Roastaire Q & A

What is the Roastaire?

Roastaire is a patented, micro-roaster which allows for precisely-controlled artisan roasting with almost no emissions. Roastaire’s small-footprint design and clean-air technology allows the user to artisan-roast coffee in places never before possible.

What is different about Roastaire’s technology (as opposed to drum roasting)

Like a drum roaster, the Roastaire is designed for artisan small-batch coffee roasting. The main difference is the ‘closed-loop’ method of roasting, which means we reclaim the heat, and are closed to the environment 85% of the time. This method of roasting also brings together the best attributes of drum and air roasting methods…a hybrid method that nobody else has ever sought to build.

How does it impact coffee flavour?

The Roastaire captures the same aromatic nuances as a drum roaster, but with the controlled, even heating that only an air roaster can provide. The patented Roastaire roasting method makes for a clean, full flavored taste profile, with no burnt or bitter after tastes.
The Roastaire’s roasting process can be customized to capture specific flavours of different varieities of coffee beans, therefore developing the richest tastes.

How is it more energy efficient?

The Roastaire™ is 20 times more energy efficient’ than the same size gas roaster & afterburner.

It takes 800 BTU’s to generate one pound of coffee using the Roastaire™ in comparison to the 16,533 BTU’s used to generate one pound of coffee using equivalent drum roasting technology with an afterburner.

Over the course of one year’s roasting of 30,000 lbs. of coffee, this translates in to the energy savings equivalent to that consumed by 8 single family homes.

In terms of the difference in CO2 emissions on the coffee volume noted, the Roastaire™ produces less emission than one vehicle would per year in stark contrast to the traditional gas-fired method which emits the equivalent of 19 vehicles worth of emissions.

How is it more environmentally friendly?

Green coffee beans contain a wide variety of chemical compounds including proteins, fats, sugars, dextrine, cellulose, caffeine, and organic acids. As these compounds volatize, oxidize, or decompose in the roasting process, toxic compounds such as aldehydes (as in formaldehyde), organic acids (such as acetic acid) and acrolein can be emitted into the atmosphere.

The presence of these toxins in the smoke given off by traditional roasters has precipitated the use (often mandatory) of afterburners to mitigate the emission of VOC’s (volatile organic compounds). But, even with the use of an afterburner, significant airborne particulates (allergens) and greenhouse gases such as carbon, methane and nitrous oxide are released into the atmosphere.

Roastaire’s ‘closed loop’ technology uses a fluidized bed (air roaster) which suspends the roasting beans in a jacket of hot air, ensuring they don’t burn. The Roastaire’s internal air scrubber then captures approx 80% of airborne particulates & emissions through a patented internal emission process, preventing escape into the air. Roastaire’s almost zero-emissions technology and tremendous energy savings make it the most environmentally sustainable coffee roaster in Canada. It also allows the user to roast coffee in places never before possible, because of emissions advancements and the space saving compact design.

How does it save money?

The key savings start with energy consumption, but more importantly transcend into a dramatic reduction in training costs, installation cost, floor space rental costs, and annual maintenance costs.

How does it generate revenue?

The Roastaire roastery becomes the ‘hub’ of your coffee operation, be it a café, grocery store or other business. It allows a significant cost-of-goods savings on in-house brewed coffee, plus it opens up a major new revenue streams via retail bean sales directly to consumer (raw to retail).

How does it provide more value than drum roasted coffee?

The value of the Roastaire is more about energy savings, and the reduction of barriers to enter into the business of roasting. It is less expensive to operate, can be installed in high density locations because the reduction in emissions, and space saving design. PLUS…instead of taking 6-9 months to learn how to roast, the method of roasting and method of controlling the roasting process to produce consistent results is the benefit.

How does it open up roasting potential for places that could otherwise not roast? – How is it an industry ‘game changer’?

With a Roastaire, your business can now offer customers ‘truly fresh’ coffee, which most coffee lovers know ‘staleness affects taste’ and introduces the theatre of roasting to your operations. A Roastaire allows café owners to roast in a building with 20 stories of condo’s above, without upsetting the neighbors with the emissions. It also takes up much less floor space than traditional gas-fired roasters. Future EPA regulations will also cause current coffee roasters to address the emissions that are coming from their chimneys.

Why is traditional roasting bad for the environment?

