As a small roaster we can not justify the expense of a de-stoner, nor do we do the volume to justify it. However, as our coffees find their way into more and more cafes I become exceedingly worried that the stones I frequently find loading the batches will make it into a nice grinder and I'll be buying someone new burrs. Anyone have an economical, sure-fire method to keep stones out of my final product? The current system is a careful eye at every step of the roasting process. There must be something out there as I know of roasters who crank out 1500 pounds a week and they do not have a de-stoner.

 

Thanks in advance for any and all help.

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Jeff,

I'm a small batch roaster and I don't use a destoner. I have found that coffees dried on raised beds never have any issues with stones however I have found stones in coffees from Indonesia which I am assuming were dried on cement patios. I hand sort all the coffee I roast using a UV light when necessary (eg with a pulped natural from Brazil) to pick out unripe beans and spread the beans in a large flat bottomed bamboo basket - in addition to unripe beans I sort for any damaged beans and during this process pick out any small stones that may be present. As I mentioned the only beans I have found stones to be an issue with is the lot that came from Indonesia. 

 

Kevin 

 

 

Thanks Kevin, very helpful.

 

The UV light is interesting; haven't heard of this.

 

Very true, the Indonesian coffees are the biggest culprits, but just when I was only focusing on my Sumatra, big stones popped up in my Guatemala, and yes, my Brazil. Soon I realized I couldn't let my guard down.

 

I like your hand sorting. More care, pick out the bad beans and stones. Adds time, but I guess that's why we are small roasters.

 

Again thanks, and any insight to the UV light is welcome.

Kevin said:

Hi Jeff,

I'm a small batch roaster and I don't use a destoner. I have found that coffees dried on raised beds never have any issues with stones however I have found stones in coffees from Indonesia which I am assuming were dried on cement patios. I hand sort all the coffee I roast using a UV light when necessary (eg with a pulped natural from Brazil) to pick out unripe beans and spread the beans in a large flat bottomed bamboo basket - in addition to unripe beans I sort for any damaged beans and during this process pick out any small stones that may be present. As I mentioned the only beans I have found stones to be an issue with is the lot that came from Indonesia. 

 

Kevin 

 

 

Hi Jeff 

I have the same issues. At present just checking coffees at each step with the mark 1 eyeometer. I will be looking to build a simple destoner for myself somewhere in the next 6 to 12 months. I expect the cost to build one to be well under $500.

 

Rob

You should be able to tell your importer that you need to make sure you get lots without stones.

 

I know it's annoying to hear people offer suggestions that aren't along the lines that you're expecting, but know my solution?  Buy better coffee.  If you're getting stones in coffees from the Americas you should probably look to buying from different farms and consider a more quality focused importer.  An occasional stone from an Indo or dry-process African coffee happens every once in a while, but it shouldn't be happening so often that you are worried about sorting or purchasing a de-stoner.

 

-bry

Hi Jeff,

I use a simple UV torch to pick out unripe beans - they fluoresce under UV light. I have found a significant quantity of unripes in a pulped natural coffee from Brazil. I source my coffee from Mercanta and Trabocca and it's all top grade. However due to the way coffee is handled in Aceh province, Indonesia it may be hard to avoid presence of some stones (I'm talking about very very small granulate material here) - so without a destoner hand sorting is how I spot this material. Hand sorting is also how I spot some beans with insect damage, broken and chipped beans etc. Being small is how I'm able to do this. This type of care and handling is probably not scalable when dealing with larger quantities.

 

Kevin 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great insight here, lets me know I'm not alone:

 

Kevin, thanks for the follow-up on the UV torch. Will work to implement this in the short term, especially as the coffee will only improve with the sorting of the beans.

 

Rob, I've got $500 if you have a plan for a destoner. Let's be in touch on this as I'm very curious and quite the tinkerer. More time than money if you know what I mean.

 

Bryan, I'm all for suggestions along any lines. However, I've been nothing but impressed with the importers I'm working with. I work with one of the largest, and several of the smaller importers in the country (USA). I really wonder what they would ship me if I requested lots without stones. I admire the qualities of a double picked Grade 1 Sumatra Mandheling. The triple picked may have fewer stones, but lack the character. I understand where coffee comes from, how it is sorted and processed, and don't expect there to be no stones or bad beans. The quality of my coffees is not to be questioned and I will stand up for my importers as to what they are delivering to me. If you know of an importer who can deliver a bag with no stones, and let me know what you pay for that, I'd be plenty willing to give them a fair shot. What is the selection like? I don't expect quality to equal no stones. Your advice is solid for sure, we should all look for importers who deliver the best beans, but does that necessarily equal no stones? I've never been happier with the coffees I'm getting from the Americas, but there are still stones.

 

Onward, jeff

cafeimports and shrubs for starters

 

-bry

Nice Bryan, thanks for the info.

 

We have been using Cafe Imports from the beginning and agree with you that they import very fine beans and care about their offerings. You too should keep a careful eye out for stones as i've found even the best coffees from them to not be exempt.

 

Coffee Shrub is an importer i've heard good things about from several roasters and now you. I look forward to making contact with them.

 

Thanks, jeff

Bryan Wray said:

cafeimports and shrubs for starters

 

-bry

Also, coffeeshrub=sweetmaria's in case you were unaware.

 

-bry

On the cupping table, samples I've gotten from Mercanta have beat out samples from Cafe Imports.  Consistently.  I'm not saying anything bad about CI.. just that I feel like Mercanta does half of my job for me.  (Shrub does as well, but 60lb bags just aren't enough.. and they ship individually, which REALLY affects the cost per pound rate)

 

I do like Shrub for the fact that it enables smaller roasters (like myself) to maintain more variety without having more inventory than can be cleared out in a reasonable amount of time.  

p.s. - I find concrete stones in MOST of the coffees from Guatemala.  I've only seen one that might, maybe, be a threat to a grinder.  Hand-sorting ftw.
Bryan Wray said:

cafeimports and shrubs for starters

 

-bry

Shrubs will ship whole bags as long as you buy 4 whole bags.  You'll receive a substantial discount at that point as well.  Program started recently.

 

-bry

Good to know.

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