When and how did your Roasting journey start?
It grew out of the necessity and sustainability for the café, and there was an opportunity to learn and grow inward/in-house. I wanted to know even more in-dept. about coffee, even more than my role as a barista. One natural question I had for myself all the time was, “How does a roaster influence the coffee and customer’s experience?”.
As a roaster now, I get to define the flavour and story of the coffee, it gives me greater influence and impact in every batch of roast that will affect the overall customer’s experience.
How will your roasting experience now add benefits to you make a cup of coffee if you hop behind a coffee bar?
Technically it helps me understand how different elements affect the taste of the coffee. How there are limitation that a barista will face which can be due to the Roast Profile, the Quality of Green, us not picking up the ‘Quakers’, and before that, I was just frustrated and questioned my own coffee knowledge and experience when I can’t perfecting calibrate the coffee.
How does a good grade/quality green affect the final cup? Can people expect good coffee using lower grade coffee?
Coffee quality is a roaster’s starting point. As a roaster I ask myself how I can take this coffee one step farther, how I can highlight the producers and barista too.
What do you look out for when you’re creating a blend? Balance is a very common word heard, but what is your view as a balance cup?
“Balance” to me is general market acceptance; not too boring or adventurous, a comfortable cup for everyone. Balance of Flavor, good body, good acidity. sweetness and consistency.
As a blend, it has to “Balance” the expectation of specialty familiar customer and also not specialty coffee drinker.
What will be your steps in helping a café create a Custom House Blend?
I’ll definitely be looking at who their customer-base is, who is drinking it, speak to them, get to understand what they like.
You will ask me: “Why not jump straight into a Cupping Session? Why choose such an inefficient way? Cos some of my client don’t even know what they are looking for?"
My answer, we want their customer’s opinion.
Getting cheap and cost effective coffee isn’t my goal but they are ways around it. My priority is to get a coffee the client can be proud of, and yet introduce a new dimension of coffee to them.
My approach is creating a blend from the End-User point-of-view.
What do you want to see happen in the coffee industry in the next 5 years?
More collaboration, create a more open-minded community, sharing information and coffee. Commune over coffee and talk about it, and I’ve seen that happen towards the end of last year.
Recently we collaborated with Homeground Roaster, and I was asked for the first time by them, “Hey, have you ever roasted coffee with another roaster from another company?”, and that spirit of Collaboration/Community is what I truly loved.
I want to see more people connect with the Barista, Roasters, Home Brewers.
When we closed Tiny last year, we lost not only a shop space but a community. Coffee to me is a medium that connects and create a community of people & conversation.
Is roasting the end goal for a Barista? Is it a nature progression? What is your advice?
Do what you like, do what you are good at. There are many baristas that knows how to roast and can roast really well too. But everyone has a part to play in this industry.
I love the technical side of roasting, I love the reach and influence I have as a roaster. Roasting is a lonely and repetitive job, but I love it!
But if you love to connect with people and make coffee, continue to be a barista, be honest with yourself. Don’t force yourself into a role, because the interest will naturally come. Expose yourself to roasting and do it for awhile, and then ask yourself if you love it.