If you are a coffee roaster, please take a few moments to think about these questions (if you are not a coffee roaster and are only interested in Sensory evaluation and training, there is material for you as well!):
- How does the perfect roastery look like in your mind’s eye?
- What must you learn to master controlling your roaster, developing products, and monitoring quality?
- How do you know if what you know and what you do is ‘good enough’?
- What is your plan to stay inspired and authentic as a leader of the concepts you are creating and the community you would love to serve?
Deep Dive: The Crucial Intersection of Coffee Roasting and Life Quality
Where most people are pursuing the best coffee and the best beans, we, as educators and consultants, know that when people are pursuing the perfect coffee at a deeper level, people are not pursuing the coffee as the end goal but pursuing the creation of coffee products as a means to a bigger end which is to transform their lives at some level. CoffeePreneurs are building the vehicle to support a future lifestyle they deem better than their current. Even for private coffee enthusiasts, coffee is not an end in itself but a means to introduce some missing handcraft and aesthetic aspects to their lives that make them better able to connect to themselves (the mindfulness aspect of handcraft: handfullness) and others (please and impress family and friends). This makes coffee a means to another end, and the first goal should be the organisation you build (Your Perfect Coffee Roastery), which again is a means to another end, which ultimately is life quality, which shows up as the thoughts and emotions that dominate your day. Success with your business and personal fulfilment is not the same (clearly formulated by Anthony Robbins in this video), and the older you get and the more you focus on success, the more critical it is to distinguish between the two! Success is often related to how somebody else perceives you. As you grow older, hopefully, you get better at distinguishing between what you do to please your family and friends and what you do because it is a deeper personal value that is related to how you would achieve a genuinely fulfilling life (and not just an impressive one). To navigate those extremes takes frequent reflection and course correction, and this is why we have a ‘continuous improvement’ element in our competency roadmap that goes all the way back to the relationship between your personal life vision and your business vision and is not just confined to the technical continuous improvement aspect of your company!
Our thoughts in this area are not just an idea we got ourselves but instead inspired by adult developmental psychology inspired by Harvard professor Robert Kegan and his 3 stages of adult development: Socialized (adapted), self-authored (ego-focused) and finally, self-transcending (community focused). According to this theory, a CoffeePreneur might start seeing the business through the eyes of the socialised self, initially aligning their business to market demands, community norms and followers of the authorities in the business. As they develop, they transition to the self-generating self, focusing on personal achievements and distinguishing their business through innovation and ideas of success. Ultimately, successful personal development leads them to the self-transcending self, where their focus expands beyond personal gains to include community welfare and broader social contributions through their business. This progression from fitting into personal success to a community-centred approach is a natural evolution for growing entrepreneurs, according to adult developmental psychology, Robert Kegan, and our vision for healthy CoffeePreneurship. In CoffeeMind, we are explicitly focused on the dynamic of adult human development when it comes to our own fulfilment and business structure as well as our clients and customers, which is why we are reluctant to adopt the coffee community’s sole focus on coffee and all the technical rabbit holes that have been developed and still are developed as we fundamentally want to understand how people are happy with their coffee life and how they serve a community authentically. We love coffee and live and breathe it, as we think our many years of hands-on education, as well as our 13 coffee-specific scientific publications, indicate. Still, we insist on putting it explicitly into a well-being and life fulfilment context for both CoffeePreneurs and customers.
What fulfils your customers? Applying the ‘Jobs to be Done’ and Integral Theory in Coffee Roasting
The fact that products often satisfy deeper emotional and social aspects of customers’ lives is explicitly formulated in the “Jobs to be Done” (Clayton Christensen) approach in marketing communication strategy with the classic “drill and hole analogy”, which illustrates a progression of needs: initially, a customer needs a drill to make a hole, but the deeper purpose is to hang a picture, fulfilling an aesthetic need to beautify their space. This desire often stems from emotional connections to the picture, like preserving memories or expressing personal identity, and can extend to social motivations, such as signalling status or fostering connections with others, highlighting a layered understanding of customer needs beyond the functional/technical task. In coffee roasting education, we can’t think of a deeper level than people’s identity. The intention behind our roadmap is to systematically provide you with the competencies you need to authentically step into the identity of the coffee roasting expert who has the technical and organisational skills to create and execute the perfect organisation for you to express your personal most profound talents and ambitions for fulfilment (not necessarily external ‘success’) so that your coffee roastery can be a vehicle for personal fulfilment both short and long term.
