Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Bean Eaters Club

I could also call this post Coffey’s Coffee Goes Back To School but I will explain about the bean eaters later.


It has been 7 years since my last official training course in roasting coffee and I decided it was about time for another one. If you’re wondering
why I would stress myself to attend a training session I would have to say that
it is just to refresh my previous understanding of roasting, to find out what
is new and exciting in the business and I also wanted to see some nice new and
shiny roasters. An added bonus is to meet like minded people who are passionate
about coffee. When I got the email from Robust Roasters that they were hosting
a training session for roasters and wannabe roasters I signed up right away.

The Place

Robust Roasters
is located in Scarborough (East Toronto) and are distributors of Toper
Roasters. Of course their decision to host the training is mostly based on
marketing their roasters and what better way to demonstrate their product than
to get your potential customers to actually use them. As a result, I am
seriously considering an upgrade. Not only did they provide the facilities and
equipment for the training but they also brought in an excellent instructor and
highly qualified coffee roaster in the person of Stephen Armstrong of Speak
Easy Coffee

Coffee Roasting Guru Stephen Armstrong


There were only 5 students in the class but they were from
across Canada, Jim from Vancouver, Tim and Dave from Richmond Hill, Shaw from
Hamilton and yours truly from good old Ingleside. I guess if you counted Peter
and Henry from Robust Roasters then there were 7 students because we were all
motivated to learn everything we could from our instructor. We listened to the
theory involved in roasting, we talked about the latest trends and gossip, we
roasted different beans from different geographical locations and we cupped the
results. I do believe everyone went home happy and better informed about coffee
roasting. Personally from what I learned, I am going to change my roasting
profile a little and try to improve the performance of my 12 year old
roaster.  I have also developed a new
respect for a lighter roast thanks to Stephen.

The Bean Eaters Club

From left to right is Peter, Shaw, Stephen, Tim, Yours Truly Handsome Guy, David and Jim. Henry was taking the picture. Someone has to.

Why the bean eaters club you ask? Well, it is the habit of
roasters to pick a cooled bean out of a newly roasted batch of coffee to crunch
on and get an early estimate of what that coffee will be like to cup (evaluate
in a cup). It certainly did feel like a club to have like minded coffee
roasters go through a training session together and get really buzzed on

As for the nice shiny new roasters, I am impressed. The only
bad part of the whole training session is that I became aware of the
inadequacies of my current equipment and now I have to do some number crunching
to see what size of nice shiny new roaster I can afford.

A Fresh Roast On A Shiny New Machine

I guess my final point is that, like all professions, it
helps to keep the skill and enthusiasm up to date by attending seminars or
training sessions. I can’t wait for the next one.

Who says you can’t reach an
old dog new tricks. It just takes a little longer, with lots of repetition.