Industry influencer James Hoffmann partners with Bellwether Coffee to prove the benefits of electric roasting
March 5 - 2023
Coffee Geography Magazine
The usage of renewable energy in the coffee industry is still in its infancy where it is generally using the fossil fuel to achieve the necessary degree of roasting. During the 2021/22 period, global coffee imports amounted to a total of 133.59 million 60-kilogram bags. In the same period, around 140.49 million bags were exported worldwide. Most of these green coffee beans exported to roasters all around the world are ended up in these highly polluting gas(CH4) roasters emitting a potent greenhouse gas which is a major contributor to global warming.
Bellwether demonstrated that it's possible and very viable to power it on renewable energy, using electric which makes Bellwether's roaster an even cleaner option for micro-roasteries, and for a larger scale industrial production, without relying on fossil fuels, according to James Hoffmann who recently partnered Bellwether to promote the usage of the electric roaster.
He gave us a little bit of math lesson on how to achieve his scenario to successfully apply his science on the ground. The sun gives 15Kwh energy in a good sunny day or 10-15kwh an average to estimate his calculation. A gas roaster uses 0.8Kwh/1kg coffee to fully complete in a commercial size batch probably 90kg per assignment. Bellwether is a micro-roaster designed for cafes and distributors to roast their own coffees efficiently for fresh output. In this case, it is quite practical to roast up to 15kg in batches using Bellwether, using electric and also different coffee blends from different countries for better tastes.
Coffee Geography Magazine is taking his logical approach quite interestingly to perceive the details on how to change the roasting culture forever.
Bellwether Coffee, the technology company advancing electric coffee roasting to deliver the lowest carbon footprint in the industry partnered with notable coffee connoisseur and sustainability advocate, James Hoffmann, to conduct a groundbreaking experiment. Together, in the middle of the desert in Indio, CA, they teamed up to roast coffee on Bellwether's electric machine using only solar power to test the roaster's performance and see what is possible for the future of clean roasting.
Innovative Experiment Showcases the Future of Sustainable Coffee
The US produces over 8 billion pounds of coffee annually, and coffee roasting currently accounts for a significant 15% of the carbon footprint of the coffee industry. As concerns around the future of the coffee industry grow, the ability to produce coffee on an electric roaster at scale is critical and urgent. Studies show that even with a dirty energy grid powered by coal or natural gas, electric roasting is still considerably cleaner than roasting with natural gas and will only improve as grids get more sustainable with increased renewable sources like wind, solar, hydroelectric, and others over time.
"I need to start thinking about alternative fuels right now if I want to have a sustainable business that can last decades more," said Hoffmann, when discussing why businesses should consider different methods of coffee roasting.
For the experiment, Hoffmann and his team connected Bellwether's electric roaster to solar panels to prove that a new way of roasting is possible, and the environmentally-friendly technology is not only the future, but that it can be done anywhere, and produces incredible results. The experiment, captured in a video on Hoffmann's popular YouTube channel, shows Hoffmann calculating the energy efficiency of electric roasting versus gas, explores how to roast electric at scale, and proves cafes can roast world class coffee at the touch of a button, without sacrificing quality. Technical advancements made by Bellwether have closed the quality and consistency gap between electric and gas roasting. In a separate video on Bellwether's YouTube channel, Hoffmann delves more into the industry and why it's time for a change.
"Coffee retailers have the power to fundamentally change the carbon footprint of the global coffee industry," said Ricardo Lopez, Founder and CEO of Bellwether Coffee. "This experiment proves that it's possible, accessible, and necessary to begin transitioning the world's coffee supply to electric and that starts with retailers leading the microroastery movement."
The all-electric Bellwether Roaster turns any coffee retailer into a microroastery by enabling them to source and roast their own incredible coffee at the touch of a button. Roasting coffee in-house allows businesses to increase quality and freshness while owning their own brand, saving money over wholesale, adding revenue and differentiating themselves in a crowded market.
Bellwether's first-of-its-kind ventless and automatic operation makes it possible for anyone to roast delicious, sustainable coffee, no experience required.
With its award-winning sustainable technology, Bellwether aspires to create a better future for the entire coffee industry: one that is sustainable for the environment, equitable for farmers and accessible to all communities.
As the only electric and ventless system, Bellwether is supporting the microroastery movement by transforming retailers into on-site roasters, while helping source sustainable coffee beans from farmers around the world. The first-of-its-kind technology was built from scratch to deliver a solution that is easy to install, use, and scale to produce consistency and quality in craft coffee. By making roasting more accessible, Bellwether is helping retailers differentiate, drive sales and deliver the coffee of the future for sustainability in coffee today.