Phil, Commonplace Head Roaster, discusses coffee

As with everything we come across in life, there is more behind the surface of anything than we see initially, whether something as big as a city or as small as a sack of potatoes; as big as a city or as small as a cup of coffee. There have been so many pieces of any journey that to try and understand it completely is to be immediately overwhelmed. How are we supposed to understand the entirety of all these things in our lives? For better or worse, we don’t have to. But we all have jobs, we all have friends, and we can see how the things we work with are more than they appear. Coffee is no different! There are so many things that even we, as coffee professionals, don’t know, but that’s the exciting part for us. We find out information and see what we can do with it, and pass it along, in what appears to be a simplified form, to you. All the steps of any particular coffee, all the way up the supply chain, are largely hidden as you drink your coffee, but our goal is to give you an understanding of what goes into that coffee. Our goal is to bring you and the coffee together.

With that in mind, there are a lot of ways to get to know your cup of coffee. Where is it from in the world? What type of coffee tree did it grow on? Who planted that tree, and who harvested the coffee cherries? What was the altitude? How was it processed, and how long ago did that happen? These are just a few ways of knowing what your coffee friend is going to be like. A wet-hulled Typica coffee from Aceh, Sumatra is going to be radically different than a washed and sun-dried SL-28 from Nyeri, Kenya. As you find out more about each of these questions, you’ll be more able to guess what kind of a coffee you have in front of you, and how good of friends you are likely to be.

Just like the actual coffee beans themselves, there are a lot of ways on the roaster’s end to interpret the coffee for you. We work with the coffee to figure out how hot the roaster needs to be, how large or small the size of each batch should be, how long we should roast the coffee, how much heat should be applied by conduction and convection, and other environmental factors like temperature and humidity. Not to mention what kind of coffee roaster we use! There are as many ways to roast coffee as there are people who roast coffee. At The Commonplace, we try and find the sweetest part of the coffee, because that’s our favorite spot. We want to make our coffees taste the best we can, and we roast them accordingly.

There is so much to learn, both on our end and from the consumer end. We are grateful for the opportunity to share our learning experience with each of you.

– Phil Johnson. Head Roaster