Posts Tagged ‘Coffee roasting at Stokes’

Coffee roasting at Stokes

January 7, 2014
computer controlled coffee roaster

computer controlled coffee roaster

green beans

green beans

roasted beans cooling

roasted beans cooling

cooled beans discharging

cooled beans discharging

Main coffee roasting at Stokes is Monday, but if a large amount to roast, it overflows into Tuesday.

I was in Lincoln that morning, later then I had hoped. Should I go direct to coffee roasting? No, I would have a cappuccino and cookie at Stokes on High Bridge.

I arrived to find coffee roasting had finished. But I was in luck, they would be roasting again in an hour.

A wander around the town centre, then back. I knew they had already started coffee roasting, as I could smell the coffee roasting as I walked down the road.

The last time I was at Stokes, one small batch, but not today, green beans in the hopper, beans being roasted, beans being cooled, beans in buckets waiting to be ground.

Green beans are fed into a hopper. A vacuum draws up into a top hopper, when the temperature is reached, dropped down into a drum.

The drum does not rotate, paddles move the beans around the drum. The roasting is by hot air.

If a blend, both sets of beans are fed in, mixed in the drum whilst roasting.

An inspection panel enables a sight of the beans as roasting. Also possible to draw out a sample whilst roasting.

Today, a low temperature roast. Apparently had it been a high temperature roast, I would have smelt the roasting at the top of the hill. The strange thing was, standing by the roaster, even when the hot beans dropped out, no smell of roasting.

When roasted, the beans are dropped into a bottom hopper, rotated with three paddles, with air drawn through.

The beans come out piping out, and have to be cooled rapidly, else they will continue roasting.

At this stage, the beans have lost about 20% of their weight, compared with the green beans, but increased in size.

That fed into the top hopper, takes account of the loss of weight, correct amount for bagging or grinding and bagging.

Today, the beans were being roasted in 27kg batches.

Stokes are roasting a tonne of beans a week, often much more. When demand is high, can be roasting all week.

Once cooled, the roasted beans were dropped into buckets, to then be fed into a grinder.

Stokes have another roasting machine, where the beans are roasted by a direct gas flame. This needs constant monitoring, always a risk the beans will catch fire.

Stokes on High Bridge has a small roaster in the window. I was surprised to learn it is occasionally used. I remember when it was in use, the smell of roasting coffee as you pass by.

As well as roasting, Stokes also run barista training.

Stokes have been in the coffee and tea business since 1902, and is still a family business..

Stokes was founded in 1902 by Robert Stokes. By 1919, he had been awarded over 30 gold medals for his coffee. He moved to the present location on High Bridge in 1937.

David Peel, grandson of R W Stokes, who I met today, was at the age of 11, helping his grandfather blend tea, he earnt one shilling an hour. Later he went to work in the London tea trade, literally going down to the docks to meet the tea being landed from India and China, and tasting up to 300 teas a day. An era sadly long gone.

Coffee roasting at Stokes

January 15, 2013
old coffee roaster

old coffee roaster

coffee grinders

old coffee grinders

roasted coffee cooling

freshly roasted coffee cooling

Kenyan coffee roasted and green beans

Kenyan coffee roasted and green beans

Stokes has been in the coffee business over a century, they know a thing or two about coffee.

They used to roast coffee in their High Bridge coffee shop, and still do for small batches but main coffee roasting now takes place elsewhere.

I was invited last week, and had taken a look the week before. But unfortunately they had finished roasting just before I was due to arrive.

Would I be lucky this week? Unfortunately not, no roasting today. But not to worry, I had a detailed explanation of the operation.

One very old roasting machine, no longer used. The coffee roasted over a gas flame. Needs knowledge of the coffee bean and constant attention, else the beans are burnt if not set on fire.

The main machine now used is a modern coffee roasting machine, computer controlled, the only one of its kind in the country.

It was installed by the designer, its delivery held up the local traffic. Prior to installation, such was the interest in this coffee roaster, that it was on show at a coffee exhibition in London.

Gas is used to heat air, the hot air roasts the coffee beans. The green beans are loaded into a hopper, when the hot air has reached the correct temperature, vacuum sucks the green beans into a top hopper, where they are then gravity fed into a drum to be roasted. As the beans are rotated around by paddles (the drum does not rotatate) chaff is spun off into a chamber, a cyclone then drops the chaff into a bin. A pity the chaff is not composted or sent away to be composted. When the roasting is complete, an alarm sounds a warning, a door opens, the hot beans are dropped into another hopper, cool air is drawn through, paddles move the beans around, when cooled a door opens, the paddles drive the beans out and into a bucket. All ready for packing. Through the process, a display panel shows what is happening via various sensors. This data is also uploaded to a computer.

The roasted beans are larger, darker and have lost weight.

The roasted beans will be bagged and dispatched to local coffee shops, or ground and then packaged.

Stokes are innovators. They were one of the first if not the first to vacuum pack their coffee.

Stokes source their coffee from coffee brokers, not direct from the growers. A row of coffee bins, robusta and arabica coffee beans, country of origin. Organic and fair trade. The coffee is not labelled as fair trade mainly due to cost and hassle of dealing with fair trade authorities, not because Stokes do not support fair trade.

Blends are a a blend of different coffee beans. I assumed they would be blended after roasting, each bean having its own roasting profile. I was wrong. This was how it was done 20-30 years ago. Now the two different types of beans are loaded into the hopper, no attempt is made to mix them, the mix takes place in the roasting drum and out comes the roasted blend.

I did not think I would see any coffee roasting. I was in luck. It was decided to roast a batch of Kenyan coffee beans. Greenish coffee beans loaded into the hopper, around 15 minutes roast, and out came dark freshly roasted coffee beans.

Whilst we were chatting, I paid my dues by explaining Freddo Cappuccino.

I also suggested they watched Black Gold, an excellent film on the coffee trade, which I saw premiered a few years ago at BeyondTV 2007, an international film festival.

Black Gold depicts the atrocious state of affairs for coffee growers in Ethiopia as seen through the eyes of one man as he tries to obtain a better price. The conditions of the coffee growers contrasted with the people who drink coffee at Starbucks. Starbucks, along with other other major players in the world coffee market, refused to be interviewed. Stunning cinematography.

An interesting comment: We feel guilty if we spill any of the beans on the floor as we know the effort that has gone into growing them.

A very special thanks to the guys at Stokes for their patience in answering all my questions, giving up their time, and explaining their coffee roasting and giving a demonstration of coffee roasting. And to the lady who a couple of weeks ago, kindly extended to me an invite

Stokes high quality coffee can be tried at Stokes on High Bridge, Stokes at the Collection, and many indie coffee shops in and around Lincoln. The roasted beans can be bought from their High Bridge coffee shop and ordered off their website.

Lincoln is fortunate in having a large number of indie coffee shops. I paid a brief visit to one on The Strait, Modern Classics, after my visit to see the coffee roasting. All are serving quality coffee, freshly prepared food, locally sourced. It begs the question, why, with such choice, does anyone frequent Costa or tax dodging Starbucks with their poor quality coffee and factory cakes. But then I have never understood why anyone eats at McDonald’s.

Top Story in Coffee and Chocolate (Wednesday 16 January 2013).


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