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What is a Nano Roaster?

What is a Nano Roaster?

If you can remember back to the early 1980’s and the coffee selection that was offered it was Folgers, Yuban, Maxwell House and Sanka for the most part. The beer industry was nearly the same until Sam Adams became a “Micro Brewer” and showed the manufacturing industry there is a place for small quality products in a big mass market world. This has been an ongoing and growing trend in the coffee industry as well; with more terms and classifications such as first wave, second wave, micro roaster and now Nano Roaster are some more of the terms  you can shake a stick at.

The concept started in 2003 by  Trish Rothgeb in an article she wrote for the Roaster’s Guild newsletter.  Her article is cited in a post from Serious Eats in an article From Nick Cho discussing the term Nano Roaster. We discussed the traceability of coffee origins last week, and this growing trend is the reason we have the Nano Roaster. Consumers are becoming more curious and informed as to what they can consider to be “coffee”.

Reggie’s Roast Coffees 1 LB San Franciscan Nano Roaster

If you  are at a friends for breakfast, and they offer a cup odds are you will graciously accept this “cup of coffee” and go on about your day (first wave). Unless it comes up, there will be no conversation regarding the coffee you are drinking. Unless… you are at the home of a coffee aficionado then you will have to talk about the coffee’s roast profile, mouth feel, and you will be lambasted as you ask for cream and sugar (Second Wave). The conversation will then proceed to the Coffee’s country of origin, and weather or not it came from a large company, micro roaster, and yes, a Nano Roaster (Third Wave).

In 2004 – 2005 the term “Third Wave” came about as green coffee buyers were hard pressed to find any information on their coffee sourcing.  Green Coffee exporters, brokers and those along  the supply chain were not into sharing their knowledge and understanding about green coffee. ” If it’s Colombian, its from Colombia. What else is there to know? ” was pretty much the sentiment in the industry. As the information became more available with coffee roasters learning, traveling through the internet and growing regions, they learned that coffee may come from a “Finca Don Luella” ( a fictional Coffee Farm Name )  in Colombia that has an unusual amount of shade and mineral rich soil that gives this particular crop a uniquely sweet and mild taste with unusually fruity notes.  As more of these  third-wave roasters and green coffee buyers looked for more knowledge regarding coffee from different estates within a growing region, they established  relationships with coffee farmers and were able to find more sourcing and farming information. These relationships are  the main fuel driving the third wave category.

So where does the Nano Roaster begin? These are the roasters that source more unique coffees from distinct definable origins that were once sourced as coffees for blends. They have different profiles for each region, and you will also see a lighter roast as the trend of over roasted coffee being considered good is going away. Known for our own distinct Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee, we have always sourced the most unique single origin varietals for our J.B.M. Coffee Blends as well as our ever expanding Premium Coffee Line.  Since 1999 Reggie’s Roast Coffee has been using a 1 LB roaster to sample, blend and roast small amounts of coffee to order, but didn’t realize we are part of an upcoming trend as we have always freshly roasted in small batches to order.

It would be criminal to say we are pioneers, as would it be for anyone who likes to be creative with coffees from different growing regions; but this is the impetus of what we now call a Nano Roaster. So when you are reading or in your local coffee shop discussing the coffee trends, here’s something to drink to and think about.