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  • Wood roasting

    From today's Melbourne Age...

    .....‘‘We roast by our senses – by smell, sound and sight.’’ ‘‘We don’t roast by profile,’’

    Roasters all fired up
    mugshot
    matt holden

    In the early 1960s, the story goes, a couple of Italian brothers bought a second-hand coalpowered roaster, fired it up in their shed and began roasting coffee, shovelling the finished product into hessian sacks and delivering it to cafes around Melbourne where their fellow Italians gathered over cigarettes, cards and toasty short blacks. The coal-fired roaster is long gone and the company the Berra brothers founded, Coffee Mio, is now one of Australia’s big old-school Italian roasters, with a shop and factory in High Street, Thornbury, and a massive gasfired roaster that is fed by hoppers, not hand.

    But the home-roasting tradition of Melbourne’s early Italian migrants has been revived just down the road in Westgarth by Adriano Pilati, Marcello D’Intini and Phill Haddad, trading as the Ricci Method. In a glass-walled room at the back of Melograno, an artisan gelateria and cafe, the trio have hooked up a wood combustion stove to a 15-kilogram Ghibli roaster and are doing wood-fired coffee the old way. Many roasters now track their roast with heat probes and laptops that run profiling software. But, says Pilati, ‘‘We roast by our senses – by smell, sound and sight.’’ ‘‘We don’t roast by profile,’’ adds Haddad. ‘‘We watch and we listen.’’ Marcello D’Intini says they grew up with their nonnas roasting coffee beans on the stove at home. ‘‘You can see how slow the process is,’’ he says. ‘‘You refine it by listening, looking, smelling.’’ They started experimenting three years ago, working in a shed on a farm at Warranwood. At first the coffee tasted ‘‘terrible’’, says Pilati. ‘‘The learning curve was long,’’ adds D’Intini. Now they’ve got it figured.

    The wood-fired roast cycle is longer than gas – around 20 minutes – because it takes longer to adjust the temperature in the drum. ‘‘It’s a bit like steering a big ship,’’ Pilati says. ‘‘It’s a slower, gentler roast.’’ Pilati says they use a variety of timber including sugar gum and yellow box. ‘‘That’s our IP,’’ he jokes. ‘‘But we are conscious of sustainability.’’ They sell two blends (from $15 for 250 grams): Buon Giorno is darker and richer, with more caffeine for a morning wake-up call; while Buona Sera is smoother and sweeter, for the afternoon. And while you shouldn’t expect their coffee to taste of a campfire, the wood-fired method does infuse a subtle, old-school smokiness that’s spot-on in an espresso or a stovetop.

  • #2
    [QUOTE=Talk_Coffee;550937]From today's Melbourne Age...

    .....‘‘We roast by our senses – by smell, sound and sight.’’ ‘‘We don’t roast by profile,’’

    i do hope they do a better job than the wood fired roated coffee i tried at Castlemaine last year.... it had smokiness for sure..and some other flavours.

    I think i will stick to the behmor for now

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    • #3
      I recall a talented and well-known roaster around these parts suggesting that roasting without some sort of datalogging and profiling was akin to roasting blindfolded with one hand tied behind his back.

      I concur.

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      • #4
        It does sound very romantic and rustic but have any snobs tried their coffee?

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        • #5
          Yup, marketing in its purest form, selling the sizzle not the sausage.

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          • #6
            Can't understand why it has to be one way OR the other rather than profile roasting with monitoring gear, in conjunction with sensory, which I imagine quite frankly is how most small-medium roasters work anyway.

            Large volume (bulk) roasting no doubt is a totally different ball game in terms of both technique and target consumer, but I can't see how relying totally on sensory for a proper consumer base (i.e. not just for yourself & family), is anything but a marketing ploy. What if you happen to have the flu and your senses are shot to hell at the time.

            Just my 4c worth.

            GrahamK
            Last edited by GrahamK; 3 February 2015, 05:22 PM. Reason: grammar

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            • #7
              Originally posted by zingzing View Post
              It does sound very romantic and rustic but have any snobs tried their coffee?
              This. You can buy software and various other gadgetry to tell you what you don't instinctively know. That doesn't necessarily make you a great coffee roaster. Roasting by your senses is intuitive, likely acquired through years of experience, as you cannot purchase intuition. Passing judgement on that without so much as sampling the result is, I suppose, the essence of snobbery.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by TheLittleCup View Post
                ....Roasting by your senses is intuitive, likely acquired through years of experience, as you cannot purchase intuition
                Yes- agreed on that.

                Conversely, roasting without some sort of datalogging is counter intuitive. Sensory and data go hand in hand. I know for one that using both makes me a better, far more consistent roaster than if I was to rely solely on intuition.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
                  Yes- agreed on that.

