The Industry’s Answer to Better Quality Standards
Much like the comic strip superhero The Phantom who relies on sheer strength, intelligence and reputation to battle injustice, the Phantom Series coffee roasters possess the same qualities in the technology it uses. No gimmicks and nothing left to luck. Just a solid and reliable 100% Australian made coffee roasting technology, that was honed through years of hard work, determination and industry insider knowledge.
Mark and Alana Beattie of Coffee Roasters Australia have been distributing coffee roasting equipment from abroad and installing them in the Australian market for over 15 years. Through the unparalleled quality of their work, the company has built an impressive reputation. Installing roasters from overseas manufacturers meant that the machines required modification in order to comply with gas and electrical standards in Australia. Not only that, the time it took for shipment was anywhere in between four to five months.
Over time, Coffee Roasters Australia started compliance work with Mark fitting coffee roasters with complete gas works and Coffee Sweet, Coffee Roasters Australia’s very own roasting control software platform.
Coffee Sweet enables Windows-based customisation and control of coffee roasting methods with a user-friendly interface. Officially launched seven years ago as a response to consumer demand, the software was considered revolutionary in the coffee roasting business.
Quite naturally, the next step for Mark Beattie was the creation of complementary roaster parts and accessories. What followed was a collection of customised destoners and afterburners, as well as new internal features for roasters. It didn’t take the coffee industry long before they took notice of Mark’s handicraft and soon, Mark found himself working with nearly empty roasters that he would fully install with internal features that he designed.
Development of New Roaster Technology
According to feedback, customers wanted more control over the roasting profiles and to produce a wide array of coffee drinks. “Every customer is different, but if you only have the one option for them you’ll lose the customer to another company that provides that flexibility,” Beattie says. The challenge was producing a roaster in Australia with greater flexibility and precision in a shorter length of time, and at a lower cost.
The problem in producing new coffee roasters to answer these demands was the expensive manufacturing and labour costs in Australia. That’s why many businesses outsource production overseas to significantly reducecosts. A workaround was through the elimination of expensive and unnecessary parts. Not only was that designed to lower the production cost, but will also shorten the process and speed up the manufacturing stage.
The goal was to redesign the overall structure of coffee roasters. Fewer parts, but still in compliance with Australian standards. Coffee Roasters Australia worked on the new roaster technology through extensive research and development, partnering with engineering students of Griffith University to work on different electrical and heating systems.
“Traditionally, the skeleton of a drum roaster and how it works isn’t much different to how it was 100 years ago. What has changed is technology. There’s more automation, different heating systems and more energy efficiency. We didn’t want to totally reinvent the wheel, just produce a high quality, consistent product that gives customers the options and control they want.” Beattie says.
The Initial Launch of Phantom Series
In order to make the project work, industry-leading equipment was needed with high quality technology and advanced techniques. Luckily this was within a 15 minute radius to Coffee Roasters Australia headquaters, so instead of purchasing these machines and setting-up an onsite operation, the company enlisted the help of local Gold Coast suppliers for a number of elements such as sheet metal laser cutting, folding, rolling, water jetting, computer numerical controlled milling and powder coating. That left the design, electrical,gas work, assembly and some of the welding to be done at the headquarters of Coffee Roasters Australia in Arundel, Queensland.
After a lot of hard work, the Phantom Series Coffee Roasters were launched in May 2017 headed by two roasters; one with a 7kg capacity and the other with 22kg. Although Coffee Roasters Australia wasn’t able to claim 100% of the total manufacturing costs in Australia, what it was able to accomplish (60%-70% Australian manufactured) was pretty impressive.
To be able to launch the two roasters with competitive prices, the company had to import a number of fabricated parts. Nevertheless, Beattie and the rest of the team didn’t stop from finding ways to take complete control over and make an all-Australian manufactured coffee roaster.
Revision and Improvement
During the first half of 2018, Coffee Roasters Australia went back to the drawing board and re-examined the roaster’s design. To further reduce the manufacturing lead times, the company removed the time-consuming hand-welding process and replaced the chassis with folded-sheet metal components. This solution reduced the production time significantly while still maintaining the precision and quality of the roaster. It also allowed for an easier way to modify parts if needed in the future.
To solve the problem of potential roasting defects, Coffee Roasters Australia allowed for enough inner insulation from the burners through the use of a new double wall drum where the outer layer floats to create greater air circulation between the layers for greater responsiveness during the roasting process.
An additional feature of the improved Phantom roaster was the company-produced metal fibre burner tech, allowing for more energy efficient heating and precise control: “We decided to develop our own so we have complete control over one of the most important parts of a coffee roaster – the heating system. We are able to achieve more efficient combustion results and a wider range of control over heat transfer right down to infrared,” Beattie says. “We can install the burners as atmospheric, semi premix or full premix with various burner and valve controls.”
Coffee Sweet Software Upgrade
Not only did Coffee Roasters Australia make improvements to the roaster’s hardware, but they also made a significant update to the Coffee Sweet system, offering advanced datalogging capabilities and cloud-based technology for storage of roasting profiles. Coffee Sweet is an all-inclusive system that does not require a separate datalogging mechanism, unlike other profiling systems which use a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) that is separate to the datalogging system due to limitations in the PLC.
Customers can get the basic version of Coffee Sweet for free, while the Pro version is available by subscription. All subsequent updates and upgrades of the system will be available to all purchasers.
Phantom Series New Releases
Clearly, there’s nothing that can’t be done through diligence and perseverance. As Mark Beattie has put it, “We didn’t want to run before we could walk, but now that we’re walking I hope others can realise that you can achieve your goals if you’re willing to put in the hard work. We’ve done that. Now, all we want is for the industry to enjoy great tasting coffee.”
Coffee Roasters Australia has released new versions of the 7kg and 22kg Phantom Series roasters, along with a 15kg coffee roaster. These new roasters were manufactured through CRA Technology, the manufacturing arm of Coffee Roasters Australia. With the positive response so far during the soft launch, CRA could soon be developing even larger roasters.
The Phantom Series is proof of Australia’s capability of creating high quality coffee roasters to compete with top international manufacturers. With the help of government grants and support, the Phantom Series will be available for international export by 2019. The company has already seen some interests from Asian markets and is confident that it will also attract European and American consumers.