SCA’s new Value Assessment system is opening up for this kind of ‘values’ by distinguishing between Intrinsic and Extrinsic aspects of the coffee. This approach is not new to us as we have always been using Ken Wilbers integral theory to map aspects of value as illustrated in the below Figure 20 from Morten’s Roasting Foundation book (get it as ebook here)
We tend to focus a bit too narrow on the physical product: Whether it is a bag of well roasted coffee beans, a perfect roast profile or a perfectly extracted espresso, the product itself has many aspects attributed to it other than being a physical entity. Here, Ken Wilber’s Integral Approach model helps us to consider all aspects of our product offering. According to Wilber, phenomena can be viewed from four perspectives divided into inner and outer, individual, and collective quadrants, as shown in Figure 20 above.
CoffeePreneurs tend to focus on the outer individual aspect of their products, which is what most education systems also focus on (e.g., green coffee, roasting, barista/brewing, and sensory). This is necessary to create speciality coffee consistently, but it is still insufficient to have a business that can satisfy all your customers’ needs. For example, some people would prefer a mediocre quality coffee quality (UR) served by a nice person (UL) in the place where their friends are (LL) and where the waiting time is minimal (LR). This might be preferable to another scenario where an amazing cup of coffee (UR) is served by an arrogant barista (UL) in a place where your friends would never go to (LL) and where the waiting time is too long (LR). This is just one example, but many scenarios exist for a product feature with this kind of customer preference mapping across all quadrants.
However, if you choose to look beyond without forgetting the cup of coffee that you love to a more scalable business framework, this integral model can be helpful. It helps us to remember the ‘other aspects’ of the product where value is delivered through thoughts and feelings (UL), associated with interactions with your products offered through intentionally designed systems (LR) in a well-nurtured company culture (LL) that has loyal customers (also LL).
The model can also be used for mapping out which kind of life you want to live by brainstorming all the quadrants for expected benefits and all the risks or possible costs per quadrant that will affect your life quality by starting your business.
All these thoughts are from Morten’s Roasting Foundation book in 2018. We are happy that SCA is slowly incorporating a broader focus with a more scientific approach to sensory methodology!
The CoffeeMind Approach: Simplifying Coffee Roasting for Greater Impact
For you to take the first step back and look at the organisation and take another step back to look at your life quality as related to your organisation and coffee within, you mustn’t get stuck in too many rabbit holes just dealing with the coffee! A lot of coffee advice in coffee books, blog posts, social media and even the more extensive education systems such as the Specialty Coffee Association and Coffee Quality Institute seems to also drag people into coffee technical rabbit holes with limited reflection on the organisation and life quality of CoffeePreneurs. It makes sense: If you create coffee education, it is only natural to focus on coffee. So, these systems are not wrong but reflect the community’s accumulated knowledge over many years. They just don’t have the same perspective of education and consultancy as we happen to have in CoffeeMind, where we see coffee as a means to another end and, therefore, have found out that we can use the simplicity approach of science to simplify and avoid overcomplication so that we can keep the CoffeePreneurs organisation and life quality in mind when dealing with coffee because we are not soaked in rabbit holes but rather extract what is needed to support the organisation and the life quality and CoffeePreneur and leave the rest. The strength of CoffeeMind’s approach and how we are different from other teachings is our strong focus on sensory evaluation make sure that what we teach is scrutinised from a sensory science perspective, and if you think this is the norm, think about what we have discovered with organic acid identification in coffee (Acids in brewed coffees: Chemical composition and sensory threshold) or our points against using Rate of Rise as a reference point to optimise flavour in coffee roasting.
Competency Roadmap: Building Your Dream Roasting Organization
Over the years, a competency roadmap has emerged for us in CoffeeMind, where we have identified the necessary and sufficient elements of creating the roasting organisation of your dreams based on the personal rock-solid competencies that can support this. By following our roadmap, you will get only the necessary competencies and avoid all the fruitless rabbit holes you could otherwise fall into while pursuing your coffee roasting competencies online, in books, and the education community. We don’t believe we are the only good educators out there! But we have a unique approach, which we are stating in this text. Learning from multiple sources is always a good idea so that you can genuinely find your strategy and needs met, and we are just one of those voices out there.
