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American roaster technology enhances specialty coffee roasting

October 2023
American roaster technology enhances specialty coffee roasting

The Evolution of Specialty Coffee Roasting in America

The growth of specialty coffee in America over the past few decades has led to an emergence of innovative small-batch coffee roasters focused on quality. These roasters have adopted fluid bed and drum roasters that allow for precise roasting and enable them to craft nuanced coffee profiles. American roaster technology is a key enabler for specialty coffee shops aiming to highlight the unique flavors of single origin beans.

The Rise of Specialty Coffee in America

Over the last 30 years, there has been increasing consumer demand in the United States for high-quality and ethically sourced coffee. The "third wave" coffee movement that emerged in the 1990s emphasizes knowing the origins and artisan preparation methods to produce the best flavor. Specialty coffee shops expanding across the country gained popularity for their dedication to sourcing, roasting, and brewing coffee in ways that optimize taste and experience. This led to the growth of small-batch micro coffee roasters targeting the specialty market through careful selection of beans and innovative roasting techniques.

Comparing Fluid Bed and Drum Roasters

Fluid bed roasters like the Typhoon line rely on hot air circulating rapidly up through the chamber to roast the beans suspended above. The beans float and tumble for very consistent heating. Pros of fluid beds include evenness, large batch capability, and automation. Cons can be less control over individual roast stages and lack of smoking.

Drum roasters from brands like Diedrich and Probatt use rotating drums that agitate the beans. Pros are excellent roast stage control and natural smoky flavors. Cons are smaller batches and manual operation. For example, the Diedrich IR-12 offers 12 kg capacity whereas a Typhoon 30 kg roasts over twice as much.

Achieving Nuanced Coffee Profiles

The advanced capabilities of American roasters allow manipulating time, temperature, and airflow to highlight or mute certain flavor notes in the beans. For example, starting with a Guatemalan bean, a lower first crack temperature teases out its inherent fruitiness. But taking it into second crack with a higher end temperature amplifies the nutty quality. This level of nuance requires both the capabilities of the roaster and the skill of the roasting operator.

Training Staff on Specialty Coffee

For a coffee shop looking to add a specialty coffee program, key considerations include batch size, workflow, and staffing. The baristas will need extensive training on the new brewing equipment, tasting coffee profiles, and educating customers. Classes can be through the roaster manufacturer or specialty coffee associations. It’s also essential to source high-quality green coffee beans and learn how to leverage the capabilities of an American roaster for consistency and efficiency. Effective marketing and sales strategies will be needed to introduce and sell the specialty roasted coffee to customers.

Sourcing High Quality Green Beans

When sourcing green beans for specialty coffee roasting, build relationships with reputable importers and brokers dealing directly with farmers. Look for beans from renowned regions like Yirgacheffe in Ethiopia, Tarrazu in Costa Rica, and Kona in Hawaii. Processing methods like honey and anaerobic natural can yield exceptional flavors. Cupping samples from an importer allows first-hand experience with different origins and profiles. Green bean quality is a key part of achieving high scores in the end product.

Marketing Strategies for Specialty Coffee

For a specialty coffee program to succeed, customers need to be educated on what makes it unique and worth the premium price. Coffee tastings and "cupping" events help showcase your offerings. Promote your roasted origins and processing methods on menus and signage. Explain your dedication to sourcing and roasting for quality. Bundle exclusive beans into monthly subscriptions. Partner with local businesses on tastings of your specialty coffee. Leverage social media and email marketing to share your coffee’s origin stories. Create incentives like loyalty programs and promotions to retain customers.

Some notable trends in specialty coffee roasting include a preference for lighter roasts to highlight fruity and floral notes, experimentation with variables like different fermentation times, and cold brew’s rise in popularity. Roasters increasingly offer single origin beans and rotating microlots. Subscriptions allow access to these exclusive coffees. Cold brew and nitro brewing have become menu staples. Coffee quality scores and roasting awards raise a roaster’s prestige.

Evaluating Roaster Options

For a small coffee shop considering roasting capabilities, important factors are batch size, automation, and cost. A skilled operator manually roasting on a drum machine allows controlling each batch but limits volume. Automated fluid bed roasters efficiently produce larger volumes but provide less custom profiling. Initially outsourcing roasting through a co-packer provides low risk to test specialty coffee sales before investing in in-house equipment.

A Bright Future for American Roasters

Continued innovation in coffee roasting technology will provide even more ways to craft unique and high-scoring coffee blends. The ongoing consumer demand for specialty, artisanal coffee means there are exciting possibilities ahead for the American roaster market. As more manufacturers enter the space and creative partnerships form with cafes, the future is bright for American roaster technology.


The growth of specialty coffee in the United States has led to new innovations in coffee roasting technology. American roaster manufacturers like Typhoon Roasters offer fluid bed and drum roaster models that enable precise control over the roasting process. This allows specialty coffee companies to craft nuanced flavors and roast profiles that highlight the unique qualities of single origin beans. For coffee shops looking to improve quality and consistency while exploring new specialty coffee offerings, leveraging American roaster technology is key to achieving success.

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