We got to attend the Roasters Guild Retreat 2013 in Roanoke, West Virginia a couple of weeks ago. It started out with a very exciting 9 hour road trip, with many stops for food and stretch breaks. We stayed at the Stonewall Resort, surrounded by lakes and mountains, it was quite peaceful.nature

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There were a few familiar faces from Barista Camp, and a lot of new ones. We were all on separate teams, and each had a “punny” team name related to any roasting terms. i.e. “Drop it like its hot”

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Our classes started on Friday, with round table discussions about micro lot farming, and whether this was an actual benefit to farmers or not. This was a really great talk led by Kim Elena Ionescu with Counter Culture Coffee. The next lecture was all about the science of coffee and its development in the roasting process. This was led by SCAA Coffee Science Manager Emma Bladyka, and she definitely knew what she was talking about. We discussed the break down of sugars in coffee as it roasts, and what gives it the nutty, chocolaty, or acidic taste.

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It wasn’t all lecture in West Virginia though. We had a very useful defect cupping class, where we actually cupped coffees with common coffee taints. From moldy bags, ferment, “rio” or dirty tasting, to unripe coffee beans. This wasn’t the most pleasant coffee cupping experience, but at least we got to spit it out. Then there was a roasting competition, where once roasted, you got to make your own brew blend. We had 4 origins of coffee (Ethiopia, Guatemala, Mexico, and Indonesia), which were all roasted with your assigned team. Then we picked which roasts we liked the best, and tested out different ratios of coffees to create different flavor profiles in our brews.

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After a long hard day of competitive roasting and tasting some not so good coffee defects, there was a sunset boat cruise around the lake with some new friends. There may have also been a moon bounce party later…….never too old to moon bounce.

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We had a really good time at the retreat, and hopefully we will be able to make the next one in 2014!

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Last Sunday, May 12th, was our first official Second Sunday. We were fully expecting it to down pour and get rained out, but it ended up being a really nice day. We were set up on the corner of Fulton and King with a few cafe tables serving up coffee.

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We had a lot of people come by who had never heard of us and were interested in learning about the local roasting. But we also had a bunch of great friends who came by to support the Good Coffee Company, we really loved getting to see all of you!

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It was so hot, and it’s only get hotter, so we plan to have a lot more cold brew coffee for the summer days. We are also planning on having some chocolate covered espresso beans, and some desserts that will incorporate some of our brewed coffee.

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Thank you again to everyone who came out to see us last Sunday, we are looking forward to June’s Second Sunday!

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This past week Balzac Brothers hosted the Rainforest Alliance Cupping Competition. Usually this is held in New York, but this year, we offered to host it here in Charleston! To get ready, we had our lab CQI certified. This involved getting bright halogen lights to hang over standing cupping tables, along with a few other tweaks around the lab.

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Over two days, we had 12 friends in the coffee business come to town, and they judged 80 different Rainforest Alliance Certified Coffees. Each anonymous coffee had a flight for testing, they were each graded, and then discussed by all the cuppers. Two of our own, Gloria Long and Ray Keane, got to cup for the event along with the others.

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In between cuppings, we had apples and saltines to cleanse the palates, and some bagels to keep from getting the coffee shakes. This is vital, after long days of drinking coffee, everyone gets a little caffeine crazy.

 

The first night everyone was in town, we took a bus out to Shem Creek, and went on a boat cruise around the harbor. We had a beautiful happy hour at sunset with oysters. It was a little chilly, but there was a full moon, 27 blankets, drinks (not involving coffee), and great company that made the night perfect!

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It was a really busy week, but it was a great one. We were so excited that Balzac Brothers could invite RFA to come here to put this cupping on. We hope we will get to do it again!

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The Crew (from top left): Ray Keane, Tim Fallar, Alan Nietlisbach, Robert Stephen, James Jenkins, Maya Albanese, Marty Curtis, Linda Smithers, Joel Shuler, Dennis Jackson, Lowell Grosse, Adam Jures , McKayla Watkins, Ricky Keane, John, Duda Anderson, Gary Hull, Gloria Long, Samantha Keane, Molly McKinney