Lightness and Darkness in Roasting

Roasting coffee is, put kindly, a fickle affair. On a good day it feels like chasing a dropped piece of paper in the wind. On a bad day it feels both impossible and unknowable.

In recent years roast degree has become imbued with a kind of morality. A tenet of modern coffee is transparency, and we know that any step in the seed to cup process can cloud it or leave it clarified. Roasting, of course, is perhaps the most obvious step for scrutiny. Roasting a coffee to a deeper degree obscures its origins, any taste of place smothered under generic, carbon-like roast notes. This was considered bad, because this practice works well should your taste of place not taste very good. Low quality coffee would obviously be roasted darker to hide its shame. 1 Starbucks were long held up as the evil doers in the world of dark roasting. The reasons proffered within the community were many and varied: “They do it because they buy bad coffee.” or “They do it so their coffee tastes the same all over the world.” or “They do it so it is easier to extract/it’s more tolerant.”. Now is to the time to examine or debunk these claims, perhaps another time… Continue reading “Lightness and Darkness in Roasting”

  1. Let’s avoid the substantial contrary evidence of instant coffee and rapid roasting, where the coffee is roasted very quickly and dropped quite early. This has the dual benefit of leaving more soluble material and not causing problems – like fires, that rapid roasting to second crack will inevitably cause.  ↩︎

The latest version of Coffee Jobs Board

We released the latest version of Coffee Jobs Board last month, and I thought I’d share a little bit here about what we’ve changed and improved – and also why we did what we did.

  • Firstly there was a site wide design refresh. New colour scheme, new everything really.
  • Some of the quieter city boards have been cut. If there’s enough interest then they’ll come back
  • A few new features: if you want a reminder to apply for a job (because you’re on your phone and you shouldn’t be applying for jobs on your phone) then the board will do that.
  • A newsletter. Two in fact! One for job seekers, one for employers. If you’re either I recommend signing up. We’ve got some cool stuff lined up that will be dropping in the next month or so.
  • You can browse employers, rather than jobs, and see more about the employer (including photos etc). Here’s the UK list for example. You can also browse for jobs on Instagram too.
  • Classifieds have been revamped a little – still free to use, and always will be.

We’re also happier to see more international jobs on the board – especially in the US and Australia. The growth in applications (and page views) is really pleasing to see. While we’ve introduced a featured job posting tier, the goal is to make sure pricing stays as approachable as possible while allows us to continue to invest in developing the board.

If people have requests or ideas then I’m always open to that. Let me know…

2015 in review – a comparative edition

Last year I wrote a “2014 in review – number edition”, and I thought I’d write a comparative one to see how the year changed and what that means.

Words written on the blog: 18,240 (2014) vs 18,376 (2015)

This was something of a surprise, mostly because I’m not very good at remembering how much or how little I write on here. More surprising was the fact that 2015 saw the highest pages views of any year.

Here’s a selection of my favourite/the most popular posts from 2015:

Make or Steal
My Favourite Question
The Cappuccino Index
The Price of Coffee in London (2015)
An Analysis of Nespresso Part 1 1
The Coffee Professional Beginners Guide
The State of Espresso (2015)
Part 1: The Lull
Part 2: The Bubble
Part 3: Implications and Predictions

Flights Taken: 44 (2014) vs 51 (2015) Distance Travelled: 69,788 miles (2014) vs 98,562 miles (2015)

In the past I had mixed feelings about the amount I travel. I don’t anymore, I have no doubts that I travelled too much this year. I know this because I really don’t want to travel this much next year. (It probably didn’t help that my average flight distance went from 1,586 miles to 1,932 – a 22% jump).

When travel is considered aspirational, I’m aware that complaining about too much of it is like complaining about too many meals in good restaurants. However, I don’t want to complain – I just want to try and learn my lessons about what makes me happy and what doesn’t. I have no intention of consigning my passport to a drawer and not leaving the UK for the foreseeable – I just intent to be a bit smarter about the travel I do.

