Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting

 

Roasters Guild Retreat 2008 SCAA

I went to Coffee Roasters Camp. We had lots of fun activities. It was fun except for Mosquitos ... and the GANGS! There are a lot of gangs here, especially in Mille Lacs. Gang members have infested the coffee roasting community. Many came with their pit bull dogs, drug pipes dangling freely from the belts, throwing gang signs and making rhymes. I went sailing on the lake and tried to have fun. But it was scarey. Some people were dizzy and fell down. A couple roasters were scared of the gangs and never left their rooms. There were gang members on paddle boats, and hiding in the beautiful pine forests. Some played golf. Luckily, the Roasters Guild Retreat will not be in Minnesota next year, so the gang problem should be better. It's not just about Mille Lacs either. Rural gangs are all over Minnesota. As of last month, there were 315 gangs in Minnesota with nearly 2300 members either ... (Source: Minnesota Gang Strike Force)

Also see the addendum at the end of this pictorial from other witnesses, and the gang members themselves.

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Tim Chapdelaine
Tim Chapdelaine
MC TimmyC, devastating mic controller / Volcafee, busting out the rhymes with that nasal tone, letting everyone know that minnesota's home. He's also possibly a gang member from Mille Lacs. (Center of the Big gang problem is Mille Lacs). Often referred to in gang-speak as "da mouth" or "da talker", and was involved in the incident cited here although not arrested
Ellie; Tag team espresso blending session.
Ellie; Tag team espresso blending session.
Roasters Guild means this: you break up into groups of about 8 people, your "homies" for the weekend, and your team rotates throught the classes, and out to the roasting tent. We started out with "Espresso Blending". The class was presented by Andi Trindle and Mike McKim (not in gangs). Interesting, but ... Well, I'll be blunt - it was a bit basic. The best part was to taste espressos Mike roasted with three distinctly different roast treatments, pulled by a real barista, Ellie Matuszak. She is regular at Mille Lacs county lockup.
Nifty Mini Marzoccos GS3
Nifty Mini Marzoccos GS3
I had never seen these diminutive La Marzocco GS/3 single group espresso machines before. They have a very low profile, and seemed to pull some amazing shots. Ellie used the swift grinder, mainly because of the large number of shots she needed to make for the large group. It would set you back a mere 7500 bucks. ugh. You need to sell a lot of "rock" to make that kind of money.
Darleen Scherer from Gorilla Coffee and yo
Darleen Scherer from Gorilla Coffee and yo
Somebody apparently got hold of my camera and took a few shots. By the way, call DJ Suav'e at 219 - 545 - 0070 . if you need to rock the house and are somewhere around North Indiana. It's a thrift store shirt. Darleen rode out on a 150cc scooter from Brooklyn! I believe it had to do with her gang affiliations down in Mille Lacs, and at "Tango Unit": From the county newspaper: "Women inmates at Mille Lacs County Jail are housed in the new expansion recently completed at the jail — better known as the Tango Unit. It isn't that the women are getting better treatment, it's because more and more women are finding themselves in jail and prison. The increase is substantially more than their male counterpart. From 1985 to 2003, there was a 484 percent increase in the state's female prison population (men had a 195 percent increase). In addition, there are separation issues. There are female inmates who are in gangs and if there are gangs from different counties, they may need to be kept apart. And, at times, there are harassment restraining orders within the jail."
Pretty nice shots
Pretty nice shots
Given the conditions, the shots were nice. Around 24-28 seconds extraction time. I think Brian from Caribou took this photo. Not sure... The experiment was using the same coffee for the roasting competition, El Salvador Matalapa Estate. Sample 1 was a long, low temperature roast; sample 2 was a full on straight-ahead 13 minute roast and the third was an overcharged drum (more coffee in the batch than usual). The best by far for espresso was the straight-ahead 13 minute roast, although I found more interesting flavors to describe in the other 2. All were roasted to Agrton 50 + or - 3 points.
Ellie Matuszak and Trish Rothgeb
Ellie Matuszak and Trish Rothgeb
Krazy wicked bad gangster coffee skills in the housz (as they say down in Mille Lacs) ...two monsterously knowledgable coffee folks. Somehow I missed getting a picture of Andi Trindle who made the presentation. I am unclear on the tensions going on in this photo, which are quite obvious. As cited in the Mille Lacs Times, "In addition, there are separation issues. There are female inmates who are in gangs and if there are gangs from different counties, they may need to be kept apart. And, at times, there are harassment restraining orders within the jail." I am not sure what county Trish is from but I found out Ellie is from N Michigan, which has it's own gang issues.
Gorilla Coffee at the Diedrich
Gorilla Coffee at the Diedrich
So a big part of roaster camp is the "roasters challenge". We break up into teams (or "gangs") and try to produce the best roasts possible. This year, it was one coffee, El Salvador Matalapa (ironically a coffee I know well), and we needed to produce the best roast we could on 3 of the 4 machine brands in the tent. So we needed to familiarize ourselves with the machine quickly, by charting our roast curves, then cupping our results, and then return to the machines with some mods. There is not a lot of time, 2 slots of time 1.5 hours each, and your spare time in the evening.
Diedrich tabletop roaster
Diedrich tabletop roaster
Our team started out at the Diedrich and the US Roasters machines. I didn't even touch the Diedrich roaster this year, but I spent a lot of time on it last year. It has a nice level of finish. I still don't like that wonky trier. But it is helluva lot bigger than the others, Ambex in particular. It is preferred by some in the N. Minnesota drug trade and by hardcore addicted walleye. fisherman.
