Oh boy, here we go...........
Nic, think about blending and intellectual property....
p.s. welcome to CS
Hey everyone, Ive been trying to get some experience in commercial roasting, wholesaling and general pre-cafe stuff for the last 6 to 8 months, having reached a point where I think Id like to move away from everyday cafe life for a while and broaden my knowledge and experience. Can anyone explain to me what commercial coffee roasters believe they will gain from being secretive about what they do? After speaking with LOTS of roasters I was amazed by how suspicious they were as a group, I was literally asked if I was a "vampire" by a company. Correct me, but I refuse to believe said coffee companies are so short sighted that they would consciously hide their practices. Would such blatant allusion to dishonesty firstly create suspicion that they do have something to hide and secondly and more importantly actively stifle their own industrys growth? Surely they would benefit from ENCOURAGING people to learn about the business of coffee roasting, in order to stimulate a community (like coffee snobs) in which everyone has access to the best and most current info! Can anyone shed any light on this? I for one am stumped.
Oh boy, here we go...........
Nic, think about blending and intellectual property....
p.s. welcome to CS
I am sure that there a a few CS sponsors who would be pleased to show you the ropes on a roaster with some single origin beans. We have a course for those wanting to learn how to use a commercial roaster.
I am also certain that few commercial roasters will be interested in providing you with their intellectual property such as blend "recipes" or profile specifics.
Originally Posted by 7F776F65781C0 link=1243328146/1#1 date=1243328374
What about the blending that Coke Cola and KTF get up too.... Surely they should just provide it to every drink maker and chicken cook around...
IP... I thought only government departments got hung up on that ? Or is that TCP/IP :D
You know what I was getting at mate ;DOriginally Posted by 0D222B293E012D222D2B29212922384C0 link=1243328146/3#3 date=1243329308
I know a few commercial roasters and youre right, they are a bit secretive.Originally Posted by 4B56574A535954515B51574D4B380 link=1243328146/0#0 date=1243328146
But I dont blame them and see it as good business sense.
Theres your answer, "good business sense".
As AM already said, Coca Cola and KFC dont publish their recipes because then their product wouldnt be unique.
The idea of business is to make money.
You cant do that if you give away your ideas.
They arent being short sighted; they are being the opposite; looking to future growth of their business.
Consider yourself corrected. ;)
Ok, firstly thanks for the welcome everyone, its awesome to feel a dialogue can be had here - its encouraging!
Id LOVE the opportunity can you be more specific and Ill make some calls tomorrow!Originally Posted by 5A6F6265514D6168686B6B0E0 link=1243328146/2#2 date=1243329232
In regards to the parrallels between our precious coffee and coca-cola and KFC, are you serious? If you would like your coffee company and its practices viewed in the same light as these massive exploitative companies then be my guest, but I would argue that would represent "bad business sense" in an environment where our consumers are continually looking to be better informed and feeling better about their expenditure. I would recomend taking a look at initiatives such as COE and Fairtrade to gague the importance of this idea being adopted throughout the supply chain.
Dont get me wrong Im all for making money, but the fact that these companies cant be straight with their practices indicates a floor. Which is this - their ideas are not good enough without their marketing and sense of mystique, essentially it indicates weak product, relying on more persuasive marketing to sell it. Id be interested to see what metrics people like coke (or any secretive roaster if you would like to make the comparison) use to create value to sell their product, Id argue they bear no relevence to any tangible attribute on the production floor, rather something dreamed up around a marketing team meeting, "would it be fair to say x? about this coffee?".Originally Posted by 5A667B606A6B7C69616A0E0 link=1243328146/5#5 date=1243335593
Welcome to CS.
Anyone who makes a product they believe to be a "cut above" the rest (and yes, Coke and KFC believe that!!) will guard their practises from any prying eyes.... and that is understandable.
A coffee roaster who has slaved long and hard.... possibly wasting lots of beans as well as hours of labour to finally perfect their "art" also doesnt want to share it with anyone..... They have a huge financial investment in what they have done..... and why should they give that to others for free..... saving them all that expense.
