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Microwave coffee roasting - it's here!

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Thanks to a heads up from Chad, one of our Food Media and News Forum hosts, I've been alerted to the introduction of an intriquing new product

Spokane, Washington-based Coffee

Technologies International, after six years of development,

announced the launch of its revolutionary waveRoast™

coffee roaster system for home and commercial applications

at the Specialty Coffee Association of America's (SCAA)

annual trade show. The waveRoaster™ is an easy to use

countertop appliance that roasts green coffee beans

automatically to perfection.

The WaveRoast unit is controlled by sophisticated software

pre-programmed with a selection of 12 proprietary roasting

"profiles".  The raw green coffee beans are packaged in a

patent-pending sealed single use cartridge that is placed

inside the waverRoaster™.  

It's a bit confusing when one investigates more fully. Going to the original home page of

Mojo Coffee Home Page

takes you to a single page web site showing an actual microwave based home applicance that appears to be targeted specifically for use with their prepackaged green beans (I believe this is what they refer to as the "Wave Roast unit").

Now go to the "other" page of

Mojo Coffee Index Page

This site is more complete and has photographs of a person preparing their 'WaveRoast" coffee but show it being done in a conventional microwave. The implication here is that the prepackaged beans can be used in any old microwave oven. Perhaps they offer suggested roast profiles for those using a regular microwave (e.g. x number of minutes at the Lo or Med power setting follwed by x number of minutes at Hi power settign).

I'm curious to get the reactiosn of others in this forum. Do some of you who are perhaps a bit less fanatical about coffee than the hardcore aficionado interested enough in convenience to invest in such a machine and sacrifice counter space for it?

I see the real mass market appeal as being those folks who want something with the convenience of microwave popcorn - just throw it in, press a button and go.

The benefits as I see them:

1) The folks who sell the prepacked cartidges of green beans stand to make a fortune if it catches on. There have been previous efforts to tie ongoing consumables purchase into the ownership of a machine (the OxyClean / Fast Orange folks who market the Zach & Dani's roaster try to do this with a "coffee club"). Despite this... such previous efforts have not been particularly successful because other roasters can utilize green beans purchased anywhere - packaging is not an issue. The money is in the blades.... not the razor.

2) It's possible that this may allow one to produce a cup of coffee that is better than the average grocery store prepackaged coffee, even whole bean coffee of good quality that is purchased in vac seal bags. It's possible.... not definite.

The shortcomings - real and also possible:

1) Most likely a very high unit cost per serving of coffee - just compare the unit cost of bulk popcorn to the unit cost of microwave popcorn (have to do it by serving size rather than weight due to the extra shortening and additives in the microwave.

2) The concept calls for roasting the coffee just before it's going to be used roasted coffee typically requires a minimum degassing period of 12 - 24 hours before it is at its optimal level of taste and drinkability. I've tasted coffee that was ground and brewed within a few hours after roasting. It was okay but often very grassy tasting. The same coffee always tatsed far better a day or two later. Many espresso blends actually taste best after a 3 day resting period.

3) If it roasts too fast it will definitely have the potential for producing roasts with a bright and acidic flavor profile. Okay for some coffee varieties but not for others, especially not good for espresso blends. Many people using consumer level hot air roasters invest in a voltage control device known as a Variac that allows them to lenghtne the roast and get the smoother flavor profile that extended roasting allows (if done properly).

3) The charactersitics of roasted coffee are intrinsically related to the caramelization of sugar related compunds cainteined within the beans. I'll be very curious to see if microwaving can really achieve the same effect but I'll remain open minded until I have a chance to try some.

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