Ask the Roaster
I guess you could say my childhood was a tad unusual. As the child of two artisan roasters, I grew up surrounded by coffee sacks and beans. My parents were at the forefront of the Second Wave in artisan coffee when they started roasting in the late eighties.
I was adamant “not to do the coffee thing” and instead became a graphic designer. But, while working in London, I became inspired by the work of roasters like Monmouth and Square Mile and the emerging Third Wave coffee scene. My parents sold their business and I was getting sick of London, so I moved back to Devon with my wife Caroline, bought a small roasting machine and set up an artisan roastery based on the Third Wave coffee principles. Roastworks Coffee Co. was born.
We are now very proud of our roasting machines - A Probat and a Barth Menado. They are the heart and soul of our roastery and influence the taste of our coffee, us as people, and even our branding. We are proud to use vintage, cast-iron, German-built machines and we adopt an industrious DIY attitude to keeping these machines running.
Our pride and joy - the 1958, 60kg Barth Menado is equal parts beautiful and terrifying and was designed by an engineer who had a dream of building the ultimate roasting machine. It’s totally over the top. There are six bolts where four would be plenty, the fans are massive, the drum design is totally unique, and then there is the weight. There’s enough cast iron in this thing to make Brunel blush.
We love this machine and it’s one of the reasons our coffees taste so delicious. Modern roasters have their place but comparing this machine to a modern roaster is like comparing an Aga to a brand-new Neff oven. They’ll both cook your casserole, but they’ll do it in different ways. It’s all about thermal mass. Once the Barth gets hot there is so much retained energy in the cast iron it allows us to achieve a more developed roast profile. This creates a sweeter and more balance cup profile.