Jaromir Friedrich’s energy and passion belies his nearly 90 years. He collects art, dances, fences, cooks fancy meals and, maybe least surprising, drinks a lot of coffee. He’s also co-owner of NXT Roasters along with his business partner, Raymond Lemaire, and their office is full of more caffeine than some people consume in a year. But the amount of innovation at the NXT headquarters is equally high.
NXT Roasters sells freshly roasted coffee beans to wholesale suppliers, including The Organic Box. But it’s the roaster, designed by Friedrich, that sets the company apart. Friedrich used his knowledge of physics – he was an engineer in the former Czechoslovakia before he moved to Edmonton in the ’60s – to create a machine that does what, in the past, only a roast master could do after years of training.
Operators just enter the specifics into the NXT roaster – the temperature of the roast and the length of time needed to roast the beans – and the machine replicates the result each time those specific beans are used. “Roast masters employ sight, smell, taste; they’re one with the roaster. We respect them, but what we offer is excellent results without the headache and stress. Technology and artisanship are not exclusive,” says Ollie Shaigec, NXT sales manager. The new technology even makes for energy efficiency; operating on electricity, the NXT roaster uses less carbon dioxide than one car, compared to typical roasters that give off nearly the equivalent of 20 cars.
While it’s efficient and easy to use, developing the concept was another story. It took Friedrich 10 designs and 12 years before he settled on the perfect model. The roaster is licensed in Canada and it’s been part of a pilot project at Fresh Cup, a caf in Victoria, B.C., where it helped prove that people will ditch stale coffee in favour of a cup made with freshly ground beans. It doesn’t surprise Friedrich, who enjoys his java without any milk or sugar. Now, his goal is to offer NXT technology to roasters around the globe so more people can experience the freshness first-hand.