A Look Behind the Scenes at the Development of the Power Roaster
Posted by Asher Yaron
We wanted to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the Power Roaster and how it has developed both in functionality and design.
Both Asher and Raymond (the creators of this campaign), have years of experience roasting coffee, both at home and commercially. Asher has been building commercial coffee roasters for over 10 years now and knows what is required to produce a good, consistent roast. He has also been focused on the lower priced end of the market because he understands how easy it is to roast coffee and believes that commercial coffee roasting machines are way overpriced and are actually based on a very old technology (a technology that has not really changed in over 150 years!). Raymond has been experimenting with home roasting for several years after first seeing Asher’s TEDx talk in 2012. By roasting his own coffee he quickly realized how, as Asher presented in his TEDx talk, roasting your own coffee makes the biggest difference (of anything you can do) to improve your coffee experience.
As more coffee lovers are realizing how important it is to use freshly roasted coffee, there is an opportunity in the marketplace for a roaster that functions well, is quick and convenient, and that is affordable.
This is how the idea of the Power Roaster was born. We first tested other home roasters which have been around for many years. We looked at many factors.
Functionality -providing consistent roasts quickly.
Price - we ruled out roasters priced above $500 USD believing them to be too expensive.
Quantity - capable of roasting a quantity above 60 grams (less than this is not practical for a household of 2 or more coffee drinkers).
Design – something sleeker than the bulky, ugly (in our opinion), and awkward to handle machines currently offered for sale.
After all this research, we believed we could make a better designed, better functioning, and better priced machine. We then started testing hot air popcorn poppers which have always been popular among the DIY home coffee roasters. The best thing about hot air poppers is the price! Affordable enough to buy 3, 4, or 5 machines every year after they burn out. But also frustrating when you are mid-roast and your machine dies. The other cons of the popcorn poppers are; roast consistency, small quantity of coffee, no chaff collection, made of plastic which ultimate melts and deforms, not a nicely designed machine.
So, we thought, how about if we combine the best features of both kinds of machines into one, and which can be used by virtually anyone? These are the qualities our machine must have; even roast, quick, capable of larger quantity, chaff collection, easy to use and affordable.
Design. Wow, it felt like we could start from anywhere! How do we want our machine to look? It has to have a motor / fan / heating element assembly, needs a roasting chamber, needs a chaff collector. The possibilities are endless!
We discovered that we could not start from anywhere! From a functionality standpoint many existing and conceptual designs did not work well, and the better and sleeker the design, the worse it performed because it ignores essential fundamentals of coffee roasting!
This is how and why we have created the Power Roaster the way we did. Function and Design working together in balance to meet our objectives; easy to use, quick and effective, great performance, affordable, looks unique and classy.
Live Demonstration, Singapore, March 31st,2018
Testimonial by Mun Kew Leong, Singapore:
"Hey folks, I just spent an hour this morning with Raymond. Got to touch and examine the power roaster, and to watch it roasting. And of course, tasting the results! By the way, I'm a backer from Singapore, and until this kickstarter, have never met Raymond before. So here's my observations and comments: 1. It looks exactly as the pictures :-). If you like wood (like I do), this is really nice. The grain on the base is beautiful. The wooden top of the base is held on with magnets, so you can open it to look inside. The glass is quite thick, and has their proprietary designed metal chamber below, designed to swirl the beans around. Handle on this prototype was of wood, held on with two metal bands, but Raymond promises the handle will be part of the glass tubing in the production model. The chaff catcher on top is stainless steel, and fits well with the shape of the roaster. 2. Roasting. Raymond measured out ~120g of green beans (Guatemalan). Poured it into the glass funnel. Showed us the empty chaff catcher than just placed it on top. Then flipped the switch. And started a timer on his phone. The beans started moving kind of in a circle and upwards. We had no problems seeing the beans change colour and it was pretty obvious as they got darker. It was very even. The smell coming out was obviously coffee but very nutty and maybe a bit of chocolate? About 4min plus, we heard the first crack and the chocolate smell became much more pronounced. Medium roast after about 5 1/2 mins. Switched off the machine and poured out onto a metal tray. Very even roast. And smelt great :-) I would think there would be no problem seeing the colour changes in the coffee. Or smelling it. At the end, Raymond opened the chaff catcher and we could see all the chaff there. Absolutely none in the tube itself or when it was poured onto the tray. No smoke or burning smell. I would have no problem using this in my kitchen. 3. Tasting. Okay, we didn't taste the beans above but Raymond gave us some to take home to try. We had coffee made from two other roasts. One was an Ethiopian done for the group ahead of us. Feima grinder and pourover. Very nice. Obviously Ethiopian and medium light. The 2nd coffee was the same Guatemalan coffee but done as a dark roast, and pourover directly over ice. The bloom of the beans was incredible (doubled in volume) and the taste was very chocolate (even cold) and just begged for some cream. So overall. The most important thing - it works! :-) 2nd - it makes good coffee :-) :-)"
Fulfilling A Need In The Marketplace
Posted by Asher Yaron March 22, 2018
Thank you to all our backers on our Power Roaster project!
