A cup of coffee is like the derivative of a function that is made up of many variables. From the origin topography to the water quality used in the end pour (and everything in between), you can end up with a completely different cup of coffee with just a small change in a single variable.
To ensure we serve consistently great-tasting coffee all year-round, we obsess on sourcing the best beans we can find from around the world each season, roasting them with the best possible roasting profiles.
To help us to decide on which seasonal crop to buy or which roasting profile we will use for a coffee, sample roasting is something we often do at NOC Roastery in Sai Ying Pun.
What is sample roasting?
Sample roasting is roasting a small sample of green coffee. Why do we do it?
First, it helps us to evaluate the quality of a coffee, with minimum wastage and maximum accuracy.
Before we can commit to buying green coffee in bulk to include it as part of our offering, it’s essential that we know whether its flavours and quality are up to par; we need to avoid roasting 50kg of coffee and then realising it doesn’t taste the greatest. That’s why we need to sample-roast and cup small amounts of selected seasonal crops from our trusted suppliers. The process allows us to gain more understanding on the different options, which then allows us to make efficient buying decisions.
Next, it helps us to select the ideal roast profile.
Once we decide to purchase a coffee, our roasters work together to come up with the ideal roast profile in order to highlight its distinct flavours. Sample roasting allows us to explore and experiment with different roast profiles by roasting, cupping and then comparing mini batches of coffee.
What is an IKAWA roaster?
Based in London, IKAWA For Professionals is a start-up founded by Andrew Stordy and Rombout Frieling in 2010. The pair’s idea was to create a portable coffee roaster that is repeatable and consistent so that coffee- sample evaluation can be made fair, easy and accessible for anyone, anywhere.
We have chosen the IKAWA PRO V3 roaster for its precision, reliability and simplicity. The roaster is controlled via the IKAWA PRO app, which allows for easier but greater control over the roasting process. Similar to Cropster, the programme we use for our Giesen roasting machines, the IKAWA PRO app allows us to save roasting profiles, which helps us to review, compare and replicate different profiles. What’s even better is that the app connects the global coffee community by allowing roasters to share their roasting profiles, which we think is a great plus.
How do we sample-roast?
We start by connecting the PRO V3 to the IKAWA PRO app on our smart device. Before we begin, we adjust the exhaust, inlet and airflow settings of the roaster and set the roasting curve.
We measure 20g green beans and pour into the PRO V3 machine from the opening on top.
We press “go” and let the roaster do its magic as we monitor the roasting curve.
Once the roasting process is complete, we release the chaff into a glass container and dispose of it. We then release the roasted beans into a second glass container.
We repeat the same process on the same coffee using different roast profiles. Once we are finished roasting 3–4 different batches, we hold a mini cupping session to review and compare the coffees and/or roast profiles.
Depending on the roast profile, processing, season and crop itself, each and every coffee has its own unique tasting notes. Rather than roasting every coffee extra dark to achieve a consistently smoky flavour and heavy body, it’s our aim to highlight the beauty of each coffee for you to taste and appreciate.
For more information about our house blends and single-origin offerings, speak to one of our baristas or message us on Instagram @noccoffeeco