Helsinki’s Vuosaari set to receive world-class coffee roasting plant
Smell of coffee from old facility will bother the locals only for another couple of months
By Jorma Erkkilä
The three giant cone-shaped contraptions standing in the middle of the main hall of the new Paulig coffee roasting plant in Helsinki’s Vuosaari are the actual coffee roasting machines, the very heart and soul of the entire facility.
While mechanics and fitters still bustle around the hardware, according to schedule in about three month’s time the apparatus should already be producing the first consignments of coffee to the delight of millions of Finnish coffee drinkers.
The new facility is the fourth largest coffee roasting factory in the world.
Each one of the three machines will be capable of roasting 5,000 kilograms of coffee in an hour.
This is a very good news indeed for the people of Finland, who still hold the questionable accolade of being among the world’s heaviest coffee drinkers.
According to Paulig, every Finnish person consumes an average of five cups of coffee per day. This translates to 25 million daily cups of coffee nationwide.
According to EarthTrends, in 2003 Finns consumed 11.4kg of coffee per capita.
The European average at that time was a meagre 3.8kg, and the Finns were the only nation on earth to produce a shocking double-digit figure.
Statistics Finland puts the consumption a shade lower, at 9.5kg per capita in 2007, but there's no getting away from it - we love the stuff..
Paulig’s present roasting plant, also in Vuosaari, has been very much swallowed up by the surrounding residential area.
Not everybody is keen on the smell that the roastery gives off. The new facility will be erected about two kilometres away from the old one, on the eastern side of the Vuosaari Golf Course.
“The new factory’s chimneys will also send forth the aroma - or the smell, some would say - of coffee, but the closest residential buildings are around a kilometre away, so it should not cause inconvenience to anybody”, says project manager Minna Forsström.
“We were unable to expand the facility any further on the present site. When we started looking into different alternatives for a new site, Vuosaari quickly established itself as the best option. We are right next to the new harbour, there are good connections to the inner and outer ring roads, and a railway will be directly beside us."
"Furthermore, Paulig is traditionally a Helsinki firm, so any idea of moving to another city was quickly dismissed”, Forsström adds.
Paulig has been training personnel for the new factory since 2004. The busiest time will be this summer, during the phased start-up of operations.
By November the new roasting facility should be running at maximum capacity, while the old place will be shut down.
Conveyors will transport raw coffee into the new roastery from the Vuosaari Harbour a kilometre away. Because of the short distance there is no need for a break of bulk and the use of vehicles.
Most of the coffee arrives in large 20,000-kilo sacks, but for example from East Africa some coffee still comes in traditional jute sacking bags.
“Before roasting, the coffee beans are preheated, thanks to which the new roasting machines are a fifth more effective than the present equipment from the capacity and energy consumption points of view”, says Minna Forsström.
Forsström is proud of the fact that in the design of the entire facility ecology factors have been well taken into consideration.
For example the coffee sacks and the outer shells coming loose from the beans, or the so-called “dandruff”, are used for energy.
The roasting plant’s exterior walls are made out of glass and COR-TEN steel alloy, which starts to weather quickly through natural rusting, though the word "rust" is something of a misnomer, as the surface actually becomes more resistant to atmospheric corrosion as the steel forms a protective patina on its surface.
Already it is turning brown and it keeps getting darker.
“In fact the wall material is rather like cast iron mixed with some copper. It does not require any surface coating or maintenance of any kind. As it rusts the surface becomes tighter.”
The building has been designed by architect Mauri Tommila and the interior design is by Päivi Bergroth.
With a gross floor area of approximately 30,000 square metres, the structure is more or less the same size as the old roastery.
The cost estimate for the entire project was EUR 120 million.
According to Forsström, the final price-tag will be slightly lower than that.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 21.4.2009
Paulig: New roastery at roof height (press release from June 2008)
A Paulig coffee FAQ page
JORMA ERKKILÄ / Helsingin Sanomat