Our roasters: The reason our coffee tastes great - Part three

As you’ll know, if you’ve been keeping up with our blog, coffee bean roasting is something we take very seriously at York Coffee Emporium - it’s a fine art that deserves a lot of thought and care. In our last post we looked at a drum roaster, and in our final roaster blog we’re going to talk about our American Sivetz fluid bed roaster.

As we’ve spoken about before, most coffee roasters are drum-based, which is a conduction method where beans rotate in a heated drum that’s like a cross between an oven and a tumble drier. This style of roasting dates right back to the 1800s, but it’s still very popular today.

Fluid bed roasting is predominantly a convection method, where beans are circulated in hot air, sort of like a popcorn machine. Fluid bed roasting was the brainchild of scientist Michael Sivetz, who patented the technique and started selling fluid roasting machines in 1970. Sivetz passed away in 2012 but his memory and innovativeness live on as many new roasting machines use his technology today.

Sivetz fluid bed gas roaster

We picked our beloved Sivetz roaster up in Scotland and believe it’s one of the very few - if not the only one - left operating in this country. They’re extremely popular in the US so are far more common over there.

It’s a veritable beast of a machine - big and brash and looks like part of Dr Who’s Tardis when it’s operating due to its rather fierce vibration and movement. I’d go so far as to say it seems to have its own personality!

As it roasts 18kg of coffee in one go, we use it mainly for our wholesale customers. As the volumes are so large you really need to get the roast profile right first time! It’s automatic in that you programme the roast attributes you want to use and the machine does the rest.

We adapted this roaster a bit - apart from obviously altering the power supply to fit UK sockets - we also moderated the gas flame to stop it roasting too quickly. We find that beans roasted this way have an incredibly uniform colour and texture as they are agitated continuously and efficiently in the hot air.

We love it!

There are some negative comments online about fluid bed roasters but I think this is down to poor roasting technique. You need to work with the roaster and adapt it to your needs. Many fluid bed roasters roast the beans too quickly with too much heat. This can result in a shorter roast time but have a bad effect on the flavour.

I’m a big fan of this machine. It’s fun and simple to operate and run and incredibly reliable. And, most importantly, it delivers exceptional tasting coffee. I find the beans are sweet, clean, smooth and rich with good body. You can’t ask for anything more!

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