Coffee Express

Providing great service to coffee houses and other specialty retailers in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana

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13th Roaster’s Guild Retreat

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Michigan Contingent

The Michigan Contingent

13th Roaster’s Guild Retreat

The Roaster’s Guild, a group within the Specialty Coffee Association (SCAA), held their annual retreat in West Virginia for the second time this year. This is the closest it comes to Michigan, and a nice contingent of our state’s roasters made the trek. The Guild is a large group, and about 150 people attended. Three full days of roasting, cupping and classroom workshops make up the bulk of the retreat, during which, twelve teams of ten compete to see who can roast, blend and brew a winning cup.

 

 

 

Fun

Roasting with the “Arabicats”

A remarkably humble group, roasters of all stripes worked together, listening to each other, and deferring to whoever seemed to have the best plan for roasting, cupping, and brewing. Roasting coffee is an accomplished craft, and the community continues to probe and learn. Gauges to measure temperature and time are a must, helping the roaster’s senses of smell and sight. Experience in interpreting the various inputs finishes the job.

What my attendance at these retreats enables us to do here, at Coffee Express, is learn even more about the coffees we purchase, and processes we use to roast them. Each coffee has different attributes that need to be understood in advance of the final roast, in order to bring out the best of what that bean type has to offer. There were probably 30 workshops, classes, and other skill-building events – too many to list. But here are some of the ones I took part in:

 

More fun

More fun with roasting

Profile Roasting Practices: We went over coffee bean characteristics, then set out roasting. We chose a Giesen, and tried to learn to control the variable airflow. This particular roaster allows for more control than most. Hard machine to tame.

Calibration Cupping of Challenge Cup Coffees: We divided into our pre-arranged groups (we named ourselves the Arabicats), and spent Friday morning roasting four five-pound bags of coffee, in order to find what might work best.

Two long sessions followed. The first – on microlots, quality, and sustainability – was led by the coffee buyer at Counter Culture. The second was a detailed look at how the physical makeup of the beans affects the manner in which you roast. Lots of science in this one.

Organic Acids and the Chemistry of Coffee, and Introduction to Roasting Concepts were on my agenda for Saturday. The concepts course took us, once again, back to the roasters. We did three roasts on the same coffee, stretching development times, and logging the effects made to the cup. In the chemistry course, we learned that if growers and roasters better understand the various acids – formic, acetic, glycolic and lactic, for example- we can better adjust roast profiles to bring out some and mute others.

As The Roaster Turns

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It will be twenty-two years this August since I first came to work for Coffee Express, and so much has happened in the coffee world since then. You could say a lot of water has passed over the coffee grounds. First, specialty coffees emerged as the new status-quo, then organics hit the scene, and lately – due to a surge in interest about the traceability and origins of what we are eating and drinking – Microlots have become more popular. But some things don’t change, like the fragrance coming from opening the coffee bins first thing in the morning, the smell of fresh ground coffee, and the aroma of a freshly-brewed pot.  Read More

Coffee the Commodity

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Did you know that Arabica coffee is traded in New York at the Intercontinental Exchange – the ICE? Our prices at Coffee Express are directly related to the price at which coffee is traded on the exchange. There are two markets for coffee: the cash -or “spot”- market, which is the price we would pay for green coffee if we purchased it (and wanted it shipped) today.The second is the futures market price. The futures market for commodities like coffee is used to help protect against the wild variations that occur due to speculation, and events such as bad weather. Read More