Audio for the next video I’m putting together. I might be able to get the video side of that put together today. This was recorded during the Roasters Guild Origin Trip to Brazil while visiting Monte Alegre Coffees on 17 June, 2012.
Meandering update on SCAA/RG/coffee stuff:
I’ve just finished filling out the donation form for the silent auction to benefit Coffee Kids at the Roasters Guild Retreat. This asked for a photograph of the item being donated so I temporarily removed the prints from the plastic wrap and took the above picture. I didn’t bring camera gear that was really appropriate to photograph these prints, so it’s just a cell phone picture. While the printer is going to fix the middle panel which would have turned these into a giant panorama there’s no way that can be delivered on time so it’s just one fewer print to make for my own copy. If you’re going to the retreat, remember to leave some money in the checkbook and you could own those and help a good cause. You’ll see that they look much more impressive in person.
Tomorrow I’ll be on a conference call to go over the RP120 Profile Roasting Practices class. I’m going to be a station instructor for that again at retreat. I did some work improving the notes for station instructors based on my experience as a station instructor for the same class in April and I might need to talk about that, but I’ll leave it up to the lead instructor if she wants me to do that or if she’ll handle that herself. I’ve been asked and have agreed to take that lead instructor role for that class next April at expo. That’s a bit less hands on than the station instructor role as far as activity during the class itself goes, but there’s stuff behind the scenes that needs to be coordinated. I’ll have been a station instructor for the class twice so I’ll see how it goes this time and then I suppose I’ll have to set aside some time to consider if I need to make any changes to the class. I don’t expect any major changes will be needed. I helped put together the lesson plan and presentation and tried to get it right back then. The class covers fundamentals and I’m not expecting any major new advances to shake up the basics in the next 8 months, but if anybody is taking the class or took it in April and has suggestions, by all means let me know.
New coffee shipment arrived today. I won’t be able to do anything with that today (staffing) but tomorrow I’ll start working on getting some Sumatran coffee back on the shelf. I have a few other things on another truck. That’s not scheduled to arrive until Monday but I’m hoping it arrives ahead of schedule.
Camera: LG Electronics LGP505
— Focal Length: 4mm
Yesterday some prints from my trip to Brazil arrived. The poorly lit cell phone picture of them still in the plastic wrapping really doesn’t do them justice. At one of the farms I visited there was a little look out platform and I shot several photos with the intention of stitching them together into a big panoramic image. After stitching them together and looking at the options for printing, I decided that I wanted to go with two 30x20 inch prints and one 16x20 inch print between them to get a massive 76x20 inch panorama printed on aluminum. As you can see, there was an error at the printer for the middle panel. I sent them a file in portrait orientation that was perfectly sized for the print and verified during the ordering process that there was to be no cropping on this, but when it arrived the image was in landscape orientation, the top half stretched out to fill 20 inches where it should only have been 16 inches wide so it’s not as sharp as the other panels. Bottom half of the image (where most of the visual interest on that panel is) was cropped off.
I’ve contacted the printer about that error and they’re looking into the matter. All indications thus far are that they’ll fix the issue, so I’m in wait and see mode for now. This is somewhat frustrating as I had hoped to get this piece into the silent auction to benefit Coffee Kids at the Roasters Guild retreat which is less than two weeks away. The big panels stand well enough alone so in the worst case I’ll send those as separate pieces and I’ll have one fewer panel that I need to print for a copy to display at the shop, but I really wanted the impact of the whole thing.
The panels that turned out right are amazing. The scene works really well with aluminum printing, lots of detail (I was using the Sigma SD1 with a 30mm prime lens for the constituent photos), cool colors. I’m hoping it fetches a good price at a firm where it will be enjoyed.
Three Secrets for Perfect Coffee
I still plan to put together a video on the trip as a whole, but I liked this clip well enough that I wanted to put it out on its own.
Recently I was asked to do a little more work on the RP120 Profile Roasting Practices class. This was offered at SCAA in April and is being offered again at the Roasters Guild Retreat a couple weeks from now (Kathi Zollman is taking on the lead instructor role this time. She’s a great choice for that so I’m not worried about the lecture portion at all). Apparently there have been inconsistencies with instructional pacing and difficulties with getting roasters to hit the intended roast profiles. To a certain extent this is a little tricky. Station instructors are working with a small group of people and different groups are going to be coming in with different levels of experience or enthusiasm, different sets of questions are going to be asked. Chances are good that participants will be roasting on a machine that they’ve never touched prior to the class (though if they’re taking this class they should have at least a little experience on some coffee roasting equipment). That’s not to say that these problems are impossible or even that they need to be difficult, just that station instructors need to be prepared. I was asked to put together an example script for station instructors to ensure that they would hit all of the main points of the class at about the same time and to help participants hit the profiles. I finished the work on this yesterday and since then what I wrote has been merged into the old station instructor plan, formatting fixed up, and so on. I haven’t looked at the new document in depth, but it looks good from a first skim.
Without giving away everything, here are a few things I’ve added:
Space for notes on the assigned roaster. I think pointing out that station instructors should know what the temperature indicators will read at the main points in the roast and providing them a place to write that down for reference during the class will go a long way toward hitting the desired profiles. Last time I did this class the roaster I was using was initially set up to display measurements in Celsius so that’s how I had my notes arranged, but by the time class started it had been switched to Fahrenheit (okay, time to do a bit of arithmetic on my notes). When I was in Brazil there was a roasting session one night on an unfamiliar machine with no calibration data so I got to see some surprise as the temperature measurements were coming in right according to plan and then suddenly (because the measurements had become highly inaccurate, which is not an uncommon issue for drum roasters) first crack and just blowing through the rest of the roast. This is the sort of thing that I don’t want to see during the class and it can be avoided if station instructors run a batch before class to familiarize themselves with the machine.
Some choice bits from the new plan with commentary:
“Remember to smile” I have trouble with this one myself so I put in the reminder.
“What does this signify?” I first wrote that as what does this mean but didn’t want to cause any catechism flashbacks for those with a Lutheran education.
“Ensure that the roaster will not catch fire” That one’s important so I wrote it twice. We didn’t have any roaster fires last time around but this is something that can happen and nobody wants to have to deal with that.
That feel when someone asks a question and the answer is, “I wrote the app for that.”
So here’s a reminder that BrewPlot exists. It’s really just a toy program that I wrote as a learning exercise, but if you have a scale and a way to measure the percent total dissolved solids in a coffee (a refractometer is the fastest and easiest way but the electrical conductivity meters also work) and don’t feel like doing the math yourself this plots extraction yield versus strength on a brewing control chart (golden cup guidelines helpfully drawn bold over the chart so it’s easy to see if you’re in the center box). One of the neat things about this is you can plot any number of brews, changing one of your brewing variables and snap a least squares fit line over the data to see how that variable affects your brew. Doing that is a good way to know how to modify your brewing if you find yourself out of spec one day.