At the end of August/beginning of September, I traveled to attend the 15th Annual Roaster’s Guild Retreat in Delavan, WI. While it was my seventh retreat, it was a special occasion, as it was also my first time being there as a Roaster’s Guild Executive Council Member. Being a RGEC member guaranteed that this would be a different experience. Essentially, it ensured that my dance card was full — all day, every day.
In addition to helping instruct classes on sample roasting, roasting concepts, and green grading, I also assisted in setting up the roasting tent, roasted coffee for the opening night of the retreat, filled in as a roasting tent monitor and all-around question-answerer, helped to set up and break down cuppings, judged this year’s Roast-master Challenge, and pretty much did anything that the SCAA staff asked of me to ensure that the event ran smoothly. I put in a lot of hours — and I had a blast.I arrived at Lakelawn on Tuesday, a couple of days before the official start of the event, to help out in the roasting tent and with anything else that needed to happen. Gas lines were hooked up and a modular ventilation system was put in place, which would accommodate all 18 roasters to be in use for the next several days. Come the next morning, there was still a lot to do. The roasters needed to be hooked up, and I had to roast samples for the competition cupping to take place the following evening. By late afternoon, the roasters were finally hooked up, and I set in to roasting coffee for the official start of the event. Afterward, I rushed to catch a bus that would take some of us to a tour of the Probat roaster manufacturing facility. Early Thursday morning, I helped instruct a class on sample roasting for some of the early-bird attendees who signed up to take courses before the retreat officially got underway.
The event kicked off with a short opening ceremony that included the introduction to the theme of this year’s Roast-master Challenge Competition: “Sweetness Is My Weakness.” The goal of this year’s competition would be to create a blend using at least three of the four coffees provided, roasting them in a way that especially focused on sweetness. The competition coffees were donated by Daterra and represented four different processing methods of a bourbon variety from Brazil: a natural process, pulped natural process, washed process, and pulped raisin process. Eighteen teams of roasters proceeded to cup the four coffees and strategize how to roast and blend them for the competition. The roasting tent was packed with teams trying to realize the potential in the coffee until late in the evening.
(To be continue. . .)