The question has come round again of whether the café trade is approaching the time of the ‘roaster-retailer’, the coffee house which roasts its own beans both for its own use and for in-the-bag sale to customers.
This has been predicted on several occasions, and in recent times some of the east London coffee houses have launched their own roasteries either on their café premises, or very close by. Now Andronicas, the long-established supplier which has for some time been offering roast-to-order coffee within Harrod’s, has offered a German-made coffee roasting machine to the trade with the challenging slogan: ‘say fresh coffee – and mean it!’
The machine is the Novoroaster, two of which have been working in Harrod’s for three years, and the suggestion has been made that roasting four kilos of beans a day, for either brewing or retail sale, makes the system self-funding. But is this the time for the average coffee-house to think of roasting for themselves? “We are at the stage where some ambitious individuals might now be inclined to try,” says Andronicas’ MD Andrew Knight. “The problem is understanding what a roaster actually does. If you see it in operation then you understand its possibilities.”
There is, he has acknowledged, the snag that existing professional roasters, who are extremely proud of their experience and skills, are unenthusiastic about the possibilities of a coffee-house owner being able to produce roasted beans to acceptable standards. “Roasting coffee is no different to baking bread or scrambling eggs. The balance is heat and air appropriate to the green coffee weight and the end result required.
“Our machine is quite sophisticated in as much as the heat and air is pre-programmed. If you start with a manual machine, the probability is that you may put in too much or too little heat at the wrong time.”
Andronicas is offering customers the benefit of its own 30 years’ experience in roasting.