Coal-Fired Pizza Ovens are Pushing Anthracite into the Spotlight

Most people won’t immediately think “pizza” when they hear about anthracite — but that’s starting to change. The fastest growing sector in the casual dining industry is coal-fired pizza. While pizza has been prepared using coal for many years, in the past ten years, coal-fired pizza has become a rapidly growing trend.  What many people do not know about this method of cooking is that the coal used in these ovens is anthracite − the hardest and cleanest burning solid fuel known. All of the anthracite used in this growing application is mined in the Pennsylvania anthracite fields in the northeast US.

According to the 2015 Pizza Power Report, U.S. pizza restaurant yearly sales at the end of September 2014 were more than $38.5 trillion − that’s a 3.08% increase over estimated sales figures of $37.3 trillion for the industry in 2013.

It is no secret that Americans love their pizza, but the numbers are astonishing when measured. According to a 2015 Pizza Industry Analysis, Americans eat, on average, 100 acres of pizza daily or 350 slices per second. Additionally, 93 percent of Americans eat at least one slice of pizza per month, making pizza the number one dinner choice in the United States.

Although coal-fired pizza may be old news in New York City (it has been cooked this way since 1905 in The Big Apple), it is quickly catching on in other cities. Coal-fired pizza ovens have many advantages that extend beyond just the rich tasting pizza they produce. Coal-fired pizza can be cooked more quickly because the ovens burn hotter and faster. In fact, they are capable of cooking a pizza in just five minutes. The ovens reach temperatures of up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit, which is much hotter than traditional wood burning ovens. This gets pizza into the hands and bellies of customers faster, creating an increasing number new fans of the anthracite-coal produced product. In terms of burning power, they are capable of running for most of the day with only one charge of coal, and the ovens produce a drier heat. Although the ovens have to be stoked in between the lunch and dinner shifts, that is a small price to pay compared to the benefits of using a coal-fired oven. Blaschak Coal Corp is one of the largest suppliers of anthracite coal to this market. Since the trend took off, interest in our northeastern-PA mined anthracite has grown in ways we could not have predicted. In fact, the demand has more than doubled in recent years.

Although it is considered a niche market, the pizza industry is showing no signs of slowing down. With the growing popularity of coal-fired pizza in the U.S., we look forward to the continued use of anthracite coal being used to create the delectable pizzas that the country has come to crave.

Posted on 11/06/15
By Greg Driscoll