Probat debuts the P III series

Singers change their name to be more appealing and companies do it to signify a new identity. In the case of Probat’s shop roaster range, it’s a chance to target a new generation of users.

When Probat Shop Roaster Trainer Daniela Nowitzki first learned how to roast, all she had was a timer and temperature probe. All measurements were written on paper. It was challenging to reproduce a roast accurately, some may even say it involved luck. However, fast forward 20 years and roasters can easily get the results they’re after thanks to advanced technology and sophisticated visual cues.

“Roaster needs have changed, technology has changed, but our desire for consistent and reproducible roasts remains the same throughout the world,” Nowitzki says.

German roaster manufacturer Probat has pioneered such solutions in its industrial range since 1868. However, since 2008, Probat’s shop roasters have embraced the same world-renowned standards of technology, starting with the Probatone series. In 2012, it was updated to the Probatone II series, and now the third-generation line will be formally known as the P III series.

“We needed to make the name of the roaster easier for our international customers to relate to,” says Jens Roelofs, Head of the Shop Roaster Sales and Service Department at Probat. “Most of our customers and colleagues, especially those in the United States, got used to shortening the name to the ‘P series’, so we decided to make it official.”

The range still includes the 5-kilogram, 12-kilogram, and 25-kilogram batch sizes, only now the model names will be abbreviated to P05 III, P12 III and P25 III, with a roasting capacity between 20 to 100 kilograms of green coffee per hour.

“We kept everything from the Probatone Series 2 that we considered ‘optimum’, such as its consistency and reproducibility and iconic Probat design, but have gone to the next level in the P III series in terms of design of the roaster’s outer appearance, and how the user visualises the control and roasting information,” Roelofs says.

Thanks to a large 15.6-inch- (39.6-centimetre) touchscreen and advanced software, users now have a more visual representation of roasting parameters and data, such as temperature, pressure, burning power, timing, drum speed and roasting curve.

“Roasters want to see what’s going on inside their machine and change every parameter – all the small details to perfect their roast. And with the new P III series, they can,” Nowitzki says. “Roasters can ‘play around’ to get the best from their roast.”

Better visual elements mean it’s easy to adjust the roast and for the operator to react immediately.

P III series roasters will be available with even more sensors than the Probatone II series. In addition to existing sensors, like product and roasting exhaust gas thermocouples, Probat has added a pressure gauge for the roasting exhaust air, thermocouples for coffee ambient temperature, supply air temperature, and cooling exhaust air temperature. These added features give roasters maximum information to control and reproduce their roast automatically.

“In coffee roasting, consistency is hard to achieve but extremely important,” Nowitzki says. “These days, the reproducibility of a recipe is easier and more reliant with the automatic function. It means all the parameters and recipes can be set, saved, and stored into the software for other colleagues to access and easily reproduce.”

Roelofs says while many roasters will maximise the machine’s automation, others prefer to stick with traditional, manual control, using only gas heating to produce their roast, for instance.

“The good thing to know about the P III series is that you can control every parameter and access lots of data about your roast, but if you don’t want to, you don’t have to,” Roelofs says. “A roaster can still, more or less, operate the machine manually like they once did 15 years ago, but the option is there for more.”

The P III series, like its predecessor models, uses specially developed shovel mechanisms to move the beans in the drum at a controlled, set rotation speed. Inside the roaster, the beans move along precisely defined paths. A controlled flow of hot air roasts the beans via convection with minimum drum contact. This results in a highly consistent roast and uniform bean pattern.

The new P III series also includes improved thermal insulation to minimise heat loss and maintain the energy inside the roaster. Airflow is controlled better and the front casting of the drum is now partially double-walled to reduce hot surfaces.

In terms of ergonomics, the design integrates improvements in usability, energy efficiency and ergonomics. The new model is easier to access and clean, especially inside the insulation chamber, where the roasting drum is installed. The lever of the drum outlet flap has been moved to the left side in all models.

“We are mindful that a lot of roasters work by themselves these days, and now they can be empowered to operate, clean, and perform maintenance on the machine themselves,” Nowitzki says.

Roasters can also use any mobile device to connect to the roasting software and control the parameters of the roast.

“Users can even compare the results from the sample roaster and replicate the recipe easily on their roaster using the same software. This was not the case before, so it’s a very significant change,” Nowitzki says.

When it comes to developing a new product range, Probat looks to customer feedback from the sales and training teams, and devises a “wish list” of the top items worth implementing. For Roelofs, “control of more parameters” and “better access to more data” topped his list. Then, it was improved design for efficiency, easier maintenance, and easier servicing, all of which he says have been addressed in the new P III series.

“It’s always a long, challenging process but we try to find ways to fulfil each wish list with the help of our engineers. Then we wait for the prototype,” he says.

In terms of design inspiration, the P III series resembles the well known and loved Probat style, with the addition of high-end technical features to perfect its performance.

The new series also embraces design elements taken from the new Probat sample roaster. Users also have the option to customise the colours of the drum body, hood, and cast-iron front.

“Lots of businesses now want customers to see the roaster, just like they do the espresso machine. Many roasters want the customer involved in the process of roasting to see how the product is made,” Nowitzki says.

More than ever, Roelofs says there’s a high demand for shop roasters from new and maturing markets, such as Asia and Eastern Europe. He says many roasters live abroad to learn the art of roasting, and on their return, are keen to replicate their skills.

“It’s a repetitious pattern but the demands from these roasters are always the same. They all have high demands in the technology of the roaster,” he says.

Nowitzki adds that Probat is committed to the shop roaster market because of the growing specialty coffee industry, where there’s a thirst for knowledge sharing. As such, it will host a digital launch of the P III range in September.

She says this new range is best suited to markets that enjoy sharing recipes, what models they’re using, and want to transfer knowledge.

“We are excited for this range to be utilised by markets which are willing to test and play with parameters and data and make their product even more interesting for the end consumer,” she says.

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