SCA Lectures Podcast #6: Automation in Roasting

Coffee Roasting companies have important decisions to make regarding the use of automation in the roasting process. Even roasting plants that have implemented automation can struggle with how to evaluate its effectiveness. By automating, does one sacrifice creativity and quality for consistency and efficiency?

Panelist: Cristian Rotsko, Roastmaster, Farmer Brothers
Christian has been in a roaster and cupper in the coffee industry for over 10 years, involved in all ranges of the coffee spectrum from specialty to commercial. He has extensive experience at origin and working directly with producer groups. He is current responsibilities include managing and validating roast profiles, overseeing the green coffee cupping lab and managing direct sourcing for East Africa and El Salvador with involvement in other regions.

Marlee Benefield, Consultant, Gather Coffee Company
Marlee’s interest in coffee began while working as a barista in college, then grew while doing qualitative research in Indonesia. After graduate school she moved to Istanbul and fell further in love with the coffee culture there. After returning to the US, she began working at Equator Coffee, where she had her true introduction to specialty coffee. A couple of years later, Marlee began working for Boot Coffee. There she worked on numerous projects spanning the coffee industry. Her responsibilities included marketing high quality coffees to roasters and teaching roasting courses. Marlee was the Giesen Coffee Roasters representative in North America from 2010-2015. Marlee now co-owns Gather Coffee Company, where she handles all of the marketing, as well as special roasting projects for private clients.

Olivia Miles, Director of Education, The Lab by Royal NY
Upon starting as a barista with Blue Bottle Coffee in New York, Miles’ coffee passion was kickstarted. Following an obsession and fascination with the world of roasting, sensory science, and QC, she went on to roast coffee in Oakland, Los Angeles and Denver, CO with Blue Bottle, and later Allegro Coffee Roasters. Now, you can find her as the Director of Education at The Lab by Royal New York, educating, training, and managing the course calendar and social media marketing. Aside from being a certified Q-Grader and BGA Events Committee member, she is an avid podcaster, weird dancer and warehouse nerd.

Kris Wieser, Coffee Quality Manager and Assistant Green Buyer, Philz Coffee
Kris is an award-winning coffee roaster who is now the Coffee Quality Manager and Assistant Green Buyer at Philz Coffee. He was previously the Head Roaster at Equator Coffees and Teas. He is a licensed Q grader.

This talk was presented live at the 2017 Global Specialty Coffee Expo, the largest annual gathering of specialty coffee professionals.

The SCA Lectures podcast series is brought to you by Olam Specialty Coffee, connecting roasters to the finest specialty green coffees. Learn more about Olam at

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