It was in 2009 at the SCAE trade show in Bern, Switserland. Somewhere hidden in a meeting room far away from the official event, there was meeting of European roasters. Here was the first start made of what is now the official SCAE roasting competition.
At this meeting of European coffee roasters, we were given a presentation of a “Secret Guest”. It turned out it was Ron Kleist former CEO of Loring Smart Roaster from the USA. He came to talk about a new kind of coffee roaster. We (Tosca my wife and I) were there and heard his story. The key points of his story was that this new roaster was energy efficient, because the heat was re-used. The roaster was completely smokeless and odorless, because all fragrance ans smoke would be burned in a cyclone before it came out of the chimney. In itself, this was something we could use, because we had smell problems with the neighborhood. However, something in us said this was impossible to achieve without afterburner.
After this SCAE Roaster Forum, someone was declared to be the winner. Guess what?
In the following years we have made many attempts to make our Diedrich IR 12 (gross 12 kilo of green coffee) odorless. Our existing filtering method that was designed for a Diedrich IR7 (gross 7 kilos of green coffee) has been adapted several times with additional odor reducing cassettes, however this could not help it and the neighborhood continued to complain. An attempt on the basis of “no cure no pay” from the designer Ruud Mallant of RM systems/Wood Glass with a for Probat made filter system didn’t help. Apparently, the air emissions of our Diedrich IR 12 was too high for this filter and so the contact time with these filters not long enough. The result was that we only could roast late in the afternoon, to prevent complaints of the neighberhood. So since 2009 till present, when I write this blog post, we were working till late in the evening. Only when the wind was blowing is the right direction we were able to roast during day time. With the growth of our business and therefore the increase in amount of roasted coffee we were reaching the limits of our capacity. Also, the evening roasting was not ideal because of the limited number of hours.
Since 2009, when we were first confronted with the Loring Smart Roaster, we have always kept in touch with this company. We have came to the conclusion that perhaps this new technology was not so impossible as we first thought.
In 2010 we were in London, UK. Once again for the SCAE trade show, and we went to James Gourmet Coffee in Ross on Wye, Herefordshire. This is about a 235 Km. drive from London. Once there, our first reaction was “it does not work.” Inside we noticed that they just finished roasting on …… Yes, a Diedrich IR12 and we know that this is indeed not odor free. We spent the whole afternoon there and talked about their Loring Smart Roaster. We’ve seen this in operation. Because this visit to James Gourmet Coffee, we became more enthusiastic about the Loring Smart Roaster. However complete convinced we were not, because the situation was not that we could position ourselves outside to be sure that there was no smell. By what we have seen and tasted, we became more convinced that the Loring Smart Roaster might be a good choice for us.
In 2011 my wife Tosca went to the Nordic Roaster Forum in Göteborg at Da Matteo Coffee. Here different roasters from Europe had been instructed to roast a pre-supplied coffee in a certain way and bring it to this meeting. The result was that most coffee roasters picked the coffee made on a Loring Smart Roaster as one of the best tested during a cupping session. Also my wife, risking her life, during rainy weather to climb on the roof to smell if it was really odorless. She put her nose almost in the chimney. Conclusion: During the roast process no odor emissions from the hot air chimney. With this convincing “evidence” we made the decision about purchasing a new roaster.
It had to be a Loring Smart Roaster.
By choosing this new roaster, there was still a long way to go before it was arrived in Enkhuizen. A major stumbling block was the financial part. End of 2010, we sold our specialty retail store to a new owner. The figures for 2010 were not interesting anymore for financial institutions, because they say there are two companies involved. The year 2011 was a transition year for the independent business CoffeeXperts, which showed clear progress, but not sufficiently substantiated enough for a financial injection of a bank. Direct quote: “There was crisis and it was impossible that a company showed so much growth”. Still we had to roast in the late afternoon and evening, what became heavier, especially as customers and suppliers simply call during the day time. So we needed to be available those times as well.
Mid-2012, another attempt finances for purchasing. The figures were excellent, but with half-year figures banks do nothing. An attempt to find a private investor gave as a result to high interest burden and interference in our company. Something we absolutely did not wanted. 2012 is finally over, our bookkeeper is asked to produce the figures ASAP. The ABN-AMRO wants to partly finance the new roaster.. Perseverance pays off, so to speak. Now we got in touch quickly with Loring and discuss the possible options. Placed an order and down payment was done.
Our Kestrel S35 (type number of a 35 Kg. Loring) will be made, exhibited first at the SCAE trade show from June 26th. till June 28th. 2013 in Nice (France) before it will be shipped to Enkhuizen.
Finally there is our new coffee roaster.
Thursday, July 4, 2013: While the mechanics are busy installing the two chimney pipes, I get message that our roaster will be delivered later today. Oops, now I suddenly need to arrange lots of things. First, I needed to transfer the money for import duties to the account of the import agency. Fortunately, we don’t need to pay the VAT. We have clearance for this from the Dutch Tax office. “Only” 2.4% import duty and some little handlings costs. Still a reasonable amount of money.
Now I have to arrange a forklift, for the crates where the burner is mounted in. I must also ensure that there is space in the roastery to put those two crates down. With mechanics on the floor is not easy. But fortunately, these mechanics Cees and Bart very helpful and with their help, our roaster was taken out of the truck and put down in the right place. Cees and Bart work through to about 20:00 and when they were gone, the roaster was in place and connected to both chimney pipes.
Most, toughest and hardest work is now done. Now we need to connect gas, electricity and water. Install the compressor and then July 17th and July 18th. 2013 the installation will be completed by a designated Loring European technical person and we can start roasting with our new equipment..
The rest of the story will soon be available on our website. To give you an impression of the installation of the roaster we made a video.