HomeRoast Digest

Topic: Tom: what happened to your SCAA comments? (11 msgs / 203 lines)
1) From: John Roche
Was wondering what happened to you SCAA comments that you mentioned you
would be posting. Was it THAT bad?

2) From: Tom & Maria
Well, it sort of was! I have been busy incorporating a lot of the new
materials I picked up there into the coffee descriptions. You will see a
better into on the Sumatra page for example. I learned a good bit from the
Sulawesi people too. But there was a lot of disappointment for me this
year. I just dont see the focus on quality and developing a better way to
appreciate coffee quality in its simplest, truest form. What I mean is that
theres still a lot of focus on dressing up coffee with fancier cups,
trendier giftware, the next-best brewer, fashionable dispensers,
flavorings, etc etc. I want a coffee trade that tries to increase
communication, understanding and knowledge between the crop and the cup,
from farmers to coffee consumers. Beer and wine people seem very successful
at avoidning some of the distraction and keeping the discussion centered on
the elements of the beverage that count, not the way it is sold, but the
what and why of the cup. Does this make any sense ...because I feel like I
am stumbling over my words here. Anyway, a home brewer can talk to you
about the roast on the malts, their original quality, the temperatures that
the most positive flavor elements are infused from it, etc. Coffee seems so
far behind. Everyone knows that the time and temperature that wet-processed
coffees are fermented (to remove the pulp) can make or break a coffee. But
no coffee mill or processing equipment manufacturer has really mastered the
process. For example, you could use wine-type stainless steel fermenters
and monitor temperature, rate of fermentation, pressure, atmosphere etc and
(from previous test fermatations) come up with an exact degree of ferment
to remove the pulp AND heighten the variaetal character of the coffee. But
instead of this, we have a lot of talk about how to market on the internet,
how sustainable coffee is the next big marketing craze to increase profits,
how a new foamy cup wont hurt your hand. I am frustrated because I want to
learn from people who know more than I do in their field of expertise, but
I feel like there is a lot of "experts" who are unwilling to share ideas,
are vague, or are really there to promote a product etc, with the net
result of a limited dialogue about coffee quality. I take it really
seriously because I feel that people who sell coffee, by the pound or the
$1.50 cup, are arbitrators to the public. People rely on us to know what we
are talking about, to share their curiousity and to provide the best
quality we can ...that's why coffee is $1.50 for a perfectly brewed cup,
and $10 per lb roasted. Anyway, there are a lot of people in this trade
with great integrity and knowledge ...and the closer you get to the
process, the better the people are. Roasters usually care a lot about whatb
they are doing, as do many producers because their livlihood is based on
the quality of the cup, and that is under constant scrutiny. Sometimes I
just wonder if we shouldnt form a new coffee association based only on
promoting the quality the pure and unadulterated coffee beverage, and it
would consist only of people who want to let the cup speak for (and sell)
itself. The SCAA Roaster's Guild has some promise to become this...
                  "Great coffee comes from tiny roasters"
           Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting  -  Tom & Maria

3) From: Mandy Willison
I was under the impression that the new guy running the show (New
Yorker?-cant think of his name- rebel sorta bloke) would have similar
sentiments. In time eh.

4) From: Gerald Allen Green
Tom, I was truly interested by your remarks that followed from your attendance
at this year's SCAA.  I know very little about the process of the beans before
they are sold in the green state.  I DO know about wines and the process by
which grapes are grown, nurtured, harvested, crushed, etc. before it becomes
wine, and I just hadn't realized that those early comparable steps are so
important in the product we know as coffee.  If you'd care to, I for one would
appreciate knowing more about your statement, "Everyone knows that the time and
temperature that wet-processed coffees are fermented (to remove the pulp) can
make or break a coffee."  --  Jerry Green

5) From: Prabhakar Ragde
Doesn't surprise me. I see the same style-over-substance compromise
everywhere, from academia to industry, among amateur and pro, in many
fields. It's why I don't go to food and beverage shows or attend
cooking demonstrations. All we can do is find and hang onto the people
who value quality, straight talk, and depth. 
--PR, seriously considering re-roasting his last Yirg blend because
the espresso is so damn sour

