Our Head Roaster, Eric Stone, has been a regular competitor in the roasting championship since 2016, where he placed 3rd in the national championship. Since then, the competition has continued to grow and evolve, incorporating a new challenge every year. This year featured one of the largest fields yet with only 12 moving to the championship in Portland, Oregon.
How The Competition Works
The competition itself is pretty straightforward. A few weeks prior to the event all competitors are sent the same coffee. It is then up to each competitor to roast their coffee using their sensory /science and best cupping knowhow. The coffees are then blindly tasted and scored out of 100 points. After the judges cup, each roaster gives a five minute presentation explaining their roast and why they chose to roast the coffee the way they did. All scores are totaled and winners are announced.
Our Head Roaster’s Approach
For his roast, Eric first noted the physical characteristics of the green coffee (unroasted). According to him “this coffee was particularly challenging because of two seemingly contradictory characteristics: its small screen size and very high density”. Eric explains that in order to properly develop the roast he would need to apply a lot of heat to the coffee, however the small size of the beans would leave them susceptible to overdevelopment. In order to manage this, Eric first removed all “microbeans” (coffee smaller than the smallest acceptable screen size). Then during the roast, he made sure to keep the final end temperature as low as possible as to not burn the coffee when it was at its most susceptible to heat.
Now that the scores have been tallied, we are proud to announce that Eric placed 4th in the qualifier round, guaranteeing him a spot in the national finals in Portland later this coming April. “For me these competitions are about building relations within the larger specialty coffee community and honing my skill set as a roaster. Every year I compete, I meet so many great coffee people and learn something new about roasting coffee”.