Roasting coffee is where the magic happens. The final experience of coffee can be one of celebration or lamentation depending on what happens during the roasting process. Every single coffee in the world has specific flavour characteristics based on its country of origin, and these characteristics can be forever muted or dulled if the coffee isn’t roasted properly. So, in the last effort to get high quality coffee into the hands of our baristas and customers, we take much care during the roast process to make this a reality.
THE BALZAC’S ROASTING PROCESS
We use the state of the art technology found in Loring Smart Roasters to bring our coffees to life. The beauty of the Lorings is that they are known as the most environmentally friendly roaster on the market today, based on their design, which eliminates the need for a secondary afterburner system to deal with the naturally occurring smoke in the roast process. The Loring’s burner serves as the heat source for the machine and provides an even and stable roast while also incinerating smoke going out the stack, essentially eliminating any smoke or particles going into the atmosphere. If you were to walk by our Head Office/roastery during a production day, you would smell almost nothing. All because of the Loring’s environmentally friendly design.
To roast coffee, our roasting staff design the schedule for the day and begin by loading a set batch of green coffee into the Loring. Once the batch is loaded, the roast cycle begins. A typical batch starts around 400°F, goes for 15-20 minutes depending on the coffee and style of roast and finishes between 420-450°F. In the latter stages of a roast cycle, the coffee will give off a lot of smoke, which is incinerated by the unique design of the Loring roaster. This is a great example of why the Loring’s design is such a great fit for us as a company as we remain conscious of our environmental footprint.
Two terms specific to any roast cycle are “first crack” and “second crack.” These both refer to a physical transformation the beans undergo while roasting. Green coffee beans retain a lot of moisture and this moisture is continually evaporating during the roast cycle. When the coffee reaches about 395°F, the moisture evaporation builds up to the point of literally splitting the bean open, causing an audible noise known as first crack. Then, as the roast progresses, coffee naturally takes on CO2 during the roast cycle. If the roast goes long and dark enough, this buildup of CO2 will cause another physical and audible change in the makeup of the coffee, splitting the bean further and causing what is known as second crack. Some of our darker roasts, which we call our Stout roasts, reach second crack because of their length of time in the roaster and the final temperature of the roast.
SOURCING OUR COFFEE
We currently partner with a small, select number of importers from Canada and the US who provide us with our roster of 100% specialty Arabica coffees. Each of these importers do a fantastic job of sourcing coffees at origin, doing quality control checks on each lot and providing us with the information we need to choose a great coffee for our customers. Coffees that are sent to us by our importers first go through our Quest M3 sample roaster and are evaluated in our coffee lab, located at our Head Office in Ancaster. Using industry standard SCA scoring sheets, each coffee is evaluated on a weekly basis by our roasting and green buying team. Once evaluated, coffees are then selected for current blends, single origin offerings, as well as our Seasonally Sourced program which has highlighted coffee such as our Gitwe 12 from Long Miles Coffee Project in Burundi.
We currently have a selection of conventional non-certified coffees as well as Fairtrade, Organic and Bird Friendly® certified coffees.