Home > Uncategorized > Come on baby light my fire

Come on baby light my fire

February 11, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

A long overdue update …

Well yes we are finally underway with our roasting programme. Rewind. Last September  and almost by chance (I brought forward my trip)  I was in London. I’d heard of a roasting school there and I figured it would be prudent to have some professional instruction. After all, you wouldn’t get in a helicopter with me, would you?

I’d come to hear of Mercanta and their London School Of Coffee so I promptly signed myself up for both the roasting class and cupping class, an excellent idea since both classes were complementary. Over the next two days my eyes were ‘opened’ and I deepened my understanding of how science and art blended into one when it came to coffee roasting.

Master Roaster Morten Munchow took us through many boring but necessary technical lectures, followed by hands-on roasting and finished off by cupping and reviewing our efforts. I must take my hat off to Morten for being understanding and patient while I came to grips and got comfortable with the process of roasting. Surprisingly, on my last batch roast of the day, he took me through the final last few seconds of roasting and in those few seconds everything came together and I grasped the importance of trusting your eyesight and senses to bring that final finish to a roast. It’s one thing to understand the roasting science of gas burner control vs. airflow, and another to actually develop the muscle memory of the roasting process.

We cupped all our roasts later and found out what went wrong, what wasn’t important and what was…

Day two…

Lucky that I didn’t eat any onions for breakfast, or else I would have ruined my tastebuds for the rest of the day. That was a good thing because today I gained a deep seated understanding of essential cupping protocols (basically, keep it organised, predictable and repeatable!) and how cupping is an essential tool to improve ones roasting techniques.

Blind cupping – learning how to trust your nose and first instincts

Re-igniting our senses by referencing actual flavours: lemons, oranges, grapefruit, limes, apples, grapes, sugar, honey,  potato juice, tomatoes, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom…just to name a few

Boring but neccessary- understanding coffees from different origins, how the brain experiences flavours and smells…

We even tasted 5 cups of ‘wild’ and defect dense Ethiopian Djimmah grade 5. Amazingly, each of the 5 cups tasted completely different. Peanuts for monkeys as the saying goes…

Many thanks to to the passion of Stephen Hurst for dragging me all the way there, and to Grant for the short but very insightful conversation on the growing direction of single estate coffees and the beauty of just simply brewed good coffee. To Morten for being there to actually show us how to do it (so much about roasting cannot be written in words). For John Thompson for bringing us though the entire cupping process and for tasting the wonderful range of coffees that were on hand that Mercanta supplied…and to Gayle for making sure I found my way…

To think this was only the very beginning…

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