Today my colleague and I got to visit our partner coffee roaster in Winchester. I’d never been to a roaster before and pictured somewhere hot, noisy, smelling strongly of coffee and dominated by a huge machine!
On arrival we found ourselves in a tall, medium sized warehouse, with shelves of neatly packaged coffee beans on our right and two roasting machines on our left; one big, one small. The big one looked like an old fashioned train and the smaller one was a gorgeous golden colour. These are hand roasting machines, rather than mass production; perfect for roasting high quality, speciality coffee beans.
We were warmly welcomed by the friendly owner and staff who demonstrated their exemplary coffee knowledge by briefing us on every stage of the beans’ journey, from origins and the selection process to how they are maintained and roasted.
They work with coffee in a way that demonstrates their obvious love of the product. We sampled some delicious freshly brewed coffee before viewing the beautiful green, raw beans in bags newly arrived from the supplier. Once measured out the beans are placed in the roaster hopper, the machine set appropriately and roasting begins. After the first crack the beans are almost done and smell just amazing. Then they must cool before the next stage ‘Cupping’.
The freshly ground coarse coffee is placed in bowls, mixed with hot water and rested for a few minutes before being tasted. There are so many different aromas and flavours which you really appreciate when tasting different coffees at once, from fruity and berry-like, to chocolatey and even nutty! After cupping, with quality and taste checked, the prepared beans are ready for packaging and labelling. We had just seen the beans through their full journey!
We learned so much, and drank so much fine coffee of all varieties, we must have been on quite a caffeine high by the end of our day! We had an unforgettable and incredibly educational experience. Now we hope to visit more roasteries in future: who knows, maybe even travel to see the beans at the growers...