Hey guys – Jess here! I just got back to Vienna after having an amazing time at the Coffee Roasters Guild Camp which took place from October 10th-13th and was located in beautiful Évora, Portugal. The camp is a yearly event in which roasters from around Europe (and the world!) come together to learn, improve and build their skills as roasters all while sharing a great experience with others in the coffee community. I was happy to be there representing the Pirates Team!
It was the first roaster camp to be hosted by the newly unified Coffee Roasters Guild (formerly Roasters Guild which is based in the US and Roaster Guild of Europe) and the third Roaster camp ever to be take place (the others being last year in Poznań, Poland and the previous year in Pärnu, Estonia). The camps are related to Barista Camp which is also a yearly event by the Specialty Coffee Association.
The Coffee Roasters Guild (CRG) is the global trade guild of the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) dedicated to inspire a diverse coffee roasting community through the development and promotion of the roasting profession. (source: https://www.crg.coffee/)
To start things off I attended the Roasting Foundation course in the SCA Coffee Skills Program and received a certificate after successfully completing a written exam and three roasting challenges. This took place on the first day before the camp even got going, so it was a lot to take in!
The camp took place over 3 days and we had the opportunity to attend hands-on roasting sessions on various roasting machines that were set up inside the hotel, workshops, and talks based on relevant topics such as: green coffee, business, and of course – roasting! These talks and workshops were led by experienced coffee roasters and industry professionals. The talks and workshops were all held at the Évora Hotel which was absolutely beautiful and surrounded by palm trees, but since the days were jam-packed from morning to sometimes late evenings, that didn’t leave much time for lounging around by the pool!
Fortunately the talks were extremely interesting and engaging. Each camp-goer was also able to select up to two Hands-On workshops with industry professionals, for example Alexandru Nicolae from Romania who was the World Coffee Roasting Champion of 2016. What an opportunity to work one-on-one with some of the most talented people in the coffee industry.
Cuppings were a major part of the camp and we were lucky enough to try some very interesting coffees supplied by the green coffee sponsors. My favourite was definitely a natural Geisha from Panama which was anerobically fermented (more on that in the next blog post!) for 20 days. It was so amazing it almost brought tears to my eyes! The cuppings were also used to judge the final team challenge where we has to select the coffee with the best balance between “Sweet and Sour”.
Some other highlights included the team challenge which spanned the entire three days of camp – where each team was challenged to come up with their own unique coffee blend with the theme “Sweet & Sour” – focusing on highlighting the coffee’s acidity and sweetness. We were given 5 coffees to cup, roast and then blend and cup again to decide which combination was the best. Each team also had to come up with branding and a logo or package for their coffee.
The camp finished up with a big outdoor barbecue and party – before we knew it it was time to pack up and leave.
This was my first time attending Roaster Camp but certainly not my last! The Coffee Roasters Guild has managed to provide an event that is not only extremely valuable to coffee professionals at varying stages in their career (the camp catered to seasoned roasters and those who were new to the profession, and even some from different areas of the coffee world [green coffee buyers, baristas, coffee producers, sensory scientists, and more!]) but also a place where people from the coffee community worldwide can meet, network, and have fun and expand their coffee family.
It was a great time and I’m already looking forward to next year!