The Singapore Roasters Forum (SRF) is a yearly forum and roasting competition aimed at sharing knowledge in an open and transparent manner as well as showcasing the best Singapore roasters has to offer. We are really excited to be one of the 12 local roasters to be part of the first SRF.
The roasting competition is made up of two categories, an open category as well as a compulsory category. In the compulsory category, each roaster is given 15kg of an exact same sponsored coffee. In the open category, roasters are required to source for their own coffee within the given theme. This year, the theme requirement is a fully washed Central American coffee of any non gesha variety. The roasters then profile those 2 coffees on their choice of machines and conditions.
Compulsory Category Approach:
Before we had the chance to start profiling the coffee, we had given 5kg of the coffee to another roaster who ran out of their compulsory coffee. With only 10kg left, we needed to carefully plan out our options. Batch sizing, type of roasting machine, the date the coffees were to be evaluated, the conditions of the cuppings such as water, grinder, cupping specs, type of scoresheet.
Consideration 1: The more control we have over these variables, the better we can roast the coffee to the intended profile to work the scoresheet.
Consideration 2: Maximise the number of possible attempts with a smaller batch size.
Consideration 3: We want to learn something new during this process.
Keeping this in mind, we decided to work with the Stronghold S7, courtesy of our friends over at Glyph Supply Co. The stronghold is a roasting machine that we are unfamiliar with, hence we wanted to take this opportunity to learn more about an air roaster as compared to a traditional drum roaster we have been roasting on. Working with the Stronghold S7 also means that we can work with a smaller batch size of 500g. As well as evaluating our coffees in the exact same environment as the final evaluation, as they are the venue sponsor for this year's competition.
Before roasting and upon closer look at the bag of compulsory coffee, we also noticed an unusually huge amount of defects. This poses an additional challenge for the roasters working on this coffee. Speaking with some of the roasters working on this, some chose not to sort them, some only sort certain types of defects out. It was interesting to see how everyone chose to approach them differently. For us it was clear that we had to sort everything out, this also allow us to develop the coffee more uniformly and consistently. Here you can see a small sample of the defects picked out. From left to right, broken and chipped, partial and full black, insect damage.
We experimented with a total of 8 profiles, and tracked them over the course of the next couple of days to see how the coffee age and potentially which day will it be at its peak. Sometimes it is easy to get lost in the sea of parameters available with a new machine, hence we kept to a few variables that we wanted to change. Mainly the end temperature, total roast time and post first crack development time with a focus on the Rate of Rise at certain points during the roast. Here is our final profile of the compulsory coffee:
Open Category Approach:
For the open category, the journey begins with sourcing a coffee within the criteria of this years theme, a fully washed Central American coffee of any non gesha variety. We went through our contacts and short listed several potential coffees. We ended up going with a Paranema variety from Finca Paraideli, Honduras. This exceptional coffee placed 6th in the Best of Honduras Late Harvest Auction. We chose it over other selection because of its excellent acidity quality and lively cup profile, as acidity is one of the multiplier on the evaluation scoresheet.
For this coffee and requirement, we chose to work with the Giesen W6, the roasting machine that we have been working with since the beginning, and the machine that we use for all our production roast.
As always, it is hard to put a stop on when it is "good enough", but we were quite happy with the results and how the roast represented the variety and region it came from. This is the final curve of the Finca Paraideli on the Giesen W6.
We were really humbled to bring home the title of Singapore Roaster Forum 2019 Champion, as well as the People's Choice Award. We learned so much through open discussions with the other roasters, tasting everyone's coffee as well as the talks by many guest speakers. As a fairly new coffee roastery, we have so much to learn and bringing home the title gave us the confidence in what we are already doing. We hope to continue pushing and explore the boundaries of coffee, share what we learned and focus on our everyday work at the coffee studio.