The bottom line, other that the basics which can be found easily, is you have to develop your own style, your own technique etc.... just like those before you have done..... It is a business after all.... the roasters are there to make a living..... they are not really trying the "hide" anything.... they are just protecting their investment (like any other business would do).....
I know it seems harsh and selfish..... but they arent there to help you or me.... but to earn a living out of the techniques they perfected.... and that is all it comes down to!
Its a bit like the TV service person (almost extinct now)....
Called in to fix a TV.... goes over.... thumps it in a certain location... and the TV works perfectly again.....
He tells the customer - "That will be $100"
The angry customer says "What $100 for thumping my TV.... I could have done that!!" to which the service person replied....
"Well it is 10c for thumping your TV and $99.90 for knowing where to thump it!!"
See the similarity?
Originally Posted by 0109111B06620 link=1243328146/1#1 date=1243328374OK, whats to stop two individual roasters developing their own blend that are exactly the same? Same green beans, same proportions, same roasting profile; perhaps even the same roaster. Whose IP is it?Originally Posted by 2803140320620 link=1243328146/7#7 date=1243339681
Welcome snork to CS
To get a trade as I did
I became an apprentice for 4 years and now @ 50 yo I am still learning
However these days one can register to do a coffee roasting course
One such place is Go Barista
Quote from Site
So what are you waiting for :DGO Barista can provide you the very best in Coffee Roasting training with Serge Siboni Master Coffee Roaster, learn the mysterious art of turning green beans into darkly aromatic gems. Blending coffee and knowledge of coffee around the world can be added to your training. Your personal training can be done from the Gold Coast or your premises any where in Australia and New Zealand.*
*Accommodation & Travel charges apply.
Padre Coffee seem to be fairly open about what goes in to their blends. I went to a cupping night a few months back where we cupped the individual elements in two of their blends, then played around with the final result.
While I can understand it the whole IP thing to a point, I agree with Nic, if all you can sell your coffee on is some secret herb n spice recipe, then you need to dig deeper, particularly if were talking small batch/specialty roasters, this probably doesnt apply so much to the big commercial roasters who are supplying cafes.
I for two would love to get some hands on practice with a commercial roaster, not just the add heat part, but the selecting, cupping, profiling side of things. Id like to think that some of the smaller players in the market would be more than happy to share the love.
Nothing at all.....Originally Posted by 2E24312626293D3B480 link=1243328146/8#8 date=1243340239
And they both have IP over "their blend" even if it has the same flavour profile etc.... because they both developed it independently (presuming they are both experienced roasters.... with well developed palates etc.... then it is quite conceivable that they could have come to the same blend.....)
But only those two roasters will be competing against each other.... and more than likely there is enough market share for both.... and the product will remain exclusive.
But if the blend is made "open source".... then every roaster will start to produce it..... market will be saturated with a certain "sameness".... and it will lose most of its appeal....
The only competitive edge a coffee roaster can have is the quality of their product..... and to retain that edge..... they need to keep their process confidential.
Every time I go to a place that roasts coffee they are more than happy to show me around and give me hints. I often get invited to go in the back and watch a roast. Of course Im not after their recipes, just help on how to roast better and what they think is important.
Approach is everything.
It is the same in many / most manufacturing processes... Perfume, Drinks, Medical devices etc etc.. While many components may be teh same it can be the use / blends that separates the every day product to the exceptional.. ;)Originally Posted by 705B4C5B783A0 link=1243328146/11#11 date=1243341095
Many people still miss the point... The smaller roasters need their special blend to stand apart... Other wise I will go to the closest rather than the one up the ally... I mean I need my fix...Originally Posted by 5B59555D5D5354493A0 link=1243328146/10#10 date=1243340611
There are many shops / cafes in my area etc and I can not be bothered... They sell the main stream roasts as provided by the BIG high volume Roasters...
