Roasting 101 – Safety Basics

Roasting 101 – Safety Basics


Welcome back to our continuing series “Roasting 101” from Mill City Roasters. One of the first things I’d like you to consider when you roast is safety. Let’s talk about, first, your fire extinguisher. Over my right shoulder is a nice large red-painted pillar and, mounted on that, is our fire extinguisher. Don’t bury your fire extinguisher between Uhh… behind the roaster, underneath the roaster… Don’t move it around. Put it in one place, between you and the exit. So, if you ever have a concern with a fire, you know exactly where it is and it’s between you and the exit. Let’s talk about the chaff collector. Here, in the North line, I encourage our Roasters to clean that chaff collector every five to seven roasts. Chaff is very, very flammable. Low kindling point. So, when I’m doing a production setup, I’ll turn the burner off, turn the airflow to 0, and go after the chaff with a Shopvac. Merely reignite the burner, turn the airflow back on and you’re back in business. Don’t wait til you’ve been in there 20, 25 roasts. Every 5 to 7 roasts. Third thing I’d like to consider, under safety, is your venting. Any place the venting has an elbow, you’re going to find that your, uh, coffee oils and the finest of chaff dust collect right in those elbows. So, I can’t tell you how frequently to do it. You’re going to be able to tell, based on the number of roasts you do and the kind of coffees you’re roasting. And so you disassemble your entire ventilation. Take a look for: Where are those oils built up? Where’s that chaff dust congregating? Get after it with a wire brush if need be. Final thing I’d like to talk about on the North line of roasters: we’ve got a PID controller; and that’s reading the temperature in the center of the drum – the ambient or the environmental temperature. Our manuals discuss setting up… So that, when you achieve 455 degrees in your roaster: the gas stream automatically shuts down. So that helps control as a safety feature. Read through your manual, take time, set up that ambient temp probe… from the PID controller when it reads “445, 455…” Your choice. It’s a very good safety feature, so you’re not adding additional BTUs to a difficult roast. So, in safety, we’re taking a very quick look at: Where are you placing that fire extinguisher? Second: go after that chaff collector every 5 to 7 roasts with a Shopvac. On your venting… Disassemble it. Take it down, and get those congregated coffee oils and chaff dust out of your ventilation. If you’ve got the ability with your PID controller, set your alarm so that the gas stream shuts down when you achieve 445 to 455. Thanks for looking in, and we’ll look for you on other segments of Roasting 101 from Mill City Roasters. See you.

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