2017 World Coffee Roasting Championship
Champion: RUBENS GARDELLI - ITALY
Q: What’s the most difficult part about being a competitor?
The most difficult part is learning what kind of coffee you are dealing with. The most sensible part, sensitive is the sample roasting, that’s the really first time you get in touch with the coffee that you are going to compete.
And this is also the most difficult part because you are going to roast the coffee in different machine, the small machine.
You have to try to understand and to create a very similar roast profile that you want to develop in the bigger roasting machine.
Q: Which machine you choose for the sample roasting?
In the sample roasting I use VORTECS. Not because Vortices is better than other sample machine, DIEDRICH 1kg and STRONGHOLD, but because it is most similar to the GIESEN machine. It is the solid drum machine, with the flames in the bottom like the GIESEN, therefore it works pretty similar with the GIESEN, that’s why I choose VORTECS.
Q: What makes you decided the beans selection and the ratio of the competition blend?
The most important part was the sample roasting. I roasted all the beans separately, that the component of the blend in a very similar roast profile, almost the same, because I want to keep one thing constant. And then the beans tell me is that roast profile is good or bad for that bean, for that coffee.
So I kept everything constant for all the three coffee, like I would say medium roast profile, not too fast, not too long, medium develop after the first crack. And then when I cupped, I try to understand the characteristic of the green bean, then to understand is the roast profile is apply good or bad for that green coffee. This give me the information of how I am going to roast in the competition. And how I want to create the blend.
In 2017, we had Ethiopia Kochere, so it is a Yirgacheffe, washed; we had the China Yunnan, Caturra natural, from Catimor and Caturra blend natural process, and the third one was a Panama Finca Esmeralda, washed Catuai, by tasting I choose what is in my opinion the best coffee out of the three, and I put 80% of that then 10% and 10%, because my opinion was so much better than the other two.
Panama was very mild, nothing extraordinary but mild; the China Yunnan natural was actually I wouldn’t expect but was very sweet and nice fruitiness. But as it cools down, it shows a little bit woodiness that’s comes from Catimor variety, as an genetic blend between Caturra and Timor, so it is the natural fermentation from Robusta.
So that’s why I choose Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, because when me and Luri tasted for the first time, what is it, is it like Gesha? It was really beautiful, then I say, I have to use this one in 80%. It is because by rule, we have to use at least minimum 10% of each coffee, so 80% (Ethiopia), 10% (Panama) and 10% (China).
I did the blend choosing in my opinion the highest scoring coffee out of the three, because when the judge cupping, they judge blindly, and they judge what they found in front of them, they don’t care is it blend or single origin. And obviously the Ethiopia Kochere, also from my experience as I am a roaster, every coffee I sell are roasted by me, so I have quite a lot of experience and I had roasted many times of Kochere and it is beautiful.
And I was cared a little bit because the humidity is 7% so quite low, and I thought can may be a sign of aged, so maybe I will expected papery noted, cardboard, faded but it is not like that it is beautiful, and I think the blend is really good.
Q: What type of roasting style and approach perform in the competition?
This is a game, you need to play with the rules, and you need to provided the coffee that you think is going to work well in this competition, based on the rules. That’s doesn’t means it is my style of roasting in Gardelli specialty coffee.
I tends to prefer to highlight acidity and brightness, that’s my personal preference. And I am very known for that, all my coffee is crystal clear, well developed but still I don’t want any roastiness influences or covered my origin, that’s because I only, since the beginning this is I am doing that not for business but for passion, I want to buy only the best coffee I can find, not to satisfy medium or commercial, that’s not me, I just want to sell the highest quality coffee I can find.
In this competition, since this year there is a new rules, for the sweetness and the balance is times 2, it means they are looking for balance and sweetness, and for some kind of coffee, like the single origin coffee, it was not medium like 84 points like the potential of the green, so nothing is extraordinary, you are not going get an extraordinary cup, what I did when I tasted with the sample this is the good roast profile I did but when it cool down the acidity is vigorous, quite intense, I didn’t expected from the China coffee, so I need to make it more balance, I need to create a more developed coffee, that’s what I did. So to kind of I don’t want to say to cover but to highlight the sugar browning without going into the roastiness stage, thus the sugar browning to create the balance cup, it not going be outstanding but it’s enjoyable and balance. When you created balance you get all of the sweetness.
For the blend, I did the opposite. I want to highlight brightness, varieties. For the roast profile you will see the CROPSTER they will be published,
I went very much faster because that’s what I learnt, you need faster roast to align the varieties in the Ethiopia washed. But then I went a little bit darker than my usual, because what I learnt from my failure. So this is my 4th time world competition, failed the first year, failed the second, failed the third, and I understood why I was failing, so the debriefing is the most important part.
