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It’s all about Quality in the Cup.

July 13, 2010

Quality. It’s what makes specialty coffee special. Over the last several years, it has been really great to see an increasing number of roasters pushing the envelope of coffee quality. Sourcing great coffee through development of new relationships between farmers/millers and importers/roasters surely has had an impact, slow but steady, on the increase in quality coffee available to consumers.

Roasters can be a deferential bunch, often responding to queries of “why does your coffee taste so good?” with, “all the hard work happens at origin” and “the job of the roaster is to let the coffee speak for itself.” But all modesty aside, roasters who care about quality also recognize that even the greatest efforts made at the farm, in the mill and with sourcing, can yield marginal results when a coffee is misunderstood in the tryer. The best coffee in the world can lose all its unique nuances if stewed or tipped in the roaster, and fine adjustments to the profile can transform a solidly good roast into an extraordinary coffee experience. If you have ever roasted the same coffee a number of different ways, you know what a profound impact seemingly small changes in heat and airflow can have on the sensory profile of the cup. And that’s where RoastLog comes into the picture.

RoastLog is a tool designed to help improve coffee quality. Roasters who use the RoastLog system to its fullest see the learning curve flatten out ahead of them, as assumptions about profiles are confirmed or refuted. A few weeks before we released RoastLog to the public, Steve Ford, Ritual’s head roaster and RoastLog beta tester, stated that he recognized an improvement in the quality of Ritual’s coffee in the time that they had been using the RoastLog system.

Let’s take that newly arrived auction lot Kenya as an example, the one that was exploding with black currant-like juiciness when you cupped the offer sample. You’ve roasted coffees like this one before and you have a pretty good idea about your approach to the profile but, you’ll never really know how much better the coffee can be until you start experimenting with the profile and cupping. With RoastLog all of your profiles are saved and stored in your private inbox. With the click of a button you can compare a series of profiles against one another and, perhaps most importantly, you can attach cupping notes to specific roasts, so you can begin to draw correlations between your profiles and the sensory readings. Once you determine which of a group of profiles is best, you can continue to refine the process in an effort to push quality improvement even further.

RoastLog doesn’t tell you how to roast, doesn’t create average roast profiles for you and doesn’t control your roaster. RoastLog is simply a tool to help you improve quality in the cup by making the compilation and analysis of data fast and easy. As I’ve said before, RoastLog is a continually improving system; we are dedicated to roasters and the coffee industry as a whole. Since we have just embarked on development of the system, our users feedback becomes our future direction. Come be a part of the process by signing up now. For those of you who aren’t sure if it will work in your roasting facility or not, we offer a 90 day, money back guarantee. We are confident that once you start using RoastLog you’re not going to want to go back to pencils, paper and Excel spreadsheets.

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