In the Roastery’s iconic glass viewing box, our team of roasters is always hard at work roasting coffee for our six locations across Hong Kong. Led by co-founder Sam, our roasters Rax and Seth are together responsible for roasting every batch to perfection and hand-picking offerings from around the world that coffee lovers will enjoy.
We joined the team in their daily routine to learn more about the curation of our city’s favourite coffee. Here’s what we discovered...
We start the day by doing some housekeeping around the Roastery. To get our coffee machines ready for another day of roasting, Rax and Seth give our roasting machines a deep clean by removing all the coffee chaff from inside, which builds up from the roasting we did the previous day. After that, Rax warms up the roasting machines so that we can accurately control and make changes to the temperature of the machines and the coffee beans.
Why did you decide to make coffee your career?
Rax: I was a barista when I first started working for NOC. As I brewed coffee day in and day out, I began to understand that a roast profile can make or break a batch of coffee. A barista can have amazing brewing techniques, but it is down to the roaster to highlight the tasting notes of a coffee with a good roast profile. I wanted to be involved in every aspect of coffee brewing, starting with sourcing high-quality green beans, experimenting with various profiles and ensuring coffee is well roasted, so I decided to join the Roastery team.
Seth: Like Rax, I started as a barista. As much as I love brewing coffee, I wanted to dig deeper and explore the world of roasting, so I applied to join the Roastery team. Being able to roast and uncover the world of distinctive tasting profiles every day is quite a satisfying experience for me.
Our W15A is ready for roasting, so Rax and Seth get going.
How do you ensure the quality and consistency of our beans across all locations?
Seth: We use a software called Cropster to record our roast profiles and the changes in our coffee beans throughout the process. The technology allows us to very accurately measure many data points and monitor every variable in the roasting profile. It is extremely important for us to achieve the ideal roast profile for every coffee we test and maintain consistency in all the coffee we roast.
Rax: We hold small cupping sessions every day. By comparing coffee from different roast batches, we can ensure that we achieve consistency across everything we release. We also drop by other stores for espresso tastings and to check that the ideal espresso recipe is always being used for a particular batch of espresso.
Rax and Seth are joined by Sam, who took the time to visit other NOC outlets for taste tests through the morning. The trio is ready to start their tasting session to sample the end product of the roasts today.
Talk us through your routine – how do you guys divide and conquer?
Rax: While Sam is in charge of sourcing and roasting our single origins, I am in charge of roasting our house blends and Seth manages the inventory and packs our beans. To make the process more efficient, she also helps me prepare green beans for the next roast and the cupping sessions – she’s very good at multitasking.
Seth: We do regular cupping sessions on our own for quality control, but we also have frequent cupping sessions with Sam. We gather to cup samples from our green bean suppliers and also small batches of our new single-origin offerings, which Sam roasts with the IKAWA PRO V3. Through our cupping sessions, we are able to cherry-pick our favourite beans from a particular season, as well as the ideal roast profiles.
Rax: The regular meetings with Sam are when we decide as a team which seasonal crops we would like to invest in, how we would like to adjust our espresso blends and recipes and the single-origin offerings we would like to include in our seasonal selection.
What is the NOC way?
Rax: Being meticulous is the nature of a roaster – every variable in the roasting process can contribute to the cup of coffee our customers are drinking, so it is the roaster’s job to pay attention to detail and make sure every batch of coffee is well roasted and consistently delicious.
Seth: When it comes to the NOC experience, details matter. From our carefully selected beans, to our roast, down to the packaging of our coffee beans, we need to make sure everything is up to par.
How do you take your coffee?
Seth: My go-to is hand-drip coffee. I guess it makes sense for a roaster to favour black coffee over white coffee, as we enjoy something that lets us taste the different notes of a coffee in its original state. I especially like single origins from Ethiopia – the floral, fruity mouthfeel and clean cup are the best.
Rax: I also like to enjoy a cup of pourover after a long day of work. I really enjoy savouring the flavours of coffee beans from around the world.