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Last friday, our Capitol Hill location was abustle in the early morning hours as final preparations were made to finally move the vintage 60-kilo Probat roaster, which has sat idle in our green bean room for the past four years, into the roasterie to be used in production.
For the past 11 years, Caffé Vita has relied on our trusty circa-1930 45-kilo Probat roaster to pump out our fine craft-roasted beans for both our cafés and wholesale customers. The new 60-kilo will not replace the 45-kilo, nor will it operate simultaneously, but rather the impetus behind finally installing it was Caffé Vita’s need for a fail-safe against the breakdown of the 45-kilo. When your entire business is built around the operation of a single machine that’s around 80 years old, well, you just need to have a back-up plan in place. Prior to the new-to-us 60-kilo roaster, “Plan B” involved roasting beans in a facility on one of the ferry-accessed islands outside of Seattle. As you might imagine, such an instance would be a logistical nightmare, not to mention financially unfavorable for us.
Thus, in the brisk early morning hours up on Capitol Hill, Operation New Roaster began. The first step was to fork-lift the 2,000 pound steel stand for the roaster’s afterburner through the front door of the café. As groggy customers waited in line for their last push into the weekend, Marty Curtis from Combustion Systems Sales and Service expertly maneuvered the fork-lift through the café and over creaking wood floors, much to the concern of the baristas on staff. Then, the afterburner was lifted by a giant crane from the parking lot behind Vita and threaded through a hole in the roof with only inches to spare on each side. The two were welded together and the roaster was finally brought in the same way the stand came: via fork-lift through the front doors.
When all was said and done, an entire day had passed. Five days later, crews are still working on things like wiring, hooking up gas lines, sealing up the roof, and an never-ending list of preparations that need doing before the roaster will even be fired up: an unknown date that’s surely at least a couple weeks in the future. And even once the roaster is operational, it still must be “seasoned” before it’s ready to enter regular production.
Please stop by sometime and look through the windows at the Capitol Hill café at our proud new addition. You can get even closer by signing up for the next Public Brewing School on September 11th.