Donnerstag, 16. Februar 2012

Roastery: Grand Opening

Hi everybody, I don't know wether somebody still reads this, but if you do, consider yourself invited to the grand opening of our roastery this saturday:

Unbelievable. We did it.

Samstag, 12. November 2011

Enjoying the fruits ...

This is a first for me: enjoying the fruits of my very own labour as a professional coffee roaster. A bit long in the making, but finally there:

Sure, that Kenyan I'm sipping right now. What else!

Want some? Only within our advent calendar, for now. Watch our Blog (there might be a post about my roasting experiences or so in the next few days, plus Jessica writes about designing the calendar) and subscribe to our newsletter to be notified for updates.,

Sorry for the commercial break, back to normal mode now. I'm just being a little proud here!

Mittwoch, 12. Oktober 2011

Roaster for

So, the news has bean out for a while now: I'll be the roaster for (I refrain from calling myself roast master at this time; this ought to be a title that is given to me one day from persons more knowledgable than I!), the newish Coffee startup I've worked on and off with over the past few years. We're currently in the middle of planning the roastery and getting all the necesserry permits (I did know living in Germany means we have to deal with our beaurocracy, but really I'd never have expected this to take such a big slice of my lifetime!), which means there's not much energy left to do much of anything at the moment (plus the fact that a seemingly simple window-and-door-replacement is taking ten times longer than anticipated (plus a kitchen renovation!)). So, exciting news for me at least, and I'll soon be roasting the first few batches for my new, well, employer! Though not in our own roastery yet, see above.

Freitag, 16. September 2011

Sneak peak!

This (sorry, german only) is a sneak peak into my future profession. Expect details tomorroy. Stay tuned!

Dienstag, 16. August 2011


This was a long time in the making, and it's becoming more real every day now and I really positively absolutly cannot hold this back any longer: I'm going to be a professional coffee roaster, or 'Head Roaster' in the very near future.

There, it's out of the box - I've annoyed only my friends with this long enough now, time to annoy the readers (are there?) of this blog as well! I really am so happy about it that I just can't find the proper words to describe it.

It's fulfilling a dream I've had ever since I seriously got into coffee, which must have been around 2004-something.

So what does this mean to me?

Firstly, I'll do professionally what I do in private anyway - roast coffee, cup, enjoy, brew. Well, and then selling it as well, that'd be new! It's just not the 200g-batch roaster anymore, but likely a 12Kg batch roaster. There'll be loads of learning for sure roasting 12Kg batches, just as there was with the last few hundred roasts of 200g batches. In the end, I want to produce (And consume! And sell!) really good coffee, and being able to do this in a commercial scale in a microroastery is really exciting! Though I fear that screwing up a 12Kg roast will be much more costly and more people will be mad at me than screwing up a 200g roast, where it's just me and my SO ;)

Secondly, I am not so sure wether I can split my personality between coffee-blogging-and-forum-posting-me and coffee-blogging-and-forum-posting-commercial-roaster-me - I just don't see there being much of a difference. I still like to promote manual brewing, good coffee and everything that belongs to it. We'll see how that works out, so for now just keep in mind that I'm also going to sell you coffee if you don't look too carefully. If it gets too annoying, feel free to slap me for it!

I'll talk about the details of how, when, what, where and why in future posts on here, on TMC or the german Kaffee-netz. If you follow my twitter stream, you might already have an idea about the direction this all takes. For the moment, we struggle with the german beaurocracy and would have been up and running already if I hadn't been so naive as to believe we'd pull this without month-long formal propositions to the city administration and stuff like that.

Early september, we'll hopefully receive a pre-decree telling us either to go away (nay!) or to proceed with the real request (yay!) for the permit to open a roastery at that specific place. And this already is the simplified variant of requesting such things, the 80's must have been horrible for opening a coffee roastery!

So, all in all not such a big difference to what I do anyway, except the formal stuff (city administration) and having a much bigger lab than just the kitchen to play with.

Now that will be an interesting ride!

Very excited to work with a few new and old friends together on all this!

Mittwoch, 9. März 2011

The Quest M3

This is a repost of my description of the Quest M3 on

I've had it a little over three months now and have done somewhere inbetween 75 to 150 roasts with it (I didn't log every roast in the beginning), so I feel quite confident handling it right now. First some pics:

The Quest M3

As you might have guessed if you saw previous pictures from me, it was not me who took them, but a good friend who's having as much fun taking pictures as I have roasting with the Quest. It's a nifty little machine, consists mainly of stainless steel and weighs about 12kg. It is rated with 1050W at 220V, and with our ~230V in the house it will happily draw 1200W if I'm not cautious with the knob. Specs also say it can handle 100g-300g loads of coffee, I've only tried 150g-250g for the moment and have been very successful with it. The controls are slightly steampunky:

Quest's controls

From top left to bottom right: Amperemeter, main switch (which happens to be a 45-minute kitchen clock), regulator for the power to the heating elements, regulator for the fan.

Be careful!

