Black Bag Roasters reveals Truganina production facility

Black Bag Roasters

BeanScene explores Black Bag Roasters’ new production facility and explains how the purpose-built roastery is future proofed and ready for growth.

Just 20 minutes from Melbourne airport and ports, and 22 kilometres west of the city’s CBD, is a new $10-million roasting site that forms one of the industry’s largest investments in the past 20 years.

Located in the suburb of Truganina, Black Bag Roasters (BBR) is now home to a 4000-square-metre-site that will set the company up for future growth prospects.

“Standing in the completed space for the first time was pretty amazing. To see the scale of the site, the technology that goes into running it and its efficiency, is mind blowing,” says Nomad Coffee Group CEO Craig Dickson.

Inside the facility is a state-of-the-art production system that is carefully divided into green bean and roasted coffee. Endless rows of green bean bags fill the aisles that will eventually reach the height of the ceiling. A total of 1200 pallet bays are available for green-bean storage, as well as roasted and packaged finished goods.

In a well-executed flow of production, green beans move to the next room where 10, 10-tonne green bean silos hold the incoming green beans until ready for roasting.

The centrepiece is the 600-kilogram Brambati roaster with the capacity to produce 300 tonnes of roasted coffee per week.

The roaster itself came from Italy in assembled pieces via 29 container loads. A company representative was commissioned to oversee its installation and setup of Brambati’s BR18 Advanced Specialty Software to monitor each stage of the roast cycle.

Post-roast, the beans travel through a vibrating sorter to eliminate any foreign matter. The coffee is held in nine individual five- and 10-tonne silos for post blending before final inspection via an optical colour sorter for any last defects. The beans are then transferred to Rovema packing lines which enable BBR to pack 44 bags per minute.

Partners united

The design for the roastery requirements and layout started two years ago. In fact, Craig says the equipment was ordered before the site was even selected, to the dismay of the project manager.

“We needed a roaster beyond the 280-kilogram. We needed something with a larger capacity,” he says.

“We have known [Brambati President] Fabrizio Brambati for probably 15 to 20 years, and it was finally time to partner together. We looked at all the roasters that are available on the market: their size, scale, and level of support. We looked at all the technology advancements used in the backend in regards to setting profiles and airflow, and in the end we felt Brambati was the best solution for our business and where we want it to go in the future,” Craig says.

As such, Brambati installed green bean holding silos, the roaster, catalytic afterburner, and post-blending silos.

To select BBR’s packing machines and auto-box maker, Craig visited Rovema in Germany.

“While I was there, they were building a line for one of the world’s largest coffee roasters. They had probably the most efficient packing line we saw. They’re certainly one of the world leaders in that space,” he says.

For BBR customers such as Aldi, one of the country’s biggest retailers, two Rovema packing lines running parallel to each other will enable the brand’s medium/dark roasted bags, and dark ground coffee bags, to merge into the one box.

“Previously packing the different Aldi SKUs was physical and labour intensive. This new automated process will allow us to mix whatever volume of SKUs we want, which is evolutionary in the marketplace,” says Lance Brown, Black Bag Roasters’ Director of Sales.

An automatic palletiser, built in Thailand from Fibre King, is placed at the end of the packaging line for forklifts to stack in the holding bay before transportation. Each pallet shares a digital barcode that specifies the roast date, the breakdown of different origins, the profile, the date it was packed, and the date to be sent out.

Planned with purpose

Prior to the launch of the new Truganina factory, BBR operated out of Richmond, a 1500-square-metre roastery that is shared with Nomad Coffee Group’s specialty roasting arm, Veneziano Coffee Roasters.

Craig says the site reached capacity a few years ago, with the company unable to put its foot down on growth opportunities because of production restrictions. Now, the new facility is poised to quadruple its capacity.

“I don’t think there’s another purpose- built factory in Australia that’s capable of doing the volume we do as efficiently,” says Craig.

He adds that moving BBR’s production permanently to Truganina enables Veneziano Coffee to accelerate its growth and e-commerce channels. However, the private label arm will retain the same quality control Veneziano Coffee is known for, in terms of sourcing and roasting standards.

