Roasters Guild is part of the Specialty Coffee Association (SCAA). They have an annual three day gathering for classes, workshops, and camaraderie. The roasting tent houses over twenty small roast machines of various makes.
I think the biggest take-away for me is that a single coffee ends up cupping differently depending on who roasted it and in which roaster. If there are twenty people roasting the exact same coffee, it has twenty different taste characteristics. And that’s even if the roasters and their machines try to maintain an established “profile” – the same start temperature, rate of temperature rise, time of first crack, and end point.
We know coffee tastes differently determined by where it’s from, how it’s roasted, freshness, method of brewing, etc. But the variations within just the roasting are endless. For example, adjusting certain time and temperature markers can accentuate the sugars and dampen acidity.
I’m also trying to get SCAA certification classes to continue to be part of the May coffee conference we hold at the University of Michigan every two years. I did as much lobbying as I possibly could while at the retreat.
As for camaraderie, a fellow roaster, Jacob, from Thanksgiving Coffee in California, had me try a Nicaragua hybrid Caturra/Maragogype he had with him. Out-cupped a fantastic Ethiopian Yrgacheffe. Go figure.