To make it crystal clear: this roaster has no safety device built in whatsoever besides the main switch, which can be set to 45 minutes max, and a circuit breaker. If you manually prolong the timer (by e.g. giving it another 45 minutes shortly before it runs out), you can easily set your house on fire or something like that. A thing to keep in mind while operating this^Wany roaster.

Even with a 250g load, my Quest seldomly needs more power than 1000W (which would be around the 4.33A mark on the meter). Throughout a 200g roast, the power it draws for me is around the 750-800W mark, so imagine what would happen if you give it the full 1200W and go away during the roast! Remember, no safety device?

The threads on home-barista were a tremendious help for me in quickly learning how to operate this roaster. I've had my share of undrinkable batches, but all in all I threw away less than 2 KG.

Here's a picture mid-roast (near the end):

Nearing the end of the roast

And dumping the beans:

Dumping the beans

The result:

tasty beans

And the Quest's ingenious effortless cooling mechanism, which gets the temperature of the beans down to room-temperature within three minutes with 250g batches, even if they were into 2nd crack:

Quest cooling

Does this read like an advertisement this far? Sorry, I just like my Quest! Might also have to do with myself having to justify the amount of cash sent over to Taiwan for it. But there are some downsides as well.


You need to clean it. This is how the space around the drum looks like after four roasts with less chaffy beans:

Clean that stuff!

Guess how the burned chaff smells? I once forgot my allen key somewhere (all user-servicable parts are allen screws, and the Quest came delivered with a matching allen key for them) and did 15 roasts without cleaning this space. I'm quite happy that it didn't suddenly explode besides me! Surprised

Cleaning 2:

Gunked up fan

This was how the Quests exhaust looked after my first three months of using it. Maybe I should have cleaned this part earlier! To get to the exhaust, you need a slightly smaller allen key which didn't came with the Quest, so I suspect this is the not-user-serviceable area. You need to clean it every ~100 roasts, anyway, or it will gunk up.

Okay okay, this is probably not a downside at all - I guess you have to do regular maintenance on every other roaster too. I just didn't realize how much gunk would build up everywhere until I opened the case! With my stove-top roaster, the gunk would simply fly around the kitchen, ready for the vacuum cleaner to fetch.

Now for the worst part.


If you're an electrician, you probably do not want to see this. I am not, so I don't really know, but it looks quite ... not so CE-worthy to me:

internal Quest wiring frightens me

The round plates are the backsides of the two knobs.

the motor

Though unisolated, the electricts are quite immovable within the case plus it's earthed, so I don't fear immediate death. I'm just quite happy that I didn't know this before the purchase, as it might have put me off! Comments from electronics-savy people would be very much appreciated here.

The Good

Enough of the bad and back to the good:

This is a Rwandan bean (don't know the specifics, but asides from the occasional potatoy-bag it's very smooth and tasty), roasted just until the end of 1st crack:

Rwandan roast

Thanks to the thermocouples supplied by the Quests' manufacturer and a not-so-cheapish datalogger and the Artisan project, I can record the profiles:

datalogging with Artisan

The upper red line is the temperature measured between the outer casing and the drum, so it should approximate the amount of energy being applied from the heating elements. Minus the airflow - it would be really helpful to automate logging of changes to the airflow and heating power, as airflow changes have a direct impact on the measured temperature outside the drum. The blue line is the temperature of the bean mass probe, first crack happened during the yellow marked area. I haven't tasted this specific roast before, but I know that the bean tastes very good.

We also did a little animation, taking a photo through the sightglass ca. every 30 seconds. Watch the slideshow in full-hd here - It's an OGG Theora video, so it should theoretically work with Firefox and Chrome, but probably not in Safari and IE.

The tryer

Oh and have you noticed the tryer? It's so cute! Depending on the bean size, it catches 3-7 beans when you pull it out. I'll probably make a new handle for it, as it's a little thick and brings the fingers dangerously close the very hot exhaust in front of the front plate!

The cute tryer

Oh and did I mention the best thing of all? Even though it's batch capacity is somewhere around 200-250g for me, you can roast back-to-back. My longest roast session was 10 roasts in a row, took me a little over two and a half hours and left me quite caffeinated/hyperventilating, as I do not have such a nice exhaust hood as Bruce has. Roasting indoors is fun, but with only the windows open it gets cold and smokey after 2-3 roasts.

Samstag, 4. Juli 2009

What a year.

So far, this year has proven incredibly exciting and challenging. And different. You didn't hear from me due several reasons - I like to say the most important are my current workload of two jobs plus a little freelancing plus studying and living in the new house with this incredibly big garden that needs so much attention. But that's only part of the truth.

When my workload started to rise late last year, I realized that in order to pursue my coffee related activities, I'd need way more money than I'd possibly possess before I receive my diploma and way more time than I'd possibly have spare before I receive my diploma. So I began to pull my head out of coffee-related activities, especially the ones my conscience reminded me that what I wanted was quality and education, not smiling faces and oh-ahs for a little latte-art with a rubb(er)ish coffee base. With that pull-out, the constant challenge of my own tastes diminished a little, and the perception of what I consumed slowly faded.

