What a difference...
six months can make. On my last update I was a fresh four weeks into roasting coffee. By no means does six months make me a veteran roaster. On the contrary the things I've learned have increased exponentially, and I continue to grow and develop my understanding of this simple, yet extremely complex process.
When I first wrote about my roasting experience I had my time split between working on the bar, and roasting coffee. I was an Apprentice Roaster and Barista Trainer. Now I am Head Roaster and Director of Coffee. I am spending the entirety of my time at work behind our beloved Diedrich, sample roasting on our IKAWA, or cupping for quality and development purposes. This opportunity has given me the ability to take on new challenges, and I'm very grateful for that.
Roasting Is a Learned Skill -
This is kind of obvious I know, but bear with me. I say its a learned skill because like most skills, some may show some kind of proclivity towards it, but in the end you only get better by doing it. Thats what I've been doing. From looking at my Cropster reports since I've started I've roasted nearly 8,00o hours. That is coming up on the debunked standard of 10,000 hours of practice to master something. I by no means am a master, but I've only become more and more confident in my ability to drop batch after batch at a consistent profile. This makes me happy, translates to the cup, and to our regular customers. It's a win all the way around.
Focus Is Key -
I know in the past I've definitely spoken about the importance of intention; roasting is no exception. A moment of lost focus could lose you at minimum a few minutes, to a maximum of a fire. Fortunately I've only experienced the former, but even in a process that appears to be moving at a slow pace it can easily get away from you. I've found avoiding all conversations during roasting, placing my phone face down, and having a R.B.F., i.e. Roasting Bitch Face, lets people know you are busy and come back later. A moment lost, particularly during the development period, can be the difference between a great cup and a bad cup.
Utilize Your Resources, Again -
This will likely be a common theme in my updates on roasting. I've found that resources are invaluable. Since my last update I've read two books, Scott Rao's Coffee Roasters Companion, and The Book of Roast compiled by Roast Magazine. I've also revisited some of the videos I've long since watched on my first run in with roasting. In the audio realm I've been listening to The Exchange. It's a roasting podcast produced by the green supplier Olam Specialty Coffee. It's definitely worth a listen as it covers things by green buying, all the way to marketing.