I bought my first espresso machine in 1971. Once the mechanics of pulling shots became second nature, it was time to pay more attention to the coffee itself. That’s why, in 1982 I decided to start roasting. In 1985, I hired Scott and taught him what I knew about it. Around 1987 Scott took over production roasting, and Walt came aboard and learned from both Scott and me. Today, in late 2015 going on 2016, Scott and Walt are still the roasters at Coffee Express – two of the best in the business.
Before actually roasting you have to obtain raw coffee. So, in 1981, after I had ordered our first machine (a Jabez Burns ½ bag) I set about learning how to evaluate and purchase green coffee. I’ve never relinquished that role; I still man our ancient sample roaster, a Gothot from 1946, and keep up our supplies of green coffee with the finest qualities available.
The Roasters Guild is part of the Specialty Coffee Association of America, and was formed in 2000. The SCAA began in 1984, but was so successful it came to encompass many facets of specialty coffee. A group of roasters decided there needed to be a separate Guild. I finally joined a few years ago, and have since participated in their annual retreats. It’s been thrilling to interact with roasters from around the country and the world, sharing skills, theories and knowledge.
In particular, it’s nice to be able to try all sorts of roasters at the Retreat. As a result, I recently bought a two pound Giesen. It has the very latest touch screen controller, with an infinite variable speed motor – allowing the most precise roasting imaginable. Slight adjustments in air speed, along with temperature controls, can enhance or detract from taste characteristics inherent in unroasted beans.
I’ve always tried to keep Coffee Express ahead of the specialty coffee revolution. Learning to be even more exacting in the craft of roasting coffee is exciting!
I plan to write about what the Giesen is telling us. Much of this we already know, but some of the pleasure of a craft is in the pursuit of further understanding.