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  • Mass Production

    I had an interesting conversation with a dear friend this afternoon - of course, we discussed coffee and in particular, general practice amongst mass produced coffee. Some of his remarks went along the lines of...

    On the topic of nitrogen flushing:
    "Would you rather have a freshly picked apple from a tree, or one that has been in cold storage for a year?"

    On the topic of packaging:
    "I dont like gassy bags. Coffee should not be packed immediately, but allowed to rest once its roasted. The beans will be less oily."

    On the topic of pre-blending:
    "Every variety has a different moisture content, a different hardness, a different temperature point and profile when its roasted at its best. Thats why its far better to post-blend rather than pre-blend. They [roasters] only pre-blend because its easy and convenient."

    Once again, I walked away from a coffee conversation with some challenging thoughts running through my head!


  • #2
    Re: Mass Production

    I think that anyone thinks that there is one hard and fast rule or right answer in terms of any of those things either likes a very narrow range of coffee or hasnt tasted coffee widely.

    Cheers,

    Luca

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Mass Production

      I think that there are a few issues here. Firstly mass produced coffee. I have worked in a factory that mass produce coffee. We roasted and packed 10 ton of coffee every week. Every batch was carefully monitored and cupped before being released into the packing warehouse. The quality of the product was excellent and the attention to detail required a full time QA manager to ensure this. I am sure there are roasters this size that also do not put as much care in, but you cannot generalise based on size.

      Storage, both in terms of packaging and storing should be experimented. If it works for you, than that is the right way to do it. As Luca said there are no hard and fast rules.

      In terms of pre vs post blending, he has a point. It is easier to preblend. There are more issues here than what is easier though. There are pors and cons each way for the outcome of post v pre blending and you have to find what works for you. I find some of my blends taste and roast better pre blend, and some taste and roast better post blend.

      The best advise I was ever given very early in my coffee career was "try it". this is the best way to answer your questions.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Mass Production

        Oh, I wasnt questioning, or looking for answers Jason. I learnt quite a while ago to try things for myself, and never to discount the thoughts of others.

        Whenever someone says anything that challenges my thoughts I think its great. It means to me that my views arent rigid and its an opportunity to re-evaluate; doesnt mean I would necessarily change them. I find that exciting.

        Originally posted by 7D647270110 link=1235737032/1#1 date=1235742642
        I think that anyone thinks that there is one hard and fast rule or right answer in terms of any of those things either likes a very narrow range of coffee or hasnt tasted coffee widely.
        Luca...we agree!

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Mass Production

          Originally posted by 5F494C4C5D5F535A5A59593C0 link=1235737032/3#3 date=1235772123
          Luca...we agree!Smiley
          ;D ;D

          Yeah, only the other day I was having a chat with a friend about blending pre-roast. I could see some merit in that its faster, more economical etc, but from a taste sense, how can it be. I mean if some beans are fairly close in roast profile, I can kinda understand, but I guess IF you did have time to roast small batches seperately and post-roast blend, why wouldnt you? Surely you can roast each origin to its maximum potential and specific profile to produce a certain outcome. Basically, besides the time/cost factor, is it a viable option? It just doesnt make sense to me. Id love to hear thought from roasters, Im truly intrigued.

          Den, are we meant to comment on the above, or is it a prompt to start 3 new threads... as I reckon we totally could? Theres 3 great convos Id love to chew out.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Mass Production

            Originally posted by 7E686D6D7C7E727B7B78781D0 link=1235737032/0#0 date=1235737032
            Every variety has a different moisture content, a different hardness, a different temperature point and profile when its roasted at its best.  Thats why its far better to post-blend rather than pre-blend. They [roasters] only pre-blend because its easy and convenient."
            I guess with blending its best to know what the final result should be and as long as you have it in the cup, it doesnt matter what exactly was done. However to get to it one should experiment

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Mass Production

              Originally posted by 3A31382B2D2B3C2A590 link=1235737032/5#5 date=1235794895
              it doesnt matter what exactly was done
              I couldnt disagree more!

              Originally posted by 203C3C2338590 link=1235737032/4#4 date=1235790018
              Basically, besides the time/cost factor, is it a viable option?
              Dan, if were talking about someting like a 100kg roaster, then that equates to 400kg for just one batch of a typical 4 bean blend. Even on my comparatively little 3kg roaster, 12kg of greens means one needs to have the orders to make post blending worthwhile. I really struggled with this when I first started out, and a lot of beans were binned.

