There are multiple ways to improve things we do. While we roast some of the best coffees for you, we always want to improve our craft to increase the quality of your cup of coffee. One of the ways to improve roasting coffee is to roast and sample more coffee. By continuing to sample the coffees we roast, we understand what minute changes in the roasting process can impart in the cup. In addition to roasting and sampling more coffee; we can seek out advice and training from others in the industry.
We roast and sample a lot of coffees, every week (Wednesday mornings are an open cupping, so if you are in Lubbock, you are welcome to join TPR in our Quality Control analysis). Every week, we roast anywhere from 9-15 coffees depending on which blend combinations we put together. Throughout the year, farms where we source our coffees change and in order to keep your cup tasting somewhat similar (especially in the blends), we must do quality analysis.
In addition to roasting and sampling, learning from others is a great opportunity to expand our knowledge base. At the end of August, Dr. Kerry Coffee Guru attended the Specialty Coffee Association Coffee Roaster’s Guild Retreat, along with approximately 140 other roasters from around the world. Dr. Kerry attended seminars on evaluating acids in coffee, blending for espresso, sustainability, and market sourcing.
In addition to different seminars, the attendees were divided up into teams for a drip brew and espresso roasting competition. My team, the Chupacabras, was comprised of roasters, green coffee traders and barista trainers. The amount of experience in our team had quite a variance, from 1-2 years to 8-10 years of experience in the industry. We all had different roasting philosophies, and palettes for selection. We ended up selecting a honey-processed Mexican coffee the had light fruitiness and strong chocolate aroma and flavor.
We roasted, tasted, roasted, tasted and repeated 3 times to get what we felt were the best roasts for each application (drip coffee & espresso). Each time we roasted and sampled, we talked about what we were tasting and sensing. As we discussed each of the roasts and applications, each of us grew in our understanding of more palettes at the time.
Kim of …..roasters in Austin, Tx roasted our drip coffee roast and ….of ….in NYNY roasted our Espresso roast. Both of our roasters used equipment that they are familiar with in their respective roasting operations. One of the really cool things at the roaster’s retreat is the ability to roast coffee on several different roaster machine manufacturers equipment.
As a team, we ended up not ranking in the top three; however, overall we had the second best rated espresso, out of 12 teams. This team and competition setting opened eyes about identifying goals and communication of those goals. Every time we receive a new coffee, whether it be a completely new origin or a source from a known origin, I have to ask the questions “What are my goals with this coffee? Where is it going to be placed in the market? and Who will like this coffee?”
As with everything we do, continuing our education and honing our skills improves our end product for our customers, friends and hopefully a more satisfied feeling of accomplishment. What improvement are you working on?
Who: Kerry + 150 coffee roasters from around the world
What: Specialty Coffee Association Coffee Roasters Guild Retreat
When: August 26 & 27
Where: Lake Lawn Resort, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Why: To improve my craft, learning from others in the industry, make new friends around the industry, find new places to give back to the industry.