The competency roadmap described here is about how to perfect your coffee roasting organisation through competencies. Because we have been working so profoundly with sensory training (or sensory scientist Ida Steen has a PhD on the subject), we see everything (that is everything!) through the lens of sensory science described thoroughly in this blogpost and this webinar.
Let’s go through the competency roadmap illustrated above:
Personal Values and Business Model Integration: The First Step in Coffee Entrepreneurship
The first competence of a CoffeePreneur is to have a system to connect authentically to personal values, aspirations, desires, talents, insights, and mission and how to derive the business model from this. Too often, people focus too narrowly on coffee and want their product to be so unique that they don’t need to think deeper about how their daily lives will be impacted by starting a company producing this dream product nor think deeper about the ‘why’ of why people would get it (or not) at all. Often, coffee entrepreneurs dream about firing their boss to make a better business themselves. The problem is that firing your boss typically comes from you noticing everything the boss has done wrong because it is easy to see what other people do wrong aligned with their blind spots and seeing everything from your perspective. You can convince yourself that you could do better. The problem is that you don’t see your blind spots here, but they show up when you start your own company, where you can either start the blame game or use the feedback you get from leading an organisation to understand your blind spots. All the struggles of starting a business often make people forget their own deeper values, hopes and desires for fulfilment and enter the challenging and struggling life as a servant of your messy organisation rather than an authentic leader. Continuous improvement, proactive vision evaluation, and re-planning are the skills to keep reinventing yourself as a leader and re-planning your business to give you more fulfilment than frustration. Whether you have your own business or are employed, you should have an overall life progression from Vocation to Vacation because you keep moving towards more personally fulfilling activities. Life feels more like a vacation than hard work if you express your deepest values and life’s mission through your work. In CoffeeMind, we are deeply inspired by existential meaning philosophy (Viktor Frankl) and life vision systematisation (John Demartini) to the extent that we have our own life, decade, year, quarter, week, and day planning system that we start teaching in 2024 on our online consultancy cohorts that we will announce soon.
Achieve control of your equipment
Following the competency pillar of ‘Life and Business vision’ comes ‘Control’ competencies. The overlooked part of control is not that people don’t try but that people often overdo it because they don’t have the sensory skills or methods to measure when doing it well enough. And that tendency for everybody to follow somebody else’s curve recommendation makes them unaware of the fundamental thermodynamic blueprint of their own roaster. To teach deep intuition, we have developed an exercise called ‘The Standard Roast’, which is not a perfect roast or other preference-based claims but just a specific control exercise, kind of like a confined racetrack need to ride when learning how to drive a car before you are released onto the streets with live traffic. This exercise is released in the ‘Roast Profile Design Basics’ learning system.
The Power of Experimentation: Tailoring Your Roast to Customer Segments (could be yourself and/or friends as well)
After ‘Control’ comes ‘Experimentation’, which is often misunderstood because people aim for ‘the perfect curve’. They don’t try variations and don’t know how to set such an experiment up without making a false conclusion. In experimentation, you are not told to roast in one way, but you learn how to make variations and relate those variations to different customer segments so that you train your skills in a dynamic understanding between product range and customer segmentation (choose your customer while actively rejecting others). The experimentation step is taught in all our live (virtual or on-site) roasting classes that you can find on our website
Evaluation Mastery: Gaining Confidence and Independence in Coffee Roasting
The Evaluation step is the step that will make you truly independent and confident to a degree where you will never find yourself again looking for ‘curve inspiration’ or ‘curve advice’ in books and online, as this behaviour is based on low self-esteem when it comes to experimentation and evaluation skills. By keeping it simple in all the previous steps (vision, control and experimentation) as well as keeping it simple in the evaluation step, you don’t feel there is anything you don’t understand yourself completely and hence don’t need anybody else opinion about what you are doing and why. Introduction to sensory evaluation and sensory skills training can be found in Ida’s e-learning program Sensory Basics, and more advanced sensory skills and feedback are taught on our live on-site courses that you can find here. As SCA’s new value assessment system is going in the direction of sensory science, all our educational programs are aligned with this new approach, as this is how we have been working with sensory evaluation and sensory skills training for the last decade, as you can see in Ida’s Webinar: A scientific approach to improving your sensory skills
Customer Selection: Crafting Your Coffee Community
It is wise to choose your customers based on two aspects: Who you want to hang out with and serve daily and who finds your personality and personal learning journey as a coffee expert fascinating. Getting up early in the morning and crushing any challenge is much easier if you are personally invested in serving a community! Don’t slip into the survival mode of trying to find an opportunity in the market, as this is not an inspired approach in the first place. Often, people don’t reflect enough on how it will be to serve the community with the ‘identified business opportunity’ long term if they don’t connect deeper to the emotional and social aspects of the customer segment in this ‘business opportunity’. Once you have chosen your customer segment (Consumers from your physical show, consumers on your web shop, Market places, Coffee Shops, Cafes, Individual bakeries, Major bakery chains, Coffee bars, Supermarkets, Offices, Canteens, Coffee cart owners, Consulting, White label, Consumers outside your own country), it is easier for you to communicate and make them happy. You don’t need to give them exactly what they want, and you don’t have to serve them exactly what you like. We think it is wise to create a stepping-stone model for customers outside your preferences to get attracted to your universe by serving products close to what they want but a bit different in the direction of your preferences. This way, you can design a long-term educational path for them to develop their concept of coffee slowly. You don’t teach them explicitly but implicitly by guiding them around your product range and moving them slowly over the years.
