In a year of change, Neuhaus Neotec has applied its skills for hot air roasting into traditional drum roasting technology – with its own unique spin.
For a long time, Neuhaus Neotec has led the coffee industry when it comes to forward-thinking fluidised bed or ‘hot air’ roasting thanks to its Rotational Flexible Batch (RFB) technology. Now, the German manufacturer is applying its expertise to a more traditional system, the drum roaster.
“We believe in our hot air roasting technology, and our success with it tells us we’re not wrong. But some customers have had 100 years of experience with drum roasters and don’t have the same connection to hot air roasters,” says Lars Henkel, Head of Marketing at Neuhaus Neotec.
“They believe in this traditional technology and there is a big market for drum roasters. As a systems supplier of all kinds of equipment for the coffee industry – from green coffee up to packaging – we don’t want to turn our backs to this market.”
Neuhaus Neotec first launched its CTR drum roaster series more than a decade ago, in response to demand from several largescale coffee roasters for such a system. Two global players in coffee roasting contributed to its development, with the first model installed in a plant for JDE subsidiary Kraft Foods in 2009.
The CTR saw some early success, however, after drum roaster manufacturer IMS joined the Kahl Group in 2012, the decision was made for Neuhaus Neotec to focus more on hot air roasting to reduce competition between the sister companies. However, the situation changed again in 2019, when the insolvency of IMS ended its cooperation in the Kahl Group.
“We still received regular requests for drum roasters, and several customers decided to have both technologies in their house. The CTR is a very good machine, but we felt we could not push development of our own drum roasting technology, until recently,” Henkel says.
“Customers usually have a clear preference, so we don’t feel our drum roasting technology is in competition with the RFB. We believe there is room for both technologies.”
The new CTR II drum roaster takes what worked about the original CTR while combining many of the innovations Neuhaus Neotec has discovered about coffee roasting in the years since.
The first machine was noteworthy for its optimum accessibility to all maintenance areas, a factor carried across to the CTR II. Rather than a small flap providing access to the drum for cleaning and servicing, the roaster features a ‘front door’ that opens completely.
A lockout-tagout safety system allows the drum to be quickly and safely transferred to service mode.
Under normal operation, the drum is guided over its entire circumference, with additional guide rollers only securing the drum during maintenance. Henkel says this noticeably reduces the noise level while roasting.
“Many design considerations were carried over from the original, but many of the main features, like the art of heat production and provision, is completely reinvented,” Henkel says.
“The general idea of a drum roaster is to heat the beans slowly on a rotating pan, but we know from our hot air roasters that the heat transfer to the bean is better through air than by contact with the metal wall.”
For this reason, the CTR II’s gas flame doesn’t directly heat the drum. Instead, an external burner heats the air, which flows homogeneously around the double-walled drum, preventing hot spots and applying heat to the entire coffee batch in an identical manner.
“If you separate the heat source from the drum, you can add more features to change the temperature much faster compared to a conventional design,” Henkel says.
“For example, we added a flap system between the drum and burner. This is a technology we have first patented for our hot air roaster and that allows you to reduce the temperature of the airstream very fast. This widens the range of possibilities to adjust your roasting profile.”
The burner and pipe system are insulated with an external mineral wool that holds less heat than typical brick insulation, also allowing for greater flexibility in temperature ranges.
“Nowadays, there is a high diversity of ways to consume coffee – filter, capsule, instant – that require special roasting profiles,” Henkel says.
“Our first thought during development is always ‘how can we make the roasting more flexible?’ For that, you have to think of opportunities to alter the temperature in very fast ways.”
Henkel says dark roast profiles are still popular with largescale roasters who need consistent and strong flavours when working with commercial qualities and quantities. For these cases, Neuhaus Neotec offers its additional Dark Roast System, which has been successfully used for RFB hot air technology for several years to safely roast up to 35 on a Colortest scale.
“When you roast dark, the CO (carbon monoxide content) increases, but you have to keep it on a safe level,” Henkel says. “Our system consists of several air flaps to dilute the atmosphere within the closed recirculation cycle in a controlled way through the recipe.”
To create those recipes and operate the machine, Neuhaus Neotec has implemented a well-established modular programming platform from Siemens that can easily be customised to individual requirements.
“If the customer asks for a special feature we have not yet considered, we can easily add another program module without having to start from the ground up. This reduces the costs for individual solutions,” Henkel says.
New visualisation software makes it possible to scale the user interface to any size of display – such as PC or touch panel – without any loss of quality, also reducing costs of customisation.
iO-Link communication-based sensor technology can be managed centrally and make remote maintenance possible in many cases. Henkel says this is part of Neuhaus Neotec’s standard scope of delivery so its service team can provide fast and efficient support worldwide.
The CTR II is being developed in two sizes, with batches of 360 and 720 kilograms, equating to roughly 2000 and 4000 kilograms per hour. The first CTR II, of the larger variety, was installed in an under-production coffee plant in Japan in October.
“This customer works with both drum and hot air roasters, depending on the location and preferences of plant managers. Our advantage is that we can offer both on a high-quality level,” Henkel says.
Neuhaus Neotec also invited a select group of customers to preview the CTR II roaster at its Ganderkesee site in September. Henkel says the response was consistently positive. “They were happy with the design and understood its features and advantages, so we see good potential in the market for this machine,” he says.
Neuhaus Neotec is increasing its presence in the drum roaster market further in 2021 with new designs and technical features. The next in-development model will feature a capacity range of 1000 to 3000 kilograms per hour and will share the CTR II’s front door design and external afterburner.
Neuhaus Neotec cooperates with strong and experienced foreign partners for the production of the mechanical parts, which leads to high synergy effects like cost reduction without compromising on quality. Neuhaus Neotec provides the complete control unit.
“Our partner is quite successful with his own products in his domestic market. Combined with our experience and worldwide customer network, we see fantastic opportunities for this joint venture,” Henkel says.
“Through both drum roasters, we will reach new customers with which to form close relationships. No other company has as good a reputation for hot air roasting as we do. Now, we will build the same reputation for drum roasting technology.”
For more information, visit www.neuhaus-neotec.de/en/coffee-processing
This article appears in the November/December 2020 edition of Global Coffee Report. Subscribe HERE.