[Homeroast] Roasting with a Pro

Sergio Kusevitzky sergio_kuse at yahoo.com
Wed Oct 13 03:49:34 CDT 2010

Interesting Hank...
It reminds me the first time I got caught by Espresso and Roasting.
I used to work for a French/Italian huge company and needed to visit the Milano 
factory from time to time.
Each trips was for a week, but I spent in the factory/offices only 3-4 hours a 
day and had plenty of free time. I did not like Milano and after a few trips I 
preferred to stay in a small town call Monza (the famous car race...). I walked 
the wide streets of the nice center almost every day and obviously tried tens of 
espressos. I found the espresso of Caffe Bianco to be the best. I started to 
come every day and it was great to talk to the owner, "Seniore". He did not 
speak english but we manage to understand each other and we enjoyed talking, 
laughing and just being there! 

Almost everything that I know about pulling an espresso/capuccino/machiato drink 
I've learned from the "Seniore". 

	* "The first shots in the morning are not drinkable. Don't be miserly, just run 
your machine with 3 shots before extracting  the first drinkable shot. (He did 
it 8-10 times with non-fresh coffee)
	* A long espresso is a short one with addition of hot water. Never run the 
water through the coffee pack more than 28 sec
	* Always take the cups out prior to cutting the shot. 
	* Watch the cup signature. It gives you a perfect description of your coffee 
	* It is considerable better to have a very fine grind and a very light (just 
polish the top) tamping, than the opposite (coarse + strong).
	* You can learn about your coffee freshness by checking the required grind 
setting. Grind shall be finer as long as coffee gets older. (He had a specific 
mark in his grinder and when the coffee required it to extract the 28 sec 
shot... he knew that it is time to throw it away!)
	* If you don't feel the coffee aftertaste 20 minutes after drinking it... your 
coffee is not intense enough
	* Etc, Etc, Etc
When I asked him about the roast and blend techniques, he took me to a back room 
where a small/mid-range very very old italian drum roaster was placed in the 
center. He roasted Every Day (5 days a week), but keeped the coffee resting for 
5 days prior to moving them to the front. 

He had a binder with hundreds of pages. Each one showing the coffee roasting 
profile. (looged every 1 minute with specific notes about first and second 
crack) By logging, he claimed to be keeping full attention to the roast. He 
said, "when you roast, you need to have all your  senses participating  in the 
	* Smell and distinguish roast stages
	* Hear the cracks to distinguish cracks
	* Watch the beans colors and the smoke
	* TASTE the roasted beans. If you like it.. you will like the shot.
	* Touch the coffee at the end to know when to remove it from the roaster and 
storage it
I asked him how did he learn... and he was very proud to explain me that this is 
a family tradition that goes from one generation to the next and it takes 3 
years of practice to become a good barista. 

He did not have ANY scientific response to the many "why do you do this or 
that?" questions I had. His answer was just... "we do it like this or that". He 
called me "Mr. Perque" (Mr. Why)
One thing I couln't get from him... the blends. He told me that this is the 
family secret and they will never share it with others (I saw a bag of robusta 
in one corner...). They had 3 blends: Normal, Liviano (light) and Siciliano 
(very very strong.... full of robusta?). 

I have not visited him for more than 10 years and have no idea if the caffe is 
still up and running... however nothing about espresso and roasting was the same 
for me after these trips to Monza!

"Please consider your environmental responsibility before printing this e-mail"
"Por favor, considere su responsabilidad por el medio ambiente antes de imprimir 
este mensaje"

From: Hank Perkins <hankperkins at gmail.com>
To: homeroast at lists.sweetmariascoffee.com
Sent: Wed, October 13, 2010 6:20:41 AM
Subject: [Homeroast] Roasting with a Pro

I was in Pensacola FL over the weekend and stopped at The Drowsy Poet
on Brent Lane.  First off this is a serious coffee shop.  I got to
know the guy that runs the place.  Serious coffee guy who attended
coffee school in Portland OR before they opened.  When I came in he
was running the espresso machine.  He knew how to pull a real shot.
While talking to him he invited me to come back Monday morning and
hang out with the head roaster.  They have a Diedrich roaster which
they run Monday through Friday.  Watching this guy roast changed my
view of roasting.  He kept a log of the roaster state every 30 seconds
during the roast.  He told me he had logs for every batch he had ever
roasted. That big roaster had me drooling.  Wow what control, what a

Now I am wishing I could control my Behmor the way he could on the
Diedrich.  It was truly fascinating.

One thing it did confirm, I definitely want a small shop roaster.  Now
just to figure out how to do it.

If you hit the FL Gulf Coast the Drowsy Poet is a must stop.

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