidity, and temperature), which all affect the roast to some degree. Computer hookups that track “roast profiles” are, in our opinion, ultimately unworkable in that they cannot perfectly duplicate a previous roast, although they can get pretty close. Still, the final decision on when to stop the roast is up to the operator and their own preference of how they like their coffee roasted.
With this in mind, we have created the Power Roaster as the simplest way possible to roast coffee, with only two actions required by the user: turning the machine on and turning the machine off (and this action, by the way, can be done multiple times during the roast if it is determined that further roasting is necessary). The way we have been able to accomplish this is by fixing the variables of heat, airflow, and recommended batch quantity.
We have dialed in the PR to roast 120 grams of coffee in six minutes. Depending on the origin of the coffee (its moisture percentage, bean hardness, etc.), there will be some variation in the time and quantity, but it should be within about a 10% variance. Still, because the chamber is made of glass and the operator can easily see and determine the exact color of the roasted coffee, the only decision the user has to make with the PR is when to stop the roast based upon their preference.
2. Power: We named our machine the “Power Roaster” for a good reason: it is more powerful in its fluid bed air action than other roasters on the market. What people notice as soon as the PR is turned on, is the immediate movement of all the green coffee in the chamber, and a steady increase of movement as the coffee becomes lighter in weight. This is vital to achieving a consistent and even roast and is what sets us apart from other roasters.
3. Chaff Collection: A very important component for a home roaster is a clean and efficient chaff collection device. Nobody likes a messy kitchen, or, even more important, an abundance of smoke created that can set off alarms and wake-up the house in the early morning! For this reason, many home roasters use their garages as home roasteries or even resort to roasting outside the house. With the Power Roaster this is not necessary. We have created a chaff collection system that leaves zero mess and will not create smoke from burning chaff. We have patented our chaff catcher design because it works so well! It is also made from durable stainless steel so it will last a lifetime.
The Best Coffee Roaster on the Market
In summary, the Power Roaster is quick, efficient, durable, clean, economical, and looks good! We feel it is the best machine on the market and encourage users to try other roasters to compare. We already have! It is also a healthier alternative to drum roasters whose heat source is propane. For this reason, we have adopted a new motto: “Buy Green, Roast Clean!”
We hope you will try out our PR before judging it as a simple machine that “only” has an on/off switch. This was intentional on our part and is actually a lot more difficult to achieve this simplistic approach and method. We have made the Power Roaster in order to reach the greatest number of people possible which was our goal from the very start.