Mar 7, 2024 - Technology

Coffee, courtesy of the "electrify everything" movement

Photo of the electric Bellwether Shop Roaster

Image courtesy of Bellwether Coffee

A Bay Area coffee supplier and equipment company is unveiling a smaller model of its electric roaster that works for retail shops.

Why it matters: Coffee roasting is a growing frontier in the wider "electrify everything" movement for buildings, appliances, cars and more.

State of play: Bellwether Coffee said its new Shop Roaster is the first compact, all-electric, ventless coffee roaster for storefront-style, retail settings (see image above).

  • The ventless, closed-loop part is important because prevents air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.
  • And this enables in-store, electric roasting without needing local permits, they say. "No gas lines, vents, construction, or training are required to set it up," the announcement states.
  • The system is manufactured in Berkeley, California, and the company sees domestic and global markets for it.

Zoom in: The company says roasting on-site with their electric system — which starts at $14,900 — cuts CO2 emissions by 87% compared to natural gas powered systems.

  • It's a smaller, storefront-friendly version of their larger $59,000 model.
  • Roasting, which requires bringing beans to around 500 °F, accounts for around 15% of the massive worldwide coffee industry's total CO2 emissions, per Bellwether.

How it works: In an interview, founder and CEO Ricardo Lopez says there's a strong economic case.

  • Coffee shops typically pay around $10 per pound for coffee roasted elsewhere. Buying un-roasted green coffee is around half that cost. The average coffee shop goes through about 100 pounds per week, Lopez said.

The big picture: Lopez sees a desire among shop owners to produce climate-friendlier coffee to help create a "differentiated" experience for customers.

  • But, he adds, it won't happen unless it's also a win on costs.

The bottom line: "Having people doing the good thing that doesn't make economic sense for them is a difficult proposition," he tells me.

"[W]e've really tried to take a path where it's all about the best cup of coffee for that cafe to deliver to their customers first and foremost, and that cafe able to do it while saving 50%. And oh, by the way, it's also the most environmentally friendly way."

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