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As The Roaster Turns

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. 

I am privileged to have the opportunity to taste coffees from around the world, and discuss their nuances; things like how to get just the right grind, and what ratio of coffee-to-water is needed – both of which vary depending on whether you’re using a French press, drip brewer, percolator, preparing an espresso concoction, or trying out the new old craze – single-cup pour-overs.

Each morning Tom looks at the coffee market prices and tries to figure out what is going on out there. While that is happening, we (roasters & packagers) receive customers’ orders from the office. We prepare the boxes and bags needed for the day’s orders, and then we prepare a roast list and stage the green coffees as needed. Finally, we turn on and warm up the roasters, and get to the part that I like, roasting coffee.

Sight, sound and smell are essential to the roasting process. The gradual change in color and the crackle of the bean during expansion help in determining when the roast is getting close to done. Then – crunch time; that last few minutes as the coffee roast nears its completion. That’s when the skill of the roaster, dealing with all of these components, comes into play. Finally, the roast is stopped when the roaster is satisfied with his work.

Once the coffee is dropped into the cooler, it is just a matter of time before you are drinking a great cup of Mountain Country Coffee. Then we clean up and do it all over again (is it any wonder our mascot is the groundhog?).