November 01, 2018

An introduction to the newest member of our little family – the Loring Smart Roaster

Or the perks of a state-of-the-art coffee roaster


First Published - August 24, 2018 (By Rudy – Cupping Guru)

Here is the most exciting news of our summer 2018! We are very excited to announce that we swapped out our San Franciscan drum roaster for a new Loring Smart Roaster- and here is why this is an awesome move!

Smoke-free AND environment friendly!
Union are rockin’ it!” – Mother Earth
Roasting coffee creates a lot of smoke which can be released into the atmosphere- needless to say this is a highly polluting option. The alternative is to incinerate the smoke before it goes out with an “after-burner” and filter residues before air is released into the wild. The problem with the second option is the need for two burners- one to roast coffee and one to incinerate smoke- which is very, VERY greedy on gas resources.

Loring roasters are designed to work with only one burner for both uses- air is heated up by a burner at the back of the roaster and directed into the roasting chamber (a bit like a popcorn maker), which then goes into an exhaust pipe, drawing smoke with it and back to the burner where that smoke is incinerated as air is heated up again and carries on its cycle. Smoke-free and environment friendly!

My beans look pale- are they ill?
Physics-101 and a different look
From sun baking to cooking eggs there are three main ways of transferring heat into something: conduction which is the transfer of heat by touch eg: cooking with a frying pan, convection which is the transfer of heat by hot air and what blow dryers do best, and radiation which is heat indirectly emitted through air- think sun bathing.

The San Franciscan roaster we used to have was a drum roaster which is predominantly a conduction roaster- it mainly roasts through contact between metal drum and coffee beans. This way the outer-layer of the coffee tends to roast faster than its centre giving it a darker look whole than ground.

The Loring’s convective heat transfer allows the coffee beans to roast more evenly from outside-in which means they will look slightly lighter/paler for the same roast degree. If you’ve noticed a difference- kudos for the keen eye!- but don’t worry, your favourite coffees will still taste the same!

Consistency is key
Let’s not talk about the weather anymore.
This predominant convective heat transfer means that the number of times coffee beans hit the drum to absorb heat doesn’t matter as much so they will roast in a much more uniform way.

The weather also used to be very important and impactful- most roasters usually draw air from outside to evacuate the smoke created during the roasting process which means the weather will have a heavy impact on the way coffee roasts: on a humid and cold day the air entering the roaster will be charged with cold water particles which will require the burners to work extra-hard to heat up coffee; on the other hand on a hot, dry day the air will be.. well- hot and dry, so the coffee might roast very fast and quickly get out of hand without careful supervision. And we all know how changing and unpredictable the weather can be around here!

Now I wrote “used to be” because this is not an issue anymore thanks to this Loring Smart Roaster- as it operates in a completely closed environment where the same air is continuously re-circulated, heat waves and snow will now have to work extra hard to impact how coffee beans are roasted!

Chill your beans:
Even coffee needs to cool down!
Once the coffee is roasted it is discharged into a cooling tray at more than 200 degrees Celsius. During the time it takes to come from this extremely high temperature to room temperature the coffee keeps going through physical changes which will adversely affect its taste- if it takes too long to cool down it will taste flat and bitter. Ideally we want the cooling time to be as quick and consistent as possible so that the coffee tastes delicious and consistent, which can be difficult during heat waves such as the ones we experienced this summer. The Loring’s power is such that it single-handedly solves this potential issue.

This roaster is amazing, I’m on fire!
Hmm… no, you’re not!
The Loring’s closed-environment means that the roasting chamber is oxygen-free which prevents fire from catching (tried to trap a candle under a glass? The flame will go off once it has burnt all the oxygen in that small pocket). Moreover the chaff collector (which catches the small papery layer that comes off coffee during the roast) is sprayed with water at the end of every roast so in theory it cannot catch fire either! But fear not- we will keep checking on our smoke detectors to make sure they are fully operational!

For all these reasons we are very excited to be working hand-in-hand with this fantastic new roaster! If you want to find out more about what all the fuss is about or simply want to show us some love you can find all our roast to order coffees here!

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