Now and then a little place surfaces and if they are doing their own blend / mix I will drop in and try.... May even go back... Why, caus they have what the others do not...
I spend a bit of time at Vs of a Saturday... Do I like the main lines... NA... There is one or two blends, however do grab my pallet....
Then again it is like a SO.... You may say HOW... One bean ?
Cupped the individual elements in two of their blends, then played around with the final result.
It can be a smoke screen... :o ::)
Get 4 roasters to do a batch of SO... I bet you will get 4 different but similar outcomes...
Why... Cause unless they use the same roaster / heat and method as well as the same profile at the same external environment conditions the beans WILL BEHAVE DIFFERENTLY..
Now, if I can control that and tweak my roasts to provide that special something that others do not have.. I will as it will = $$$ to me..
I will only be too happy to talk about Beans, where they came from... cupping and pulling apart all the pros and cons of the bean... But have I really been open... Naaaaaaa :o
One roaster up the road trained his 2IC in about 4 hrs.. Tick teh box and follow the bouncy ball... 80% of the roasts are done this way... His special blends are done by him... Why...
Because as he says... It is his ears / eyes and nose that allows him to get exactly what he wants.. And when it comes to his blends as he says... He has to tweak to ensure that the special is consistent for his clients...
Thus as far as I am concerned.... If you develop or manufacture something special... Protect IT and hold it close to you.. After all, while every one wants something cheep or free... The manufacturer / supplier has to make money to survive.....
And as for this little jem below....... I love it... SO true, as most people are so short sighted...
Or how to apply the heat and when ;) ;)Originally Posted by 705B4C5B783A0 link=1243328146/7#7 date=1243339681
For me I love it when you have to fly / travel (4 + 4) and after you get there you fix it in 1hr and charge for 9hrs... They all start to crow and carry on.. It does not matter if I am in a plane / car or walking or sitting in front of the job... Your paying for ME and MY knowledge... Not just teh job...
So as my daughter would say... "Man it up and move on"....
Nic the Coke and KFC examples were to illustrate the IP aspect of their business.Originally Posted by 223F3E233A303D3832383E2422510 link=1243328146/6#6 date=1243338191
If you want to put them down because you perceive them to be exploitive, then start a new topic in the "Off Topic" section.
And dont get me started on Fairtrade.
This is a coffee forum.
That was a very ill informed comment.
Do you honestly think COE and Fairtrade have never been mentioned here before?
Please dont preach here.
ACog I dont think people buy KFC because of the "secret herbs and spices" mystique.Originally Posted by 30323E3636383F22510 link=1243328146/10#10 date=1243340611
Yes the marketing contributes to people buying their chicken but a certain number of people will still buy it if it was the most recent ad they saw.
They dont even use "Kentucky Fried Chicken" any more but call themselves "KFC".
The "Southern Fried Chicken" concept obviously is no longer important.
I also dont think small roasters use their "secret" blends to attract business.
They actually get it through traditionally marketing techniques like local flyers, ads in the paper, word of mouth and a lot of door knocking.
After that they keep and grow their business by the taste and quality of their product.
Ive been buying coffee for quite a few weeks now because my correttos out of action.
I have little interest in whats in the blends I buy because I couldnt replicate them for a start and secondly I wouldnt want to.
Even if I was starting up a new roasting business my attitude would be the same.
How would I attract business away from my competitors if all I had to offer was identical product.
As a consumer Id stick with the original if thats what I like.
If my beans were different and perceived to be better, then thats how Id get the business.
Of course roasters are suspicious, we are for a number of reasons.
In the past 4 years in our small area of 250,000 people it has gone from 3 roasters to 10. Of all these roasters, very few have more knowledge than a 2 week course or less. Now this is a great starting point but it takes years to develope a product worthy of selling to another cafe, but the reality of business forces them to do so from day 1. I get responses from potential customers that they will not use local beans because local roasters have inferior product. Now this is true as a generalisation in our area, but we are an exception. I have fought for 4.5 years to have our coffee viewed as superior to commercial stuff instead of inferior. Now a few cowboys who own roasters are undoing all that work for me. Roasting seems to be the new black and good/successful roasters are concerned, and not just because its competition. In fact, all the above is actually forcing me to move on from this area and go back to the city.
