Remember the dark days when coffee roasting was a craft shrouded in secrecy, its methods and techniques held close to the vest by a select few people who primarily learned everything through direct mentorship? Like, 10 years ago?
Those days are over. And while transparency in coffee buying still remains primarily in the conceptual realm, there now exists a wealth of roasting-professional-development resources online, in print and in person at coffee training centers and schools from which roasters can draw, regardless of experience level or budget.
With more than 8 million minutes of viewership since it started self-producing educational videos, Minneapolis-based roasting machine seller Mill City Roasters has become one of the most popular YouTube resources for roasters to glean knowledge, most often with career-long roaster, trainer and educator Joe Marrocco.
“When I first began roasting, resources were very few and far between,” Mill City’s Marrocco said in an email to Daily Coffee News. “[Roasters’] lips were sealed, and there was a lack of shared knowledge and experience. We have worked hard to change this, and now we are seeing more shared information than ever.”
The latest to come from the company’s information mill, so to speak, is Season 2 of its series called “Roaster School,” which is part of Mill City’s larger Roaster School platform. Season 1 of the series resulted in a whopping 17 episodes — mostly led by Marrocco and former Mill City roasting guru Dave Borton — covering everything from holiday blend creation or understanding the drying/yellowing stage to production roast planning.
Season 2 has seen an upgrade in production value, or at least better lighting, while Morocco and co-hosts such as Mill City Owner Steve Green and Mill City Roasting Education Coordinator Derek De La Paz have brought four episodes to life. Thus far, they’ve been tackling some introductory concepts such as how to approach the first part of a roast, the browning stage, and how to determine when the roast is done.
To complement the series, Mill City is also releasing a number of “educational shorts” for quick learning on a variety of production roasting aspects such as drum speed, airflow and moisture content.
The company says upcoming episodes in “Roaster School” Season 2 will focus on sensory evaluation and calibration, and professional extraction techniques and tips designed to help roasters better evaluate roasts and coffee quality.