I just got back from my first Roasters Guild retreat in Skamania, Washington, which is the most beautiful area I have ever seen in the U.S. I had a great time, met so many new people and learned so much. It was amazing to see that many people in one place with such a passion for coffee, learning, and sharing with one another. I took the opportunity to go down because I wanted to see what could be learned so that we could make changes that would improve quality and consistency here at Fratello.
I arrived at the retreat on Thursday and after getting settled we did a orientation tour and a cupping of the coffee we would be using for the roast challenge. (mmm Brazil….)
On Friday we got to start roasting the Brazil to try to bring the best out of it. We got to try a wide variety of roasters from around the world, it was interesting to see how they all worked and how all the manufactures of them approach their roasts, with some making it necessary to adjust airflow and others that were just full burner control and some giving you the option of doing both (like our roasters do!). After many many roasts of Brazil we did a round table discussion of industry sustainability as well as a few other topics. The next session was the effects of packaging roasted bean in relation to staling, it was interesting to taste the differences that nitrogen flushing made, I was very surprised that I didn’t really notice a difference between flushing and not flushing until the coffee got quite old. (close to 3 months) It was nice to see that we were well beyond industry standards for freshness as we don’t sell anything over 21 days old, so its always fresh.
Saturday we re cupped our Brazil’s and made a few changes to the roasts and then it was off to class! The classes there were very informative, showing us things like how such minuscule changes in a roasting profile, like a change in transition point or a slight speed change at the end, can have such a huge effect on the cup, changes like a full chocolaty body from one roast to a sweet citrus like cup in another using the same green coffee. Now knowing this we can implement changes with roast logging software that will improve consistency, so that every roast will be best product we can put out to our costumers! Saturday night we had our bonfire and the winners of the roast challenge were announced. (my team came in 4th of 12 from what I’m told).
The best part of the whole experience was to sit down with other roasters, importers and coffee farmers and see the industry from a wider perspective, it really makes me appreciate all the hard work that goes into creating a fantastic product!
I’m very excited to be back home trying all the little things I heard other roasters are doing, like restricting some of the airflow at certain times and changing the transition point at the start of the roast in an effort to make a better product. I’m not sure how it will all work out, but I will be trying it all and hopefully we can make a great product even better! Fratello Coffee has 26 years experience with roasting, and I find it so cool that we are still pushing the boundaries on what our roasting equipment can do. We never stop trying to learn more about our equipment and coffee in hopes of producing a continuously better coffee year over year.
Written by: David Schindel