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Bellwether Goes Smaller and Leaner with the New Shop Roaster

Bellwether Shop Roaster countertop

A Bellwether Shop Roaster positioned on a countertop. All images courtesy of Bellwether Coffee.

Pioneering electric coffee roaster maker Bellwether Coffee has unveiled the Bellwether Shop Roaster, a smaller and less expensive model than the company’s flagship machine.

“It’s what we’ve been working on to enable access to every cafe in the world to be able to roast coffee on site,” Ricardo Lopez, the founder and CEO of Berkeley, California-based Bellwether told Daily Coffee News yesterday. 

With electric heat and a “closed loop” system designed to maximize energy efficiency, the original Bellwether roaster made a high-impact launch in 2018 and was followed by a generation 2 version in 2022.

Whereas that machine is designed to stand on a floor, occupying roughly the same footprint as a small kitchen refrigerator, the new shop roaster is designed for countertop use while only requiring a 30-amp circuit.

Offering 1.5 kilogram batch capacity, which is roughly half that of its predecessors, the Shop roaster can also be fitted with a “continuous roasting” kit, which requires floor standing but can deliver four times more capacity.

The Shop Roaster stands 25 inches wide, 28.5 inches tall and 27.5 inches deep. With the continuous roaster kit, the unit maintains the same width and depth, while reaching 67 inches in height. 

Bellwether Shop Roaster continuous kit

A Bellwether Shop Roaster outfitted with the optional “continuous roasting” kit.

The Shop Roaster alone will cost $14,900, while the optional continuous roasting kit is an additional $5,000. With U.S. sales launching today, machines are expected to begin shipping next month.

According to Lopez, the standard Bellwether Shop Roaster can handle an estimated average coffee shop demand of 100 pounds of coffee per week, while the “continuous roasting” upgrade allows for at least 400 pounds per week. The mode creates capacity for 20 kilos (44 pounds) in a single operation, which is about 13 roast cycles. 

Since its inception, and through multiple investment rounds, Bellwether maintained a two-pronged pitch: environmental friendliness through the elimination of natural gas; and accessibility for small coffee shop businesses seeking to get into the roasting game without extensive training.

The company estimates that its electric systems reduce the carbon footprint of a pound of roasted coffee by an average of 87%, while gas-powered roasting alone accounts for some 15% of the coffee industry’s total carbon footprint globally.

“If we can help cafes create this incredible experience while saving 50 percent from buying wholesale coffee to buying green coffee, then the byproduct of that is not only an awesome experience for that cafe’s customers, but also environmentally by reducing the amount of carbon footprint that our industry produces, which is a lot — 10s of billions of pounds of carbon emitted every year,” Lopez told DCN. “If we can take 15% of that, which is the roasted coffee of our industry, reduce that by 87%, then that’s actually a big movement.”

Bellwether Shop Roaster

The Bellwether Shop Roaster with (right) and without (left) the continuous roasting kit.

Adding to this eco-math equation is Bellwether’s own green coffee buying platform, which includes a broad range of single-origin green coffees that come with recommended roast profiles, integrated inventory management and more features. The company has also maintained a commitment to responsible green coffee sourcing, including leading efforts towards “living income” pricing.

Lopez said the combined effect of the green coffee sales and the electric roasting processes can help fuel an “alternative market” for smaller coffee businesses seeking more sustainable models for the farmers who produce coffee, as well as for the environment. He noted a number of electric roaster models that have emerged since Bellwether started developing its technology a decade ago.

“You’re seeing a lot of the larger roaster manufacturers getting into this now because they see the need — and we embrace that; we’re excited about that,” Lopez said. “We believe that the industry needs to shift over to electric roasting, and it’s going to take all of us together to really help reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.”

Bellwether representatives will be showing off the new Shop Roaster at the upcoming SCA Expo in Chicago on April 12-14.

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