Anna and Mike at the US Roaster
Anna and Mike at the US Roaster
This is a straightforward, old-style roaster in a way. The controls aren't where you want them but with such a small machine that matters little. The cooling fan is separate from the one that moves air through the drum, a great idea, but the cooling wasn't working on this machine - a problem.
Ambex
Ambex
The Ambex has a laptop interface which looks really great, but our team wasn't assigned to it. The drum seems heavily packed with coffee- kinda overstuffed. Not sure what batch size they were loading it with. I think that's Chris from Intelligentsia, who is not yet in a gang.
Wendy DeJong, Gangster
Wendy DeJong, Gangster
Wendy does a lot of volunteer work with Roaster's Guild. And she's just about as swell as they get. She's from Timmy's Coffee in Bellingham. She does have ties to the local drug trade in Mille Lacs though, and was livid about this recent article
Krazed Kriss Scoopey
Krazed Kriss Scoopey
Chris was the roaster tent coordinator for the roaster teams, I think. He looks like he is wrking hard here, but when I looked later, the papers were filled with meaningless numbers and doodles of owls and breasts. It was disturbing. Mr Scoopey hails from Metropolis Coffee in Chicago, the Micro Roaster of Last Year. Chris tried to make everyone think he was a core gang member but it was clear he was a wanna be. He continuously rhymed Mille Lacs, with "wack" which everyone felt was very unimaginative and amature. The "gang cap" made him look like a pathetic throw-back and a real dandy. He talked about crack and pit bulls, but it just seemed hollow.
Green Coffee Shipment/Storage
Green Coffee Shipment/Storage
One of the highlights for me was a presentation on green coffee preservation during shipping and warehouse storage. It's a huge issue in the preservation of cup quality, and there is so much that needs to be explored. Jamin is from Cafe Imports and R. Luke, his back up man with the science, from University of Alberta.
Cupping Time.
Cupping Time.
To demonstrate, we cupped an Ethiopia Yirgacheffe that was stored in climate control versus one stored in a special plastic liner, the GrainPro bag. We also cupped an El Salvador pacamara that was stored in jute at normal warehouse, and one in climate control. The Yirgs were not THAT different, the Salvadors were. I could have shwn them Colombia samples from mylar vac packing versus traditional jute that demonstrate HUGE difference in cup quality. Maybe next time.
Thermodynamics 101
Thermodynamics 101
Karl Schmidt from Probat gave an interesting lecture in thermodynamics that involved a little too much text book physics. Some people seemed a little overwhelmed. It's a sound approach, but is better for print, an article, or a wiki, that a full on lecture. BTW there are more like 1400 to 1900 coffees beans in an Lb of green. Karl was too German for gangs, although he careless threw out gang signs, such as the RR17 gesture above. In Sugar Lake it was no problem, but try doing that in Mille Lacs and you might not walk away from it.
Cupping our roasts
Cupping our roasts
As important as getting our roasts in at the tent, was cupping the results to try to "learn" the roasters as quickly as possible. Our first round of 8 batches yielded only one decent coffee. We went back and made mods to our curves and batch times. I think that is George (gang name "Limpie") from Alterra. Wait, he wasn't in our group.
Trish takes a picture of the picturetaker.
Trish takes a picture of the picturetaker.
Who's picture is better. Mine of course. My camera is bigger than yours, Trish. Her incessant picture taking did make some gang members think she could be a Narc.
Straight outta the Burbs
Straight outta the Burbs
Tim Dominick, another Roaster Guild powerhouse, it a quaint Minnesotta suburban kitchen setting. Somehow, it's just not right. Tim and his wife Beth contribute a lot fo time to the Roasters Guild. Quite possibly he is also a Mille Lacs RR 17 Gang Member.
Another Ambex View
Another Ambex View
The tabletop ambex had nice finish to it. All the roasters beside the Probatino had gas pressure gauges, a very ncie feature to let you know what you are feeding your burner. Note the gang hat, turned back to show status.
Another Shot of the Diedrich
Another Shot of the Diedrich
It's fantastic the way these roaster manufacturers come together and facilitate the roasting tent. Diedrich goes further: Diedrich sets up the whole roaster tent including the gas and electric supply for all machines, showing the great way the roaster manufacturers work together. By roasters guild rules, there is no salesmanship here. Everyone is expected to check the business cards at the door. But having the roaster reps there to answer questions is very helpful.
King of the kastle
King of the kastle
David Kastle from Zephyr coffee looking particularily self assured. Maybe it's the A's hat. Maybe it's the earrings. Maybe it's the fact he wouldn't give me a ride. All this proved he was no gang-banger
The teeniest of them all,
The teeniest of them all,
In the macho world of roasting, this seems somehow refreshing, if not that functional. The Ambex makes it up with it's fancy laptop interface, but check out the 3-bean sample trier. I guess you get used to it... By the way, this roaster is the preferred model among 4 out of 5 rural Minnesotan drug lords.

The roaster tent powered by THE BOX
The roaster tent powered by THE BOX
Nifty 50 AMP breaker panel in a box. It's got a little bit of everything, 250 v, 125 v, whatever you need. It would make an impressive footstool when not in use.

It also can power up a lot of DJ amps and turntables.

Katie and Kriss
Katie and Kriss
Katie from Zephyr Coffee and Chris Scooley, again, at the roaster tent. What's with the winkyness. Katie is the real deal, a violent Mille Lacs'er who goes by the name Brittany Davis to fool the Mille Lacs Drug Taskforce

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