Last Saturday the gentleman of the house and I went to the Round Hill Roastery Open Day.
Round Hill Roastery is a UK based coffee roasting company which opened this year by a young man with a love for coffee. I met Eddie, the owner, about a year ago when when it was just an idea in his head and now he has his own company and supplies several coffee shops (including Colonna and Smalls and Society Cafe in Bath)
I was really excited about going. I had been to the Opening Party where I had seen all the machinery but was was really looking forward to seeing an actual roast in action. The gentleman of the house even got to pull some of the levers.
The raw beans are rotated by a paddle in a cylindrical barrel over the gas burner so that the beans heat but do not scorch. At a certain point in the process the beans ‘crack’ (internally combust) becoming their own heat source, at this point no more flame is needed. When the roast is complete the beans are released and cooled and any beans which haven’t roasted properly are removed (this is done by eye). The roaster is maintaining a perfect temperature now and the second batch of beans are released into the roaster. Throughout the process you can see the state of the beans through a little porthole where they turn from the greenish colour through a light peanutty colour to the dark brown we recognise.
There’s a lot of wizardry and maths involved and different conditions in the process can result in different flavours. The coffee being made was a blend of Honduras (giving the base earthy nutty flavours) and El Borbollon (which gives the nutty acidity in the cup). When the second roast was released for cooling the paddle mixed and cooled the beans before they were transferred to a container. Needless to say that it smelled lovely.
The next stage is to de-stone the blend. This machine sucks up the beans from the hopper (behind) and removes the unusable (heavy) beans by weight.
As well as the demonstration I got to try some lovely espresso and ask all sorts of questions and even smell the raw beans (which smell like very dark chocolate and nutty). The process is obviously more complex than i’ve described here but I’ve learned a lot and hopefully will learn a lot more. Also as a result I have a new stash of decaff to try which i’m very excited about.
I had a really fantastic time, and I do recommend visiting on the next open day if you can. You can contact Round Hill Roastery via their website for details on email/facebook/twitter