Last week, Jahn, Trent and I flew to Georgia to attend the annual Roaster’s Guild Retreat held at the Lake Lanier Resort and Conference, north of Atlanta. This yearly event focuses on education, community, networking and of course, roasting and tasting coffee from dawn to dusk.
Our trip had many facets. Trent and Jahn were participating for the first time and attended several roasting education and certification classes, and participated in a 20 team (200 total people) roasting challenge, which has been part of the retreat for the past 17 years.
I attended as part of the Roaster’s Guild Executive Council, which I was elected to earlier this year. In addition to council meetings and helping to ensure the event went smoothly, I was also responsible for membership outreach. With more than 1/3 of the attendees there for the first time, it was great to meet so many new people. I also participated in several educational sessions including a Peer to Peer review class with other roasting instructors to calibrate our teaching curriculum to the new international standard.
This year, the roasting tent was probably the largest that’s ever been set up anywhere in the world. 12 different manufacturers on hand with 21 different roasters for everyone to try. It was quite a collection, all housed in a 80 x 30 ft. tent with piped in A/C to offset the Georgia summer heat. Still, during the day, with all the roasters fired up, the temperature hovered in the mid 80’s inside the tent. (Before the A/C was in, we measured 106 on the floor and 142 at the top of the tent.)
Trent and Jahn were both put on teams of 10 for the roasting challenge where they were given samples of coffees, then had to come up with a blend using those coffees over the next 36 hours. We held two separate sessions to score the coffee with over 200 people tasting. The first round scored each as a brewed cup of coffee. The second was scored at a formal coffee cupping. Lots of slurping and spitting. During each round, the scores were submitted digitally in real time so the results were available immediately. Jahn’s team took 2nd place in the brewed competition and Trent’s team took 2nd in the cupping portion. While neither of their teams took a top 3 spot in the combined challenge, I’m super proud of them for their efforts and team work at the event.
After 6 days for me and 4 for the boys, we are back at work at MGC on Main St., putting our heads together looking for the small things we can do to make our coffee and workplace better. We all made some new connections with roasters from around the world. From coffee growers in China to scientists in Switzerland, the connections we make at these events become our resources for the future, and the friendships formed can often last a life time. We already can’t wait until next year!