“When we built the Richmond factory, we really thought we’d be there forever, but we were full after five years,” Craig says.

“It was not designed to do the volume it currently does. Our new site is equipped and enabled for future growth as required. We designed it exactly how we wanted from a blank canvas, which allows us to be much more efficient.”

At the Richmond roastery, it would take trucks around 45-minutes to load and leave the site. Now, modelling suggests it will take just 10 minutes.

“It means we can support the growth of our current customers, but we can also target new customers, which we haven’t been able to. That will happen with the most efficient and the most advanced technology, and most sustainable coffee plant in the country,” Craig says.

Black Bag Roasters was established as a private label coffee company in 2015 to create a space between commercial roasting, and the specialty world.

“We felt there was a gap in the market. The perception or the demands of customers were moving away from the ‘old school’, commercial roasters, and they wanted something different,” says Lance.

Four key company principles of capability, adaptability, resource, and environment define what BBR stands for and its purpose in the market. Combined, Lance says they create the perfect model to achieve successful outcomes for BBR customers and are guiding principles the company holds itself accountable to.

“It’s what makes us the ultimate coffee partner,” he says.

For the past eight years, BBR has formed strong relationships with its customers, some of whom are experiencing significant growth and were looking to BBR to see how it could best assist their needs. And that, Lance says, is how the development of the Truganina site came about.

“We roast for the biggest retailer in Aldi who has just opened its 600th store, the biggest coffee chain franchise in The Coffee Club who is growing just as quickly, the biggest food carrier in Bidfood, the biggest catering chain in Foodbuy Compass, Indigenous brand Waddi Coffee, and regional café specialists BlendCo Foods. And hey, we’d love to work with a convenience store or petrol station, even an airline,” Lance says.

Then there’s BBR’s international reach, with the brand partnering with companies in the United Arab Emirates, Southeast Asia including, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, and Beijing.

“We now have the ability and resource to expand our already sizeable international client base and partners with a grocer, convenience chain, or even an international player looking to come into Australia,” says Black Bag Roasters’ National Business Manager Shane Harold. “Our scope and capability enables us to cater for large international companies looking to deliver excellent coffee into Australia, New Zealand, the wider Oceania region, and even as far as the United Arab Emirates”.

He notes that Nomad Coffee Group is part of multi-national hospitality company Minor International, who is the parent company of international chain Minor Hotels.

“They’ve got 76,000 rooms worldwide, and the CEO has said he wants to see his coffee in all rooms around the world. To do that, we need a facility like Truganina to grow along with them,” he says.

Lance adds that BBR now has the flexibility to adapt to such large requirements and provide solutions that simply weren’t possible before.

“It doesn’t matter what type of coffee, volume, or bag size you want. We can do it. We can also take the pressure off artisan roasters. Why would you stand in front of a 30-kilogram roaster day in day out, roasting for 20 minutes at a time, with a yield of a couple of hundred kilos, when we can do it all in 17 minutes and ensure it’s consistent?” he asks.

For Lance, BBR is more than just an exciting new development. It’s an opportunity to make a significantly positive impact on the Australian coffee industry.

“For us, it’s not just about providing some of the best quality coffee in the premium commercial space. It’s about minimising our impact and carbon footprint. We’re here because we love coffee and we want to make business decisions that protect the future of coffee,” he says.

To ensure the factory lives up to its sustainable expectations, Nomad Coffee Group Sustainability Manager Nick Percy is responsible for maintaining waste management practices, and the organisation’s Carbon Neutral Certification. He will also oversee plans to introduce solar panels, rainwater harvesting, and electric car charging points.

While sustainable initiatives remain an ongoing focus, the Truganina factory is open for business, available for site tours, and ready to show the world what it’s capable of.

“Our Truganina site will be home for at least the next 10 years,” Craig says. “If we can do what we did with our Richmond site and be full after five years, I’d be pretty impressed.”

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This article appears in the February 2023 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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