For coffee importers and roasters, sample roasting is a crucial part of evaluating the quality of a coffee. Designed to highlight the intrinsic qualities of a given coffee, a sample roast is traditionally lighter than a production roast. This gives the taster a snapshot of a coffee’s aroma, acidity, and body. The intricacies of consistently roasting 100 gram batches with a conventional sample roaster require years of practice, skill, and maybe even a little luck. The Ikawa Pro Sample Roaster is trying to change that.
The Ikawa Pro Sample Roaster is a digital microroaster that claims to offer unprecedented control over the sample roasting process. The Ikawa syncs with an app which allows precise control over a roast’s time and temperature. Essentially, it’s a $3,000 popcorn popper you can control with your smart phone.
After seeing some highly respected coffee professionals vouch for the Ikawa, we were excited to see the machine in action at the 2016 SCAA Expo in Atlanta. Even though we stopped by at the end of what was clearly a busy trade show for the Ikawa team, one of Ikawa’s reps was kind enough to walk us through roasting an entire batch. We learned how we could manipulate the roast profile with the app, save the results, and repeat as needed. Ikawa even hooked us up with the coffee they had just roasted so we could taste the results ourselves.
If the Akawa Pro Sample Roaster is as good as advertised it will create a world of possibilities for coffee professionals. Different roast profiles (i.e. the time and rate that heat is applied to the coffee) have a tremendous impact on a coffee’s flavor. The promised control and repeatability of the Ikawa will allow coffee roasters to manipulate the flavor of their coffee. Perhaps more importantly, the relative affordability and portability of the Ikawa means that coffee producers, exporters, and greens coffee buyers will have unprecedented access to sample roasting at origin. The industry has long said the lab must move closer to the producer. The Ikawa offers a legitimate platform to make that happen.