The Roast – Scott Pepler

We profile NZ Roaster Guild members in this short ten question Q & A called The Roast.
Scott Pepler is one of the most understated people in coffee. His accomplishments are numerous and responsibilities huge, but he’ll always underplay what he’s been up to.
In the last year Scott has been to Europe twice to visit suppliers and develop new products and look and do acceptance testing of the new Cerebos roaster for the Dunedin plant, he has travelled to Australia four times and attended the Asia Pacific fair trade producer forum in Sumatra, Indonesia.
He has judged at five World Barista Championship events including Bern, Tokyo, Copenhagen, Atlanta & London. He oversees a large team and he’s our only member to be involved in instant as well as specialty coffee, a category that outsells fresh roasted coffee threefold at retail.
Find out more about Scott Pepler here.
What is your earliest coffee related experience?
When I was kid I remember going with mum every week to her favorite café which just happened to be Robert Harris. She had filter coffee which I hated the taste but I remember loving the aroma of the place.
When / why did you first get working in coffee?
Started as Quality Technologist for Nescafe in 1993. I was made redundant when they moved the instant coffee to Australia
What led you to becoming a roaster?
After Nescafe I started with Cerebos in 2000 and have had various roles within coffee. I don’t physically roast but I manage our blend development & roast profiles for fresh and instant coffee.
What do you roast on, anything unique about your set up?
In Auckland we roast on a 250kg Probat drum roaster. In Dunedin we have a 150kg Neuhaus Neotec air roaster
Apart from your roasting machine (in its factory floor form), what’s your favourite “tool” you use in your role?
It’s our 1 kg Probatino Roaster. It’s a fantastic tool as we have excellent scale up to our 250kg roaster. We also play and try different coffees.

What do you find most rewarding about roasting?
When we launch a new blend and we get excellent feedback for our customers.
Talk us through a typical work day
Cupping first thing in the morning. Every morning so long as I’m in Auckland. If I’m not there it still happens. Cupping is very important for quality control. I look after a team of Food Scientists so I do lots of interesting tastings as we have 4 food departments. I attend a lot of meetings and I do fair bit of travelling.
What are your roles outside of roasting?
Work closely with our Australian coffee team. I get involved in number activities from marketing, sales, quality & packaging etc. I also manage Food Development for Cerebos in NZ. I am lucky to have a diverse role.
Have you visited Origin?
I have been to Brazil a few times and Ethiopia twice. Both origins were an amazing experience but there are many more origins to go.
Any fire stories? A couple but our systems in our roaster are very quick to damp them out.

Scott was Head Judge at the Huhtamaki NZ Barista Championship final earlier in 2012. He’s judged at the World Barista Championship on five occasions.