Bellwether Coffee Roasting System - Page 2

Discuss roast levels and profiles for espresso, equipment for roasting coffee.
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mkane
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#11: Post by mkane »

Pretty slick but, I enjoy twisting knobs.

Marcelnl
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#12: Post by Marcelnl »

Looks like a washer dryer combo to me ;-) I'd like to hear results in the cup, as the concept is interesting!

Anyone who knows how they manage the absence of smoke as that is going to be generated when roasting so I reckon they are using disposable filter units -expensive- scrubbers are involved (with disposables price of operation goes up dramatically, so does waste)
Using some form of heat exchanger makes sense, and is in fact not too difficult to implement using an electrical heater. I have been thinking about a partial 'EGR' like setup for the Huky recently as it was quite cold in my roasting shack but ditched the idea given my roast frequency.

Comparing electric heating with gas heating and then saying exhaust gases are 98% less is IMO a bit too simplistic/optimistic as the comparison is only valid when electricity is produced totally carbon free .
LMWDP #483

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Chert

#13: Post by Chert » replying to Marcelnl »

Some of that no smoke claims is hard to imagine. Roasting coffee puts out lots!

But maybe I could put together a 'washer-dryer combo' to go earth friendly electric. Kidding aside, this has me thinking more about electric roasting again.
current musing: HUKY roasting over electric heat

archipelago

#14: Post by archipelago »

I have lots of thoughts, which I posted to the Decent Diaspora a couple of years ago. Here they are:

==

First i want to say that i was talking with them as i found it intriguing and a potential fit for some of my clients. I've toured the facility, met the team, cupped their coffees, seen the machines in the flesh, etc.

My impression is that the strongest pitch is for single-unit operators, particularly in high rises or Class A office buildings where running a stack may be difficult or cost prohibitive. However, for most operators there are a few challenges:

Cost
When I first connected with Bellwether, before their production machines had a final design, the anticipated price was $30k for the machine, which financing available through the company. A small shop doing 200-300 pounds a week at $11 per pound currently (like many on the coasts) could justify this. However, I hear now that the price has ballooned to a staggering $80k (?), making it more expensive than a Loring S7, for example, which although it would take a bit more training, maintenance and installation work, can be made to be just as automated.
This also is an issue with their platform, which ties a markup to green purchased through Bellwether. It's an Apple store model. But really the coffee is being rebadged and repackaged from other importers where it could be purchased more economically (though less curated and the traceability homework would have to be asked for).

Batch Size
It can only roast 6 pounds per batch, and doesn't do smaller than that effectively because it relies on probes being in the bean pile for accurate reading and automation. They say it's capable of 300 pounds a day, but that's literally if you're roasting 11 hours a day, continuously. Which requires either an additional person/barista to be there to manage the roasting, or it will simply happen during idle periods only. Meanwhile, on an S7 I could push out nearly 50 pounds an hour, or on a Giesen W15 about 80.... all for roughly the same price. Notice that this is the thing they don't explicitly call out on their website?

Requirements
The ventless thing is sweet, electric is ok (except electric costs fluctuate wildly seasonally)... but saying it doesn't require anything special when it needs a 50amp connection is wild. If you don't build to that spec (which for a cafe will require an upgraded panel as most I've seen are built with 200amps and use most of that... although newer tech and LED lights are changing that) it'd be an expensive retrofit.

Learning
Like the IKAWA, the software isn't really set up in such a way as to help you learn to roast. It's more programmed than reactive/ live. as a result, you're likely to stay within the Bellwether ecosystem than branch off and start buying and roasting on a different machine since by year 6 you still haven't truly learned to roast.

Tech & Unknown reliability
It's still new tech. One of the reasons I often call for LM espresso machines for commercial clients is because there is a fairly large network of techs and parts are available domestically with next-day shipping. This isn't always true of other machines, and it extends to roasters as well. Even new machines-especially high tech machines-have issues and downtown is expensive and disruptive. Plus, since they're a startup using a VC funding model, what happens if they burn all of their cash? Does their support network go away? Can you still get parts? With the amount of proprietary tech in there (like the ventless carburetor system), is it even user repairable?

Probe placement
This is a huge problem on many commercial roasts and since their machine pitch is automation, it's even more critical to prevent baking and really allow repeatability.

Quality
Every coffee I've ever had from a Bellwether has tasted smoky or baked. Every coffee I've seen in their system was pretty faded.