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Great Coffee in Common: Tom Young

Tom Young, Roaster at Five Senses Coffee    Who influenced you on your coffee journey?: There have been a few people who have had quite an impact on my coffee experience, however I think the person who has kind of shaped me into the person I am now is none other than Jay Holland. Jay is the Head Roaster at our WA location and I consider him as my professional (and personal) mentor. When I was working in production in WA, he was always willing to set aside the time and talk to me about coffee, answer questions I had around roasting, and basically fostered my interest levels and passion for the coffee industry in general, ultimately encouraging me to take this roasting job over in Melbourne where I currently am now. He is such an amazing guy and I feel so blessed to call him a friend and a colleague. Describe the perfect setting to enjoy a coffee: Being quite an outdoorsy person, I’ve been lucky enough to do a bit of travelling, camping and hiking, so this one is quite easy for me. My favourite ever experience of enjoying a coffee was not long ago, at the top of a mountain range in the South West of WA, drinking a freshly aeropressed brew of Ardi filter coffee and watching the sun rise into the crisp blue sky over the vast green landscape below. That, for me, is perfect. What is your favourite coffee bean?: Well, again this is quite an easy one. As most people know, Five Senses owns a coffee mill in Sumatra, Indonesia called Tiga Raja and I love everything about this coffee to bits. Just ask my work colleagues, they’ll let you know how much I love it. Now I know what some of you must be thinking, “What?! A Sumatran? No way!”. Yes way. Until you’ve tasted Tiga Raja, you might never know why I think this way, but trust me, it’ll change your life. Think intense orange chocolate, cola and brown sugar with a capsicum like sweetness and lingering aftertaste. Delicious! What has coffee taught you?: Oh wow. Where do I start! I think for me, coffee has taught me the importance of having meaningful, caring, and ethical relationships across the micro and macro areas of the industry. Understanding the processes that are involved in sourcing coffee from farmers all the way through to the drinker’s cup gives me great scope for how big the coffee industry is and how it literally fuels the lives of so many individuals. Being a roaster of coffee, my appreciation for the product has grown and given me greater drive and passion for ensuring that these relationships are well represented. I want the consumer to experience the greatest satisfaction possible when drinking their cup of coffee. At what point did you know that you were meant to roast coffee for a living?: Well, as surprising as this is for some, the only company and job I have ever worked at is Five Senses Coffee. So, I’ve been surrounded by coffee my whole working life. Starting off in production, packing coffee and dispatching, naturally I became interested in what I was sending to our customers! My older brother Sam was a roaster at the time, so I was able to feed off his knowledge and get a bit of an understanding of what’s involved in roasting. Engaging with him and the other roasters became a regular occurrence and I stared to join in their cupping sessions and spending a bit of time watching over their shoulder as they worked. When the opportunity came up to move to Melbourne and become the new roaster at our Victorian location, I jumped at it. Being a roaster fits in with my areas of interest and it has been an amazing journey so far, one that I am excited about for the future. Plus, I get to drink amazing coffee everyday, what more could you ask for? What would you like to see happen in the coffee industry over the next ten years?: I'd like to start seeing sustainability in coffee production become the norm. If companies from the get-go ensure sustainable practices are adopted, then I think it will go a long way in ensuring the longevity of not only the coffee industry, but the earth itself. One thing in particular that I'd like to see is the use of 100% biodegradable bags for packed coffee. I think this is definitely not far away from happening and I think customers will jump at the opportunity to use these bags instead of the ones which unfortunately are going straight to landfill. Excited for what's to come! When you’re getting to know a new coffee, how do you decide to roast it? Do you have a default roast profile?: One of the first things we do when a new coffee is about to arrive is research and find out all of the information “pre-roast” that is available to us. Info such as region, MASL, initial cupping results and scores, taste expectations etc. Then what we will do is once it has arrived on site, we will take a moisture density reading and a screen size reading and then see if that data is similar to any of our current coffees, in order to have some idea of what profile we are going to run on the first test roast. Usually if the coffee is coming from the same region as one of our current coffees, they tend to be very similar in regards to how it is going to roast. Once we’ve roasted a test roast, it is simply a matter of fine-tuning temps, times, development etc to the desired outcome we want out of that coffee. What are some of the trends you have observed in coffee roasting over the years?: Well, since only being a roaster for just over a year, I haven’t really been able to see any dramatic trends happen, however one thing during my time at Five Senses that I have observed is the multitude of cafes that start off out-sourcing their coffee, before quickly developing an interest in how their coffee is roasted, ultimately resulting in them buying a roaster and roasting their own coffee in-house! I think over the years, people have become to realise the “science-y” side of roasting and how even small changes in air-temp, environment, burner percentage and such can make a dramatic difference as to how the coffee is going to taste. This greater appreciation for what we do as roasters and the intricacies involved with our job has become such a vital part in how we communicate with the rest of the industry, which is really satisfying to see and I am excited for how this is going to develop in the years to come. Thanks Tom!! 

Great Coffee in Common: Tom Young

Tom Young, Roaster at Five Senses Coffee    Who influenced you on your coffee journey?: There have been a few people who have had quite an impact on my coffee experience, however I think the person who has kind of shaped me into the person I am now is none...

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, Singapore National Brewers Cup Sensory Judge 2017
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