12th Annual Roasters Guild Retreat Highlights

This summer, the Roasters Guild held their annual Retreat at Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, WA. With just under 250 attendees, this was the largest Retreat yet and welcomed over 60% first timers. By all accounts, this event was a resounding success, with 99% of post-event survey respondents reporting that they would recommend the Retreat to a colleague (99% you guys!). Here are some of the highlights of the event:

Retreat Team Challenge: Roast Philosophies

Each year teams are assembled for the annual Roastmaster’s Challenge at Retreat and they are asked to write down how it was that they approached this task. The Roasters Guild has called this the team’s roast philosophy, and there are a number of reasons why it is such an important part of the challenge. Most importantly, the real fun of the challenge is in putting some coffee in a strange roaster and seeing what happens, and in that process share different ideas about, and approaches to, roasting. Roasters are able to share with peers of all different experience levels, which has always lead to some of the best conversations at Retreat and has consistently been one of the best takeaways for attendees.

In the judging of the challenge coffees each year, the RG leadership takes a very close look at the roast philosophies of each team after the coffees have been tasted in order to see if the team was able to achieve what they set out to do. The winners of the challenge each year have consistently described what it was that the judges enjoyed about their coffees in a clear and articulate way, as well as talked about the ways in which they worked as a team and how their different approaches to roasting were used in concert to achieve the results. Having the groups crystallize those conversations and get it down on paper is crucial to this experience.

It is such an important resource to take these team philosophies and make them available to the Roasters Guild membership, so we’ve provided each team’s entry on the Roasters Guild forum. Look through them closely and maybe you can glean some insights into what to bring to the challenge next year, or use them as a template to experiment with your own coffees in your own shop. Interact with these philosophies, and please, feel free to share your own.

Roundtable Discussions: The Conversation Continues

One of the most popular sessions each year at Retreat is the Roundtable Discussions. Attendees value the opportunity to engage in a dialogue on some of the coffee industry’s most pressing issues with fellow roasters. This year’s discussions centered on the vocabulary we use to talk about coffee and ensuring that we’re translating the language of quality to consumers, fostering authenticity in our interactions and exploring ways to capture the specialty coffee audience, as well as exploring how we can make the right choices as an industry to ensure sustainable practices. We are eager to continue these discussions on the Roasters Guild forum. To participate in the conversation, please click here.

SCAA Coffee Science Manager Presents Shelf Life Study

In the months leading up to Retreat, SCAA Coffee Science Manager Emma Sage and Roasters Guild Executive Council Chair Phil Beattie of Dillanos Coffee Roasters lent their expertise and resources to a study looking at product quality stability after roasting. This shelf life study included the active participation of RG members through countless remote cuppings. This is a bold new frontier for the Guild; driving professional development, the expansion of the roasting community, and building the mechanisms to answer questions about coffee quality while empowering our members to be active participants in that process. These findings were presented at the Retreat and the session was very well received by attendees. The comprehensive report will be available early 2013.

Silent Auction Raises Almost $10,000 for Coffee Kids GROW it Forward Campaign

Roasters Guild held the annual silent auction at Retreat this year, bringing in almost $10,000 to go toward food security projects in coffee-growing communities in Mexico. Carolyn Fairman, Executive Director of Coffee Kids and member of the SCAA Board of Directors, thanked the Roasters Guild, saying, “All of us here at Coffee Kids are so proud to partner with the Roasters Guild in our Grow it Forward Campaign. The RG is a great example of what can happen when great minds and resources come together – a sense of solidarity not only among the roasters themselves, but also with the producers. The RG is setting the bar for what you can accomplish and having a powerful impact at coffee’s origin through Coffee Kids’ projects.” To read more on this campaign, click here.

Testimonials from Attendees

Read what attendees had to say about their experience at Retreat! Ed and Yama from Single Origin Coffee Roasters in Australia shared this interview from their blog. Brent from Java Jack’s has a multi-part write-up over at their blog. Dan from Equator Coffees & Teas details his experience as a first-time attendee here. Keffa Coffee has this fun video snippet of the Retreat calibration cupping on the first night, which captures the energy of this amazing event. Jason from Beansmith recalls his experience in this post.

Hope to see you all next year!