“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn”.
Anne Cooper has been in the coffee industry for 2 decades now. Her career started in Queensland, she moved to the USA – then returned to Melbourne – where she now offers ‘independent coffee roasting, training and consulting’. I attended her 2 day roasting course last weekend, which was both practical and informative. The strength in Anne’s course isn’t based purely on her experience with an array of roasting systems, but is founded in her experience as a barista, café owner and SCAA judge. It is one thing to ‘talk the talk’, but she has also ‘walked the walk’. Anne knows what it’s like to be a barista and work with the beans – post roasting.
Throughout the 2 day course, Anne discussed the anatomy of ‘a roast profile’- starting at the ‘preparation phase’ – where the green beans start to lose moisture and dry out; right through to the moment you hit the eject button and end the roast process. We learned the key phases that make up ‘a roast profile’ and the importance of not rushing through any stage, as it can have detrimental effects on the development of the beans’ – and consequently their flavour.
The course emphasises a ‘hands on approach’ and the importance of being part of the process. This is my ideal method of learning and I discovered a handy device known as a ‘roast analyser’, which we used to measure bean colour. We measured both whole beans for the external colour, and ground beans for the interior colour. This is to see the ‘delta spread’ which gave us an indication of the beans’ development post roast. It’s such a ‘simple to operate device’ and gives very useful information to help guide future roasts.
A greater awareness of terms like ‘Turning Point’- ‘Maillard’ and ’Rate of Rise’ was gained throughout the course, and an appreciation that roasting is no easy feat. It is a science, an art and a career path which demands focus. You have ample issues to consider and an array of factors to monitor at one time. Thankfully, there are aids such as ‘Cropster’, on which, Anne taught us the basics – and it was used in demo roasts.
Anne also took us through the various roasting systems, such as the Probat, Loring, Geisen, Joper, Diedrich, Proaster (to name just a few) and explained how exactly the same bean roasted on different roasting systems, has differing clarity, sweetness, and body. We ‘taste tested’ an example of such comparisons and discussed reasons why this might occur. Coffee is so much more complex than I already thought – and the joy in learning is never ending. So much so, it seems the more I learn, the more there is to be learnt, and I have only just scratched the surface.
Aside from the roasting skills one develops during such training, there is scope for a greater appreciation for just how much goes into roasting – and respect for those marvellous folks who turn green beans brown.
Attending the course was an incredibly humbling experience. There were moments when the penny dropped – which some may call ‘an epiphany’. As coffee consumers, we do value coffee roasters, but going behind the scene in a roastery not only opened my eyes and mind – but my level of respect for roasters has increased immensely.
Yes, we humans are quick to judge, and at times we fail to appreciate the goodness in others. Each roaster puts his or her heart and soul into their coffee. It becomes a part of them, and a reflection of their personality. I’ll never look at coffee in the same way again. The care taken for the beans that farmers toiled over at origin is to be commended. Every link in the chain is vital for the prosperity of all members. This is why ‘ethical sourcing’ and ‘transparency’ is paramount. We must ensure farmers are paid their rightful premiums, and sustainable practices become the norm. My love for this industry is ever growing- and the deeper I delve into it, I realise I have so much more to learn. I’ve merely scratched the surface, and my thirst for knowledge is unquenchable. If you’re a budding roaster – or just need to spruce up your roast profile – I suggest you get in touch with the ‘Master Roastress’ -Anne Cooper.
EQUILIBRIUM MASTER ROASTERS COURSE