Do you fancy yourself a coffee connoisseur? Do you struggle to find the blend that is precisely right for you? Like Goldie Locks do you go from café to café but find, this coffee is a little too strong, this one a bit too sweet, before you find the one that is just right?
Well, maybe the solution isn’t too far away.
At Coffee Roasters on Montague Road, you can select and blend your own coffee and have it roasted on the spot.
The boutique approach to coffee roasting is made possible by The Coffee Roaster’s piccolo air roaster. Unlike traditional drum roasters, the Piccolo Air Coffee Roaster receives accurate real-time bean & roasting air temperature. This allows the roasting control software to achieve a much better, more consistent result.
So, you can select your preferred blend, feed the details into the computer, and the roaster will do the rest. You receive a graphical roasting record to keep. If you like your recipe or want to tweak it a bit, it will be on file for your next visit. The staff can help you chose the best blend for you too.
Yves Engelenburg at the Coffee Roaster in West End took me on a tour and told me the story of the enterprise.
The Coffee Roasters is the brainchild of Dan & JoAnne Fitzsimmons.
Six years after immigrating from Seattle in 1983, Dan and JoAnne grew tired of their jobs and frustrated with their inability to source consistently good coffee. So, they quit their jobs to travel the world, educating themselves about the coffee industry.
Upon their return in 1991 they started The Coffee Roaster, coffee.com.au, as a coffee roasting espresso bar in the Sydney suburb of Glebe. Dan and JoAnne now have roasteries and cafes in Brisbane and Sydney.
Dan developed the Chinook Air Roasting System with a background as a software engineer, using the latest fabrication and software development tools. The Piccolo air roaster is the smallest in the product line, which customers use to roast coffee.
Yves is from the Netherlands and specialised in laboratory equipment before he quit his nine-year job to follow his dream to come to Australia.
“I got this job in the cafe in the kitchen and started making the breakfasts and sandwiches and got trained up to become a barista. Meanwhile, I saw what my employer was doing with the roasting equipment, and I found it interesting.”
Now Yves is part of the two-person engineering team making Chinook coffee roasters in Queensland.
Yves said traditional roasting techniques had changed very little in the last 200 years.
“The roaster needs to be preheated, that can take up from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the roaster. The roasting operator must be highly skilled to be able to interpret the lines on the control panel, adjust gas heat intensity, exhaust airflow, drum speed, etc.”
Even then, Yves says, it is difficult for the roaster to produce a consistent product.
“It’s a lot of guessing and hoping that it goes right. The first batch is always different from what comes afterwards because of the start-up complexities”.
“The software written for Piccolo air roaster receives very accurate bean and air temperature values ten times per second. This is the main reason it is so simple and easy to roast – Anyone can do it,” Yves said.
Making your own blend.
At the Coffee Roaster on Montague Road, customers can select coffee beans grown in 15 different locations, such as South America, Africa, Timor and Papua New Guineas.
“Anyone can come in, scoop up whatever green coffee they want to combine and load it into the roaster. With five clicks of the mouse on the computer, the machine does the rest while you enjoy your complimentary coffee. Our equipment takes away the need for human attention because it is sensor controlled. It is pretty bulletproof; not a lot that can go wrong” Yves said.
The Coffee Roaster creates a customer folder on the PC control console which holds your recipes for use when you return.
“People can book a roasting tour, or they can and book into a Piccolo course. A lot of people are very hesitant because they think it’s very hard. But I spend a lot of time with every new customer and take away their insecurities and show them the simplicity of it all.”
How to Book your coffee course.
Many thanks to Yves Engelenburg and Dan Fitzsimmons
Feature image: Yves at the West End store