Friday, August 21, 2009

A Toast to Solar Roast!

We had heard about a company that was roasting coffee using solar power when they had brought their roasting machine to our home town of Bend, OR for a promotional display. Still in the early developmental stage at that time, we were anxious to see their 4th generation machine at work. We took a little detour to see them at their new home in Pueblo, CO, where we found brothers Dave & Mike Hartkop at their coffee shop in downtown Pueblo and anxious to share their solar story with us.

After spending a little time chatting and drinking some of their excellent coffee, we headed a little ways out of town to see their amazing roasting machine. The roasting machine is the brainchild of Dave, an inventor and master tinkerer who was persuaded by Mike to use his talents to create this masterpiece. The recently completed roaster is the 4th generation of roasting machines they have built, each larger than its predecessor, and it is impressive to say the least! With over 700 mirrors focusing the sun on the collector box, this 11 ton gleaming monster produces 20,000 watts of power, heating the air in the collector to over 900 degrees Fahrenheit! The hot air is then pumped down to the roasting machine where it turns out 30 lbs of fresh solar roasted coffee every 20 minutes or so.

After a few minutes spent getting the mirrors focused on the blazing Southern Colorado sun, Dave grabbed a 2X6 board and jumped up on the machine. He then gave us a demonstration of the roasters incredible power. Holding the board up into the collector, it began smoking within seconds, and then burst into flames almost immediately!

We soon left Dave & Mike to roast, but as we drove away we were left thinking. When you realize how much power you can generate with just one solar array, the potential for generating solar power and eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels is mind-boggling. What is even more mind boggling, is that with all this power streaming down from the heavens, why we aren’t doing more? Yet again another opportunity to create jobs and help the environment. I guess it makes more sense to give money to GM to continue to build crappy cars.

Find out more about Solar Roast at:

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