Another Day at Nordic Approach; Learning on a lil Roaster

A little background...

If you don't really know what I have been up to you, it's okay because no one does.  But basically, I ran off to Oslo for several months and have been learning from some of the best in the green coffee buying/sourcing company called Nordic Approach and will be working for them in the U.S. (YAY!)

I'm just going to take a quick second to explain what that first part even means.  If you haven't heard of "green" coffee before, it's what coffee is referred to before it is roasted (You can see the green coffee in the video below.)  Within the company, we have coffee buyers who actually travel to origin (a country where coffee is harvested) and work with the producers to not only buy coffees but also build sustainable relationships to promote better pay for everyone in the supply chain, and do a heck of a lot more that I won't delve into right now.

Anyhow, we then work to transport those coffees from A to B (which in real life it's more like from A, to B, to C, D -- you get the picture.) and to ultimately find those coffees a good home to green coffee buyers (aka roasters) across the world.

But back to their HQ here in Oslo -- there is a lot of exciting stuff going on.  We basically get to cup the coffees every day. Cupping is like the wine tasting version of coffee. We have score sheets and everything - or actually, we use nifty apps these days - and we do much more than swirl, sniff and drink (but again, that is for another long post.)

My Day Roasting with Mildred, a.k.a the Probat

So, What is going on in the video above? I am using a sample roaster to roast a small amount of green coffee.  This particular roaster is a Probat and if you want to get more technical you can learn more about them here.  We send samples of green, or sometimes roasted, coffee to potential buyers all over the world; from Croatia to Austin, TX -- it's a pretty wide range. But that is why it's important to find a solid and consistent roast profile; one that doesn't take away from the coffee (a.k.a. not a dark roast) and also a profile that isn't too light because we aren't really showcasing the coffee's full potential, now are we? 

Another way I've heard it described is that you when sample roasting, you are roasting to showcase the coffee's flaws.  This definitely makes sense since you are going to want to be sure before you purchase thousands of dollars worth of the stuff, that it's a coffee that will perform.

Anyhow, my favorite part about this video is being able to show you guys the development of a bean as it is roasting. It's transformation in color, size and texture is entertaining to me every single time.

Green or raw coffee beans

Green or raw coffee beans

Finished product, coffees roasted

Finished product, coffees roasted

Also side note: the day before I roasted all by lonesome on the IKAWA roaster.  This guy is all the rage these days since it is a sleek-looking, digital roaster.  One of the major benefits to the IKAWA is that you can instantly share roast profiles with other friends and roasters via its app.  And you can be consistent with you roast every single time which is a godsend, especially in sample roasting.  However, I will say Mildred (ehem, the Probat) was a lot more fun for me to roast on.  There is something about being able to check in with your little guys (the beans) as they cook and nothing beats the feel of working with flame and a little industrial machine.  

That being said, I will definitely post about roasting on the IKAWA on here too.  We actually did a blind cupping with comparing the two different roasting styles and found it inconclusive. 

Anyway, have a look at the video and let me know if you guys have any questions! I'll try to post more stuff like this as I learn it here in Oslo! If you want to get a more detailed breakdown of how to sample roast, check out this video from Cafe Imports. 

Also, feel free to hit me with the hard stuff, because if I don't know the answer I am surrounded by the experts that do.

Mugs Up from Oslo!

-The Coffee Nomad