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Northward Bound, Adventures in Roaster Buying

Months and months of searching online for the right coffee roaster, including a few dead end paths, finally culminated in finding what we hope will be the right machine for us. It's also a deep forest green, seems to be meant to be.

The machine was located with some nice folks near Edmonton, Alberta, roughly a 6 hour drive through some of the nicest highways from our place. I've never moved a coffee roaster before and was a bit nervous about picking up the machine as I didn't know a). how to load it b). how to transport it and c). how to get it certified to commercial standards in Canada.

Fortunately for me, my dad offered to come along for the trip and bring his dump trailer to haul the machine. As everyone's lives get busier and busier, it was nice to have this excuse to go for a road trip together.

We departed Invermere at 6am and by the time we reached the village of Radium 15 minutes down the road, it became apparent that we'd be in for a snow filled trip. We made our way north up Highway 93 through the beautiful Kootenay National Park, through Banff National Park and further north up the Icefields Parkway. The beauty of this drive was not lost on us and we soaked up the views that people from all over the world travel to see. Halfway up the parkway, we turned due east towards Rocky Mountain House, Alberta (hit the jackpot on that name). As we exited the Canadian Rocky Mountains into the foothills of Alberta the sky opened up and greeted us with a bluebird day. Hours of straight road driving later we arrived at our destination.

The roaster was located in the little hamlet of Wildwood, Alberta, approximately 1 hour from Edmonton. After some introductions with the fine folks selling the roaster, we set about getting to work at moving and loading the machine into the trailer. I won't dive deep into the details, but needless to say we weren't about to fool anybody that we are professional movers. We also found out how heavy and awkward the roaster is. Eventually, we got it loaded up and after a slice of homemade pie presented by our gracious hosts (in the time of Covid, it's nice to see some old fashioned hospitality).

It was getting late in the afternoon so we set the cruise control towards Calgary, about 3.5 hours away, which was to be our destination for the night before heading back home to Invermere the next morning. We rolled into Calgary around 9pm, and between our exhaustion and the dining limitations imposed by Covid protocols, we scrapped our plans for a nice dinner out in exchange for take-out Chinese food in the hotel room.

The portion of the trip I was dreading the most took place the following morning. In order to obtain a business license in Canada, the roaster needed to either be CSA approved or be field tested/inspected to verify it meets the appropriate standards. This process was very intimidating because we were buying a roaster in the hopes that it might meet the standard, but if it didn't meet the standards I had been told it could cost thousands of dollars to update it, if it was at all possible. This represented a big risk to us, we could theoretically buy an expensive machine that would either become much more expensive or essentially be a 400kg paperweight. We met the Field Inspector Steve from Vision Integrity first thing in the morning. We decided to carry out the inspection in a nearby Safeway parking lot as we were in downtown Calgary. After a few minutes of inspection, Steve realized that there were a number of small things the machine would need to pass. He had two options, he could've failed the machine, sending us back to Invermere to get everything up to code and then having to return at additional costs to get it re-inspected, or we could do the work on the spot. I am grateful he chose the latter and suggested we move our "inspection site" to the closest Home Depot parking lot. After a few puzzled looks from Home Depot customers and some minor upgrades, the machine passed!! Hugh relief!!

After a super healthy lunch at McDonalds, we were enroute back home. An uneventful 3 hours later we arrived home and unloaded the machine in much quicker fashion then we loaded it. Our whirlwind road trip was complete and we now had a certified 5kg coffee roaster ready to go. And then it sat . . . for a long time.

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