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7 Coffee Roasters to Elevate Your Craft

January 2024
7 Coffee Roasters to Elevate Your Craft

Finding exceptional coffee is an artisan’s passion. Yet scaling small-batch roasting while retaining quality and consistency poses real challenges.

The good news is that today’s leading-edge coffee roasters now make it possible to elevate specialty coffee production to new heights of flavor and efficiency.

In this post, we’ll highlight seven advanced coffee roasters that enable artisan roasters to grow their craft to commercial volumes without compromising on quality or sustainability. You’ll discover innovative new roasting technology along with key considerations when upgrading operations, equipping you to take your coffee journey to the next level.

Elevating Craft Coffee Through Innovative Roasting

The specialty coffee industry has seen immense growth in recent years, with coffee drinkers seeking new and elevated experiences. However, keeping pace with this demand presents challenges for small batch coffee roasters looking to expand their capabilities while maintaining quality and consistency. Innovative roasting solutions are critical for achieving the next level of craft coffee.

Current State of Specialty Coffee

  • Specialty coffee now accounts for over 50% of coffee shop sales, indicating a clear preference for higher quality beans and unique flavor profiles
  • There has been a 58% increase in daily gourmet coffee drinkers since 2016 as consumer palates continue to evolve
  • Millennials and Gen Z show the strongest preference for specialty coffee, seeking out local roasters and new origins over commercial brands

This growth has raised the bar in terms of the coffee experience consumers expect. Roasters must have advanced capabilities to experiment with different beans, roast profiles, and brewing parameters to create distinctive and exceptional cups of coffee.

Challenges of Scaling Artisanal Roasting

As demand increases, many small batch coffee roasters face limitations in their ability to expand while preserving quality:

  • Batch size and roast time – Insufficient shop roaster capacity can bottleneck production flow
  • Consistency – Parameter variations between batches lead to flavor inconsistencies
  • Efficiency – Inability to collect and analyze roast data hampers opportunities for process improvements
  • Staffing – Additional labor needed to operate equipment and manage more workflow complexity

Upgrading to innovative commercial coffee roasters with larger capacities, smart controls, and data tracking allows roasters to grow sustainably while optimizing their craft.

Who are the largest coffee roasters in the US?

Starbucks is undoubtedly the largest and most well-known coffee company in the United States. With over 15,000 stores nationwide and revenues reaching $32.3 billion in 2022, Starbucks has become synonymous with coffee culture in America.

However, when it comes to actual coffee production and sales, Starbucks does not top the list. That honor goes to the J.M. Smucker Company, owner of the Folgers and Dunkin’ Donuts grocery brands. Here are some key facts:

  • Folgers is the #1 ground coffee brand in the U.S. with over $1.1 billion in sales annually. This is more than double Starbucks’ $500 million in U.S. ground coffee sales.

  • J.M. Smucker’s at-home coffee portfolio, which includes Folgers, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Café Bustelo brands, accounts for over $2 billion in annual sales.

  • Other top coffee production companies are Kraft Heinz, owner of the Maxwell House brand, and Massimo Zanetti Beverage, which owns the Chock Full O’Nuts brand.

So while Starbucks reigns supreme in the retail café space, traditional packaged coffee brands like Folgers and Maxwell House still dominate overall coffee production and sales through U.S. grocery stores and other retailers. As specialty coffee continues growing in popularity, however, brands like Starbucks and Peet’s have been making headway in the packaged coffee aisle as well.

What is the coffee roaster of the year 2023?

Rabbit Hole Roasters and Cafe Kreyol have been named co-winners of Roast magazine’s 19th annual Roaster of the Year competition for 2023. This prestigious award recognizes excellence and innovation in coffee roasting.

Rabbit Hole Roasters is located in Louisville, Kentucky and has made a name for itself through its unique coffee blends and small-batch roasting techniques. The company sources high quality green beans from around the world and carefully roasts each batch to bring out complex flavors.

Cafe Kreyol is a Haitian coffee company based in Boston, Massachusetts. They are dedicated to ethically sourcing coffee from Haiti and roasting it to highlight tasting notes like cocoa and tropical fruit. The company also supports initiatives to improve coffee farming communities in Haiti.

Both of these exceptional roasters will be showcased in Roast magazine’s November/December 2022 issue. The co-win reinforces that there is incredible craft and passion to be found across different regions and roasting styles in the specialty coffee world. Whether it’s Rabbit Hole’s distinctive blends or Cafe Kreyol’s smooth Haitian coffees, these roasters demonstrate an unwavering commitment to quality and innovation that makes them truly stand out. Their recognition as Roasters of the Year for 2023 is well-deserved.

What roaster does Starbucks use?

Starbucks uses high-quality commercial coffee roasters from Probat to roast its premium Reserve coffees. Specifically, Starbucks uses:

  • The Probat G-120 roaster, which can roast up to 260 lbs of green coffee beans at a time. This large-capacity roaster allows Starbucks to produce enough roasted coffee to supply its Reserve cafes and online store.

  • The Probat P25 roaster, which has a smaller 25 lbs capacity. This flexible small-batch roaster allows Starbucks to experiment with different roast profiles and innovate its Reserve coffee offerings.

Both Probat roasters used by Starbucks feature:

  • Patented fluid-bed roasting technology for even and consistent roasting
  • Automated controls for precise monitoring of the roast
  • Capabilities to customize roast profiles to highlight unique coffee flavors

By using these high-end Probat roasters, Starbucks can carefully control the roasting process to draw out the fullest flavor potential of its Reserve green coffee beans. This allows the company to deliver an exceptional Starbucks Reserve coffee experience focusing on quality and taste.

