Visit to Vagabond Coffee Roasters - London
Today we had the pleasure of being hosted by the good people at Vagabond Coffee Roasters in North London.
I got to spend time with Paul, the Vagabond head roaster, as he took me through the art and science of the roasting process along with the insane number of variables that need to be tightly controlled through each roast (frankly I'm surprised his head doesn't explode).
After a nice cup of Rwandan pour over, Paul started to explain how he came into the roasting business two years ago after spending many years front-of-house at Vagabond, honing his barista skills. For him it was a natural fit to move behind the safety rope and onto the roasting machine. Despite his experience in the coffee business, he described the steep learning curve and the fact that the first few roasts he did, he was shaking with adrenaline as he was adjusting to the many different tasks that need to be managed to craft the perfect roast.
For a roaster to deliver a consistently good end-product they need to profile the roast of the bean (this is the exciting experimental phase), dial it into the system for future reference, factor-in and compensate for the ambient factors on the day (temperature, airflow, etc), and stay focused through the roast (in the face of sometimes immense heat) to make any adjustments necessary (temperature, rotation speed, etc)... and that isn't even taking into account the inter-batch rituals required to make sure that each roast starts from the same point. Then, just when you've got everything down to a T, a new harvest of beans comes in and you have to re-profile and test all over again.
It is this huge amount of variation that highlights why roasting coffee is such a personal thing - no two setups are the same, each harvest yields a subtly different bean, and each roaster will have their own ideas for the profile of the roast
This is why you will never find two roasters producing the same flavour profile - it just can't happen and that leads to the wonderful variety of flavours that we can showcase to you here at Dog and Hat.
In addition, Povilas also makes a mean cappuccino in the cafe