B. Suggestions for New Roasters
Now I’m sure someone out there will want to burn me at the stake for taking this angle. I suppose I am a bit of a practicalist and frankly have entirely more to do on a daily basis than what the average person should have. I basically run 3 businesses and have a family too. As much as I would like, I just don’t have the time in the day to be ultra-focused on the art of roasting like some folks do. I’ll just settle for happy customers, repeat orders and real good coffee. If you have the time to become a top-notch expert on roasting, then I am truly envious of your skill and dedication and sincerely, we need people like you to teach the rest of us how to roast better and to perfect the art and tradition of excellence in coffee roasting.
Personally, however, I find that just about no matter how I roast, or for that matter, what coffee I roast, my customers are just flat out obsessed with the coffee that I give them.
I suppose that is a testament to the excellence of Ron’s drum design. It just works very well on any coffee, and roasts as well, or better, than the really expensive commercial roasters.
The reason that I tell you this, is that particularly if you are new to coffee roasting, then you simply don’t need to be afraid of roasting, or producing bad coffee. The system is very forgiving and in my opinion, you actually have to work at it to make bad coffee.
In my experience, the vast majority of Americans are simply accustomed to drinking Folgers and other low quality brands. They drink it because it is cheap. Even the national brand that you see hocking $4 cups of coffee on every street corner in every major city nationwide is peddling terrible dark sludge in a cup that supposedly is the public standard for good coffee.
Quite simply, most Americans have no concept of what fresh roasted coffee is. Even to the point of people saying “I don’t like coffee, it’s too bitter.”
People don’t know that good coffee simply isn’t bitter!
So for that reason my tips to the new roaster would be:
Don’t spend a whole lot of money on a Ultra High Quality coffee.- My experience tells me that no matter what bottom-rung moderately fresh coffee I choose to roast, my customers are falling over themselves trying to get at it. When you are starting out, your technique wont be perfected for some time, so start out with a cheap coffee, your customers will love it regardless.
Don’t obsess about perfection and micromanagement of your roasts- You will find that very small fluctuations in roast temperature and time really won’t make that much of a difference in the end result. Your customers are going to love it anyway if you follow some basic guidelines. It’s not hard to win when you average customer is used to drinking a cup of dirt each morning. 🙂
Your average customer will never be able to tell the difference between the Nutty-Chocolaty Guatemalan and your Citrusy Colombian, but they will sure know good coffee when it hits them.
When you get the general hang of it, you can start learning more and take your skills to perfection.