The Probat roasters’ larger capacities also enable Starbucks to roast enough coffee to meet demand from its Reserve stores and website. So coffee lovers can enjoy fresh-roasted, flavorful Starbucks Reserve coffees sourced from the world’s top growers.


Who owns for five coffee roasters?

For Five Coffee Roasters was founded in 2010 by lifelong friends Stefanos Vouvoudakis and Tom Tsiplakos. The two owners met in elementary school in Queens, New York in the third grade and their friendship paved the way for them to ultimately start a coffee roasting business together later in life.

When Stefanos and Tom envisioned creating For Five Coffee Roasters, they drew inspiration from their Greek heritage and from the coffee culture they experienced during their travels to Europe. They aimed to bring high quality specialty coffee to their local community in a way that would bring people together and foster meaningful connections.

Key details about For Five Coffee Roasters’ ownership:

  • Co-founded in 2010 by Stefanos Vouvoudakis and Tom Tsiplakos in Queens, New York
  • Stefanos and Tom have been close friends since the 3rd grade
  • Their Greek backgrounds and European coffee culture travels inspired their vision for the business
  • The name "For Five" comes from a Greek expression meaning to do something for a friend

Though small in size, For Five Coffee places immense care into sourcing, roasting, and brewing to create the best possible coffee experience focused on quality over quantity. With Stefanos and Tom’s passion and dedication at the forefront, For Five brings specialty coffee to New York in a uniquely meaningful way.

Introducing Leading-Edge Coffee Roasters

This section will highlight 7 exceptional coffee roasters that enable specialty coffee businesses to overcome barriers and scale their operations. These innovative roasting solutions offer key benefits like precision control, consistency, high capacity, and energy efficiency to help artisanal roasters elevate their craft.

Loring Smart Roast Falcon

The Loring Falcon leverages patented fluid bed roasting technology to achieve unparalleled consistency and flexibility for small batch artisans. Key benefits include:

  • Precision temperature and airflow control for repeatable roast profiles
  • Ability to easily adjust roast parameters for experimentation
  • Fast heat-up and cool-down cycles to improve workflow
  • Compact, low-emission design perfect for urban settings
  • Easy to operate touchscreen interface and data logging

With the Smart Roast Falcon, specialty roasters gain more control over developing flavor profiles from batch to batch. The fluid bed design also facilitates a very even roast with no stirring required.

Probat P-Series

With over 130 years of history, Probat’s P-Series offers an advanced drum roaster focused on the high capacity and energy efficiency needs of larger specialty roasters. Key technology includes:

  • Fully automated drum speed modulation and temperature control
  • Powerful burners and heat exchangers for fast heat-up
  • Integrated emissions reduction system
  • Large batch size capacity up to 90 kg
  • Energy recirculation technology to minimize gas consumption

The P-Series allows rapidly scaling specialty coffee companies to maintain quality while increasing production volume. The high level of automation also minimizes labor requirements for larger scale batches.

Key Buying Considerations

When looking to invest in new coffee roasting equipment, there are a few key factors specialty coffee companies should evaluate to ensure the equipment will meet their needs and help elevate their businesses.

Required Roast Capacity

The most fundamental consideration is determining your current and projected coffee roast volumes to identify the appropriate machine size and throughput you require. Key questions to ask:

  • What is your current weekly or monthly coffee roast output in pounds/kilograms?
  • What capacity do you need to produce on a daily basis?
  • What is your expected business growth and increased demand over the next 1-3 years?

This will dictate what roast capacities and batch sizes you need from commercial coffee roasters. For example, the Typhoon 10 kg or 20 kg models can handle 10-30 kg per hour, while the Typhoon 30 kg tops out at 50 kg per hour. Consider both immediate and future volume needs.

Consistency & Control

Maintaining taste consistency from batch to batch is critical for specialty coffee companies. Look for roasters that provide precision control over the roasting process, such as the Typhoon’s patented fluid bed technology with automated profiling capabilities.

Key precision factors that impact consistency:

  • Temperature probes and controllers
  • Airflow and fan speed settings
  • Graphical roast profiling and customizable programs
  • Afterburner temperature management
  • Drum speed adjustments
  • Automated cooling cycles

This level of monitoring and customization during roasting enables exact repeatability between batches. Prioritize advanced controllers and settings flexibility when selecting equipment.

Carefully evaluating volume requirements and consistency/control capabilities will ensure you choose coffee roasters positioned to meet your needs both today and tomorrow as your business grows.

The Future of Specialty Coffee Roasting

The specialty coffee industry has seen immense growth and innovation in recent years. As coffee drinkers become more discerning about quality and flavor, there is increasing demand for exceptional coffee that is ethically and sustainably sourced. This concluding section will summarize how leading-edge coffee roasting solutions are enabling small specialty coffee businesses to keep pace with and even surpass larger commercial operators. We’ll also look at some exciting innovations on the horizon.

Key Takeaways

  • Innovative fluid bed coffee roasters like the Typhoon line allow complete control over the roasting process for small batch artisanal roasting with exceptional consistency.

  • Smart IoT-connected roasters provide real-time monitoring and data-driven profiling for precision roasting even for novice roasters.

  • Specialty coffee roasters focused on quality, sustainability, and community are thriving thanks to accessible, high-performing commercial grade equipment.

What’s Next?

Emerging innovations show tremendous promise for taking specialty coffee roasting to the next level:

  • IoT sensors and machine learning algorithms will enable roaster machines to self-optimize based on environmental conditions and bean characteristics.

  • Electric roasters reduce environmental impact while retaining high power and thermal stability needed for light roasts.

  • Automated batch tracking and portable mini-roasters pave the way for hyperlocal microroasting.

With passion for the craft and commitment to quality, specialty coffee businesses have an exciting future ahead to transform the coffee experience for their local communities. Equipped with the right tools, the possibilities are endless.

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