Air Roasters Versus Drum Roasters
BH Unlimited Update, May 5th 2022.
Over the past few weeks, we explored the pros and cons of the main alternatives to classic drum roasters. Indirectly-heated drum roasters, fixed-drum roasters, and fluid-bed roasters all operate quite differently from each other, but have one important feature in common: the machines exclusively use hot air as the heat source. As a result, these roasters share some common characteristics.
This week in our brand new course on Roasting Science , we feature an interview with three prominent roasters who opted to use hot air roasters: Talor Browne, the founder of Talormade , who chose a Loring fixed-drum roaster; Renata Henderson, the co-founder of Cxffeeblack , who roasts on an Artisan X-e fluid-bed roaster; and Jorge Verdú Añón, the head roaster at Cafes El Magnifico , who uses indirectly heated drum roasters made by Vittoria (now known as Bottoni).
The interviews bring to light some of the practical advantages and disadvantages of air roasters versus drum roasters.
Each of these coffee professionals have quite different reasons for preferring to work with air roasters: accessibility and ease of use; flexibility and automation; and the rapid response to gas changes — but all three agree on one thing:
They would not swap their air roaster for a classic drum design.
The Comb and Ring
We’re thrilled to announce the launch of two new products in the BH Tools catalogue. They’re now shipping worldwide from our Hong Kong warehouse.
The Comb is our take on the Weiss Distribution Method, with a number of unique features never seen before on a WDT tool.
The Ring is a complementary magnetised dosing ring; handy for keeping a WDT workflow tidy, or as a welcome addition to any espresso preparation.
Are You Getting the Best of Brazil?
This week we published the final lessons of the Coffee Buyer’s Guide to Brazil . In the penultimate lesson of the course we interviewed the 2019 Brazilian Barista Champion, Martha Grill. In the interview, Martha made this challenging observation:
‘Roasters around the globe try to find classic characteristics in Brazilian coffees, instead of allowing themselves to be surprised … while the Brazilian roasters investigate all the potential hidden inside those beans’.
Martha’s indictment of what she views as a prevailing attitude amongst specialty coffee roasters definitely got us thinking. We figured we better reach out to one of Brazil’s best-known specialty coffee roasteries to find out how they do it. Here’s what Hugo Wolff, the founder of Wolff Café roastery in São Paulo, had to say about it.
The Wolff Café roastery, one of the best-known specialty coffee companies in Brazil
‘The exceptional origins that deserve recognition on the international scene are still few.’ But the situation is changing, however. ‘Increasingly, roasters will be surprised by Brazil,’ he says. ‘I am sure that in the future we will be recognized more for the quality than just for volume.’
Caveats on Geographical Indications in Brazil
Part of the difficulty for foreign roasters coming to terms with purchasing Brazilian coffee is the rapid growth in Brazil’s Geographical Indications (GIs, which are handed out by the National Institute of Industrial Property ). Separating and preserving GIs has, of course, worked a treat for the wine industry where regions like Champagne and Bordeaux have become hallowed ground. In the CBGB course we have catalogued over 30 separate GIs across Brazil’s coffee belt — It’s not surprising that Brazil has loads of designated growing regions because the country is, of course, enormous — you could fit two European Unions inside of Brazil, after all. Guatemala, by way of contrast, only has eight Geographical Indications. (To follow up on those, head to Chapter One of the Coffee Buyer’s Guide to Guatemala .)
The rapid growth in Brazil’s Geographical Indications is a relatively recent phenomenon — the law establishing GIs was passed in 1997, yet more than a quarter of Brazil’s GIs were granted from 2020 onwards. In this post, we explore some of the implications of these certifications. A GI doesn’t equate with coffee quality, and in a few cases, the new GIs point to robusta production that is squarely inside the Amazon rainforest. ( INPI 2021 )
To read more about this quite complex topic, here’s a link to the new post entitled Getting the Best out of Brazilian Coffee . For subscribers to BH Unlimited , if you’d like to check out our full interview with Martha, here’s a link . And for newcomers to this newsletter, our subscription-only lessons can be accessed as part of our two week free trial period if you decide to venture forth.
An Ad-Free Learning Experience
At BH we never do ads for other company’s products on our website. There’s no product placement in any of our courses, newsletters or blog posts. Our only income comes from what you pay for your subscriptions. When you see machinery or coffee gear mentioned in any of our educational material, or featured in our course videos, we have chosen to use that equipment because we like using it, because we think it’s historically significant in the evolution of the espresso machine, or because it shows you something you need to see about modern coffee culture. It’s as simple as that.
The Coffee Buyer’s Guide to Brazil
As always, we're just an email away if you have any queries! Have a great week and we look forward to seeing you next time.
To the Boundaries of Coffee,