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Technology meets challenge of the 90's.

Technology meets challenge of the 90's

With green prices down to around the pre-1975 frost levels, the U.S. roasting industry is entering the last decade of the 20th Century in an expansionary mood. Moreover, the trend has been most noticeable among the more capital-intensive operations, and the big national and international coffee companies are showing their optimism by investing again in new plants and equipment.

The revival is happily timed for the Probat Roastery Supply sales and demonstration facility which opened close by San Francisco International Airport last November. The California company is the offspring of PROBAT of West Germany, now the world's oldest manufacturer of machinery for the coffee industry, and it has assembled under one roof a full range of working plant equipment for industrial-scale roasters.

Untouched by the earthquake, the company installed a complete product line covering every stage in production from green delivery to final dispatch. In part, the set-up follows a typical commercial roasting layout, beginning with dumping, cleaning, weighing, and storage units through various roasting systems, roast storage bins and large-scale grinders - all liked by Probat conveying systems.

The production complex is, of course, backed by the full complement of testing and monitoring devices, centered on the operational laboratory, situated alongside the company's special feature, the "Coffee Workshop." This is the section offering training for technical staff from all over North America, working from personnel sent by large roasters to individual enthusiasts planning their own specialty operations.

"The training sessions are hands-on affairs, and we created them to provide direct experience for production-line staff to learn the newest and most useful techniques, and to give newcomers a basic grounding of coffee knowledge," explains Peter Von Gimborn, president of PRS. "But, of course, both the large units and the laboratory have a secondary purpose, in that they allow us to offer full testing, analysis and data collection service for busy companies which don't want to disturb their production schedules.

"What we wanted was to prove conclusively to the American coffee industry that we can do a whole lot more than just supply items of equipment. We also take a special pride in providing our clients with over a century of technical knowhow, plus a commitment to helping them reach and maintain the highest quality levels in today's very competitive beverage market.

"We see ourselves as active partners in the enterprise, working to solve the problems surrounding major coffee undertakings - matters like pollution control, dust collection, breakage control, shrinkage and density problems, as well as continuous inventory control and constant quality output." The Burlingame, California "Production Line" also includes a roaster model incorporating the Controx cooling system, which helps to cut oxidation of the beans.

"It's why we're always happy to invite roasters to bring samples of their own coffees - blends or individual origins - to Burlingame. We want them to achieve a measurable quality gain in their coffees, and our facilities offer the simplest way of reaching this goal. It's also a matter of some pride that we can now match the services provided in Emmerich by our parent company - which in practice means that roasters who need sample data in a hurry don't need a passport any more! What we can also provide is real, full-scale production conditions, giving results that can be duplicated in the client's own plant."

The work carried out on this demonstration production line is being supplemented by the training in the "Learn By Doing" sessions being run on a regular basis in the Coffee Workshops. Peter von Gimborn is the fourth generation of his family to serve the PROBAT company, and William Boot, who organizes these workshops, was also born with coffee in his blood. His father operates a coffee firm in the Netherlands, which attracts devotees from all over the country.

"We've been really impressed by the enthusiasm of our `students'," says Boot. "They obviously believe very strongly in the value of the product, and we try to teach them the art as well as the science of the whole coffee process." The first two seminars (which are limited to 15 people at a time) were fully booked, and the series continues on a monthly basis, with guest trainers from well-known, established coffee companies.

"Even though the future looks brighter for coffee now than it has for some time, it remains a very challenging market," says Von Gimborn. "Our role is to make sure the industry meets that challenge successfully."
COPYRIGHT 1990 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Probat Roastery Supply Inc. provides advice and training for the coffee roasting industry
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Feb 1, 1990
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