I believe I’ve roasted on about everything. I was twenty years old and living outside Panama City, Panama where my first roasting experience took place. I traveled from Panama City to the mountainous region of David, in the Chiriqui Province. In those days, Panamanian coffee was not available outside the country. My memories are still crisp as the mountain air of filling a cast iron pan with green beans that had been freshly hulled and dried, over an untamed fire. The only tamable part of this rustic roasting was the stirring of greens with my wooden spoon. The bean color changes quick, the scent one I cherish with every roast to this day. I eventually returned to Canada where I roasted on converted bread machines, popcorn poppers, every series of Fresh Roast roasters, Hoptops, Behmor, Genie and the rare Sirocco, a much sought after home roaster from the 1980s. Finally, I graduated to commercial roasters, where I fell in love with the Probat. Throught the decades of roasting, I’ve been the only woman I knew who roasted. I still only know a few women who roast. It has presented its challenges but roasting coffee is a sensory experience that never fails to fascinate me. I watch the changes in color, smell the transition and listen for sounds of first crack. Thousands of roasts later, I’m as excited with each roast as the first day I roasted on that cast iron pan back in the mountains of David.
As coffee forums began to surface, I posted with vigor and shared my growing vintage lever espresso collection and took notes from other home roasters.
Invitations to attend and write articles for coffee events, such as the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) and various coffee related websites began to make their way to my inbox.
And while my roasts were making Italians weepy eyed with memories of home and friends who couldn’t live without my beans in their coffee grinder, I still saw myself as a home roaster. It wasn’t until I demoed a commercial coffee company, that I saw I had something special to offer. I knew that my past work in music and aromatics would hold my craft roasting that I had so long coveted as an amateur.
It would keep me roasting on the soul side.