A roaster and a tinkerer

Avon coffee roaster invents new air scrubber which shows the industry how to save money
Evening Star For Web
Lisa Hughes
Jody Wolfanger, owner of Evening Star Coffee Roasters in Avon, has invented a cyclonic exhaust filter that has drastically cut his energy bills.

Jody Wolfanger of Avon’s Evening Star Coffee Roasters was looking for ways to make his small start-up business more efficient and cost-effective. His solution, a custom-built exhaust system, has got the coffee industry buzzing across the nation.

Most roasting machines purify their exhaust with either a thermal-oxidizing afterburner or a catalytic afterburner. Wolfanger’s new cyclonic system works much like a vacuum cleaner, collecting powdery husk and dust from the roasted beans, called “chaff.” Using electrostatic precipitator technology, Wolfanger’s device will adapt to work for large industrial roasters addressing smoke odor and cutting electrical costs significantly. Wolfanger’s partner, Jeremy Adams, is owner of Cellar Door Coffee Roasters in Portland, Oregon. In 2011, they published an article in Roast, a prominent trade journal. A patent is pending.

“We wanted to be proactive and come up with an application that addresses smoke odor without spending $40,000 on a system that is not eco-friendly,” says Wolfanger, whose system costs less than $16,000 to build and install. His electric bill is $250 a year, the equivalent of ten 100-watt light bulbs. Most of the exhaust is cleaned and filtered into fresh air before being released outside. Neighbors say they can’t even smell coffee roasting in the small building behind Wolfanger’s home.

Wolfanger is looking for a building three times the size of his current facility to manufacture the new air purification system and enlarge his coffee business. His goal is to double his family-run company by the end of 2013.

Wolfanger and his wife started Evening Star in 2009, and, as its reputation spread by word of mouth, sales started to climb. Select Rochester-area restaurants serve Evening Star, and soon you’ll be able to order it at Highland Hospital. Wolfanger says that years of being a plant manager in Avon and Medina has taught him to run an organized and spotless facility. Since its inception, Evening Star has been eco-friendly from the packaging to facility design. His various blends are branded with the names of local charities, who get a cut of the profits. Wolfanger’s overall goal is to create awareness and promote responsible actions.

Wolfanger buys quality arabica coffee beans from all over the world. Wolfanger roasts to order by hand to get the proper balance so that no single characteristic overwhelms the others by smell. He keeps his inventory tight—to within two to three days.

You can order his coffee directly at eveningstarcoffeeroasters.com

Kay Thomas is a freelance writer living in the Genesee Valley whose writings can be found at overaroundhills.blogspot.com. Thomas is the author of a book of essays called And One More Thing.

Categories: Current Issue Features, Taste, Taste – Top Story