Updated: Nov 19, 2020
Coffee roasting is an art in itself and a complicated process that takes years of experience to master. Stean’s Beans started roasting coffee in 2014 while working with coffee producers in Rwanda and Tanzania to uplift the quality of their coffee. It was at this time that Stean had his first introduction to the art of roasting. Roasting coffee can be compared to baking in many ways; you follow a recipe that dictates the temperature and time you set for the oven. However, before knowing what recipe works best for the specific cake you are baking, you have to bake many cakes and do a lot of tastings. When we first started roasting at Stean’s Beans, we therefore placed an emphasis on the production and tasting of a great variety of coffee roast samples. Each coffee sample would be roasted in a way that brings out the best attributes of the coffee bean. Tasting the different samples would later be our main tool for the quality improvement of the roast. When a new shipment arrives from East Africa we still use this method for the quality control and development of our coffee roast.
Stean’s Beans currently roasts specialty coffee for speciality cafes, restaurants and offices in Amsterdam and East Africa that are looking for high quality coffee solutions. At our location in Amsterdam for a long time we have roasted on a 15KG Giesen Dutch made Drum roaster. In East Africa we use a Probat 22KG Drum roaster. Both are very similar machines working with a cast iron drum that rotates around a flame, situated at the bottom of the drum. The size of the flame can be controlled to increase or decrease the speed at which the coffee beans are being roasted.
Drum roasters have the ability to create an incredible cup of coffee but can prove to be challenging when it comes to consistency. While working these machines the consistency of the output can be easily affected by factors such as external environmental temperature or human error, as the machine has to be operated manually. Due to this manual operation sheer concentration is required to achieve a consistent output for every batch of coffee beans we roast. We work hard to deliver the same great cup of specialty coffee to all our customers all year round and because of this we are now working with a new roasting machine in Amsterdam that guarantees an even greater consistency in our output. Our quest for a constant growth in the consistency and quality of our roast led us to use a new generation air roaster called Loring. There are only a handful of Loring roasters in the Netherlands and their cost is around five times higher than the cost of the drum roasters, which makes them rather inaccessible for micro-coffee roasters. We were lucky enough to find a Loring roaster in Amsterdam that we could rent for all our future roasting batches.
Over the last couple of months we have done intensive testing to find the perfect recipe while using this machine. Since the Loring uses hot air to roast the coffee beans instead of a flame, the roasting process was completely different from what we were used to before. Additionally, the results were highly different as well. Our new roasts are now a lot sweeter and the aftertaste is less ‘burned’ or better described, less roasty. Generally our roast is now much cleaner and we have truly enhanced the clarity in the flavor characteristics of our beans. Once the perfect recipe has been developed the Loring can automatically replicate our configured recipe as many times as needed. The machine will automatically roast our green beans at the set temperature and it will release the beans into the cooling tray automatically once the roasting process has been completed. With our investment in the new Loring roaster we really see a bright future ahead for the quality of our coffee. With the way the Loring roaster recirculates air in its roasting chamber we also work in a way that is much more energy efficient, as a matter of fact by 80% as compared to the drum roaster. With the switch to the Loring machine we now have the unique opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint while vastly increasing our roasting quality for our clients.
This is another giant leap towards perfecting our mission to improve the quality of our coffee on all sides of the value chain. In this way we can offer the best possible experience for our clients and producers. Additionally, the new roasting facility is still located in the Amsterdam greater area, allowing us to continue our coffee delivery operation with the use of cargo bikes.