Café Compadre

This is a technology developed to roast coffee beans using sunlight – the energy source most widely available to farmers. The solution concentrates the rays of the sun on a rotating drum containing coffee beans. The sturdy device has been developed for use in rural areas and can be maintained locally, boosting its resilience. With the capacity to roast 1 kg of coffee beans in approximately 15–25 minutes, this roasting technology is fairly comparable to the timelines and capacities of conventional roasting equipment of the same dimensions.

Based on a Scheffler-type parabolic solar concentrator, the technology concentrates the sunrays on one focal point. This type of concentrator can be used with simple solar tracker systems.

The concentrator's focal point features a drum with one side open, where the coffee beans are put in and sunlight enters. This open section removes the gases and moisture caused by the roasting process, as otherwise this would impair roasting quality. Clad in black tiles, the drum's inner surface can absorb a large proportion of the sun's radiation, and the tiling used is safe for foodstuffs. With an insulation system to boost its energy efficiency, the drum also has a small photovoltaic rotation system enabling an even roasting. Finally, an air suction system cools the roasted beans on a stainless steel surface guaranteeing excellent quality in the roasted beans.

This roaster is 100% solar-powered and depending on the sun’s radiation requires a short time to roast 1 kg of coffee. In addition, this system requires 5 times less energy than conventional devices as it uses a direct roasting system.

As a fully scalable technology, the device can be designed to produce larger quantities of coffee.

Compadre coffee roasted by local farmers using solar energy has achieved the level of quality for special coffees stipulated by international standards. Coffee producers can use this roasting device to carry out the last process in the production chain, and at least double their income.

Coffee is Peru's main agricultural export product. However, profits have not been fairly distributed along the production chain as small-scale coffee producers earn less than 12% of the product's end value. Those handling the remainder of the process such as the selection of beans, roasting and packaging, earn over 70%*. To date there is no access to technology that enables coffee producers to carry out the other phases of the process and increase their income. Conventional roasters are complex, costly machines calling for access to energy systems that are unavailable to local coffee producers. A large portion of agricultural coffee production is organic, but the rest of the production chain uses fossil fuels or electricity generated by non-renewable sources. This trend is now changing as demand for socially and environmentally responsible products increases.

Source: *Talbot, 1997

The company provides small coffee farmers with this technology, allowing them to eventually roast their own beans. The product is sold under the Compadre brand along with the farmer's name. Training is given to the farmer on how to operate the solar roaster, and the company also set up sales channels to distribute the coffee. Revenue is distributed in such a way that coffee farmers can earn up to three times more from their coffee. This makes the coffee 100% ecological and socially fair.

The company deployed a pilot scheme in 2015, and 600 kg of coffee beans were roasted by one farmer. They are planning to build a production facility in Peru's central jungle in 2016 and this should provide a monthly output capacity of 6,000 kg/ton of coffee. This will enable the company to increase the number of coffee producers benefiting from the program.

The sales price is set at 24 USD for a module that can roast up to 1 kg of coffee. In 2016 the company has estimated that they will have some 300 end-users, 25% of whom are frequent customers. They also forecast approx. 20 businesses buying coffee for their offices every month in 2016.

  • Roaster
  • Scheffler-type parabolic solar concentrator
  • Areas with sunlight / coffee beans

Key Facts

Organization: Compadre
Contact: Juan Pablo Perez Panduro
Operating in: Peru


Food & Agriculture


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