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Roasting Theory, Education and Existential Dread at the First Minneroasta

Rob Hoos. Daily Coffee News photo/Nick Brown.

If there’s one big takeaway from a roasting seminar with renowned Nossa Familia roaster and educator Rob Hoos, it’s that there are approximately one zillion known variables in the science and craft of roasting, and by the time you begin to wrap your head around some of them, approximately one zillion more will appear.

As a roaster, this leaves you with two options: succumb to paralysis through existential dread; or dive in and have a little fun.

Daily Coffee News photo/Nick Brown.

The several dozen professional and aspiring professional roasters at the first ever Minneroasta event in Minneapolis this past weekend overwhelmingly chose the latter. Rather than raising their fists and cursing the dark skies at the impossibly wide variability of diameter-related thermocouple readings — a recent pet research project of Hoos’ — they chose life.

Mill City Roasters in Minneapolis. Daily Coffee News photo/Nick Brown.

Hosted jointly by Minneapolis-based Mill City Roasters and Cafe Imports, the event was designed to provide a somewhat intimate opportunity for deep education, while offering hands-on opportunities at Mill City’s selection of roasters, ranging from 500-gram electric and gas machines to 20-kilo machines.

A vintage open-drum sample roaster at Mill City. Daily Coffee News photo/Nick Brown.

Friday evening concluded with a casual party at Cafe Imports’ main warehouse, where approximately 4.5 million pounds of coffee provided a dramatic backdrop for snacking on pizza and talking shop. Attendees also got feedback through Mill City’s annual “Focus on the Roast” competition, and the event concluded with a triangulation competition.

Cafe Imports Warehouse. Daily Coffee News photo/Nick Brown.

For its part, Mill City has recently expanded a focus on roasting education, a component founder Steve Green told Daily Coffee News has become increasingly important as a complement to service, as more and more Mill City machines make their way to predominantly young roasting companies throughout the country and overseas.

Eliza Lovett. Daily Coffee News photo/Nick Brown.

The company recently added experienced roasting pros Derek DeLaPaz and Eliza Lovett, who helped lead roasting sessions along with Hoos, Cafe Imports’ Joe Marrocco and Topeca Coffee‘s Ian Picco.

Ian Picco. Daily Coffee News photo/Nick Brown.

The event felt much like a smaller-format version of the annual Roasters Guild Retreat, and Green and Marrocco echoed one another’s perceptions that there are roasters all over the country hungry for more education and hands-on experience. With that in mind, they each told Daily Coffee News that they hope to be part of similar regional, roaster-focused events moving forward.

Daily Coffee News photo/Nick Brown.

“For many people, the ability to take the time and spend the money on a RG Retreat is a bit much,” Marrocco told Daily Coffee News. “The barriers to entry into the roaster community can be high. We hope to be a feeder to those larger events by letting the smaller companies get their feet wet locally. I think we met that goal, while also attracting a pretty large audience of roasters who made the journey to Minneapolis.”

Joe Marrocco. Daily Coffee News photo/Nick Brown.

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