Behold! The Modern Times Coffee Roasting Robot

Ambex YM-2

Here’s a cool thing: as far as I can tell, we’ll be the second brewery in the country to roast our own coffee (the first appears to be Two Brothers in Chicago).

That little fire engine red machine is an Ambex YM-2, an introductory-level roaster than can handle a beastly 5 lbs of green coffee at a time. It’s far from the fanciest roaster you can buy, but I found it on Craigslist and the price was right.

The primary consumer of our house-roasted beans will be Black House, the oatmeal coffee stout that will be part of our year round line-up. At around 20 lbs of coffee per 30bbl batch, it’ll soak up a lot of grounds, but what I’m really excited about are the variations we’ll be able to make. Single origin versions of Black House, coffee versions of our other beers, blends and roasts dialed-in specifically for certain special releases, etc…

There’s also the possibility of selling bags of house-roasted beans, which would allow you to drink Black House coffee alongside Black House beer. Pretty nifty, no?

This whole thing is, of course, an experiment, and we’ll have to see how it goes. I’ve been fascinated by coffee for years now, and home roasting has become a pleasant diversion from the rigors of starting the brewery. But the key, as always, is quality, and the coffee will have to live up to the same unreasonably high standards I have for the beer.

Ambex YM-2


Modern Times

Thu, 02/21/2013 - 07:21

We'll work with a variety of wholesalers. We're still figuring out exactly who will roast and how it'll fit into the overall work schedule. I've checked out Boot's site before; I'd love to take one of his courses.

Lee Chase has been doing some very cool things with light roasted whole beans in a variety of beers.

Modern Times

Wed, 02/06/2013 - 01:42

Thanks for the kind words, Jamie! I am pretty single-minded about quality. Now we just need to rise to the occasion. And hopefully we'll have a cool place to visit too.

Modern Times

Sat, 02/16/2013 - 04:03

Thanks for the tip. I Googled this like crazy before posting it, and nothing from Lengthwise came up.

Modern Times B…

Sat, 02/16/2013 - 11:55

[...] More >> Modern Times Beer blog. [...]

Charles L.

Sat, 02/16/2013 - 02:17

Sorry, you might be the third brewery to roast coffee. Lengthwise Brewing Company has been roasting beans for sale for many years.

Lee Morgan

Thu, 02/21/2013 - 07:01

Very cool!

Where are you buying your greens, Sweet Maria's? Are you planning on roasting all the coffee yourself? You should check out Willem Boot's articles if you haven't already:

I also encourage you and Mike to experiment with lighter roasts of coffee in beers other than stouts.

Jamie M.

Wed, 02/06/2013 - 09:39

Just musing: Any thoughts regarding an un-roasted or "green" coffee application in beer? Canned malt energy drinks with caffeine and complex carbs? Canned real coffee drinks?

I would think these latter products are less process-intensive, more predictable, and wouldn't occupy tank space while still only requiring equipment you already have.

Modern Times

Wed, 02/06/2013 - 09:41

Canned real coffee drinks would be the only one of those things that I'd probably be interested in pursuing. I have no experience using green beans for everything, but they smell horrible and taste awful so I'm skeptical. Canning coffee would require tens of thousands of dollars in additional equipment though.

Jamie M.

Wed, 02/06/2013 - 09:50

Fair enough. I'm loving your approach to the start-up process, and your quality obsession. I'm an IE by training and I've been following Mad Fermentationist since I started homebrewing. I'll make it to CA someday soon (I'm in FL), and I can't wait to see the end-product!

Bringing The F…

Mon, 03/11/2013 - 11:06

[...] opportunity. Modern Times Beer Ninjas Alex Tweet and Derek Freese joined Amy Krone (Modern Times’ Roast Mastah & resident artist) and I in tasting 4 different bottles of Mike’s Belgian single, each dosed [...]

scott m powell

Thu, 03/09/2017 - 06:30

Were you able to use the barrels for just one generation or how did that work out? Also, did you use the barrels post bean for anything fun?

Amy Schroeder

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 12:14


I have a potential customer that is under the impression Modern Times has a Giesen coffee roaster. I'm not seeing any reference to a Giesen in your pictures or posts.... Any idea where my customer is getting this information?



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