Singapore Roasters Forum Roasting Competition 2019

We co-organized the inaugural Singapore Roasters Forum with our friends from Compound Coffee, Cata Coffee & Glyph Supply Co this year with the idea to push knowledge and perspective to the industry with as much openness and transparency as possible. The Forum also consisted of the first-of-its-kind Roasting Competition, which showcased 12 local roasters, including us.

The Competition required the roasters to roast 2 coffees; a Sponsored Compulsory coffee (a mixed variety natural processed lot from Finca San Pascual, Colombia) and an Open coffee (a fully washed Central American coffee, any variety except Geshas). Each roaster was given 15kg of the Sponsored Coffee and they had to source their own Open category coffees.

Off the bat, we were looking high & low for a coffee that would be suitable for the Opens. The diverse microclimates of Central America meant that there was gonna be an incredible spread of coffees, from the Bourbons to the Pacamaras, so we knew we needed a coffee that was unique and stood out in terms of its taste balance as well as flavour profile. We were lucky to be able to share a 30kg lot of a fully washed Lempira variety from Finca Liquidambar from Intibuca, Honduras with our friends Compound Coffee. This made it very interesting, as we would have a direct comparison of the final roast profile with Compound Coffee’s.

HOW WE APPROACHED THE ROAST PROFILE

Having only 16kg of the green coffee, this meant we had to plan carefully how much we could experiment with. We also decided to roast the coffee on our production roasting machine, a Giesen W6, as we were most familiar and comfortable with the gas burner & airflow settings.

We decided to use a 3kg batch size as this meant we would have at least 5 attempts at roasting this coffee. We started off by measuring its physical qualities, mainly Moisture Content (11.0%) & Density (840g/ml). We interpreted this data to mean

  1. The moisture content allowed us to be aggressive with the heat transfer at the beginning of the roast
  2. It was a relatively low-density coffee. This meant the cell structure of the bean is not as closely knit, making it a less effective heat conductor. This would require us to hit first crack with slightly more heat, but needing to reduce the energy thereafter. This allows us to develop the flavours of the coffee longer without it being too dark or caramelized.

Roast Profile of a 3kg batch of fully washed Lempira variety on a Giesen W6

  1. Charge at 175 Deg. This lower charge temperature allowed to us be more agressive with our burner gas at the start. We used 70% gas after the turn around point.
  2. Colour change at 3:54. This was a good pace, too fast meant we risked having scorching or tipping, too slow might mean we would have less vibrancy in the coffee.
  3. Slowed down the roast during Maillard phase by reducing burner gas settings. This was to increase complexity of flavours and emphasising on the mouthfeel.
  4. Unfortunately, we underestimated the heat capacity and ended up having lesser energy at first crack. This meant the coffee would not have the ripe fruit characteristics, but rather closer towards unripe or fresh fruit characteristics.
  5. We developed the coffee for 1:43 seconds, hitting an end temperature of 199.3, which was a 6 degree increase from 1st crack.

The evaluation of the coffees were done cupping style. We taste the coffees the day before the evaluation and were pretty happy with the balance of acidity and sweetness. The flavour qualities were very good as well in our opinion, with distinct black currants & vanilla, highlighted by a juicy body & mouthfeel.

The coffee scored an average of 75.45 across 19 evaluators. We were pretty happy with the final score of this coffee, and there were a handful of positive feedbacks we received for this coffee. Overall, we managed to take 3rd place (surprisingly!) for the Roasting Competition, rounding off an incredible experience.

We took away some valuable insights from this competition. Most importantly, in a competition format, it is always important to always reference the score sheet. We managed to do slightly better by roasting and tasting to the scoresheet, which placed emphasis on Acidity, Sweetness & Balance. This reflects our daily approach to our sourcing, roasting & brewing, we will continue to strive & improve each and every step of the process.

Currently, we are brewing this Lempira from Finca LiquidAmbar at both our coffee bars and we are enjoying this lively & sweet coffee day in and day out. This coffee is also available on the retail shelves, so bring a bag home to enjoy in the comforts of your own place.

If you’d like to read more about this coffee, go here.

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