Continuous Improvement: Aligning Your Roastery with Personal Growth
All the above is embedded in a continuous improvement process where you frequently reflect on how well your organisation gives you more personal fulfilment than frustration and how well your organisation fulfils the customers you have chosen to serve. Any deviation is corrected to improve your organisation to perfection slowly but also for you to adjust over the years, where your personal preferences and values shift as you grow older.
This is a rough outline of CoffeeMind’s curriculum; these are not just empty words: We have specific practical exercises for you to do in each competency pillar so when you leave our training, you can go and catch your fish as we have not given you a fish but provided you will the necessary and sufficient skills and insights to make your own decisions based on your personal values and mission in life.
Conclusion: Transforming Your Coffee Roastery into a Vehicle for Fulfillment
Our thoughts about ‘Your Perfect Roastery’ were covered in the rather lengthy Webinar. Your Perfect Roastery. Another way for you to get a bit deeper into how this could transform your thoughts and organisation would be to join our email list (-> JOIN HERE <-), where we have made 24 short emails with tips, tricks and inspiration about each element of the roadmap so that you every two weeks will get a small piece at the time to think about and implement without the overwhelm that some might experience in the long webinar. The roadmap is designed to give coffee roasters a clear picture of the competency pillars they need to master to create a perfect roastery aligned with their personal passion and vision. The title of all the upcoming emails starts with “Your Perfect Coffee Roastery” followed by the specific topic of the day, so you can auto-move emails containing “Your Perfect Coffee Roastery” in the title to a dedicated folder in your inbox so you can quickly go back to the collection and browse for tips and tricks for staying on track.
We hope to see you soon and are honoured to have you attending our courses and consultancy services. As if you read this far, it seems you are aligned with who she sees as our dream customer!
We teach coffee roasting and sensory skills in our academy in Copenhagen where we have (in alphabetic order)
- Aillio Bullet R1 v2 (aillio.dk)
- Coffee-Tech Silon (coffee-tech.com)
- IKAWA (ikawacoffee.com)
- Loring 1kg (loring.com)
- Probatino (probat.com)
- Stronghold S7ProX (stronghold-technology.com)
Our Academy is situated inside Kontra Coffee, which is a successful Danish speciality coffee roastery with whom CoffeeMind has been associated for almost two decades. Being in the roastery during the classes gives an extra dimension of realism as you spend your time in a fully operating roastery where you are welcome to take pictures, talk to the staff, and get inspired.
TL;DR: Embracing Coffee Roasting as a Path to Fulfilment
This blog explores how coffee roasting is more than just a business; it’s a journey that intertwines personal values, sensory science, and customer engagement. Key insights include applying Clayton Christensen’s ‘Jobs to be Done’ theory, Ken Wilber’s Integral theory, mastering sensory skills for quality control, and aligning your roastery with personal growth. Whether you’re a seasoned roaster or new to the field, this post emphasises the importance of continuous learning and experimentation to find your way (and your roast profile curves!) rather than ‘following somebody else’s curves’. The purpose is to create great coffee, a fulfilling life, and a vibrant community in which your deepest values, passions, and purpose are the heart of your organisation’s value.