If you think you can learn to roast in a few weeks you are wrong. All you will be able to do is learn to operate a roaster. Learning to roast is a long journey that you must discover for yourself, with the aid of as many people who you respect as possible.
Now, Im not one of these secretive types, and I think you are spot on when you say that the product is often nothing without marketing, but be very careful. I talk very openly with a number of roasters who would be direct competition. None of us would dream of copying each other because we all have our own style. I have also talked very openly about blends and profiles with members of the public, but their approach can often be the deciding factor in whether that conversation goes ahead or not. Remember, alot of us have spent years honing our craft and we did not always have somebody to go ask, it was trial and error and many late nights and throw away batches. This is what makes me the roaster I am today, the process not the product.
Wow guys, I think most of you need to go back and actually understand what Im talking about - any discussion about IP in relation to blending is hilarious, even if anyone did want to copy a blend as Pioneer Roaster said it would be so incredibly stupid to even attempt.
If any of you were discerning enough to understand what I am talking about you would realise that firstly Im not asking roasters to freely give me information about what they do, rather I am suggesting that roasters as a community should be aware that the control of their information is stifling our industry, essentially starving it of the very currency it depends on.
Let it also be known that my approach with these coffee companies has been nothing but professional and that my experiences looking for work are not the issue here, Im addressing a larger dynamic of insulated resources forming a non-communicative community that lacks the fluidity it will benefit from in the future.
Thundergod - anyone can see that your comparison between good coffee and fast food, (coke incidentally DO represent a dying method of doing business and are in fact exploitative by nature , not just in my view) shows us that your understanding of the transparency that COE and Fairtrade stand for is somewhat lacking. I have no doubt that these initiatives have been talked about in the utmost detail here and would not dare preach about their virtues however, it seems their ideology has not been applied to the roastery culture.
cheers! * *
Im interested, have you approached these companies asking for employment with resume in hand, or have you been asking to watch over their shoulder?
Originally Posted by 78656479606A67626862647E780B0 link=1243328146/16#16 date=1243384686
mmmm ... I havent even met you, only have read your words as posted here. * I think GregWormald has given you the best advice thus far:
Originally Posted by 4C796E6C5C6479666A676F0B0 link=1243328146/12#12 date=1243343607
Sorry chief, but your understanding of etiquette is sadly lacking.Originally Posted by 4B56574A535954515B51574D4B380 link=1243328146/16#16 date=1243384686
You come here, not with an open mind but rather with a mindset that you want support with from the members of this site. When you dont get it you revert to childish attacks against the members.
Try going to a software company and asking them for the source code of their profit making software because not doing so "stifles the industry". Truly... you come here and imply we arent discerning enough to comprehend you? Get off your high horse, and be explicit in what you want from these roasters and we might be able to assist you. Keep on with your attitude and superiority complex and youll be ignored for being the troll that you act like.Originally Posted by 4B56574A535954515B51574D4B380 link=1243328146/16#16 date=1243384686
i agree with Jason at Pioneer Roasters... Di Bella Coffee is more than happy to show anyone around our facility... (even other roasters)... we are more than happy to answer questions.... talk about certain roasting procedures and coffee selecting processes...
However.... there comes a time where certain questions will not be answered and certain things not discussed.... call this arogant... call this secretive... it is our right and others as business owners to choose what we want to give away or keep to ourselves...
It is in noones best interest to be totally secrative or not to answer questions... but it is also in our companies best interest to not share too much information.... :)
I have had experiences at both DiBella Coffee in Melbourne where I was allowed to watch a roast.
I did the same cupping at Padre Coffee as Acog.
I found both experiences fantastic, the attitudes of the roaster at DiBella and the Owner at Padre brilliant. They were very helpful and knowledgeable and open to sharing information.
