Detour and the Loring Smart Roast

October 12, 2012 - 26285 comments

Well, the last few weeks have been exciting for us at the roastery as we've been using our new Loring Smart Roaster.  We realized early this year that our little 12 kilo Diedrich, that I'd driven across the Continent almost 3 years ago, wouldn't be able to keep up with demand by the end of the year.  The process deciding what our next roaster would be was a long one and something we took very seriously.

Geoff our lead roaster took on the challenge of researching what was available and meet our requirements for quality and output long term.  We considered Probat and Geisen roasters but the more we read about the Loring Smart Roaster, the more interested we became.  Especially of note to us was that George Howell of Terrior Coffee and Solberg and Hansen in Norway had been using Lorings with promising results. To our surprise, Solberg won the Nordic Roaster competition in 2011 using the Smart Roast.

Another area of interest to us was efficiency and pollution. The Loring is currently the greenest and most efficient coffee roaster available. It uses very little gas in comparison to traditional drum roasters and uses the same flame to incinerate the exhaust, eliminating the need for any pollution control (scrubber, after-burner etc). We are always concious of our impact on the environment and if we can reduce it, we will. It was a major factor in the decision to install a scrubber/precipitator instead of an afterburner on our Diedrich.

Although it all seemed very appealing we had to be sure about how it performed. Our primary focus at Detour is taste, above everything else, so we decided that the only way to be sure was to roast on it ourselves.  In early June we shipped a 150lb bag of Guatemala El Limonar to Loring's headquarters in Santa Rosa California and roasted it in their test bay.

After roasting 5 batches and blind cupping the results side by side with roasts that came off our Diedrich roaster we were more than convinced that it was the right choice.  The aromatics were more preserved, the taste was clean and yet so ful of flavour in the Loring roasts and given these preliminary results we felt they could only get better.

Flash forward 3 months later and our roaster was built and shipped to Toronto to exhibit by Loring at the Canadian Coffee and Tea show.  The day after the show the install began and within a couple days we were roasting.

Over the course of 3 weeks we started transitioning our coffees over to the Loring and this past week we stopped roasting on our old roaster completely. It was a tricky process to switch over all of the coffees as each one requires a specific profile and the Loring roasts in a completely different way than the Diedrich. However, after many, many cupping tables we started to get the hang of it.

As for the results, we've noticed a few key differences.  First off, the roasts we are getting are much more even from the Loring than the Diedrich.  The exterior of the beans is coming out lighter in colour with darker interiors whereas those we had from the Diedrich had a slightly darker exterior and lighter interior. This is evidence of the totally different method of applying heat to the coffee.

As we found in California, the aromatics also seemed to pop more off the Loring.  The theory is that because the Loring has essentially a closed low oxygen environment, there is less oxidization happening during the roasting process which means more flavour left in the coffee.  We have noticed in our tastings that the coffees also seem to be more shelf stable and our espressos seem to take longer to degas from the Loring. 

  I'm sure we will still have more lessons to learn on the Loring but so far we couldn't be happier with our Loring.



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