6) From: Paul Goelz
Yes, it does.  And bravo to you for trying.  Sadly I suspect you are maybe
10-15 years ahead of your time.  But do keep trying to educate the rest of
us.  Hopefully the industry will follow.  I'd like to see a movement at
coffee houses and roasters towards involving people in the process.
Starting with tastings, and progressing from there.  
In the 15 years that I have been paying attention to coffee (and in the 5
years that I have been roasting at least part of what I dronk), I have seen
quite a change in the "coffee" environment.  15 years ago I was
flabbergasted when I saw an espresso machine in a hardware store.... it was
the ONLY one I had ever seen outside of Italy, and I bought it on the spot
(Salton, not a pump, awful).  15 years later, you can see them everywhere,
and there are good ones available fairly readily.  15 years ago, I don't
think there were ANY roasters in the Chicagoland area (I'm in Michigan now
but I grew up in Chicago).... OK, maybe one or two.... but not what there
are today.  
And 15 years ago, EVERYONE bought their coffee at the grocery store in big
It's changing.  Just slowly.  Keep at it.  Please!
Paul Goelz
Rochester Hills, MI
pgoelz at eaglequest dot com
Videoastronomy and music web site:http://www.eaglequest.com/~pgoelz

7) From: Fookoo Network
I could easily be very wrong, but I don't believe that home roasting is 
going to take off any time soon in anything resembling a big way.  Even 
with an inexpensive air popcorn unit, there is the additional hurdle of 
being willing to cough up something around $100+ for a grinder.  As noted 
on SM's site, there is a difference between a good bur grinder and the 
whirly blade.  A French Press is not all that pricey.  Home roasting is 
also time consuming and that is a lack of convenience factor that will turn 
off many potential users. That being said, if it did take off, then those 
premium beans that we can get from SM, thanks to Tom's diligence, would 
become a very scarce product and the price would shoot out of sight.  Yet 
the difference with a home roaster can be profound.
                          Carl S Lau 

8) From: Tom & Maria
You know, you bring up a good point ...and yesterday I was in the midst of
great frustration so I was focusing on the hopes and disappointments I had
at the SCAA. But you remond me that things have come a LONG way! I mean,
remember all the cruddy '80s steam-powered home espresso machines. It was
awful! And yet somehow people kept trying to get good espresso at home and
the machines improved. I promise you that I can pull a better shot of
espresso in my kitchen on an sl-90 than you can get at 90% of the shops in
columbus (Staufs might eb the excepetion ...but I would say its just on par
with my solis :-)  ). It has come a long way. I have had good Full City
roast cups from Starbucks that have good varietal and origin character, and
are heightened byt the roast, not ruined by it. Despite what some people
say, I think Diedrichs has a good cup too, although they now control so
many chains that produce crappy $1.50 cups... So things have come along
when you step back and think where it was at 10-15 years ago...
Wow, I just had the thought that my first coffee job was 1984. I have been
doing this a lot longer than i think... Then again, my first favorite
coffee drink was a double espresso with a scoop of hazelnut Gelatto in it
(hey, at least it was fresh handmade Gelatto!). SO maybe I shouldnt be
counting those first couple years...
             * Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting Supplies *
                  Tom and Maria * info

9) From: Spencer W. Thomas
Ah, but how about those of us who already HAD a burr grinder, enjoyed good
coffee, bought directly from the roaster, and have just "moved up" to roasting
our own.  My initial investment was $13 for a pound of green beans from a local
roaster (I already had the popper).  And now that I'm buying from Tom, the raw
material cost is even lower, for better beans.  (Also, my grinder cost me at
most $50 new.  Sure it's not the best, but it does the job well for me.)
I'm also a home brewer (beer) and the same arguments are made as to why it's
expensive to get into home brewing.  Sure, if you went from a standing stop to
equipment that some brewers have, you'd easily spend $1000 or more.  But you
can get started with a $25-$50 investment (mostly in "big pots").
Fookoo Network wrote:

10) From: Spencer W. Thomas
Tom & Maria wrote:
I can pull a better shot in my Krups "Novo" than I just got from the shop
downstairs in my building.  If I wasn't out of espresso coffee here at the office,
I'd dump this one and make my own. :-(

11) From: Robert Cantor
Ant demo equipment for sale?
Bob C.

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