              Like Jason, I happen to think that the flavours in a couple of my blends homogenise when roasted together. Like a casserole, they certainly produce a different taste when the same beans are either pre or post blended.

              Comment away! We can even add in the topic of labelling, where its not uncommon for mass producers to use batch codes rather than dates. I know a few cafe operators that find this very frustrating.

              My intention isnt to criticise these practices or suggest whats right or wrong. Just to provoke a little thought and discussion.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Mass Production

                Originally posted by 3325202031333F36363535500 link=1235737032/6#6 date=1235802490
                Originally posted by 3A31382B2D2B3C2A590 link=1235737032/5#5 date=1235794895
                it doesnt matter what exactly was done
                I couldnt disagree more!

                Originally posted by 203C3C2338590 link=1235737032/4#4 date=1235790018
                Basically, besides the time/cost factor, is it a viable option?
                Dan, if were talking about someting like a 100kg roaster, then that equates to 400kg for just one batch of a typical 4 bean blend.  Even on my comparatively little 3kg roaster, 12kg of greens means one needs to have the orders to make post blending worthwhile.  I really struggled with this when I first started out, and a lot of beans were binned.

                Like Jason, I happen to think that the flavours in a couple of my blends homogenise when roasted together.  Like a casserole, they certainly produce a different taste when the same beans are either pre or post blended.

                Comment away!  We can even add in the topic of labelling, where its not uncommon for mass producers to use batch codes rather than dates.  I know a few cafe operators that find this very frustrating.

                My intention isnt to criticise these practices or suggest whats right or wrong.  Just to provoke a little thought and discussion.
                Agreed that code labels can and often do hide stale beans. I for one would much prefer to see roast date on bags wherever possible. This should at least be possible for SO bags? :-?

                I guess one problem might occur when beans are post blended (often in big operations with silos full of SO) and for reasons of hitting the mark or other operational issues, were roasted on different days.

                What to do then?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Mass Production

                  people in the coffee industry think that what is right is what they are doing and what everyone else does is wrong.....but rather

                  what is right is understanding what the result of what you are doing is going to be.... this is the difference between an expert in this industry and a think they are expert....

                  eg.... storage of coffee.... light, air and temperature affect coffee... we all know this.... light and air are easy to explain..... temperature... well this is where the experts think this, recommend that, put down other companies and so on....

                  wake up..... an expert will explain that storage at 30 degrees will have one result in the cup and storage at 10 degrees will have another... it is understanding why this is the case, and explaining this to the consumer that differentiates the experts from the parrots in the coffee industry...

                  and i am sure the coffee drinker, enthusiast, diehard etc appreciates this type of answer....

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Mass Production

                    Originally posted by 594F4A4A5B59555C5C5F5F3A0 link=1235737032/6#6 date=1235802490
                    chartres wrote on 28. Feb 2009 at 15:21:
                    it doesnt matter what exactly was done


                    I couldnt disagree more!
                    well, the thing is,
                    the customer is paying for something he/she likes. If I buy roasted coffee from you and I like it, it doesnt matter at all what exactly you have done and whether you blended before roast or post... the only thing that matters then is consistency. Whatever you have done to achieve the result must be 100% repeatable. Thats all. That is what I meant by the final result. You have this ideal profile in mind when you blend and as soon as you reached it and your physical senses tell you its the same your imaginary senses told you - its done!
                    its not any different from making wine for that matter, or whiskey...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Mass Production

                      Chartres, from your original comment you didnt appear to be speaking from a customer perspective, ie.
                      Originally posted by 6C676E7D7B7D6A7C0F0 link=1235737032/5#5 date=1235794895
                      However to get to it one should experiment
                      No matter.

                      Ive yet to meet a customer who isnt interested in the process, on the contrary, most of my customers would like to stand there and watch as I roast.