As Acog said, the owner of Padre showed us the beans, discussed the roast and his suppliers. Basically the only thing that he did not discuss was proportions. He even showed us some profiles.
I think that in both cases, I got a perspective on how little I know and how much learning there was.
Both roasters spoke of trial and error, various disasters and how difficult it was to get their blends right and maintain quality.
I think at a superficial level roasters I have spoken to are pretty helpful and happy to talk, but the reality is, I doubt you would be able to "steal" secrets without working for a long period of time with the roaster. Trying to replicate their knowledge or blend would be pretty tough!
I think the superficial knowledge would be easy to address, but I think to get the real detail, you would have to earn your stripes and really work in the industry. To be honest, I dont think this is different in any other organisation or semiproffesional job you would find.
Originally Posted by 5B4F54535A5862594A585151584F3D0 link=1243328146/19#19 date=1243388683Google Chief.Originally Posted by 43574C4B42407A41524049494057250 link=1243328146/19#19 date=1243388683
Thanks for everyones feedback, I appreciate the honesty with which you have responded. Seeing as there have been only a few relevant responses here I might suggest a slowing in the one-up-man-ship occurring in favor of some solid argument. If anyone would like to directly respond to my suggestions maintaining even a small degree of the contextual integrity of what I am saying Id be interested to continue this conversation. If not please remember that you all (as DiBella correctly pointed out) have the right to completely ignore what I am merely suggesting to be the way of the future and continue as you have for the past 30 years. It seems sad to me though that such a potentially vibrant culture is so insecure that they cant have a constructive argument about their business strategies.
I think a few have...Originally Posted by 564B4A574E44494C464C4A5056250 link=1243328146/22#22 date=1243391405
couple of things BACK OFF from attacking posts and individuals! We are a group of enthusiasts here be it newbie to experienced to home roaster to 30 year veteran Pro Roasters. For a new member here your lack of etiquitte is staggering.
If you dont agree with someone then you dont have to take there advice onboard, a post by post attack is not required. I have found that in general advice here is given freely by all and to then find your own path taking on what you think best from it.
A discussion does not need to be an Argument with punch and counter punch ! If you were to approach anyone in person like you have approached some of the members here any wonder they were suspicious of you and your motives >:(
As a visitor to a few of the best roasteries around Melboure I have found them to be approachable and prepared to chat about what they are doing and why. Most were happy to show me around talk about Beans, Blends and even roast depths. Absolute specifics are irrelevent as if you ever finish up roasting commercially your roaster and bean selections will most likely be different anyway.
Approach is everything.
Originally Posted by 756869746D676A6F656F697375060 link=1243328146/22#22 date=1243391405
As has been said above.... most responses are in the context of your initial post.....
The culture you speak about is right here - on CS where ideas and results are shared for all to see and read....
We, the members of CS (except for site sponsors), dont have "sheep stations" riding on coffee and the pursuit of coffee excellence. We arent a business.... there is no need for a competitive edge.
But a commercial roaster pays the bills, feeds the family etc by the income they derive from their (personal) knowledge and experience. Some do it better than others and thrive.... some cant quite get there and will struggle or go out of business as a result.
There is no way a successful business should help out a less successful competitor.... or even let Joe Blow know his "secrets" so he can roast the same at home.....
What you want is the old Communist System (which was a dismal failure) where all knowledge was owned by the state.... and all (in theory) could share equally in the knowledge - well it didnt work and has been replaced by a Western capitalist model which does work - complete with its trade secrets, market edge, competition between independent suppliers of all things and survival of the fittest - including the BUSINESS of roasting coffee beans!!!!
So what you want cant and wont happen in todays world..... and is unlikely in any future world as well......
Any business model which removes the competitive edge and financial reward for innovation and excellence is domed to failure. Without reward for excellence, there is no incentive to produce goods of increasing quality - ultimately resulting in mediocre offerings by all suppliers.... after all without some incentive (generally $$$$$) why do anything different to the norm!!!!