I stopped participating in coffee forums, stopped blogging about it, and after a very teaching experience at the last cuptasting competition in February I even stopped worrying about competitions in general (I do worry about the state of specialty coffee in germany, but that's a whole different story. The very ambitiuos and knowledgeable three guys over at Radical Coffee are trying hard to change that though and I sincerly hope they succeed with their approach and get the response that they deserve in the professional barista and coffee scene).

It took all but a single cup of brewed coffee to change that for a moment. Here I am, browsing coffee blogs again when I actually should get some work done, catching up on what I missed the past half-year or so, enjoying every single sip of that cup like I haven't done in quite some time (it's a Nicaraguan, Limoncillio from by the way) and realize that I still have it in me. The passion is still there, and so are my plans for the future. When time and money permit, I'll be back. In the meantime, I'll be a systems administrator and programmer and student and drink the occasional exceptional cup of coffee. Perhaps I might even get to fix my espresso machine though that's unlikely for the near future.

That's all for today. And might be so for the next few months or even a year or two on this blog. But watch this space. Apologies for all that expected me at different venues the last year or just didn't hear a word from me.

Sonntag, 19. April 2009

Gwilym Davies of UK and Colin Harmon of Ireland in the WBC '09 finals

This is giving me goosebumps, seriously. Sorry for being silent so long, new home, more study and less coffee are the causes - that will go on for quite a while, too. But seeing both Gwylim and Colin (also both members of TMC) in the finales in Atlanta makes me go all crazy and reenergizes the littel coffee freak in me. Congratulations!

Sonntag, 11. Januar 2009

Godshot in Berlin

Besides the Bonanza Coffee Heroes, Berlin now has a new coffee experience: Godshot - The Future Urban Coffee Klub. I haven't paid them a visit yet (Berlin is just too far away for me at the moment, more mentally so than physically), but judging from what I've read and seen both on their Blog and on Kaffee-Netz, they have a very ambitous project and tick all the right boxes for me:

The one thing that does not work for me is the logo, but I don't have to taste it so it should be ok. Hopefully I'll be visiting them both sometime this year, and I also hope they'll keep it up! It's a real relief to slowly see germany getting some high-profile coffee bars. Raise the bar for the rest of them, I'm all for it!

Mittwoch, 7. Januar 2009

Cupping coffee

I love cupping coffee. I love the in-your-face tastes and aromas that this method of drinking (or analyzing) coffee gives you, the overwhelming sensations you get when slurping, and if you forget to spit, the overcaffeinated funkyness afterwards. The totally obvious difference from coffee to coffee or roast to roast, as well as the very subtle similarities. The pure pleasure every sip gives you. Yet at the same time, I have major difficulties in describing what I taste, what I smell and what I see. I find it very hard to exactly point out what is it I taste in a specific coffee, and how it develops during cooling. As a bonus, I still (after all the years) haven't really grasped what the term 'chocolate' means in a coffee. There are so many different tastes in chocolate that I find it hard to say 'this espresso was especially chocolaty'. It's more than possible that I just don't get it, but it can't be that important as my palate seems to be working well enough - in last years cuptasting I had 6 out of the 8 triples right. Not too bad considering the cup tasting competition was the only 'real' cupping I've had during that year! Let's see what this year brings for me. Especially with my shiney new totally awesome cupping spoon ...

For more information on how to cup and evaluate, read Hasbean Steve's article and/or Marc Prince's introduction to cupping. Also, Wolfredo has an excellent series of german articles about cupping, so if you speak german and interested in this they're a must read ("Cupping Grundlagen" and "Kaffee verkosten, Schritte und Termini").

The only thing that can teach me describe coffee better is, I believe (and you guessed), more cupping. So a few days before christmas, I roasted three batches of IACs Yirgacheffe with slightly different profiles to different roast degrees - just before second crack, to start of second crack and a few seconds before rolling second. It was the first time I actually made three roasts in a row with an eye on keeping them as similar as possible, to just different roast degrees. Turned out not as complicated as imagined - Using a good scale, a (hopefully quit exact) thermocouple and nearly-full gas cartidges, it worked quite well. The whole flat smelled funny for a few hours, though, as my batches are 450g and each produces a lot of smoke. A real roaster would make this so much easier (at least I hope) and reproducable ...

So, here are my totally unscientific tasting notes (I tried using the Cupping Database from greenbean, but I as of yet fail miserably in quantifying my notes so I just kept writing)! The three batches are labelled #1 (before second crack), #2 (beginning of second) and #3 (before rolling second). I had two cuppings - the first only about 5 hours after roasting, the second two days after roasting. I think I'll never cup so early after roast again, as it was really, really misleading - after the first I had #1 written of as a misroast, but it developed really well afterwards.

First Cupping:

Cupping three Yirgacheffes

Second cupping:

And at day 10 after roast, #3 turned out to be a really tasty espresso. Very lovely, very berry, very satisying. I was quite sad after all the coffee was used up (some of it had to go as christmas presents, so I ran out quickly!).

So, that was my christmas coffee cupping, and I'll try to do more in the future. Perhaps I'll even write about them, but don't hold me responsible if I'm not! Oh and by the way: Happy new year 2009!

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