We are very excited to be getting so close to producing the machine we have been working on now for several years. The idea for the Power Roaster began almost 5 years ago as a way to bring the experience of fresh roasted coffee into people's homes. For anybody who has experienced what it is like to drink coffee that has just been roasted, the immediate desire is to share this experience with family and friends. That is where we started, and when we received such positive feedback we had the desire to share this experience with as many people as possible. We focused on the 3 characteristics that our machine needed to fulfill this mission. Ease of use, convenience, and affordability. It took us years to develop the Power Roaster to fit these characteristics and now we have a machine that not only meets our expectations, but exceeds it!
We recently received a comment that sums up what we have aimed for and succeeded at.
One of our backers said: "I've been waiting for someone to create a roaster that a beginner could use without the crazy price tags or complicated setup and achieve the same result roast after roast. This seems like it will fill a much-sought-after niche. Can't wait."
Perfectly said! We could not agree more. This is exactly the reason we created the Power Roaster.....and....we feel that this "niche" is a big one! We want everyone, all coffee drinkers, to experience what it is like to roast their own coffee. That is our mission!
Function. Design. Simplicity.
Posted by Asher Yaron, March 19, 2018
Function. Design. Simplicity.
We give these three factors equal weighting when it comes to our machine, the Power Roaster. We began this 4+ year journey with Function. As coffee professionals and enthusiasts for many years, we understood the importance of using fresh roasted coffee and wanted to bring that experience to as many people as possible. We spent the first few years experimenting with different components and in different combinations with the goal of roasting enough coffee for 1 household in a time period that was considered quick and efficient for people’s busy lives. We gained a lot of knowledge and understanding of minute details of how each component functioned and what its limitations were. This trial and error period was costly in both time and materials, yet we persevered until we had a functioning machine that met our strict criteria.
Our next step was Design. There are, and have been, a few home coffee roasters on the market available for sale, but instead of looking like modern and contemporary machines, they look like ordinary kitchen appliances that disappear on the counter next to a toaster, blender, or drip coffee maker. We wanted the Power Roaster to stand out as a sleek, modern, and unique machine. We began by designing the base. With a desire for sustainability in the materials we choose, our first bases were made from giant bamboo, but because each piece of giant bamboo is not the same, this was problematic in that it creates a need for customization of each piece. After meeting with a tropical wood expert who sourced sustainable material and was also a gifted designer, we made our first Rosewood / Teak prototype samples and were very pleased with the result. We then turned our attention to the two other design components, the glass chamber, and the chaff catcher. Our prototype glass chamber, and the one that appears in our photos and our videos, is handblown to our specifications. We realized after making a few dozen prototype pieces that we needed another solution. We needed a more consistently made glass product which is why we are changing the glass chamber to a borosilicate glass made by a large commercial glass company. Our final design will function better and look better than our current prototype. The design of our chaff catcher is an important element in the overall look of our machine. Other home coffee roasters have bulky looking chaff catchers that are both hard to handle and take up a lot of space at the top of the machine. We designed our chaff catcher for efficiency, ease-of-use, and a sleek look. Made from 100% stainless steel with wood handles, we believe our chaff catcher is a beautiful design, in, and of, itself
Simplicity. It has been our goal from the start to introduce as many people as possible to the benefits and joys of home roasting. Roasting coffee is a very simple and easy thing to do and we are passionate about introducing new people to it. We knew our machine had to be as simple to operate as possible. That is why we designed our machine with a simple on/off switch. What could be easier? Turn the machine on, and then turn it off when the coffee is roasted the way you like it. This is the best way, we feel, to introduce people to coffee roasting.
What You Get With The Kickstarter Power Roaster
Posted by Asher Yaron
Power Roaster and Green Coffee
Here are the components of the Power Roaster:
1. Wooden Base. This is made of solid wood that is sustainably sourced in Java, Indonesia. The base panels and top are made from a combination of Rosewood and Teakwood. The part of the tree that we use are the roots of already cut trees. These roots have been sitting in the ground long after the trees were cut and are not being used at all. The roots have a very interesting and unique looking grain which is why we have chosen them. We prefer using wood as our base material because it does a good job of resisting heat. The internal machinery of our roaster gets very hot to the touch and the wood base does an excellent job of staying at room temperature during and after the roasting process.
2. Heating Component. This has been designed together with our manufacturing partner; a company focused on electrical food appliances. The heating component, being the main electrical system, will undergo a certification process to meet safety and regulatory requirements for the countries we will ship to. This heating component resides within the wooden base.
