Here is an intellectual exercise that can improve your home coffee roasting skills. Work out what it would take for you to sell your coffee commercially. If you are like me, you know that your home roast is better than what you can buy in your local market. What do you need to do to sell it?
After a particularly frustrating day at work I figured I’d chuck it all and just sell beans. I know, pie in the sky, tilting at windmills kind of thinking, but it did give me a project to play with for a bit. I went through the marketing 4Ps to figure out what steps I needed to take. Price, Promotion, and Place can be skipped for this discussion, but when I seriously looked at ‘Product’ I saw weaknesses in my roasting that I needed to correct if I want to create pro-quality beans.
I grew up ‘dog bowl roasting’. I enjoyed the method, but it was a chore. It took forever, it was boring, and it produced low volume. My attitude of roasting became just get ‘er done. I roasted by ‘feel’ and gradually became less and less precise in my roasting. I upgraded to a BBQ drum roaster in an attempt to improve quality and increase volume. However, my attitude never changed from my dog days.
If I truly want to roast good coffee, I need to convert much of the art of the roast into a repeatable science. I increased my roast volume not to improve quality but to reduce the ‘chore’ of roasting. I was roasting 2-3 pounds in a single roast. The actual roast was good, but we only go through about a pound a week. And I wasn’t actively working to improve the processes.
- Reduce batch size –> fresher beans and more frequent roasting to improve technique.
- Improve bean cooling technique
- Improve roasting hardware
- Improve palette
- Figure out how roasting profiles improve bean flavor