The Roast – Henrik Rylev

The Roast profiles NZ Roaster Guild members. Henrik Rylev is slightly different from most of our members because working for John Burton Ltd means that green rather than the roasted bean is now his forte.
Find out more about Henrik right here:
What is your earliest coffee related experience?
Being from Denmark where filter coffee is a huge morning ritual – actually an all-day event, I tried it at an early stage and did not like it. It was not before I was in the army and needed to stay awake during long cold nights I forced myself to drink the stuff and then I was hooked. Later when I was running a Color Design shop back home, I started buying various origins from the local tea and coffee shop across the road for staff and customers to enjoy.
When/Why did you first get working in coffee?
It was in Auckland back in 1999. I got to know Chris Unkovich (now Chiasso) and used to hang out at the roastery in Ponsonby where he at those days was roasting. I found the whole roasting, blending and barista thing very interesting and one day when reading the paper I saw that Allpress Espresso was looking for a roasters apprentice. I applied and got the job and basically never looked back.
What led you to becoming a roaster?
The challenge of a career change and my fascination with coffee.
What do you roast on?
I have had the privilege to be roasting on Petroncini, Probat and Diedrich over the last 12 years and now that I am working for John Burton Ltd. my little twin Probat sample roaster does the trick.
Apart from your roaster, whats your favourite tool you use in your role?
Not roasting commercially anymore, my favorite tools are my senses – mouth, nose, eyes, ears and the good old cupping spoon.
What do you find most rewarding about roasting?
When I can share my knowledge and help my clients creating blends, or sharing the little experience I have when it comes to roasting, so that they can achieve the taste profile they are after.
Talk us through a typical work day.
A normal day would start with me checking the Market and then attend to emails. Most days I have to do analyzing of pre shipment and new stock arrivals of green beans, and then some roasting and cupping and approval of these. Once approved, I will inform the seller to ship the contract. Apart from that, there is packing and shipping of small orders, visiting and leasing/technical support with coffee roasters nationwide and the odd visit to our external warehouse to make sure stock is in order.
What are your roles outside of roasting?
Client support, lease with our overseas clients and brokers. Ordering of green beans.
Have you visited origin?
I have been visiting plantations in Vietnam, Java, Bali and Vanuatu. A trip to Central America to visit plantations would be interesting, but I really would like to visit the Mountain Top plantation in Australia which is a very scientific orientated coffee grower.
One of the more funny memories would be the time I spend in Vietnam picking coffee with the farmers. I was way too slow and the old ladies just could not stop laughing. A more humbling experience would be when I was in Vanuatu and was invited to the meeting with the 12 chiefs of the island, who met up to initial the reforms to claim their land back from the overseas person who was claiming the rights to their land, and when I was to leave the island, one of the chiefs came to my hut and presented me with an old stone adze as a symbol of our friendship and bond. The adze is sitting on my shelf at home as an everyday reminder of a beautiful people and their struggle for fairness and justice in an upcoming growing region.
Any Fire Stories?
Never really had that many fires.