Doris Garrido, now entering her fourth year with The Crown, comes from a class of barista hires who joined us to open our doors to the public in January of 2019, and who have each grown into new and exciting roles. A graduate of the 1951 Coffee Company’s training program, Doris also brought with her extensive experience in the wine world of Napa Valley. Since the Crown reopened after a brief closure at the beginning of the pandemic, Doris has been the defacto roasting assistant, a role which she took on in addition to myriad other responsibilities. Her time spent by the side of Q Graders and putting in reps on the roasters have given her unique perspective and experience. Doris’ position was formalized in August of 2021, and since that time her purview has grown to include regular maintenance on our roasting equipment, profile development and refinement on our Proaster sample roaster, Ikawa V3, Aillio Bullet, and Diedrich IR-5, and Loring S15 Falcon roasters. Beyond this, her substantial natural gift as a cupper and quality analyst have continued to refine and her presence at evaluation tables has been a welcome asset to coffee purchasing decisions and Crown Jewel analysis and releases. She also is half of the dynamic duo, with Director of Coffee Content Sandra Loofbourow, who run the Cafetera Intelectual podcast. With the recent launch of our Tasting Collection, a take-home selection of whole bean roasted coffee for The Crown’s customers, Doris’ work is finding a wider audience and we felt it was time for you to get to know your roaster in the form of a little question and answer session. 

Doris Garrido roasting coffee at The Crown: Royal Coffee Lab & Tasting Room

Chris Kornman: What coffee (or coffees) do you most enjoy roasting… and why? 

Doris Garrido: I do love the delicate washed Panama Gesha that behaves and responds perfectly to any gas movement, making it easy to work with. Who wouldn’t love that? But the truth is that there are some coffees that make me sweat as soon as I drop them in the roaster. It does not matter how much I know about them, I have to use all my senses to focus on the screen, the sight glass, the trier, and think as fast as I can to make decisions. I remember sweating before the color change, not knowing if I did exact gas movements or if I had lost my chance on Maillard. In the end, those coffees have taught me the most. Some naturals come to mind, and other varieties that have gone through a longer fermentation process. 

CK: Tell me a little about your learning process with those natural coffees. How has your approach changed since you started roasting? 

DG: I guess I’m still on my learning curve, and it looks more like a roller coaster! I don’t know if I’m ever going to get to know which phase I’m in! But there’s a big difference from when I first started roasting naturals and today. An important part is that I love heat, and I was all about it, but I’m learning to measure myself. I guess naturals push me to be gentle and get to understand how coffee wants to be treated. 

CK: Can you give some details about your recent experiments with airflow and charge temperature? Your work is contributing to a lesson plan for the upcoming “Unlocking Your Diedrich’s Potential” class, and even though your experiments aren’t complete I think people would like to know what you’re working on. 

DG: It took me some time to get to understand the Diedrich, but by making many mistakes I started to observe how airflow can make big changes on a roast. So, what I’m doing right now is experimenting with different batch sizes with certain charge temperatures and adding airflow in different portions on different phases of the roast in order to observe how the heat will change. The purpose is to get better control of the roast and find how air makes huge changes in the taste. As I have said before, I love heat! Charge temperatures are my most exciting trials. Adding heat to the right areas of roasting will make the bean bring you the best acidity and sugars. I want to taste the limits of the highest heat that can generate a balance between sweetness and complex acidity, so far heat is giving me great results but getting to control it is the goal. One of my experiments is to know how much heat a bean can receive to accelerate the drying phase but without flying in Maillard. I have a hypothesis that the turn-up point must be some kind of key, but it depends on the particular variables of the beans like variety, region, if it is a washed or not, density, moisture etc.  

CK: What have you learned about dark roasts in recent months?  

DG: It can look easy, but in reality, understanding how to make dark roast tasty can be challenging. I feel that the secret is in the air, literally.   

CK: What does it feel like to have whole bean customers taking home and brewing your roasts?  

DG: I know that roasting is an important part of a customer’s final cup, but everything that involves the making of the Tasting Room series makes me feel confident that the customer is getting high quality coffee. Our coffees came from the best tasting crops, have passed the traders’ table, all the Q people from Royal, analysis from green to brew and I use all the advantages that The Crown roasting lab has to show the best of the coffee. I feel that any coffee enthusiast should have the chance to brew by themselves and enjoy themselves after all this work. From my experience I love it when I visit coffee shops that are roasting our coffees and I get to taste them, that’s makes me learn more about the spectrum of flavors that coffee is capable of, and that’s how I imagine our customer thinking about our coffees. 

CK: Can you talk about the differences in the roasters you work on and your favorite parts of each?  

DG: I’m going to try to keep it simple; they’re all different and that’s why I am amazed with them. On the [Proaster] sample roaster I have developed sensory skills by catching every single chemical reaction with my nose, my eyes, my ears. It is the closest I have got to the beans.  The Bullet has many options to control your roasting. On that 1 kilo roaster I feel like a pro, with its drum speed, temp and air options. It reacts so fast to any changes that I make that it makes me feel in control all the time, or at least most of the time. The Diedrich, I love that we got a red one! Seriously, this roaster has the biggest personality of all the roasters we have at the crown. It took me a long time to understand her (I have given her a gender and personality). I have learned that it does not matter what I ask her to do, I need to ask her in her personal way, and that has been the greatest part of my learning curve. Every day is different from others but we’re getting along better after every roasting day.   The [Loring] Falcon is a beautiful machine that has great technology and makes everything look so much easier. The way coffee gets roasted from inside out makes it express the best in my opinion. I may never get to know those cast iron Probat that I have heard wonderful things about, so I’ll give my best prize to the Loring based on my short experience. I personally think that every roaster has its own personality and you have to get close to your machine, understand that each one works differently, understand where your probes are and how to translate heat in each of them, can be the same coffee but every machine can be read differently does not means that the coffee will react different means that every roaster has its owns language if I can explained this way. In the end, you just use your senses to translate from one to another.