Matt answers your coffee roasting questions: roasting resources

This week Matt Hassell, Global Buyer, QC & Sample Management for Collaborative Coffee Source, and former roaster for George Howell Coffee, has been fielding your questions about coffee roasting on Twitter. @kbaker332 asks:

@collaborativeCS What made you first interested in roasting? Did you have a natural affinity for it or did you draw from any other sources to expand your knowledge and improve? #ccsQandA

— Kevin Baker (@kbaker332) December 13, 2017

Matt's response:

I mentioned in an earlier post that there are more roasting resources now than ever before. Without some of these, I would not have made anywhere near the progress that I did. We’re lucky to live in an age where information is freely and openly shared, and I’m glad to see that roasting is (now) no exception. So, in no specific order, here are some resources for new/curious roasters that have been very useful to me:

1. The Coffee Roaster’s Companion by Scott Rao I think this book does a great job of building fundamentals of roasting. When I started roasting, it was very much a trial-by-fire type deal. This was one of the first resources that I came across that forced me to rethink how I was approaching my roasts. It made me think about it as a process, instead of trying the same things over and over. I wouldn’t say I agree with 100% of the theories detailed in this book, but I haven’t seen a publication yet that everyone will agree on entirely. You will come away from this book better off than you started.

2. Mill City Roasters ‘Roaster School’ This web series has it all. It is super in-depth, and they do a very good job explaining principles of roasting in a way that can be immediately absorbed. Really, “Joe Morocco” might be one of the people that has helped me progress most in my career, despite only having maybe one conversation ever? Which reminds me…

3. Roaster’s Guild/Roaster’s Guild Retreat (Roaster’s Camp for Roaster’s Guild of Europe) Unfortunately this isn’t available everywhere, but going to just one of these was integral to my development as a coffee professional.

The conversation I had with Joe was minor. In fact, it was more of a group discussion. Day one of the retreat seemed a little bit like the first day of high school: kind of cliquey, and quiet. I was sitting in a group, and Joe was talking about getting people to open up and share. Long story short, Joe decides to put his money where his mouth is, and posted one of his profiles online, as to say, “you can’t steal someone’s business with a roast profile.” The next day, people are huddled together at tables drawing their profiles to the best of their recollection. The flood gates opened, and it was suddenly okay to share information. The next three days were a whirlwind of information.

They do a wonderful job putting these events on, and they get better every year. If you ever get the chance to go to one of these, absolutely do it. There is no better way to learn than to surround yourself with like-minded people from all over the country/world on a mountain/in the woods with a beer.

4. Modulating The Flavor Profile of Coffee by Rob Hoos You would be wise to just gobble up any resource Rob puts out there. This book is fantastic, and he is a great social media follow on all platforms.  He does a great job detailing specific parts of the roast profile and how it alters the flavor. If you happen to roast on a Loring, he’s a very good resource for understanding how to operate the machine. As I mentioned before, I initially had a hard time finding good Loring resources. He’s one of the best.