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