Welcome to Stumbeano's Roasterie in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. They recently moved into a new roasting facility, so they told me not to mind the clutter, as they are still setting up. Yes, you can see me in the garage door - I have to keep this partially about me somehow.
Greg and his wife have been roasting coffee for over 10 years. I entered to find them bagging fresh beans for a fundraiser. They haven't really organized the space yet outside of necessary equipment, but they have done a number of renovations to the physical structure. It's their busy season for whole-sale deliveries, so the tidying-up will have to wait a couple of months.
Greg works with an intimidatingly large 15-kilo coffee roaster. After looking through my photos, it actually looks like a robot with a monocle that spews beans from it's mouth. It's pretty cute, actually, and feels as though it should have a name.
He started a new batch when I arrived. Pouring the beans through the top, they cycled down into the heated portion of the roaster. It's essentially a giant popcorn popper. Through the robot's monocle eye, you can see the beans being spun about, and in the other eye, a bean examiner, but more about that later.
While many roasters operate using a 'roast profile', which is essentially a graph to track the heat of the roaster versus beans over time, Greg knows his roasts so well he tracks it in his head. A timer sits atop the roaster and the bottom two number track the temperature of the chamber, as well as what the container should be. (Think of it like a thermostat. It might be 60 in the house, but you have it set at 80.) Greg would monitor the roast occasionally with a sampling scoop mounted to the chamber (the other 'eye'). It collected a dozen-or-so beans and Greg would shine an pure-light flashlight to check the true colour. This was followed by a deep smelling smell of the beans. It was a mix of freshly baked bread and coffee beans. I left smelling of that odor, which was entirely alright with me.
After about 12 minutes, the beans all dropped into the cooler. It sucks all the hot air out of the beans and dramatically drops their temp. The warm beans felt wonderful to the touch, but they wont be ready to grind for at least a couple of days. Greg explained how they need to 'de-gas', because of the air that developed inside the bean during the roast.
There's a compartment in the backside of the machine that catches the 'chaff', which is the un-needed portion of beans.
Greg was kind enough to let me suggest a musical genre, so he played some old bluegrass on vinyl.
Stumbeano's has a cafe in Fargo, and I did a shoot with them, so check that out. Also, subscribe to the email list if you want to see future roaster reviews.