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11 Crazy Coffee Drinks You Won’t Find on a Starbucks Menu

I don’t know about you but sometimes I feel myself getting into a coffee rut. I mean, you can only order so many half-caff, low-fat, no whipped cream macchiatos before you start to feel like you are…

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The art of roasting…

The art of roasting…

Mastering Roasting Concepts With Joe Marrocco

Mastering Roasting Concepts With Joe Marrocco by Michael

There are few jobs in the coffee industry as romantic or mysterious as roaster. Traditionally, the tradecraft of the making-coffee-darker arts has been a closely guarded secret, passed on from roaster to roaster in old fashioned apprenticeships. Other than a couple of good books, there’s not many resources available to aspiring novice roasters. Joe Marrocco is helping to change that. The longtime Cafe Imports educator recently moved on to work with Mill City Roasters, but the year-long video project Roasting Concepts is now free to view on YouTube. We caught up with “Roaster Joe” over email in the midst of his busy travel schedule to learn the thought behind the project, and how young roasters can develop their skills. 

Over the last seven months Cafe Imports have been releasing a series of videos called “Roasting Concepts.” What inspired the project?

This is a project that I worked on with Cafe Imports over several years. I know that the videos seem very simple and short, but they took a long time to conceptualize, carve out time for and put together. The idea was born out of teaching people roasting at the Cafe Imports headquarters in Minneapolis.

I would spend essentially four to five days between prep and execution teaching 8-12 people how to roast in a two-day class. My desire was that I wanted to teach as many people as I possibly could, and get the information to them in a way that was effective, easily digested, meaningful, and low cost to them. This would require something more than asking 12 people at a time to come and visit us. I simply didn’t have the time to invest in spending four to five days away from my desk on a regular basis as well. I mean, my main job there was sales.
So, I decided it would be best to spend time with people in their own homes, offices, wherever, and through the magic of technology. I then began to develop the curriculum that would achieve all of those goals, and lean on Andy Reiland, the director of marketing at Cafe Imports, to add the visual aids to pull everything together. That alone was an incredible process of collaboration.

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In the beginning…

In the beginning…

From Seed to Cup: How Do Producers Grow Coffee?

An espresso: 20–30 ml of delicious coffee. It takes just minutes to drink it. But it takes years to produce it. From carefully selecting and planting the coffee tree through to harvesting, processing, and drying the beans, a producer’s work never stops.

But how do producers decide which coffee to grow? How do they harvest it? What’s involved in processing and drying?

You may also like Coffee Varieties Debunked: Why Not All Geshas Taste The Same

Coffee seedlings in the nursery at Fazenda Bella Epoca in Brazil. Credit: Ana Valencia

Choosing The Right Coffee To Grow

There’s more than one type of coffee. Some varieties produce high-quality beans but are susceptible to disease. Others are hardier. Some yield more coffee than others, some are sweeter, and some suit certain types of soil.

So, how does a producer choose which coffee they grow?

ICFC Panama biologist and coffee value chain analyst Valentina Pedrotti says it varies from country to country. The climate and local culture often decide a producer’s choice. Many simply grow what is common in that area or what has always been farmed on that land.

But the soil, altitude, humidity, and other climatic features have an impact on the flavor of the final coffee, so it’s important to choose wisely. Other considerations include the cost and expected market value of the beans, and if diseases and pests are an issue,.

In some countries, there are national coffee associations, such as The Colombian Coffee Growers’ Federation (Federación Nacional de Cafetaleros, FNC) in Colombia or Anacafé in Guatemala. Farmers may choose to grow a coffee variety recommended by these associations. The FNC, for example, invests in researching and developing disease-resistant varieties such as Colombia and Castillo.

And availability is a constant limitation. Take F1 hybrids, such as Starmaya. It’s high-quality, high-yield, and highly resistant to disease – the ideal coffee plant, in other words. Yet it’s a new variety and only a handful of producers currently have access to it.

With all these things to consider, it can be hard to choose the best variety. Arturo Aguirre of the award-winning Finca El Injerto in Guatemala says that it’s important producers understand their land. “You have to know where your farm is really well.” The location and soil are deciding factors on whether certain varieties will thrive.

Aguirre also says you should keep in mind that it takes around three years to know whether or not a new variety will thrive on your farm. After all, that’s how long it takes for a tree to mature.

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