Mill City Roasters recently earned the world’s first CSA Design Certification for coffee roasters. We’ve outlined below what this certification is, how it is beneficial to our Mill City customers and what comes next.
The Canadian Standards Association, or CSA, is a ‘Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory’, (abbreviated as NRTL and commonly referred to as “nertel”) by US OSHA. CSA along with other NRTLs such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories) and ETL (Edison Testing Laboratories) are private companies that are recognized in North America and elsewhere as the foremost authorities on product safety and reliability. For commercial coffee roasters, these labs test everything from wiring color codes, breakers and fusing types/sizes, ignition systems, gas trains, heat resistance, etc. to similar standards.
Why coffee roasters should care?
Beyond general safety and assurance, certifications from these labs are of high value when installing a coffee roaster. For example, the US does not have a national standard for gas fired equipment. Without a standard, most installation inspections are under the sole purview of individual inspectors at a local level. Many of these individual inspectors do not have the expertise in all the areas concerning commercial coffee roaster installation (gas, electrical, and combustion exhaust systems) to make an informed “judgement call” so they automatically defer to certification by a NRTL as the sole factor in determining if a piece of equipment is safe.
What certification does a Mill City Roaster have?
The MCR Series by Mill City Roasters are CSA Design Certified and the key component to understanding the rigorous level to which the machines have been certified is the ‘Design Certified’ designation. When machinery is ‘Design Certified’ it indicates that the certification labs are certifying the entire machine as a whole and not just the individual components. The entire construction of the machine from top to bottom is reviewed and documented and the process is immensely more thorough and difficult.
How is Mill City Roasters’ CSA certification different than other coffee roaster manufacturers?
There are a small number of coffee roaster manufacturers that have ETL or UL certifications but of that number, most of those certifications are generally a component certification and based on assembling a roaster out of ETL or UL certified components. For example, other commercial roaster manufacturers will buy an “off-the-shelf”, lab certified gas train and although certified, that gas train was likely designed to be installed in a more common appliance such as a water heater which means their system is designed for on/off control of relatively low pressure gas service. Our approach is different in that our engineers designed a gas train that suits the demanding requirements of modern specialty coffee – a high capacity gas system that’s capable of being reduced all the way down to very low levels of heat with much finer control and variability. Once designed and tested, these custom designed systems and components are then passed to CSA to certify. It is a more expensive and time consuming approach but it ensures we are not limiting the capability of our coffee roasters by limiting our components to only what is available on the market.
Why is Mill City Roasters the only roaster manufacturer with CSA Design Certification?
We were surprised to learn upon finishing this process that no other manufacturer had completed CSA Design Certification. For us here at Mill City Roasters, it was the logical next step in our commitment to producing the most powerful, most capable, most optimized for the production of specialty coffee roasters, ever built. Design Certification process is expensive and time consuming. It took nearly three years to complete the process with most of the machine upgrades happening within the 12-18 months and the remainder of the time spent on testing, documentation, drawing and a full expansion of operators manuals for all models in multiple languages.
How do I install a coffee roaster that isn’t certified?
When a commercial coffee roaster does not have a NRTL certification (CSA, UL, etc.), it can be at times impossible to install in certain locations. A large portion of our customer support here at Mill City has always been spent working directly with contractors and local inspectors on behalf of our owners. Multiple key players in our company have experience with navigating a building project through inspections and “speak the lingo” of the inspectors tasked with approving installations. Even so, there were locations where the inspectors were firm in their certification requirement which meant the project either required a local engineer to certify the installation or the project couldn’t move forward.
Without certification, the most difficult installation issues come from Canada and the state of Massachusetts. Canada has a very rigorous national standard and Massachusetts has a state board that maintains a list of (among other things) officially sanctioned coffee roasters. With our CSA Certifications, we automatically qualify for installation in Canada and we were able to file with Massachusetts to have 9 of our models be officially sanctioned coffee roasters with that state. Without certifications or the official recognition by the state, both Canada and Massachusetts have versions of a non-compliant machine approval protocol, but as a practical matter those protocols are highly discretionary and complex and usually not worth the effort or expense.
What are additional benefits to CSA Certification?
Another benefit to CSA certification is improved resale value. Although the resale value of our machines has always been high, CSA Design Certification will make these new machines even more valuable over their entire service life. They’ll sell faster and at a higher value which is a benefit to growing businesses who plan to scale operations.
In closing, this was a huge undertaking but we’re working towards building the heaviest, most powerful, most capable, most optimized for the production of specialty coffee roasters ever built. We’re one of only a tiny handful of NRTL certified commercial coffee roaster manufacturers and the only NRTL certified machine built in Asia. There was probably an easier way to do this, but taking the easy way out isn’t exactly our jam and not good strategy for building anything worthwhile.
Call us with questions and thank you for your continued support!