I like to talk about roasting - Jessica Cole, Elysian Coffee

When we started shrub one of our big ideas was that it wasn't just about getting these coffees out there but that we really wanted to have discussions about the coffees we put together with other passionate roasters. It's been great to get comments on the coffees from folks, please keep them coming, but another way we've thought about getting some conversations going about the coffees is to directly engage with some roasters and talk to them about their experiences with this or that lot. Jessica Cole from Elysian Coffee in Vancouver, BC kindly agreed to talk to me a bit about one of our Colombia offerings from Pedregal.

1. How long have you been roasting, and what equipment have you used?

I've been roasting for about three years, first on a Diedrich CR-45 and now on a Probat L12. I play with a Primo 2-barrel sample roaster as well.

2. What's the first thing you look at when roasting a new coffee?

Sometimes it's nice to stare at and fondle the beans for a while. Maybe stand around discussing their size and density as if I know what I'm talking about. But really I'm all about the moisture meter right now. Knowing the moisture gives me something of a jumping-off place. I know that I'll want to give a high-moisture bean like Guatemala La Soledad more energy to start. It's a good conductor, it can take it, and it needs to be dried out lest it come off grassy and underdeveloped. Inversely there are Ethiopians like Shakiso, which dry out faster and have to be treated gently in the beginning. I think. They're still kind of making me tear my hair out.

3. What made you select this coffee and what was your approach to roasting it, + were there any challenges?

This coffee was a shot in the dark, to be honest, but we knew we could trust Shrub to curate their offerings; sometimes you really, really need coffee in a hurry, and you guys were very forthcoming with the info. When I sampled it, I was thrilled. At both a sample and production level, it was sweet and juicy. Great clarity for a coffee with so much body. But when I first roasted it on the L12 I ran into stalling and lost all the sweetness and depth. Fortunately, Chris had suggestions. Lengthening the drying cycle by 30 - 40 seconds and letting it come to first crack correspondingly later have offered greater complexity and sweetness. Where it felt tight and a bit one-note before, it's now opened right up. With several days rest it gets even better. I feel I still haven't wrapped my mind around getting through first crack without stalling because I can't turn down as far with this coffee as I'd like, but I think that might be winter roaster blues.

4. What has been the reaction from your customers to this coffee?

Love it! It probably doesn't hurt that our baristas love it too; that excitement is contagious. This is an approachable coffee. It's not so bright or sparkly that it alienates the consumer, and its sweetness and fuller mouthfeel make it easy to drink. It kills it on a variety of brew methods. I love that we can suggest this to everyone, that it will show well on a Kone, Aeropress, french press. Some coffees don't, right? And that's what I want. People can drink this Colombian every day.



#1 Thank you for sharing

Jessica and Shrub,

Thank you for sharing this information and for the way you are being leaders in helping to get roasters talking about what they are doing. This is actually really helpful for me as I just ordered some of the Colombia Pedegral 172 lot and will be roasting it for the first time next week. I am always very excited when roasters will actually talk about what they are doing / struggling through on a coffee (rare as it seems it is) becuase it helps me identify with them and also see that I am not alone in some of the head-scratching things that come up as I am roasting and trying to get the coffees to be the best they can possibly be.

Next month it will be 3 years since I placed my first (and very modest) Shrub order - woo-hoo! I look forward to many more.

Justin Carabello
Owner / Roaster, Carabello Coffee

#2 Aww man, thanks so much

Aww man, thanks so much Justin, appreciate it so very much. If you'd like to or ever feel like sending me some coffee or just want to talk about a roast with me for this or whatever, please don't hesitate to reach out. chris@coffeeshrub.com

#3 Absolutely!


I will unquestionably take you up on your offer! Thank you!


#4 Struggling is... fun.

Justin. Dude. I struggle all the time! If you want to your glass to look half-full, I think struggling is a good thing - it means you're not satisfied, and if you're not satisfied, you're probably growing.

How have you enjoyed the Pedregal? I've had so much fun with it; trying new things, varying my approach, and being totally present in the cupping lab to evaluate the effect. This is my last week with it. Do I feel I did it justice? Occasionally! And I think I was able to pinpoint what went wrong and what went right. As ever, I wish I had more so that I might continue tweaking. Thanks, Shrub, for your help!


#5 Thanks Jessica


So sorry it has taken me until now to write back. I agree about struggling being a good thing. I am a musician and a music educator as well. I cannot agree more wholeheartedly that the struggle and the grueling process of achieving mastery of something is always of value... Maybe even the most valuable thing. I studied piano formally for the years before I could do a Beethoven sonata justice. I have been roasting coffee on a commercial machine for only two years. So... I am still very much a newbie!

As for the Pedregal. I am still waiting to unveil it to my peeps. I have done a few sample roasts and believe I ran into exactly the kind of stalling during first crack that you spoke of. I both of my roasts I went into first crack with what I perceived was a good bit of energy only to have it suddenly hit a wall! So, I will need to figure out how to adjust for that once we get to production roasting. That said, I was still very pleased with the coffee, and believe this will be one that most, if not all, of my customers really love.

Happy roasting and struggling, friend!