Roasting coffee to order: Exploring the benefits

Holly Szakal
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October 19, 2023
roasting coffee to order, benefits of roasting coffee to order, Hampton Roast Coffee

Being a professional coffee roaster involves more than perfecting roast profiles. An important element of maintaining an efficient and profitable roastery is fine-tuning green bean orders and minimising losses across all areas of the business. Roasting coffee to order can help on both fronts. 

Notably, this nuanced approach can help showcase a brand’s commitment to freshness and sustainability. This, in turn, can help boost its bottom line and increase customer loyalty. This certainly proved true for Rhyan McCoy, the founder of Hampton Roast Coffee in Northern Ireland.

After launching his business in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Rhyan was determined to reduce the amount of single-use plastics ending up in local landfills. More so, he had a desire to explore the cost of ethical coffee trading and the impact that sound decisions can have on production sustainability and overall quality.

As roasting coffee to order is uncommon for most cafes, I spoke to Rhyan about why he’s chosen to add this method to his own day-to-day trading. 

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Benefits of roasting coffee to order 

Freshness is a key focus in the modern coffee sector. As soon as coffee beans are exposed to air and direct light, they start to lose complex and subtle flavours, and the process of oxidation creates undesirable “off-flavours”.

Cafes that order large quantities of coffee without any guarantee of demand may end up brewing coffee with older beans. In turn, customers may notice stale or undesirable flavours in the cup. Roasting coffee to order can ensure the beans are at their peak freshness when they reach the customer. 

Additionally, it allows for better quality control. Coffee roasters can focus on smaller batches, ensuring the beans are roasted to the highest quality. This can result in a more consistent and superior product. More so, roasting to order allows for more customisation. Coffee roasters can tailor the roast profile to the customer’s preference to ensure full satisfaction. 

Beyond this, roasting coffee to order can help minimise excess inventory and reduce waste. Overall, it can be a more cost-effective option for coffee roasters, as it also reduces the environmental impact associated with disposing of stale coffee

roasting coffee to order, benefits of roasting coffee to order, Hampton Roast Coffee

How can coffee roasters roast to order effectively?

Rhyan roasts between 60 and 70 kilograms of coffee a month to ensure his customers the freshest coffee in Northern Ireland. “The coffee is roasted, cooled, degassed, and then packaged and sent directly to our customers,” he says. 

“The degassing valves in our coffee packaging are very important,” he adds. “The valve allows the coffee to continue degassing as it travels to the customer. This has helped us save on coffee waste, where spiked goods would be thrown out if no orders came in on time.”

Rhyan explains that what works for Hampton Roast Coffee is having set roast days every week. This helps keep the roastery running efficiently and allows Rhyan to set clear expectations for his customers. 

For the brand’s Belfast-based brew stop, roast days fall on Saturdays, Mondays, and Thursdays. Any orders placed between these days are held and roasted together to minimise energy use and prevent stockpiling. As his customers expect freshly roasted coffee, Rhyan finds they are very understanding of this system and appreciate that good things take time. 

Rhyan reveals that many of his processes were developed through trial and error. Therefore, he advises other coffee roasters to take risks, be innovative, and ask for feedback as much as possible. “Also, adjust your processes based on your own successes. You need to discover what works best for your cafe, clients, and customers.”

As with any business, taking risks and determining best practices can be highly beneficial. Notably, results show cafes that effectively roast coffee to order average an 8.79% profile margin.

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Upcycling organic coffee waste: Turning chaff into energy

As sustainability is a key focus for Hampton Roast Coffee, the brand uses biodegradable stand-up coffee pouches made from kraft paper. More so, the bags are carbon neutral and all the labels are printed on environmentally friendly paper. 

Beyond this, the brand offers local delivery and pick-up for its coffee refill service. Rhyan explains the brand encourages customers to reuse their coffee containers and bags instead of purchasing a heat-sealed coffee bag each time. 

Additionally, Hampton Roast Coffee is fully committed to turning its coffee chaff into energy. “All of our chaff is collected and repurposed,” Rhyan explains. “The chaff, along with any leftover coffee grounds, and shredded paper, is soaked in water and pressed into logs.” 

Chaff (also known as silverskins or husk) is the epidermis of coffee beans that falls off during roasting due to the application of heat. Light and fluffy in texture, chaff is usually collected in a bucket (called a chaff collector), while the rest collects on the inside of the roaster from where it must be cleaned to eliminate the risk of fire.

With cafes worldwide working endlessly to find more ways to reduce the carbon footprint that the coffee industry burdens, turning coffee chaff waste into energy is a new venture. Notably, it was first born in a UK-based study.

Reusing chaff to create electricity can help cafes improve their internal sustainable practices. By partnering with biomass or waste-to-energy power plants, cafes can arrange recurring pickups or deliveries of chaff. 

From there, once it arrives at the facility, the coffee chaff is converted into useful biomass or biofuel. While biofuel can be refined for use in a variety of energy applications, such as vehicle power, biomass can be used directly to generate heat or electricity. By monitoring and optimising the energy generation process, cafes can reduce waste, promote sustainability, and embrace environmentally friendly initiatives.

Another way specialty coffee roasters can promote sustainability is by investing in coffee packaging that has little to no environmental impact. 

At MTPak Coffee, our coffee packaging solutions offer high-barrier protection, while being made from biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable materials that will help reduce your carbon footprint. Our line of coffee packaging options is made from renewable materials, such as compostable kraft paper, and rice paper, as well as multilayer LDPE coffee bags with an environmentally friendly PLA lining, all of which minimise waste and contribute to a circular economy. Our kraft paper and PLA packaging are certified by TÜV Austria as OK compost HOME and OK compost INDUSTRIAL, while our degassing valves are also compostable.

More so, our stand-up bags, flat-bottom pouches, and side-gusset bags can be fitted with resealable, recyclable zippers. Our spout boxes can be made from corrugated board or kraft paper, and when fitted with our recyclable spout, are completely recyclable. Our paper tubes are the perfect option for those looking to create a unique and personalised packaging experience for their customers. Our paper tubes are specifically designed to protect and add value to rare, microlot, and ultra-specialty coffees.

Read our exclusive interview with Bernardita Mancilla, the co-foundress of Artisan Roast Coffee Company: the brand reducing organic coffee waste by upcycling used coffee grounds into marketable products.

Images by Hampton Roast Coffee

For more information on sustainable coffee packaging, contact our team

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