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Chris Kornman and I traveled North to Portland, Oregon along with Coffee Traders Laurel Wirth and Kevin Morales to teach some classes and visit with friends. The first day we were privileged to participate in a full day of presentations on buying green coffee hosted by the Oregon Coffee Board at Buckman Coffee Factory. Kevin presented on C Market Basics and I taught an introductory course on their sample roaster. The event was well attended and a total blast; Portland even turned into a snow globe for us.

For the past several weeks, the Crown team has been working on creating original and thought provoking curriculum. On Friday December 9th, it was time to see if all of our hard work would pay off. Aspect Coffee Collective was kind enough to let us use their cupping lab and roaster in SE Portland for the day. The courses: Green Coffee Analytics; Density, Screen Size, and Water Activity and Roasting Styles & Impact on Flavor. We had an amazing turnout for our first class and people traveled far. One roaster flew in from Montana and another drove through a snowstorm from Vancouver BC.

Chris’s course on green coffee analytics is invaluable to any roaster. He has experience in quality control and in production roasting, making him exactly the person you want to speak with when talking about these green coffee metrics. His lecture explains what these metrics are and how you can determine them in your own quality control lab. He then demonstrates how this information is useful with three great sensory exercises. The two hour lecture and cupping exercises dovetail nicely into my Roasting Styles course. 

Jen Apodaca teaching the Roasting Styles course at Bay Area CoRo in Berkeley on a Loring S15.

Starting off I introduce the class to three very different coffees that vary by origin, process, density, moisture content and screen size variance. Then I introduce three different roasting styles and how the author of said style believes it will change the flavor of the coffee we are roasting. After the key concepts have been explained, it is time to roast. In Portland I was roasting on a 1990’s Probat L12. Honestly, I was a bit nervous, the last time I roasted on an L12 was in 2009 (not-pictured above). After just a few minutes, it was like riding a bike and all of my muscle memory came rushing back. The class and I were able to pull of three successful roasts and talk a little shop about the challenges with this machine and the machines that they roast on at their facilities.

CJ1036 – Ethiopia Shilcho Bedame Special Prep Crown Jewel roasted on a 5 kilo Probat using three different roasting techniques. The yellow curve demonstrates RoR Constant Descent, the blue curve demonstrates Elongated Maillard for Body, and the red curve demonstrates “S” Curve – Rest After First Crack.

The roasting portion was my favorite part of the class. Learning how to manipulate the roaster and see how it changes the heat transfer in the drum is powerful. Experiencing another person’s approach and having the opportunity to dialogue with others can open up a roaster to a lot more possibilities and techniques to take with them back to their shop. Because this class is on the road, not every roast will go perfectly to plan. Showcasing these obstacles gives newer roasters an idea how someone else handles a roast that has gone off track. It also brings an element of honesty to our craft, which can be overly romanticized.

After we finish roasting, it is time to cup. On the tables are the three batches we just roasted together as a class and six more batches that I had roasted previously to save time. We cup blind and reveal the coffees and the curves at the end of the class. This is followed with discussion and further analysis on how the roasts differed. We ask questions like: Do the roasting styles pair well with a particular brew method? Origin? Density? Which roast is the sweetest or the most acidic? The best part of the reveal is that the results always seem to surprise us.  

In addition to these two courses, our current Crown on the Road series includes a new course dubbed Menu Development & Inventory Management. It takes a tremendous effort to get a coffee from purchase to launch for your customers whether they are wholesale accounts, online customers, or your own retail cafes.. This course covers common purchasing pitfalls, marketing strategies, production flow, and how to schedule coffees to appear on your menu with intention. This class is an amalgamation of best practices from decades of experience working for coffee Roasting companies and will help you and your team stay one step ahead with your purchasing strategies

These three classes are being offered as a full day of courses at select cities in January and February.  You can find all the details on our blog here. The crown team will be travelling to Denver, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Austin, and New Orleans to teach these courses hosted by some of our roaster friends in each city. If you are unable to come to one of our classes, we will be at both US Coffee Champs Qualifying events in Knoxville and Austin. Come by our booth and say hello.