3. Roasting Chamber. The roasting chamber, consisting of both metal and glass, was designed and built for multiple purposes:
a. Achieving a fluid bed roasting process through the introduction of hot air produced by the heating component.
b. Allowing visualization of the roasting process. Here, you, our backers, can observe the roasting process. The size expansion of the beans as well as the color changes the beans goes through from green to brown.
c. The roasting chamber can be removed after roasting to pour out the coffee beans.
4. Chaff Catcher. Our chaff catcher is made from solid and durable stainless steel with wood handles that match our base in shape and type of wood. We use a 76 micron steel mesh which allows hot air to escape while keeping all of the chaff inside.
Additional Note: The glass seen in the prototype in the photo was manually handblown by glass blowers in Bali, Indonesia. As we enter production after the KickStarter campaign, this glass will be sourced from commercial glass manufacturers using a borosilicate glass. The handle will also be redesigned without the use of a hose clamp making it more elegant and improving its function.
Questions about technical aspects of the Power Roaster
Posted by Asher Yaron, March 18, 2018
We have recently been bombarded by specific technical questions about the Power Roaster that we would like to address.
Our answers to these questions never seem to satisfy the questioners and the reason for this has nothing to do with the technical aspects of our machine, but rather it is an issue of philosophy and understanding the process of coffee roasting and its benefits.
There are many ways to roast coffee.
The most simple and low tech method has been practiced for over 1,000 years in Ethiopia and consists of placing the coffee in an iron skillet, or wok, and heating it over a fire. The best part of this method is that it is inexpensive requiring no advanced equipment or electricity. The challenges of this method are; it's time consuming, it requires a practiced skill that takes years to perfect, the coffee is heated by coming in contact with a hot metal surface.
The most complex and high tech method uses machinery that are more like computers and are capable of giving second by second data to the operator. This method has several drawbacks including; a very high price, advanced knowledge of the equipment and how to interpret it's data, many individual components that are more likely to breakdown.
We have created the Power Roaster as a groundbreaking device that falls in-between these two extremes and have taken the best aspects of these two approaches and have left behind the less appealing characteristics.
From the Ethiopian Method, we have focused on the simplicity and low cost elements in creating the Power Roaster. We use a simple on/off switch (please review the 3 Step chart we created in using the machine). We have kept the price of our machine near the low end of the market making it affordable to more people.
From the complex, high tech method, we have taken advantage of equipment and processes available to us. We use the best high tech method of roasting coffee, referred to as, The Fluid Bed Roasting technique. This means that the coffee is heated evenly with hot air creating a very even and consistent roast. It also roasts the coffee more quickly and efficiently. What we have chosen to not include from the high tech method, is dials, gauges, computer "roast profile" hook-ups. Not only are these extra elements extremely costly, WE DO NOT BELIEVE THEY ADD ANY ADVANTAGE WHATSOEVER TO THE END RESULT.
Roasting Coffee is a very easy thing to do, it is not rocket science. The biggest factor, by far, in making the best coffee, is using coffee that has just been roasted. Fresher is better. This is why we have developed our machine. We want people to experience the amazing characteristics and benefits of roasting their own coffee.
If you are wanting a coffee roasting machine that is giving you constant technical feedback during the roasting process, than the Power Roaster is not for you. If you are wanting a coffee roasting machine that is affordable, easy-to-use, quick, convenient, and does an outstanding job, then we highly recommend our Power Roaster!
Roasting with the Power Roaster
Posted by Asher Yaron
One of our backers requested to see a live roasting demonstration with the Power Roaster which we are happy to post. We have added subtitles to explain what is happening during the roasting process and the only editing that was done on this video was from adjustments made from camera angle. This batch that was roasted and the end result is 100% authentic and created in real time. Thanks for watching!
Everyone wants better coffee....and we know how to deliver it!
Posted by Asher Yaron, March 16, 2018
A big thanks to our backers in this campaign! We are well on our way to reaching our goal and producing our beloved machine, the Power Roaster! With this machine we will be revolutionizing the coffee industry by demonstrating that when it comes to making the best coffee, the biggest factor, by far, is the freshness of the roast.
We have challenges ahead. For so long the general public continues to believe that coffee in a vacuum sealed bag is somehow still fresh. It is not, and our machine and it's daily use will prove this once and for all. When it comes to coffee, fresh is best, and there will be no denying that for users of the Power Roaster.
We are committed to what this campaign stands for and what we know to be true. We will be working enthusiastically and intently to reach as many people as possible in the decades ahead, because we believe that great coffee can change people's lives for the better and change the world!
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A recent interview I did with Gary Kirwan from Biohackers Lab, enjoy!