April 12, 2015

Coffee & Chemistry: The Beansmith Roaster


There was a time when the  roasting process would have been just another step in the journey of crop to cup. There wouldn’t have been too much talk of roast profiles, Strecker degradation, Maillard reactions and such. All this has changed immensely. As we’ve said before, roasting coffee is the work of an artisan, but it has also attracted chemistry lovers and other such inquisitive individuals. Roaster of the Month, Anthony Loberto, ‘The Beansmith’, is a man whose love of coffee was born from science, but for Anthony coffee roasting is more than just a procedure to be analysed jotted down and repeated – It’s his way of expressing creativity.

A Mechanical Engineer Turned Artisan Coffee Roaster

Anthony holds a bachelor and masters in mechanical engineering and has admitted to having an obsessive nature when it comes to understanding how things work, which is certainly something that us coffee aficionados can appreciate. His coffee journey began when he developed an interest in how espresso machines operate. However, it was not until Anthony took a barista training course, where he discovered the Hottop home Roaster, that he started to roast his very own coffee.

From that moment on, everything changed, and I quote: “before I knew it, I was selling 2 kg of coffee a week to friends on the side and it was taking me all day to do it!”.

During his first year of roasting, he jotted down mathematical models to map out a graphic picture of coffee chemistry and understand how to roast consistently and develop his personalised roasting style. After he had mastered the maths, he felt it was time to get serious and purchased a handbuilt Diedrich HR1. Read his article on “Coffee Roasting Flavour Chemistry” here.

See the Beansmith roasting process in the video:

How Did He Turn His Passion into a Business? A Pop up Market Stall

Having great confidence in his abilities and a small established client base he decided to get serious about a long term coffee roasting business. Anthony always felt the urge to seek self-employment likes his parents and grandparents had done before him. Entrepreneurship is deeply entrenched in his family roots. Anthony’s first marketing concept was something I had never witnessed before…A specialty coffee market stall! No I’m not talking about a coffee cart at a market. I mean a real store! My jaw dropped when I visited the store for the first time at the Kelvin Grove Street Markets in Brisbane. My first thought was roasters should be doing this in every city with a thriving coffee scene!

Coffee stand on market

The Beansmith ethos is built around an unwavering focus on quality and a genuine commitment to old fashioned ideals of artisan craftsmanship, personal service and community.

Imagine walking to a local street market and gazing upon a stall where you could purchase not just a variety of roasted coffees but also grinders, cups, kettles and a neat selection of coffee brewing toys all gracefully presented in hardwood shelves made of recycled wood. Anthony’s market stall was his opportunity to enjoy interacting and establishing close relationships with each client while sharing his extensive knowledge to those who appreciate coffee. Anthony provides good old fashioned customer service and generosity, no pretentiousness. Of course he is not just all talk and kindness, he makes some incredible pour overs too. Anthony goes to all lengths to please. And yes, he documents his brewing expertise! Read his “Science of Coffee Brewing” here.

Collage of coffee stand

The Beansmith himself. A true specialty coffee ambassador.

The Future of the Beansmith Roastery

Sadly it was not Anthony’s intention to run this market stall forever. It served well as a launching pad for his business up until December of 2015 and he hopes to start a shopfront sometime this year if possible. I certainly hope so as Anthony has something to offer for coffee aficionados at all levels. I encourage our coffee enthusiasts to try some of the Beansmith’s beans next time you’re looking to try a few new single origins (filter or espresso), but most definitely try his blends.  Reminiscing on the good times at the market stall I asked Anthony what were his best experiences of experimenting with the market stall.

Simply seeing the same faces come back each fortnight and tell me how much they enjoyed the last coffee is great……I think that is the crux of what I enjoy the most; friendly people, great coffee and an excuse to talk at length about extraction principles (or coffee varietals or roasting)”.

Collage of a coffee roaster

He looks forward to meeting new customers every day and hopes they will enjoy specialty coffee as much as he does.

You can find more on The Beansmith’s coffee via  http://thebeansmith.com.au/ . For local Brisbane readers you can find some of The Beansmith’s single origin coffees on offer from time to time at one of Brisbane’s trendiest hidden gems, ‘The Menagerie’ in Kelvin Grove, Brisbane.

Perfect Daily Grind.