Roasters saved from a charred blend

16:00, Nov 20 2012

A fire in the coffee roaster at New Plymouth's Peru Cafe yesterday threatened to send about $70,000 worth of coffee beans up in smoke.

Senior station officer Nick Burke said firefighters were called to the roastery on Cody Place, Waiwhakaiho, at about 8.15am.

"They were just roasting and a fire developed in the flue system," he said.

"It wasn't hard to put out, but there was smoke throughout the premises and we had to use positive pressure ventilation fans to get it out."

Mr Burke said there was a pallet of beans sitting next to the coffee roaster and the smoke could have damaged them.

"Each bag is worth about $900. They had about $70,000 worth of beans sitting there," he said.

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"We were trying to clear the smoke out for them."

Managing director Joop Verbeek said the roastery had experienced a similar fire about three years ago.

He said roastery fires were quite common.

"A small buildup of residue in the chimney catches fire and a spark or little ember can drop down in the chaff collector, setting some of the chaff on fire."

Chaff is the skin of the green coffee bean that comes off during the roasting process.

Even a small amount of chaff burning created a lot of smoke, Mr Verbeek said.

"In this case the chimney was recently swept and the chaff collector was cleaned before roasting so there was not a lot of material that could burn but it still created quite a bit of smoke."

Mr Verbeek said no material damage resulted from the fire. The roaster had been tested since and seemed fine.

He said experts would check it today.

Firefighters spent about an hour at the scene clearing the smoke, Mr Burke said.

The company's Inca-Fe coffee recently won gold in the foodservice plunger and supermarket plunger categories at this year's Huhtamaki New Zealand Coffee Awards.

Taranaki Daily News