Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rowster Roasting Class Pushes the Envelope

Blitzkrieg Roasting Class - Rowster Coffee, Grand Rapids, MI
May 23, 2011
This was my first trip to the famed Rowster Coffee and it was a treat! First of all, kudos to Kurt Stauffer for offering such a class. He's truly democratic in his willingness to help anyone from anywhere get better at the craft of roasting. Along with it, he instilled in each of the 5 participants (including me) the amount of dedication it takes to roast and roast well in a retail setting. He also convinced us of his passion for roasting each coffee to it's optimum level. The small size of the class enabled each of us to explore our own roasting issues -- I was able to go heavy on questions related to roasting decaffeinated coffee and samples. Kurt has swung back and forth on the "must be light roasted" to "could be dark roasted" pendulum. A phrase I learned in the class: "the paradoxes of coffee."

Kurt's staff, Stephen Curtis and Andy, were great. The Lever espresso machine pulled some wonderful shots and was impressive to see. So was the level of cleanliness Kurt keeps around his literally "middle of the shop" roaster. All eyes at the bar can see everything.

The class:
  • Started with a review of what is roasting.
  • A market segmentation of roaster "classes" (as a marketer, I found this quite interesting)
  • Chemical processes of roasting
  • Tour of the roaster (machine) anatomy
  • Looked at and discussed roast profiles
  • Teamed up in pairs and each got to roast a 14 lb. batch of Monserrat (Colombia) Cup of Excellence. Obviously, this was the best part!
I now understand why Rowster's tagline is "New American Coffee". With unique and high-level classes like this out there, a new age of coffee in American is dawning. Keep it going, Kurt!

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