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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