                  Conversely, roasting without some sort of datalogging is counter intuitive. Sensory and data go hand in hand. I know for one that using both makes me a better, far more consistent roaster than if I was to rely solely on intuition.
                  Yeah, for you. Perhaps you lack his intuitive sense. But, going back to my primary point…have you tried the sensory-only roast the gentleman produces, or are you dismissing it out of hand simply because he doesn't subscribe to your philosophy/technique? I guess what strikes me is that everyone is poo-pooing the technique, while no one of the critics has actually sampled the result in the cup.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TOK View Post
                    Yup, marketing in its purest form, selling the sizzle not the sausage.
                    Yup!

                    Originally posted by TheLittleCup View Post
                    Yeah, for you. Perhaps you lack his intuitive sense.
                    Rather inflammatory don't you think? That would be akin to me suggesting that you in fact lack sensory skills and couldn't tell the difference anyway. Given I don't know you, I wouldn't suggest that.

                    I'll be buying some out of curiosity. At $60/kg when purchased in 250g bags, I'm hoping to get my socks blown off.
                    Last edited by TC; 4 February 2015, 09:28 AM. Reason: tpyo

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                    • #11
                      Not intended to be inflammatory at all, but I'm pretty sure you probably do lack his intuitive sense for his process. Unless, of course, you've also been perfecting it for years? Don't be so sensitive. Some of the comments in the article hint at that intuition. For instance, he compares the progression of the roast to "steering a big ship,' adding that "it's a slower, gentler roast." This makes a lot of sense if you think about it with a modicum of objectivity. If you're planning on turning a big ship you had better be starting your turn well before you're actually expecting the ship to respond. In roasting terms, this is analogous to stoking the fire well in advance of the moment you want your roast to intensify. This is art form, not to be confused with plugging into a USB port and booting up the ol' Dell in order to discern that precise moment. All I'm saying is that I can appreciate the beauty and artistry in that sort of nuanced intuition, which has been evolving since way before the advent of silicon, and, frankly, I'm surprised that you apparently don't. If I were you, I wouldn't waste the money on your curiosity, 'cause the outcome is likely already a foregone conclusion. On the other hand, if you like it, send me some, and we'll see if we can agree.

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                      • #12
                        There we go again, if you use technology then somehow your senses are no good, no matter what your experience might be.

                        Maybe if technology was used alongside intuition and senses it may not have taken that long.

                        GrahamK

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TheLittleCup View Post
                          Not intended to be inflammatory at all, but I'm pretty sure you probably do lack his intuitive sense for his process.
                          Ok- just go pure 100% unadulterated insulting then. I suspect you chose the wrong coffee forum. Nevertheless, welcome to CoffeeSnobs.

                          Originally posted by TheLittleCup View Post
                          On the other hand, if you like it, send me some.
                          In your dreams buddy....

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by TheLittleCup View Post
                            Not intended to be inflammatory at all, but I'm pretty sure you probably do lack his intuitive sense for his process. Unless, of course, you've also been perfecting it for years?
                            Welcome to Coffee Snobs.
                            Not intended to be inflammatory at all, but I'm pretty sure you probably have been coming across as disrespectful.

                            We welcome all here, and if you read again what you've written you might understand my first impressions of you could be taken in a negative way.
                            However, I'll assume for now your enthusiasm is not translating well into the written word.

                            I see your point of view but also that of Talk Coffee.
                            I'd advise you to do some research before making your own assumptions about a Site Sponsor and senior member of this forum.
                            Talk Coffee is very knowledgeable about coffee and tries to present a balanced argument.
                            He made no comment one way or another in his original post but merely started the discussion by posting an article not everyone has access to.
                            He agreed with your comment in post #7 but you seem only to have been insulting or antagonistic to him so far.

                            How about you take a deep breath and try to let us get to know you and your writing style better so that we can talk about the pros and cons the article raises without getting personal.

                            Too bad this thread wasn't started earlier, as I was only in Melbourne over the weekend and could have popped out to Westgarth to grab a bag.
                            Last edited by Thundergod; 4 February 2015, 04:43 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Welcome TLC

                              Please all - let’s not let this thread head south - so disappointing when it all gets aggressive

                              Originally posted by Thundergod View Post
                              Talk Coffee is very knowledgeable about coffee and tries to present a balanced argument.
                              And roasts his own great coffee - so I don’t for a minute doubt his coffee ‘intuition’ - technology used or not

                              Originally posted by GrahamK View Post
                              …if you use technology then somehow your senses are no good, no matter what your experience might be.
                              Second this - technology is only a tool, and is not there to replace the senses (as many successful roasters will concur). I reckon that if these wood-fired beans are as great as promoted (and I'm looking forward to Chris' feedback when he picks up a bag!) then adding a data logger to the equation would simply record what must be his consistently excellent technique - which is the only reason that profiles and data logging are there in the first place - to make these consistently good results easier to achieve! It wouldn’t add to or detract from his abilities at all.

                              And if Coffee Mio can achieve ongoing, repeatable, high quality results fro a wood powered roaster for their client base without any technology and simply ‘shift by feel’ - I’d love to know their secret! More power them

                              Cheers Matt

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