TAKE 5 WITH RICK DAVIS: A Quick Chat with Julian Platt, Air-Motion Artisan Coffee Roasters
Take 5 with Rick chronicles quick “get to know you” conversations between CoffeeTec Director of Sales & Operations Rick Davis and CoffeeTec’s amazing partners, including vendors, buyers, and sellers.
If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re a coffee roaster who is passionate about all things coffee. And, I’m also guessing that you can (and do) spend hours with fellow roasters in impassioned conversations about the art and science of your craft.
I had the opportunity to hop on a Zoom call with South African-based Julian Platt — roaster, developer, and co-founder of Air-Motion Artisan Coffee Roasters, www.air-motionroasters.com.. And, as it goes in our industry, our conversation did not disappoint. It was lively and so refreshing to talk to someone so excited about the future of air roasting technology and making it accessible to the coffee roasting industry.
I’ve been waiting to share Julian’s story until we’ve been closer to having Air-Motion come on board as an official CoffeeTec equipment manufacturer— and I’m happy to report that this summer, CoffeeTec will be the official distributor of this sleek, striking, sophisticated line of cutting-edge, easy-to-use, and truly revolutionary air roasting equipment.
Last minute preparations are in play as we look forward to the first Air-Motion Roaster arriving in Fort Worth, Texas at Air-Motion’s demo facility.
In anticipation of Air-Motion joining our vendor marketplace, it’s my pleasure to share a quick, less-than-5-minute read about the highlights from my conversation with Julian.
Julian, how did your journey with air roasting begin?
It all started just over 10 years ago when I inherited my first air roaster. The machine was about 26 years old at the time and quite simple in its technology. It had an on and off switch, you set the target temperature, loaded the beans, and pressed a button to start the roast. When the roaster reached this target temperature after about nine minutes, the roaster would switch itself off, dust the beans with a fine spray of water to stop the beans from roasting any further, and that was it. I remember I even had to scoop the beans out of the roast chamber with a plastic jug! It was a very simple process.
What made you realize that you’d stumbled onto something special with air roasting?
I had a modest little coffee roastery inside a bistro cafe that also had an artisan bakery attached to it. It wasn’t long that I’d been roasting before our customers started talking about our coffee. And, then accolades and compliments came from both the media as well as our peers in the coffee industry. So, what was so different about the simple machine? What was I doing that was so different? It was at this point that I fell in love with the whole air-roasting process.
How did you go from discovering air roasting and then building your own air roaster company?
After working with my old roaster for over 10 years and falling in love with the whole air-roasting process, I thought it was time to bring this technology to the 21st century. It was at this point that I decided to develop and build my very own air roaster. I found two amazing engineers. One worked on the fabrication of the machine while the other worked on the control panel and the brains of the machine. Together, we worked tirelessly for many hours, days, weeks and months. Eventually, the Air Motion Artisan Roaster was born.
Apart from meeting your own coffee roasting needs, what else drove you to invest so much time in this pursuit?
Part of the dream was to share my passion for coffee. When I started in coffee over 10 years ago, it was quite a close-knit industry with very few roasters out there guarding the secrets of their trade. Coffee roasting was quite mysterious and intimidating to get into. But, things have changed in the industry where there’s a lot more sharing, and information, and roasting profiles, and forums — and all for the good of promoting a new coffee culture. This is what drove me to develop my air roaster — a machine that is simple in its technology but sophisticated in its application, producing some of the best coffee around. I built a machine that anyone can use, from the novice to the experienced roaster, providing ease of use, consistency in roasting, a uniqueness in one’s coffee offering, and definitely the latest trend in roasting today.
We bet you’ve got some good stories to tell when you started introducing this to your friends and peers. Does any one of them stand out?
Yes! I was contacted by an 18-year-old young man from Middleburg, South Africa. He was about to graduate from high school and he was interested in learning how to become a coffee roaster and start his own business. I remember it well. He finished high school on a Wednesday and we had arranged for him to come over for two two-hour training sessions with me on the Air-Motion Artisan Roaster. I know it sounds hard to believe, but after just those two days, that young man walked away as a competent coffee roaster. That’s just four hours to roasting success — and this is exactly what I want to make available to anyone who is interested in learning.
Tell us about the air roasting technology you use. How does it work?
Our sophisticated, highly interactive air roasting technology consists of blowers, heating elements, and the roast chamber. Clean air is sucked into the machine and is passed over heating elements. And, then it’s forced into the roast chamber, elevating the beans into a stream of hot air. As the heated air is able to reach all sides of the suspended beans at the same time, it provides for an even and consistent roast if we’re using convection heat to roast the beans. The technology includes a touchscreen interface control panel to control the roast and at the same time record the roast profile with different graphs in real time.
What is your vision for the future of Air-Motion Artisan Coffee Roasters?
My vision is to revolutionize the coffee industry with the Air-Motion Artisan Coffee Roaster, making it accessible to anyone through cutting-edge technology and ease of use — yet sophisticated in its delivery of quality. With an Air-Motion Artisan Coffee Roaster, anyone can roast coffee!
Thanks, Julian. I can’t wait for Air-Motion’s arrival in our CoffeeTec Vendor Marketplace. After all of our time working with you and your team for so long, you all feel like family already!
We agree. Looking forward to it!
Final Thoughts from Rick
These incredible machines are currently roasting away in coffee roasteries and cafes located in South Africa and the UK. Demand has become apparent as those privileged initial users can’t speak highly enough about their experience using the Air-Motion roaster — let alone the incredible flavor of the roasted bean.
We can’t wait for you to experience the Air-Motion Artisan Coffee Roaster for yourself. We’ll keep you posted just as soon as it’s available here in the U.S.!
Contact me direct for more information.