                      A generalisation I know, but perhaps those customers who arent so discerning, and rank consistency high on their priorities, are more likely, and better off, to make their purchases from a supermarket shelf.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Mass Production

                        Originally posted by 63565B5C68745851515252370 link=1235737032/7#7 date=1235803807
                        I guess one problem might occur when beans are post blended (often in big operations with silos full of SO) and for reasons of hitting the mark or other operational issues, were roasted on different days.
                        What about listing the range of dates?
                        e.g. "The beans in this blend were roasted between this date and that date and then lovingly bagged for you on another date".

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Mass Production

                          Originally posted by 584E4B4B5A58545D5D5E5E3B0 link=1235737032/10#10 date=1236149483
                          A generalisation I know, but perhaps those customers who arent so discerning, and rank consistency high on their priorities, are more likely, and better off, to make their purchases from a supermarket shelf.
                          I dont understand what you are trying to say.

                          Quality and consistency are not mutually exclusive. You can produce coffee that tastes consistently awful or coffee that tastes consistently good.

                          As chatres says, consistency is expected from a professional roaster, regardless of the quality of what they are selling. A lack of consistency across multiple roasts of the same product (ie. blend or SO) will drive away regular customers - particularly wholesale customers - and make it more difficult to get new regular customers.

                          I had a really interesting conversation with Stephen Hurst from Mercanta about product differentiation in the market for roasted coffee in Australia at a cupping a few days ago. His view is that there is tremendous potential for growth both in the overall coffee market and in product differentiation in the market, even though we might not be where we like to be at the moment. This, of course, is good news for people who love top quality coffee, as it means that buying higher quality (and therefore more expensive) green will hopefully become more viable. However, product differentiation requires consumer recognition, which, in turn, requires a consistent product within that line. People will feel ripped off if their $60/kg CoE coffee tastes different from week to week. They will think; hey, this is supposedly a great coffee - why doesnt it taste good. Risk will make them cautious in paying the (currently) premium price necessary to foster the high end of the market. From reading these forums, there definitely seems to be a perception that bigger roasters are inferior to smaller, boutique roasters. That may or may not be true for a given pair of roasters. What is undoubtedly true is that both small and large roasters do a tremendous amount of harm to the nascent pointy end of the coffee market when they promise more than they deliver. Whats in the bag has to match up to the (often unrealistic) description on the packet. This means that the product has to be of high quality and consistently not only of high quality, but of high quality in the same way insofar as is reasonably possible. Now we can debate what level of consistency is reasonably possible ad nauseum, but saying that quality and consistency are exclusive strikes me as both untenable and detrimental to the development of a differentiated coffee market.

                          Cheers,

                          Luca

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Mass Production

                            Luca I dont think Dennis was saying that quality and consistency were mutually exclusive; You need to read between the lines.

                            "A generalisation I know, but perhaps those customers who arent so discerning, and rank consistency high on their priorities, are more likely, and better off, to make their purchases (of poor but consistent quality coffee) from a supermarket shelf."

                            Highlighted words were added (between the lines) by me for clarification.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Mass Production

                              Originally posted by 293F3A3A2B29252C2C2F2F4A0 link=1235737032/10#10 date=1236149483
                              A generalisation I know, but perhaps those customers who arent so discerning, and rank consistency high on their priorities, are more likely, and better off, to make their purchases from a supermarket shelf.
                              well, I think I am misunderstood here a bit... I am sorry to go into wine and spirits allegories again, but what I meant was:
                              when I go out and buy Romane-Conti I expect to get something tasting like Conti give or take good/bad vintage, or at least something  tasting like exquisite Bourgogne. To find something tasting like top-Bordeau (e.g. Latour) in the bottle of R-C would be shocking, to say the least. When I go out and buy Peter Lehman shiraz, Id like something that tastes like mega-oaky warm climate shiraz for 20bucks. I wouldnt want to find something tasting like pinot in the bottle of Peter Lehman shiraz, even if this pinot would taste better... Because the next time I will be wondering what exactly I would find in the bottle and would that be whats promised or better or worse?
                              Thats the consistency.
                              For argument sake, If I buy DiBellas Premium blend, I know that it makes, to my taste, one of the best milk based coffees that I have tasted (though not particularly special as short black)... and when I buy it, I expect perhaps to treat my guests to just that. suppose I find that its tastes something different, improved perhaps, better perhaps as espresso, but its not what I wanted... Will I complain? Perhaps not, because I still have good coffee. Will I buy it next time? I dont know...

                              Comment

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