New Roaster, Same Amazing Coffee: A Letter from Jim
Given the very nature of our business - roasting and selling high quality organic coffee - we can’t help but to grow. And as a company who has been doing this for some time (almost 25 years), we knew that we needed new equipment to continue to push the envelope and bring you the finest cup possible.
Jim with his original Probat, in the early 90's
This became painfully apparent to us three years ago when, during a particularly busy spell, one of our roasting machines decided to act up. So after 20 years of beating up our two roasting machines on a daily basis (high heat, manual loading, dust, motors failing), we decided it was time for something new.
It took us one full year to determine which coffee roaster we were going to use. "Patience" is our motto and for a good reason - we took the time to research, test, and methodically choose a roaster that can deliver perfectly roasted coffee for you, our customer, to enjoy. After careful deliberation, we decide to go with a Probat roaster. Probat's focus on quality matches our own; and we were impressed by the bells and whistles we can now use to make our coffee even better. It did not hurt too that I learned how to production roast on a Probat UG22 – circa 1963. "Bertha", if you’re still out there, I’ll take you back.
Creating space: after the office was gutted
What made this project tricky were the space considerations. We don’t have a lot of room. In fact, our packaging machine fits safely under our ceiling with about two inches to spare. And for a new roaster, we needed height and room to safely maneuver around it. To do so, we had to essentially gut our main office and make suitable three office areas that were loaded with storage.
At the very beginning of 2019, tear down and installation began.
All told, the installation went incredibly smoothly (Click here for a TIME LAPSE VIDEO of the install). Thank you to the team at Probat: Ozzy, Lauren, Robert, Stuart, Austin, and Ken.
Installation of the new roaster
Modifications to the exterior of the roasting plant
The Probat team works on installation
By late March, we were up and roasting. Over the next four weeks, our production team worked together to test batches and roast the perfect batch. I worked with Gregg and Devis (our Production Roasters), John (our Production Supervisor), and Christelle (Coffee Technician in the Cupping Lab) to fine tune test batches until they were not just suitable but perfect. After a month of perfecting the roasts, we had the product on point so we could ship the new batches to customers.
The Production team working on test batches
Personally, this was a really fun time. Every day coming in and tasting intently the previous days’ batches. Giving thorough reads on all the notes we took and discussions about roast theory and practice. Then applying changes to the new day’s roasts. Until finally we have things where we wanted them.
After the trials and tribulations of renovations and a successful install, we’re thrilled with the new space, the new technology, and the quality and the consistency of the coffee. And we’re really just getting started. Now that the product has been shipping for six months (without a single comment from customers about ‘change’ - showing that we truly were able to match roast after roast), we can now dive in and tweak even more, extracting even more taste and consistency from these beans.
It is a great joy to work with caring farmers to select wonderful coffees produced in harmony with nature. It is an even greater joy to bring these coffees to life by roasting them consistently to perfection. And finally, the happiness in knowing that Jim’s Organic Coffee is a small part of your daily routine, enjoyed sip after delicious sip.
P.S. The name of our new roaster? "Stella."