I just returned from the annual Roaster Guild conference, which was held this year in the heart of the one-and-only cheese state of the USA: Wisconsin. This year’s RG conference included a team challenge which required each team to reproduce a drip coffee blend. To replicate the blend, the teams could select up to six coffee components from Kenya, Ethiopia, Guatemala and Colombia.
The roasting station that my compadre Marcus Young and I were leading featured a beautiful orange W1A Giesen roaster which we had set up carefully the day before the RG started, which gave us enough time to accurately calibrate and dial in the burners of this machine. It worked perfectly. Our orange Giesen became one of the most sought after roasting stations for its versatility in control options. Besides roasting temperature, this machine also allows for the control of roasting pressure and of drum rotation.
The second day we experienced such a memorable roasting session with team 5! Two team members were active Giesen users: Tom Isaia from Coffee Express and Cameron Heath from Revelator Coffee. Other team members included Jacob Long from Thanksgiving Coffee and the roastmaster of Madcap Coffee, Ron Heathmann. Roasting with these guys was a truly epic experience. It felt like the powers of specialty coffee were aligned perfectly.
While discussing the features of the Giesen W1A, we collectively developed a roasting strategy for the blend components. Ron Heathmann became the resolute and decisive navigator of the process while Tom Isaia proved to be one of the most precise coffee roasting pilots I have ever observed. While the major sensory milestones of this roasting theater unfolded, we enjoyed limited opportunities to discuss the underlying “why’s” and “what if’s” of our jointly plotted roasting strategy.
During this unforgettable session our ideas and assumptions seemed to dance in the flawless flow of a Minuet dance. If you wonder about this dance, it looks like a circle of dancers moving with the dynamics of a perfect wave, back and forth, back and forth in perpetual motion. Roasting coffee is so much like a Minuet dance. Changing the roasting parameters will almost always impact the intensity and balance of flavors. Super specialty coffees share this intriguing ability to morph effortlessly from one perfect sensation of flavor modalities into another dimension of balanced flavor attributes.
The really cool part is this; the hand of the roaster and the intelligence to understand intuitively what’s really going on; that makes a real difference in the fate and destiny of the beans being roasted. To make an unforgettable story short; team 5 won the team challenge and their trophee became the undefiable proof that roasting really matters.
PS: Thank You, Roasters Guild for facilitating this epic roasting experience.