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Can We Talk? 

Can We Talk? 
(09/16/14)

AK on a Probatino at Roasters Guild Retreat

This past July we hosted our Sweet Talking tasting up at the Four Barrel training space. There was a great turn out and it was incredible how open and enthusiastic all of the attendees were. Side conversations around roasting carried on for hours after we were done, and in the month and change since the event I've had a number of discussions around this topic come up with participants as well as people who hadn't attended but had heard great things about it.

After beating Colleen Anunu in a foot race on hole #6 on the Skamania Lodge Golfing Course at this years Roasters Guild Retreat, I had a chance to catch up with Adam Koehler from Sightglass and rap about the event and what his impressions were. I felt pretty chuffed by what he had to say about it so I asked if he would be willing to write up a little something about why he thinks that these opportunities are important for roasters.

He was very gracious in accepting.

ROASTING WORDS YO VERY GOOD

An inherent part of being a roaster is a fundamental inclination toward an introverted state while on the job. For many roasters, this is one of the favorite aspects of the day. We spend a lot of time in our heads doing something we love. This more solitary state forces a roaster to make up their own way of doing things most of the time. When I roast, I know that there is literally nobody else in the world that does it just like me. The nuances of development are so many that what I have learned to sense is not what my colleagues or even my students sense. One’s personality goes into a roast, and the complexity and variables are so many that each batch is an opportunity for a unique outlook on the task.

But with anything that requires this level of self reflection and independence, one can easily fall into a rut. Think of it like that inevitable moment where you realize you’ve been listening to the same music for the entirety of recent memory. It could even be classified as a type of writer’s block, a creative lull. What was once the most amazing face melting first crack is now just a first crack like any other. Whatever. Who even cares? Does anyone even notice me here by this hot hunk of iron? The excitement is dulled and the drive for new discovery is less inspired.

In roasting, I think there is an immense power in talking about what you do every day, even the little things that are seemingly insignificant. I will often find whenever I am prompted to talk about any aspect of roasting as a craft, suddenly I hear myself saying things that I have never actually vocalized aloud, but know as intimately and familiarly as the back of my own two hands. Alternatively, to hear my peers speak of their point of view about the same idea, my knowledge and vocabulary is given an influx of life that could not be found anywhere else than with my fellow roasters. This is a special and sort of indefinable cultivation that can come out of a group of roasters talking about roasting. Any chance I get the opportunity to do this I jump on it. At the end of the day I will still roast only the way I do, and that style is mine and only mine. But just like my friend sharing a new record with me at the end of my music rut, I am envigorated with a new passion for what I’m experiencing. This invigoration inevitably happens every time roasters kick back, have fun, and talk shop. In my opinion, these simple conversations are an integral part of the industry for us and the single leading factor in our continued growth as a specialty craft.

All this to say, go to Chris’s roaster hangs, they rule. Peace.

Adam Koehler
Director of Sourcing and Quality Control
Sightglass