Q: Which coffee is the most challenging to roast in the competition?
The most challenging to roast was the single origin, China Yunan washed coffee. Because, as I told you before when cupping the single origin, the sample roast cupping, I understood it was quite balance when it was hot, but as it’s cools down, it was unbalance and the acidity is quite high for scoring. It was difficult because I want to make it more balance without losing too much acidity, I think that was much more challenging.
Q: Do you remember the most memorial cup of coffee you’ve had?
Definitely the most memorial cup of coffee was January 2017, I did a project in Uganda, Africa.
And I went there, I picked up the cherries for the special project, Uganda in Sipi falls area. I bring fresh cherries inside my luggage when I came back to Italy, fresh cherries. This was quite hard to do it but I did it. I fermented and dried inside my bedroom, Italy was quite cold back then, the result, me and my family opened the dried cherries one by one, this is something else I did for previous competition 2015 as “Single Tree Lot Project” I did in Mexico.
I did that in January and Luri, my friend, was to take for that taste experience, it was I gave it a 98 points, it had everything, abnormal sweetness, acidity was so bright, but it had it all fruitiness, it was also impossible to think a coffee like this does exit. But it was coming from also 1 single tree with a special variety that is called “Budadiri”. It is not the variety that natural mutation that can happened in every coffee variety. When the tree has darker leaves to protect from sun burn, it happened sometimes from any varieties, and said, what a strange tree? I want to harvest, put in my luggage, back to Italy and try, and it was unbelievable. I will try again this year to see if get it, but I think that was really memorial coffee, unbelievable. I hope I can share this experience to everyone, because it is heaven, like “selected experience”.
It is a project I did with one farmer, and I came to him and said, I want to buy the entire production, it’s around 3000 kg, I want to buy the entire production but let me come to your place, let me help you to make better coffee, to pick the right cherries and to train the pickers to pick the right cherries, and then selecting, when we came back from the field to the house, we spread all over the bags and we removed defect.
And then the special fermentation, I called it “Gardelli Fermentation”, that is a secret I cannot tell you out, but it’s all natural fermentation.
I didn’t add any yeast or particular secrets, it’s natural coming from what’s the beans have. Come out like amazing. I went back in Italy and released this coffee called “Mzungu Project”, it will be available to everyone. I have 20 bags of 60kg, It have more than enough for everyone to taste this amazing coffee.
Q: In you own roastery, which roasting machine you are using?
I started with 700g machine “Copper” and then I built by myself, I built a 5 kg machine, built by myself and my friend, because back then I didn’t have enough money to roast, to buy a machine already done by someone else.
And recently, it was October, I started to roast on 15kg machine that is a general roasting machine from South Africa.
Not necessary because I believe is the best machine in the world, but because I know the engineer, that is the owner of the company,
I know since the beginning, I know him very well. When I started to roast, he started to produce, to build the machine.
And I always follow the developing of the roasting machine, so I choose GENIO for my relation and the quality I knew put in everything it does.
So that why I choose GENIO.
Q: What’s some advise you can give to new coffee roaster?
I will give them few advises , if they follow they will be successfully.
First of all, follow your passion, don’t do this job for money. Because if you do that for money, you will decrease quality, and the customer will lead your roastery. You want to be the leader of the roastery, and put in your passion.
Second advise, work hard, don’t expected to received help from anyone. Learn from yourself, go to training, spend a lot of money to train yourself and a lot of time to test yourself, do a lot of test and taste.
The most important tool you have as a roaster is your tongue and your nose, nothing else. To be a good roaster you have to know coffee, you need to know how to taste, that’s the most important. Because if you don’t know how to taste, you are not going to understand if you are doing a good job or bad job, so that’s the suggestion no.2, be a good cupper.
Suggestion no.3, it was work hard, hard, hard. It was really hard at the beginning for me, like super hard. I didn’t have any customer, zero, and I started so small, I started roast coffee 50g machine. I put in my kitchen, my house, 50g copper, rolling on the stove of my kitchen, then I became passion. I follow my passion and a lot of difficulties, you will find a lot of difficulties, don’t give up, go ahead and be follow by your passion.
Don’t look for money, and don’t look for being become famous. Just roast what you think is the best and try to find the best coffee.
Grow little by little. Little by little you will have much more experiences when you get the success, you will be more prepared for the success.
It’s better also you to know how the roasting machine work, because roasting machine is your best friend. That’s your best friend, you need to know what happen inside that machine. And you need to test, test the air flow, test how the heat affect throughout the roast, test the heat affect after the first crack, shorter? longer?
Then cup, that’s my suggestion.