Yes, crazy as it sounds, coffee roasters have a Guild, a collection of nerdy individuals who obsess over turning green "beans" brown, and everything that happens during the chemical reaction we call coffee roasting.
While we have been members of this quirky assemblage, this week is the first time Jacoby and I will be attending the Roasters Guild's Annual Retreat up in Wisconsin. And we are like two little 5 year olds who can't wait to go to their first day of Kindergarten.
At this point you may be wondering, what might actually happen at such an event? Well I am here to tell you! Beginning Thursday we will spend three days at a resort full of 300+ people who roast coffee for a living. Some might call it a roasters paradise.
We will take classes that will count towards a certification we can achieve in our industry. Some of the classes we will take include such fascinating things as "Roasting Profile Practices," "Sample Roasting," "Brewing & Extraction Principles" and "Green Coffee Buying Strategies." But that is not all! We will also attend lectures like "The Flavor Impact of Maillard Browning," and sit in on a round table discussion on topics ranging from "New Scientific Findings from World Coffee Research" or "Women, Coffee & Closing the Gender Gap."
But best of all, we will each be placed on teams that will compete against each other in the "Sweetness is my Weakness" Roasters Challenge!
Yes, coffee roasters have competitions, and this is one of the best. Each of our teams is made up of 12 roasting professionals from all over the country. We will all be given a Brazilian coffee that has been processed four different ways (washed, dried on the tree, natural and pulp natural) that we must then take, roast and create a blend using at least three of the coffees. The aim of the blend is to promote the most sweetness possible, and the team that has the highest sweetness score when the coffees assessed will be crowned the winner.
We will spend much of our days huddled in a large tent with 16 very hot coffee roasters firing away, honing our roasts of each bean and then cupping the results and blending to create our masterpiece. Along the way our teams will compete in an obstacle course and have some fun with Karaoke and around a bonfire. There's even a 5k race.
But I think the best thing about all of it will be that we get to enjoy three days with our peers talking about all the mundane coffee roasting stuff we spend a lot of our time trying to figure out. (You have no idea the conversations I have drug my wife into!)
On the other side of all of this is, I believe, a greater understanding of how we can improve what we do and produce even better tasting coffees for you in the days to come. So, keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram accounts this week. We'll try to do a good job of keeping the posts up to date so you get a rare glimpse into the world of coffee roasters.