Early on we made the decision that the cornerstone of our business would always be artisan small batch roasting, and that we would not deviate from artisan roasting, no matter what opportunities came our way or how much we grew.
This means that we will always use smaller roasters that will allow us to roast without relying on computerized roast controllers. Computerized roasting is NOT artisan roasting.
The artisan mindset is always at work here. We carefully select green coffee samples, roast them and cup the results, over and over until we find the right profile that reveals the subtle fruity, floral, sweet and savory flavors locked inside the bean.
A successful roast profile is not about just the end temperature or color of the roasted coffee, but the controlled, increase and decrease of temperature and airflow at set points during the roasting process that change the chemistry of the sugars and proteins inside the bean as it is roasted.
If these sugars and proteins are burned by not applying the heat correctly – the coffee will taste bitter – no matter how dark or light it is roasted.
If the initial temperature of the roaster is too hot at the start of the roast, sugars will not caramelize slowly enough, the coffee will loose its sweetness and the subtle aromatics will be burned off. The coffee will taste baked and lifeless.
Unfortunately these mistakes are not just made by large national chains, but roasting companies everywhere that try to substitute automation for training and quality control.
Far too many business owners become “coffee roasters” by buying a roaster with a computerized controller and taking a couple days of training, and it is evident by the product they produce.
The roasting process does not happen in a vacuum. The weather outside as well as the temperature inside the roasting room effects the profile each and every time we roast. If the barometric pressure is high on a sunny still day the ducting will act very differently than it will on a windy rainy day. This greatly affects the airflow inside the roasting drum, which will affect heat transfer to the green coffee. Using the same exact profile in both conditions would yield very different and inconsistent results.
The “roaster” that relies on a computerized controller, may select profile #7 for Guatemala on a sunny day and again selects #7 even later that same day after a change in the weather – may wonder why the Guatemala tastes different. The changes may be subtle – they may not be so subtle. Customers will notice.
When you buy your coffee next time, ask about your roasters process. Is it a person roasting your coffee or a computerized controller.