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Regulations for Air Quality on Coffee Roaster

Updated April 17, 2017

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in America, but few people realise that the coffee industry has an impact on air quality. The coffee-making process includes roasting, quenching, cooling, destoning, green bean handling and grinding. Coffee roasting is the largest contributor to reduced air quality out of all of the processes because coffee-roasting operations emit air pollutants such as particulate matter, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), organic acids and natural gas combustion byproducts. These air pollutants are visually unappealing and toxic to public health, so coffee roasters must follow air quality regulations depending on the state.

Apply for Required Permits

Contact your local air quality district for air quality regulations for coffee roasters. You may be required to submit an application for a permit to construct and an application for a permit to operate coffee-roasting equipment. Depending on the amount of materials you use and other operating conditions, your equipment may be exempt from permits. For example, the South Coast Air Quality Management District Rule 219(i)(4) exempts "grinding, blending, or packaging equipment used exclusively for tea, cocoa, roasted coffee, flavour, fragrance extraction, dried flowers, or spices, provided that the facility uses less than one gallon per day or twenty-two gallons per month of VOC containing solvents, and control equipment exclusively venting such equipment."

Comply with Permit Conditions

Follow the specific air permit conditions listed in the air permit you are issued. Conditions may include emission limits for coffee bean production, annual air emission limits for specific pollutants and specific smoke and odour control. You are required to maintain accurate records to show air quality compliance. Records should include the number of pounds per roast, the number of roasts per day and the operating temperature of the afterburner at the end of the roast. Records may be requested anytime during random inspections or required for annual air quality reporting. In the state of Colorado, permit violations result in fines of as much as £9,750 per day.

Do Not Exceed Emission Limits

Do not exceed the maximum emission rate. Refer to the rules and regulations of your local air quality district. For example, the state of Colorado has thresholds for criteria pollutants ranging from five to 10 tons per year for coffee roasting.

You may want to consider installing an emission control system such as scrubbers, afterburners or catalytic incinerators even though one may not necessarily be required where your coffee-roasting business is located. Install the emission control system that best suits your business needs and local requirements.

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About the Author

Ellice Lin graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. She continued her education and earned a master's degree from Rice University. She is an environmental consultant writing air quality reports in Southern California.