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  1. #1
    Member
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    Jul 2013
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    Tempe, AZ
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    Question Commercial roasters, how did you get roasting experience?

    I ask this because I enjoy roasting and would one day like to roast for a relatively small roaster (no larger than Blue Bottle or Intelligentsia for sure) that cares about the quality of their product. My main question is how do you get experience on a large, gas powered machine without buying one? I have indicated to a local roaster that I will apprentice for free as the experience is more valuable than money and they are wavering back and forth about it. Am I forced to take a class to gain experience on one if I can't get a roaster to take me on?

    How did you go about gaining that first experience?

  2. #2
    Member
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    Feb 2012
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    I think you are definitely on the right track. Is there a specific reason they are on the fence about taking on an apprentice?

  3. #3
    Super Moderator
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    Feb 2008
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    Near Philadelphia, PA
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    4,779
    Hi "cestrin"

    Wow! It's amazing that you posted that message today.

    Last night I read through a lot of posts about roasting coffee and I was wondering the same thing... such as How do people start roasting? Do they use a small home roaster first and learn the in's and out's that way? Are they self taught? Do they take roasting classes? Can they apprentice without any experience at all? Is there a special talent (scientific, culinary, mathematical) that's necessary in order to be successful?

    Rose

  4. #4
    Member
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    Feb 2012
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    The key to being successful at anything you do is passion.

    Somebody asked me once "is there an art to roasting coffee or is it something that can be taught?"

    My reply was both. Anyone can learn the basics of the craft but it is the passion and love for your craft that elevates it to an art. Roasting coffee is easy, roasting great coffee is an art and can only come with years of experience and passion for what you do.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Dec 2012
    Location
    Michigan, US
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    To answer your question, you need to take classes to learn how to roast on large size commercial roaster or you can purchase one and you will be taught by manufacture representative.

    This is the problem with learning from current roasters.

    1. They don't just sit around when they roast. They are busy and to take on someone to teach them or show them, it takes time and effort they do not have.
    2. What type of incentives do they have to teach you. Nothing.
    3. You could be their direct competition. (even if you are not going to open a shop) So they feel they are growing their competition.
    4. Some of the roasting experience only comes from years of roasting and why would they ever want to share that with anyone.

    If you want to learn, I think everyone should pay to learn. I am not saying there will not be any roaster who will show your the rope but I doubt you will be able to find one easily.

    Good LUck

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Mar 2012
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    I would rather teach someone to roast who has to travel to our shop from out of state rather than a local person who could become competition, unless I'm looking for a helper in the shop.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Mar 2012
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    Rose: Culinary skills as well as math aptitude, a discerning palate and curiosity all benefit a roaster, imo.

    I'm a little OCD with numbers and sitting next to the roaster calculating time/temp progression of the roasting process suits me well.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    Aug 2012
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    134
    I apprenticed with a master roaster here in LA, an old school guy of 25years, very well known. He trained at least 6 Los Angeles roasters, from rocky roasters to Ojai Valley roasting company, to me. I was with him part time for two years on a Diedrich ir12.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    Oct 2013
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI
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    Cestrin, do you have any roasting experience, i.e. even as a hobby for yourself?

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Jan 2007
    Location
    Salt Lake City
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    1,044
    As Peter may be alluding to, if you are a home roaster, that... and a lot of time spent developing a relationship is a good way to get your foot in the door -- provided you have a serious interest in working as an employee. If you are not currently home roasting, that would indicate you have no desire to roast and therefore are not good hire nor a good investment as a roaster.

    If you are interested in roasting, you can spend the small amount of money it is to get your feet wet at a roasting camp or class by one of the roaster manufacturers. If you are not willing to spend a couple or three thousand in time and money then you really have no commitment toward learning the craft. It's really that simple.

    I learned everything on my own. My first small roaster was about $5K. I saw no purpose to learn on anything smaller. I read a lot, took copious notes, and spent many hundreds of hours and pounds and pounds of beans and lots and lots of tasting to hone my craft. YOU need to spend the time, YOU need to make the investment that is how you will learn, and how you will succeed. If you need someone to hold your hand, you're really not cut out for it. Invest whatever time and money is necessary, and if you follow through with everything it will be well worth it.
    John Piquet
    caffe d'bolla
    Salt Lake City, UT
    caffedbolla.com

 

 
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