Contextual integrity... ok let me ask exactly what it is that you want to know - hard to respond when you are being so vague.Originally Posted by 514C4D5049434E4B414B4D5751220 link=1243328146/22#22 date=1243391405
1. How much do you buy for - and by association how much do you sell for?
2. Roasting parameters including blending types, guidelines, heats, times, temperature curves?
3. Where do you buy from? Both in context from a particular wholesaler, and by region/grower where applicable?
4. How do you market your product? In line with that how do your establish new business, or entice people away from their current provider?
5. How do you deal with council regulations once your roasting hits a certain number of kilos and pollution becomes an issue for local residents?
All of the above are specific questions, with specific answers which may or may not be answered by people who make money by dealing and overcoming these questions on a daily basis. Simply stating (parapharased) "no roasters will talk to me about what they do - why is that?" doesnt allow anyone to comment at a factual level. Assumptions are made about the information you require, how it is that youre dealing with the roasters and attempts to justify why they arent sharing their knowledge and experience with someone who is a potential competitor for their slice of the pie.
Specific, directed questions will net you a much more helpful response.
Hehehe. A newbie comes in swinging!Originally Posted by 6E667E74690D0 link=1243328146/1#1 date=1243328374
The only pro roaster I have come across almost dragged me by the ear to show me what he was doing after I showed a little interest!
I am guessing that it is your approach?
Any way I think that you should checkout other sources of info. Roast magazine would be good start.
If I understand correctly, you are promoting the philosophy of communism and denigrating pro-roasters.
If so, there are some fundamental problems with your argument.
Communism, and in this context I mean an ideology of common ownership and control of the means of production and ownership (inclduing intellectual property), is a wonderful concept. As wonderful as it may be, it doesnt work. Human nature is such that as societies form and develop, capitalism is preferred.
Secondly, the responses youve received from the forum, be it from general members or roasters, have demonstrated that your perception of unreasonable secrecy are mistaken.
If Ive mistaken your context, then the other scenario that comes to mind is that you would like to visit my home for the first time and rummage through my undies drawer. It aint going to happen! ;D
Ill add my support to what Jason and Phil have already said. In addition, there have been several opportunities for CSers to watch a roast and learn more about commercial roasting here at cuppacoffee.
The WWW is doing a good job at sharing ideasOriginally Posted by 3C21203D242E23262C26203A3C4F0 link=1243328146/22#22 date=1243391405
I need to say from the outset that it takes more than a roast profile to get a great flavour in the cup
The most important part of an individual roasters tool kit apart from the Roasting Machine is
Wait for it
I argue that unless you have trained your tongue *to recognise the different flavours and try to blend to a profile, then you wont have much success
"Noting" that every year as growing conditions are never the same that sensory organ called the tongue is ones greatest asset to match consistency and flavour by altering the mix as required
If a roaster gives you a recipe of bean origins and percentage % amounts to roast one would still have difficulty to get it the same because you have not been involved in the preliminary cupping/tasting phase
Wow, I think we have a new poster child for the me! me! me! generation.
Do not feed the trolls!
The boss has spoken.Originally Posted by 614E4459200 link=1243328146/30#30 date=1243413814
not just in my view" - please supply examples.Originally Posted by 372A2B362F25282D272D2B3137440 link=1243328146/16#16 date=1243384686
"shows us" - the Royal we?
I know they said not to feed the trolls but I read your response to me first.
snorkalicious let me also tell you that your attitude that comes across is poor at best, rude and disrespectful.
My initial reply to you was couched in terms of an explanation.
My final comment:Was my "subtle" way of telling you to pull your head in.Originally Posted by 102C312A202136232B20440 link=1243328146/5#5 date=1243335593
This time I wont be subtle.
IMO I did nothing to deserve the personal attack and and take offence.
I dont like "brave" people that hide behind the internet.
Unless you show some humility and apologise, I for one wont be feeding this troll again.