Day of the Roast at Geelong Coffee Roasters
I totally still get the butterflies in the gut type feel as I approach the roasting day. Entering in to a world of shifting paradigms and lofty expectations of customers when it comes to working on our profiling and consistency requirements. There is always a little ‘wiggle’ room to play and explore just a bit. Yes there is. But if you are at a pro level of roasting and for me, even doing some contract roasting nowadays, then there is the expectation, no, obligation, to a consistent process of logging and recording all benchmarks and stages of each roast all along the way. Even with the sort of equipment I roast on today. Still have to log. Still have to watch. And..I am expected to have consistent coffee week in, week out. So..does roasting on a 12 degree winter day make any difference to roasting on a 27 degree summer day. Yes. It does. So what can help?
State of the Art roasting software and equipment is meant to help achieve the goals that are most important to us and what is most important to us, is our customers.
Modern technology has certainly brought along its problems. And we know that. However, the incredible amount of blessings that have come with mod tech is incredible. And helpful. We must use the tools we have at our disposal to the best of our ability. If you don’t have modulating burners then try and get some. If you can’t then do what I did when I started. Use a timer, and keep the flame. Record first crack and try to hit it exactly the same time, each time. Im now down to within 2 seconds each and every time on any particular roast profile. Smaller roasters using ‘retro’ roasters or other such shop roasters are kidding themselves when they believe they can be truly consistent. Its impossible. But you can make your roast ‘style’ consistent. How you ramp to FC. Timing your rate of rise during development phase. Etc.
Maybe LOL is a bit flippant. Its a serious game this. My customers are relying on me to give them something they can sell week in, and week out. They want their customers to come back time and again. Its what produces turn over, and what produces profit, and what pays our costs and ultimately helps to make a living. Its important. But..is it all on the roaster? No, it isn’t. I can taste the same batch, from different baristas, different machines different customers. At times the horror hits me harder than it should. How on earth can I give customers a consistent, reliable delicious product ( and work my butt off to get it to them) and then find that its different at each distribution point? Well..actually its not. It is consistent. It is delicious. Otherwise it wouldn’t have gone out. I can’t be responsible for each cafe owner to make sure their staff is trained, or that the coffee machine is backflushed each night or that they are actually following a consistent barista recipe for dosage and shot times. I can help. I can offer training. But no, my fellow roaster friend, its not all your fault when someone cries that the coffee is not right. And yes the coffee is consistent. It’s the delivery which isn’t. And that is a fact of life we all have to deal with. Like people with really poor palate development. It happens. So can we really say guaranteed results? Depends. I don’t hear it mentioned often in regard to coffee and I wonder why. When it comes to the last 15 years of specialty roasters using their cool retro roasters etc then the answer would be no. No guaranteed results. The microlots of green coffee change constantly. The software isn’t as able as an industrial roaster. There is less control over parameters such as convective/conductive balance which may give less flexibility. Sometimes, its flexibility which lends itself to being more consistent. More on that at a later date. Summer, winter. There’s a clue. Keep in touch. I want to rant about profiles, hope you’ll listen.