Roasting Philosophy – Mine

2010 February 16
by Joe Johnston
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My roasting philosophy is relatively simple. I respect the great difficulty and amount of labor that goes into the growing of great coffee. I come from a farming family and understand that it is a rather neglected part of the industrialized world. Hence, I will only buy top quality green coffee and pay a fair price to the farmer. The green coffee will be judged on its own merits with story stripped away.

I consider roasting both an art and a science. I believe that a roastmaster has the freedom to roast to his own taste using any coffee. Clearly there are roasting defects, such as baking, stalling, tipping, etc. which are never to be a part of a great coffee, but degree of roast and profiles are in the hands of the roastmaster. I look for balance, complexity and being true to type. Furthermore, I do not feel constrained by convention or trends. I am fine with darker roasts and lighter roasts, all dependent upon the coffee, its use, and my thoughts at the time.

Ultimately, I will roast to my palate alone. This is not, at its core, a commercial project. If people like my taste in coffee (and I hope they will), great! If they prefer something else, equally great! I do not claim to have the best palate or coffee: it is subjective, but I will do my very best.

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2 Responses
  1. February 17, 2010

    Hey mate,

    Again, sweet post. I live in Canberra, Aus – the capital yes, but also a relatively small town with a young coffee culture, and having lived for some time in Melbourne, it’s fascinating to see the difference between coffee companies in the two places. I think the defining difference (and this may well apply to other types of business, not just coffee) is the clarity and cohesiveness of the ethos and philosophy of the Canberra coffee places is often (but certainly not always) disappointing in comparison to their Melbourne based equivalents.

    Not only am I referring to roasting philosophy, but also espresso prep and coffee retail philosophy. I think you make a great point in your observations about the different styles of philosophy in your other post, which is that companies who focus on price as the key motivator of their customers need to be clear and dedicated to that pursuit, just as the companies focused on quality need to be focused on quality. Too often I see places seemingly confused about which motivating factor they have chosen to define their philosophy, and I think as a result they offer a diluted service and product.

    Cheers

    Nic W

    • February 17, 2010

      Thanks for the update from your side of the globe. I do see three basic foundations for the philosophies: “compete on price”, “listen to the market: consumer driven”, “quality first, lead the market: educate the customer”. You can literally taste the result of each premise in the cup. This is true of virtually all food products, beverages, and created objects, in general.

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