Applications through Coffee Jobs Board: 14,905 (2014) vs ~30k (2015)

I don’t actually know the real number here as we now have to purge older applications from the server, because there were too many and they were taking up unnecessary space. This is a guess based on what I can see now. I’m investing a lot into making the site better, and version 2 should launch in the next 4-5 weeks. I want it to be a better service, and to be more useful to the industry, more valuable. It is an enjoyable challenge.

Plans for 2016

I seem to alternate between years in which I plan, and years in which I do. I get a growing feeling of frustration and dissatisfaction when I don’t finish things – and 2015 has been a frustrating year that way.

I want 2016 to be a year of narrowing focus; a year of finishing off things that I’ve started, and doing more of the work I enjoy.

  1. I know, I know – I will continue this series in 2016, I promise!  ↩︎

Part 3: Implications & Predictions

The State of Speciality Coffee – Part 3: Implications and Predictions

In the previous two posts (Part 1 & Part 2) I’ve explained how I currently see the market in speciality around the world, and how it has evolved to date. I am happy to state that generally humans aren’t particularly good at predictions of the future, even in the 3–5 year range we are discussing here. However, in this situation I am happy to be wrong. As a business owner, if I act on these concerns – and what I believe to be likely – then my business should not suffer (though perhaps its growth would be slower).
Continue reading “Part 3: Implications & Predictions”

Part 2: The Bubble

The State of Speciality Coffee – Part 2: The Bubble

Previous post: Part 1: The Lull

The growth in speciality coffee shops in the last decade has been astonishing. While different markets have grown at different rates , the patterns and trends of growth have been very similar.

Pioneers open a speciality coffee business in a city, serving something genuinely new and substantially better than the rest of the market. These coffee businesses are usually run by people with a burning passion for great coffee, who would be opening their business regardless of economic climate – in many cases cities saw a boom in the coffee cultures during the recessions brought on by the global financial crisis in 2008.

Continue reading “Part 2: The Bubble”

Part 1: The Lull

The State of Speciality Coffee – Part 1: The Lull

This is the first of three parts, covering how I see the current state of the speciality coffee industry around the world. I’ve spent the last year thinking about this, and have had the chance to talk to people in the industry in cities around the world. I believe that much of what I’ll discuss has a global implication – even if not all of it is applicable to any one particular local market.

Continue reading “Part 1: The Lull”

The State of Espresso in 2015

These are the results of the survey I conducted over the last two weeks. I had a great response to the survey – around 1,500 replies. I needed to clean up a little bit of the data (which meant discarding quite a lot of weird responses), but there was still a lot to work with.

I hoped that the data would give some insight into global, as well as local trends. I was also curious to know if there was much correlation between home consumers and professionals, in their tastes and styles.

Continue reading “The State of Espresso in 2015”

A New Coffee Classifieds Section

We’re launching a new section of Coffee Jobs Board today – a Classifieds section for people who want to sell coffee related things (like espresso machines, grinders or anything else – domestic or commercial). You can post an ad on the site for free, as a 7 day listing. This 7 day listing will always be free. (There is a featured 30 day option for £3/~$5.)

Continue reading “A New Coffee Classifieds Section”

The Coffee Professional Beginners Guide

If you’ve just started working in coffee, chances are you’ve worked out that coffee is:

  1. Really, really interesting
  2. Huge
  3. Complex

As such you’ve turned to the internet to try and do some research. However, what is online is a rich mixture of information, without much hierarchy and often without a good place to start.

Here is a beginners guide to coffee reading and learning for an interested coffee professional.1 It is divided into three parts, based on how much money you have available to spend on learning more about coffee.

I will update this list whenever it seems appropriate to do so, and mark items as new. Continue reading “The Coffee Professional Beginners Guide”

  1. I might do one aimed more for the home consumer in the near future  ↩︎