I'm indebted to Ross Quail and Andy Todd of Sensory Lab, Melbourne. These guys have dived very deeply into their subject matter. I prefer to know a bit about a wide range of things and every now and then I spend time with a specialist. I find it a stimulating and intense experience.
Of course, I often end up feeling like the Far Side cartoon student who asks his teacher, "...may I be excused? my brain is full."
Ross and Andy have been working with coffee at an intense level for many years. John Zaouris and I were able to spend four hours with Andy this month stepping through the roasting process.
We covered a lot of ground - from receiving and warehousing to roasting, cupping and recent customer trends. Here are just a few thoughts that stood out to me;
1. Storing green beans is a case of 'do the best you can'. Most organisations cannot control temperature and humidity along the full length of the supply chain. On the other hand, most organisations can do something about the age of beans they roast, the type of container (e.g. GrainPro bag liners) and the local storage conditions.
2. Roast profiles matter as they significantly influence flavour. Given that flavour is a central aspect of roasted coffee, control of roast temperature matters.
3. It's valid to blend beans both pre and post roasting. It depends what you're trying to achieve.
4. Cupping and other sampling can be fun! This is good news as quality control is essential.