The Loring S7 Nighthawk: a deep dive
Our fleet of roasters welcomed a member to the family earlier this year: A shiny new Loring S7.
We’re all super excited to have this roaster in the lineup. It’s fantastic for roasters who use the Loring S70 for their blends and want to roast their singles on a Loring or create test profiles on a smaller roaster. It’s also great for well… anybody looking to roast small batches.
It’s easy to use, it’s consistent, it is incredibly forgiving and, because it is so damn easy to operate, it takes no time at all to teach new staff how to nail roasts.
Now that the ECRE team has gotten to know the roaster a little bit better, here are some of the details that we think makes the Loring S7 the ultimate small batch roaster.
WHY WE LOVE OUR LORING
It is EFFICIENT
Conventional drum roasters (Probat, Giesen, Diedrich etc) all require an extra bit of equipment to function–an afterburner. An afterburners’ job is to burn away all the impurities coming out of the roaster’s exhaust like smoke and dust so that your roasts don’t pollute the air around you. However, afterburners are gas guzzlers: they’ve got to burn at upwards of 600 degrees C to do their job properly.
Our Lorings also burn off this dirty smoke, but they do it in a far more efficient manner. A single burner system acts as both the roaster’s burner and the afterburner. Once the dirty air is passed back through the burner, it is then recycled and fed back into the roasting chamber. By recycling the air, gas usage is minimised.
To give you an idea of how much gas is saved using this system, check out our previous article comparing the efficiency of our Loring S70 and Probat P25.
It is CONSISTENT
In roasting, brewing and in green coffee processing, consistency has become the ultimate goal.
With conventional drum roasters, there are many opportunities for consistency to be compromised. Ambient air is constantly being drawn into the roaster, meaning that the roasting temperature is closely tied to the weather. Also, conventional roasters rely on heat provided by the pre-heated drum to maintain the hot temperatures within. So if you’ve moving from roasting a large batch to a small one (or vice versa), then you’ll struggle to reach a temperature equilibrium.
This is not an issue with the Loring. Because all Loring roasters are convection based (i.e. heat transfer occurs via hot air and not radiant heat from hot metal), they aren’t designed to soak up heat during the roasting process. Because of this, the temperature of the roaster metal is a variable you don’t have to think about, and is automatically regulated by the roaster itself. In fact, it won’t let you start the next roast until everything is reset and ready to go (which usually takes less than a minute between roasts).
Consistency also comes from the recycling of hot air. As an (almost) closed system, ambient temperatures don’t mess around with your profiles. You can stick with your perfect profile through all four seasons. What a dream.
It ROASTS COFFEE DELICIOUSLY
That’s what matters most, right?
With the right amount of skill and finesse, virtually any roaster (frying pan aside) can be used to coax deliciousness out of quality coffee beans. BUT (and it’s a big “but”), the level of ease at which a coffee’s sweet spot can be found varies wildly.
This has a lot do with how a given roaster “develops” a coffee. That is, does the roaster tend to cook the outside of the seed while the inside stays raw? Or does it cook it more from the inside out with vigorous airflow? Or is does it cook the seeds nice and evenly all the way through? When your coffee roasts evenly, you can get sweet, balanced, well articulated flavours from many roast profiles and at many different roast levels. It’s like trying to shoot a basketball when standing one metre away from the hoop while on a ladder versus tryin to score three-pointer. Seeing as roasting coffee well but with difficulty won’t get you into the NBA, I’d go with the easy route.
Why are Loring roasters so forgiving when it comes to flavour? While there’s no scientific evidence I’m aware of to back this up, in our anecdotal experience (and having asked Scott Rao his thoughts, he agrees), convection based roasters liked the Loring tend to produce more soluble, more evenly developed coffees, more easily, and more often.
It has VERY NIFTY AUTOMATION
This might be the most underrated feature of Loring roasters, probably because, unless you’re in Silicon Valley, automation ain’t exactly sexy.
Both our S7 and S70 are equipped with PID technology that allows you to draw up a curve on their roasting software and have the roaster automatically execute it. Alternatively, you can save a roast that you’ve already nailed and loved and get the roaster to repeat it automatically.
In other roasters with ‘automation’, what you tend to see is that gas changes turn on at the same time for each roast (e.g., drop from 80% to 60% gas after 5 min 15s). This sucks, because if your roast is running fast or slow, all it does is exacerbate the differences.
With the Loring, the automation is not based on gas or air changes, but on maintaining the bean temperature where it should be at every specific point in the roast.
This is huge. It frees you up to do other things while the roaster is going (weigh up beans, send an email or two, tidy up, check the surf cams…). It also lets you put less experienced roasters on the tools without worrying about their ability to expertly guide the roast towards perfection.
What else can we say? For roasting small batches between 2.8 and 7 kilos, the Loring Nighthawk S7 is the bees knees.
Roasters of Sydney, treat yourself. Hop on.