In my previous post I alluded congratulations to Steve Leighton of HasBean for his double national champion winning coffees for both John Gordon and Colin Harmon of the United Kingdom and Irish Barista Competitions (Respectivly). Steve is the first detracter of any praise given to him and this post is in part to recognise the amazing role the roaster plays in a barista’s competition performance “I just brown the beans..”etc.
To the vast majority that haven’t competed in a barista competition, the initial choice to be made, usually months in advance of stepping foot and talking to the judges is what coffee to use. Sometimes there may be a starting point prior to that; wanting to exhibit the strength of single origin coffees, a preference for a certain processing method etc ad infinitum. But essentially the choice is of a coffee is primary.
The roaster may provide a selection of coffees, or a suggestion in a direction. But trying to select from the vast amounts available would be a mammoth task, this choice is made easier by the roaster. Typically roasters have very finely tuned pallettes, and this proves a godsend not only in the selection process but also in development. The oppertunity to run your shots and signature drink past a roaster is priceless and infinatly useful. The feedback I received from Steve this year helped me immensely, not only in terms of development but also in feeling vindicated in my choice for signature drink.
Asside from the competition though, the skill of roasting is still a very artisan one, a skill I have very little knowledge about other than the terms I’ve heard used. But the ability to take a tasteless green pod and roast it into the brown tasteful beans we know, to extoll the virtues of these coffees and to know where the best roasting point for a coffee lies is one that everyone who has ever enjoyed a cup of coffee has benefitted from.
I really do feel that roasters are the unsung heros of coffee and every barista owes their livelihood and compliments toward them.
Thank you to Steve, James, Anette and every other roaster out there who makes coffee what it is and does so, for the most part, in the background (and most likely a damn sight more than I know about) while the baristi who pour pretty patterns receive the limelight which you so greatly deserve.