Recap: Roaster’s Guild Retreat

We recently sent our two production roasters Camilla and Grace to the 2017 Roaster’s Guild Retreat. Below is an account of their experience, as told by Camilla!

The Roasters Guild of America hosts an annual retreat that brings together the specialty coffee community for a weekend of learning, networking, and fun. Throughout the weekend, participants take classes, learn how to use different roasters, and compete in teams to see who can create the best-tasting coffee.

This year’s retreat was held in Buford, Georgia on August 17th through the 20th. Having the chance to network with other roasters and further my knowledge of this craft, I felt really excited and nervous about this opportunity. I was lucky to have Grace, the other Temple production roaster, with me at the event because walking into a room filled with more than 250 new faces definitely seemed like a daunting task at first. I remember wondering how I would ever be able to connect with all these new individuals in just one weekend. Through classes, smaller group activities, and our assigned teams, connecting with my peers came to be easier than anticipated.

“Coffee Tasters Flavor Wheel” and “Identifying Defect in Roasting” are two classes that I took. The flavor wheel class focused on two things: World Coffee Research’s Sensory Lexicon, a guide documenting in-depth sensory descriptions, and the Specialty Coffee Association’s Flavor Wheel, a tool used to describe tastes and smells. In this class, my peers and I practiced using these resources when cupping coffees by tasting and smelling various things including mini wheats, short bread cookies, chocolate chips, rubbing alcohol, grass, and wood chips. In “Identifying Defect in Roasting,” we cupped for roasting defects such as underdeveloped, overdeveloped, baked, scorched, and tipping. I enjoyed taking these classes because I was able to practice these concepts in a more in-depth manner. As a production roaster, my main focus is to consistently roast multiple batches of coffee at their specific profiles; therefore, I don’t really have time to devote towards these skills. I think having the opportunity to taste certain flavors and defects was very useful.

My favorite experience during the weekend was the Master Challenge, a team competition. My team consisted of eight other people whose occupations ranged from entrepreneurs, Q Graders, green buyers, and production roasters. There were three team competitions: brewer’s cup, cup tasters, and best overall score. All twenty teams created and roasted blends that they believed brewed the best-tasting drip coffee and produced the highest cupping score. Grace’s team placed first in the brewers challenge and my team placed second in cup tasters! I had a great time working with my teammates and experimenting with different combinations. We roasted on a two kilo Mill City Roaster. We had fun familiarizing ourselves with a roaster that none of us had used before while trying out different roast profiles for our competition coffees. It was a great learning experience.

The connections I’ve made with peers, conversations had during meals and downtime, education, and new skills learned in classes all contributed to a great weekend. Coming back from this event, I feel rejuvenated about my position in the industry as I strive to accomplish my goals in coffee. My time at the Roasters Guild Retreat cannot compare to anything that I’ve experienced so far! Thank you, Temple Coffee, for giving me this awesome opportunity!