The Roasting Plant is an automation celebration.
From the February, 2018 issue
An entirely different kind of coffee shop has come to State St. Roasting Plant, a small New York-based chain, opened at State and North University, repurposing the southern half of Amer's Deli.
Roasting Plant's hallmark is its patented "Javabot" system, which fully automates the roasting and portioning parts of coffee making. Javabot's glass tubes snake along the ceiling, tracing the path for the raw beans from nine glass storage tubes to an air roaster and then to the automated coffeemaker. The rest of the shop continues the modern industrial feel: Amer's brick archways have been accented with lots of stainless steel and a minimalist blue neon logo on the wall.
Reached by phone at Roasting Plant's New York headquarters, cofounder Thomas Hartocollis says their "micro-batch" fluid bed roaster creates a fresh, individualized cup for each customer. "Roasted coffee has a shelf life that's relatively short," he says. "It gives off CO2 for about ten days, during which it's fresh and has a full flavor profile ... After ten days it starts oxidizing and loses most of its flavor. It's kind of like opening a bottle of wine: if you let it breathe for fifteen minutes to two hours it just gets better, but after a few days it loses the flavor and characteristics."
According to Hartocollis, there's a big difference between coffee made with freshly roasted beans and older ones. Noting that bad coffee can be ameliorated with milk and sugar, he says that when customers "drink a cup of Roasting Plant coffee black, it's the first time they've experienced a really full-flavored tasty cup of coffee without any milk or sugar."
The company employs a "coffee master" to determine the precise temperature, timing, and velocity required to unlock each bean's best flavor. This "roasting profile" is then shared with all of Roasting Plant's Javabot systems. The data cover all possible combinations of the company's nine different beans (customers can create their own blends of up to four).
The "supercharged" option uses "30 percent more beans in the same volume of coffee," Hartocollis says.
The barista just inputs the order, places a cup at the machine, and finishes the drink with milk, sugar, and a lid. Roasting Plant also offers smoothies and shakes, plus baked goods made on-site, including a chocolate chip cookie that was voted "The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie In New York City" by Serious Eats.
Hartocollis says so far the two-floor shop has had great success with students--no surprise since it's right off the Diag--but that he wants to reach community members too. Plans for events such as poetry readings are under way.
Roasting Plant, 312 S. State. 999-0203. Daily, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. roastingplant.com
[Originally published in February, 2018.]
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