The emissions issue is significant because coffee roasting releases a variety of volatile organic compounds, particulate matter and smoke. A WorkSafeBC study has found that acetaldehyde is given off during the coffee-roasting process, a chemical that can weaken the respiratory systems of workers exposed to it.

Examples/case studies where emissions have caused problems?

Roasting emissions is a big issue in a growing number of places. A quick Google search will turn up many instances of odour complaints and enforcement measures involving coffee roasters.
Salt Spring Coffee Co. roasting company is a local example. In their bid to expand on Salt Spring, they faced so much opposition by local environmental groups over the smell & pollution of the expanded roasting operations that they were forced to relocate in an industrial park in Richmond.
The Roastery Coffee Co. in Toronto has faced similar problems, as has Cha Cha Java Coffee Shop in Parksville, B.C
Indicators/examples of where the micro roasting industry is going?
Micro-roasting has become a gastronomic art, much like micro-brewing or wine making. More and more cafes are opting to make specialty micro-roasted coffee the cornerstone of their operation, as more and more consumers are demanding nuance and variety in their coffee experience. Victoria has more coffee roasters per capita than any other city in Canada.

What kind of tech support does Roastaire offer?
Roastaire provides all clients with 3-year parts and labour warrantee & lifetime technology support

What happens if a Roastaire needs service?
24 hr telephone support & same or next day repair service.

To what degree can a user customize the roast for different coffee beans and flavour profiles?

Every person using the Roastaire can customize every roast they produce. The real time activity that the control software monitors the activity of the roast so the Roastmaster can make precise decisions as they roast. Taste is subjective, so each person roasting will roast the specific bean to the level they want to.

Is there still a significant ‘roastmaster’ experience for the user?

YES. The Roastaire requires the Roastmaster to be present at all times and provides them the information to make decisions… all of which are Roastmaster dependent. The key here is… duplication. This is what makes the Roastaire unique…consistency. If a Roastmaster creates a roast that they like, they can duplicate the process batch after batch…thus focusing on the end result at all times. Roasting has a number of variables that play in the process. Traditional gas-fired roasting uses time/temp as a method measurement. The challenge is… July can yield a different set of environmental conditions than November, and because moisture is such a big part of the roasting process (moisture removal) then that variable alone changes the results from July to November.

Then… there’s the issue of stopping the roasting process. Every race car needs a good breaking system and the Roastaire can stop the exothermic process inside of 25 seconds. Exothermic is when the beans start giving off heat instead of absorbing heat. This is the point that roasters refer to as ‘second crack’. When the bean hits second crack… being able to stop this is as important as getting the bean to that point. The Roastaire manages ‘thermal overshoot’ better than any other commercial roaster on the market today.

Who is Roastaire?

Roastaire was co-invented & co-founded by small team of Canadian business people and inventors.  

Jim Townley, (Co-Founder of the Fresh Cup Roastery Café Concept) is also co-inventor of the Roastaire and co-founder of Vancouver Island’s ‘Fresh Cup’ café & roastery chain.  With a broad background in project management, sale & marketing and strategy, Mr. Townley manages the business operations for Roastaire.  Mr Townley lives and works in Saanichton BC, the site of Roastaire’s demonstration café & tasting room.  A passionate Saanichtonian, Mr Townley is also a champion for clean-air coffee roasting and sustainable café practices.

Jaromir Friedrich – Vice-President  (Co-Inventor – Roaster, Co-Founder of the Fresh Cup Roastery Café Concept) As a Master Roaster with over 30 years of experience, Mr. Friedrich is the original inventor of the roaster, co-founder of the Roastery Café concept. Mr. Friedrich has over 40 years business and technical experience focused in the areas of Engineering and Business Administration.  He is credited with several inventions, patents and publications; and has a wealth of experience as an equipment and process designer, specializing in the areas of metallurgy and design.  

Raymond Lemaire – V.P. of Roaster Development  (Co-inventor – Roaster, Co-Founder of the Fresh Cup Roastery Café concept) Mr. Lemaire has over 30 years of business and technical experience.  He co-developed the roaster, including the patented control systems and other processes.  He is also one of the co-founders of the Roastery Café concept.  With applied experience in Canada’s oils gas industry, Mr. Lemaire has extensive knowledge mechanical design and high-tech industries such as data acquisition and sonic based technologies.