Last week our roaster malfunctioned (again!), and I had to go out of the shop to roast. Solberg & Hansen were nice enough to let us use their UG22 Probat roaster. Thank you S&H! They are a medium scale roaster and naturally don’t roast their coffee in a coffeebar as we do. The whole experience taught me a lot about several things.
First of all that it’s easy to get used to roasting with logs and several temperature probes. The UG22 had only one analogue thermometer at the exhaust, whilst our roaster has two digital thermometers (one bean pile thermometer and one exhaust). At S&H I had to rely a whole lot more on sight and smell and the knowledge of the development of the beans I’ve managed to pick up so far. I’m not going to pretend that it all went like a breeze, but I was surprised over how well it turned out.
This leads me on to the next thing I learned while roasting at S&H: It’s easier to roast without people constantly disturbing you to ask what you are doing. This seems pretty obvious, but after roasting in the shop for a while I have gotten used to it. Looking back now however I realize that one has to be a lot more focused when roasting with an audience. I’ve lost count over how many times I’ve had to tell customers that I’m NOT grinding beans, nor brewing coffee in that giant metal thing, I’m actually roasting coffee. There is no doubt that the roaster draws attention to itself and I feel that for every person realizing what I’m actually doing there is one more person enjoying their cup of coffee just a little bit more. So I’ve found my place as not only a roaster but also a teacher of basic coffee knowledge. I dear to claim that shop roasters are the frontline soldiers of specialty coffee. (Anyone disagree with this?)
Photo taken by Chris Kolbu (and used without permission… Sorry Chris.)