If you’ve been to Downtown Huntsville, you may have smelled it’s great aromas wafting through the streets. If you’ve been in to our shop you definitely saw it, even if you might not have known what it was. Whether you’re familiar with our Jabez Burns Roaster or not, it is an integral part of our business and we’re proud to have it and work it every day we’re open. This year marks it’s 90th birthday!
Jabez Burns was quite the engineer and developed multiple ideas and inventions during his life but most notable to our industry was his first roaster patent in 1864. He created the first machine that the roasted coffee could be discharged from without moving the machine itself from the fire source. This was quite an evolvement at the time and was the beginning of modern coffee roasters. Jabez Burns & Sons went on as a commanding force of the coffee roasting industry and continued to create new and more useful types of equipment.
Our Jabez Burns Number 7 Roaster was built in 1929 in New York City. The Kaffeeklatsch came in to possession of it in 1977. After one year of business, owners Grant and Kathy felt that they wanted complete control over the quality of their coffee and having their own roaster was the best way to ensure that. On a weekend trip to Norfolk, Virginia Grant took some whirlwind lessons from a gentleman named Harvey at First Colony Coffee & Tea. Harvey was able to help find our Jabez Burns Number 7 in New Orleans, where it had been used for roasting peanuts. It showed up in a large crate and had to come through the front window to be placed where it still sits today. The Kaffeeklatsch was on it’s way to becoming one of the first (if not the first) specialty coffee roasters in Alabama.
The Number 7 can handle 30 kilos (about 66 pounds) of coffee at a time, making it a “half bag” roaster. An average bag of raw coffee beans weighs 60 kilos (around 132 pounds). It uses natural gas as the heat source for roasting which happens from ~400 to 450 degrees F on this machine. There are two belts and a chain, powered by an electric motor, that turn the two drums on the roaster. Raw coffee beans are loaded through a hand-operated gate on the front side of the top drum, which is perforated and has large fins all along the inside. This design results in better airflow through the drum and thus better heat transfer through the bean. It also keeps the coffee beans in constant motion, as they would stick to the sides of the drum and burn otherwise. Once the beans have reached our ideal roast level they are discharged to the cooling drum underneath. The top drum has a hand-operated gate that feeds in to a hand-operated funnel piece on the bottom drum (lets hope whoever is roasting remembered to open the funnel as you’d have a pile of hot beans on your feet at this point!). The bottom drum is also perforated for airflow, allowing the beans to cool fairly quickly. Once the coffee is cooled enough the “magic” lever is pulled and dial turned forcing the beans up to the hopper.
There’s a lot more that could be said about our roaster and our process but we’ll save that for another day. In celebration of it’s 90th birthday, we will soon have new t-shirts available! We’re very excited to offer a new design, “The Kaffeeklatsch” logo at the top and a depiction of our Jabez Burns roaster. Look for these to be available in store and online in the next few weeks for $16.95!
New Coffee Arrival
We are expecting a coffee shipment this week from our friends at Royal Coffee and we think you’ll really enjoy our new offering from Honduras! An exquisite micro-lot, Honduras Finca Liquidambar Yellow Honey, from Roberto Rene Gonzalez and his family, who own 37 acre farm Finca Liquidambar. This crop is processed in the honey style, Certified Organic and Certified Fair Trade and is wonderfully sweet and full of delicious fruit nuances. Read more about Roberto and this micro-lot once it arrives in store! We’ll be offering this coffee for $16.95 per pound.
As always we invite you to visit us at our locally owned and operated shop, The Kaffeeklatsch, Inc. serving coffee and tea lovers since 1976, roasters of fine coffees since 1977. We hope to see you soon!