Foodfort 2018: Idaho Coffee Gurus Talk Small Batch Roasting 

click to enlarge Before and after the talk, local roasters served samples of their coffee. Left to right: Rick Evans (Evans Brothers), Colin Seeley (Ironside Roasting Co.) and Jens Peterson (Maps Coffee).  - LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson
  • Before and after the talk, local roasters served samples of their coffee. Left to right: Rick Evans (Evans Brothers), Colin Seeley (Ironside Roasting Co.) and Jens Peterson (Maps Coffee).
Coffee flowed freely at "Small Batch Coffee Roasting in Idaho," a panel discussion with local artisan coffee roasters March 24 that was part of Foodfort, the food-centric arm of Treefort Music Fest. Four Idaho roasters were in attendance: Rick Evans of Sandpoint-based Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters; Jens Peterson of Maps Coffee in Hailey; Colin Seeley of Boise mainstay Ironside Roasting Co. and Kate Seward of new-kid-on-the-Boise-block Form & Function. Before the talk, they poured tiny sample cups of some of their favorite brews, which varied from bright and fruity to bold, dark and earthy.

click to enlarge Form & Function co-owner Kate Seward spoke on the benefits of convection vs. conduction roasting. - LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson
  • Form & Function co-owner Kate Seward spoke on the benefits of convection vs. conduction roasting.
Slow by Slow co-owner Joe Shafer posed questions to the roasters as they stood at the marble-topped counter of the former Kindness Cafe space in The Owyhee. The discussion ranged from the specific type of roasting machine used by each business to the nuances of sourcing and testing, or "cupping," each batch.

"One of the things to pay attention to while roasting is how quickly the outer bean is roasting compared to the inner bean," said Seward, who prefers to use a convection roaster rather than a conduction roaster, like the others on the panel. Seward said that with convection, the heat surrounds the beans rather than coming in direct contact with them. "It's like pan-searing a steak versus baking a steak," she said. "Baking it will be more even."

click to enlarge After the panel, the crowd surged forward to claim sample cups of coffee. - LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson
  • After the panel, the crowd surged forward to claim sample cups of coffee.
Each roaster also discussed their flavor goals, and what Shafer called their coffee "ethos."

"I try to bring out a lot of body and sweetness in the roast, because I think that will appeal to the widest range of people," said Seeley, as Peterson nodded his agreement.

"Our ethos is to try to create a special experience around a cup of coffee," said Evans, who added that his company emphasizes sourcing, and sent a few of its baristas to Costa Rica last year to see a coffee farm they source from in person.

"Eighty to 90 percent of the flavor comes from the bean itself," said Seeley. "... As a roaster, I just try not to screw it up."


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