With our new roastery 3 years in the making and even longer in the planning, we knew we wanted to grow our capacity and roast the best coffee we possibly could, sustainably.
We’d well outgrown the capacity of our trusty Probat 25, affectionally nick-named Smasher, and after 6 years and too many batches turned over to count, it was time to thank her for her service and allow her to hang up her burners for a well-earned rest.
After intense research and considering all the options on the market, we sourced a Loring S70 smart roaster. Manufactured to precise tolerances in the US and deploying cutting edge technology, trials on the Loring convinced us it was absolutely the way forward.
By roasting using hot air instead of the conductive heat, the Loring produces an incredibly clean taste in the cup, and by recapturing energy by recirculating the hot air, is incredibly sustainable, using far less gas to roast the same kilo weight of coffee. And with a max capacity of 70kg, we can comfortably roast an entire 60kg sack of coffee within 11 minutes, reducing our carbon footprint and becoming more efficient in the process – a win if ever there was one.
I sat down with Jesse Hutt, our Head Roaster to discuss his experiences roasting on the Loring
Hailing from Napier, NZ but cutting his teeth in coffee in Wellington, Jesse has been roasting coffee for the last 4 years and pulling shots as a barista for 6 years before that. Joining Caravan in 2017, Jesse now directs the roasting program and works closely with our green buying and QC department to ensure every roast that reaches your mug is as good as it possibly can be.
Head Roaster Jesse manually controls the roast process
(CCR) How have you found the transition to the Loring?
(JH) Like jumping on any new roaster, it took a little bit of trial and error to learn the ropes with such a change in approach compared to the Smasher. But once we got to grips and got the Loring dialled in, we found it has some huge advantages – moving from an analogue system to a digital system, the Loring is easier to manipulate, precise, and the roasting is smoother and has an incredible amount of control. The new machinery is really integrated with our roasting software – there’s a huge amount of feedback coming from the Loring as to what is happening in the roast environment, and compared to the Smasher that data is updated fasted and with a better resolution. It offers the human roaster a lot of control and insight into how to manipulate all the variables involved with coffee roasting, and to be able to replicate these consistently, roast after roast.
(CCR) What is our roasting ethos – what style do we aim to produce
(JH) We want coffee that is clean, juicy, sweet, and well rounded. We don’t want acidity for the sake of acidity – it must be balanced, drinkable whilst still showing true character, free of the grassy flavours of roasting too light, and free of the smoke-y roast flavours from roasting a coffee too hot or too long. As we unlock the potential of the roaster, we’re incredibly excited to showcase all the fresh crop coffees coming into the roastery and to emphasise the sweetness and body of our favorite flagship blend, The Daily.
(CCR) Any key challenges?
(JH) Hungry for gas! Building our new roastery in Islington, we learned just how hungry our S70 was. But once we had improved the supply, increasing pipe width and improving the gas regulation for the supply into the building, we were sizzling. Since then, we’ve learned about the sweet spots for controllable smooth roasts, and found where we can comfortably sit when it comes to roasting smaller amounts of coffee at a time.
(CCR) How has it impacted the flavour in the cup?
(JH) A huge impact – quality has increased massively, everything is sweeter, cleaner and juicier. And thanks to the Loring Smartroast technology, our roast-to-roast consistency has increased, which acts to multiply that increase in quality. It’s been a winner all round
(CCR) Is there any unexpected changes or surprises, when compared to coffee roasted on the Probat?
(JH) All coffee needs a period of rest, after roasting, to allow CO2 created during the roast process to escape or “de-gas”. The flavours of the coffee open up as it ages, hitting a peak of flavour and then slowly fading from that point.
We have been incredibly surprised by the difference roasting on the Loring has made to the stability and to the development of the flavour of our roasts as they rest.
It takes a couple of days more resting after roast, but once the coffee begins to open up, it peaks in flavour for much longer and fades slower as well, allowing coffee that is stored well (air-tight, free from moisture and in a dark place like a cupboard) to be drunk and enjoyed at peak flavour for up to 4-6 weeks from roast - and displaying a delicious arc of flavour development in that time.
Compared to roasts on our Probat that tended to peak within 2 weeks and fade within a month, this has been a delightful surprise.
Production Roaster Alex Bejanerau successfully drops out another on-profile batch