The Roast – Andy Norman

What is your earliest coffee related experience?
Aged about 7 or 8 and vividly remember coffee distinctly was for adults and we would be in serious trouble if we touched it (nescafe in the big tin) I remember it being coarser than other instant coffees and one day my best friend at the time and myself made ourselves a black coffee with around 2 heaped teaspoons, as can imagine was fairly unpleasant experience however we continued to sneak the odd coffee as we thought it would make us men. Haha
When / why did you first get working in coffee?
Had worked in various cafes from early 2000 through to 2004 cooking with some barista work also but I guess because I was living in Melbourne at the time working in a café in St Kilda I first started realizing how seriously people took their morning fix which led me back to Chch and working alongside Bernard and Lui at Vivace.
What led you to becoming a roaster?
Share interest really, I found the whole industry fascinating and roasting seemed like the ultimate role. At Vivace we were using a 20kg Probat so I guess I got hooked as soon as I was left alone on my first roast – pretty exhilarating stuff.
What do you roast on, anything unique about your set up?
These days at UG we are Hot Air Roasting using a 35kg Sivetz which I think is unique due to small number of roasters doing this. We have had 2 drum roasters up until purchasing the Sivetz in 2010 When Pete started up in UG in ‘03 the guys were roasting on a 5kg Probat until volumes were up around 6-800kg per week – serious mileage
I started roasting at UG around ‘07 on a prototype 20kg Stonka which we had built locally in 2006. It turned out around 17kg per roast and took the pressure off. I did a great job for us for a couple of years though through growth we had to look at alternative options.
Apart from your roasting machine (in its factory floor form), what’s your favourite “tool” you use in your role?
Probably enjoying the goodness on the shop GB5.
What do you find most rewarding about roasting?
Meeting the producers of the coffee we buy and telling them as a roaster how much I enjoy their particular coffee. Amazing experience in Harrar at a small cooperative telling the farmers how much we love the coffee they produce and how we will continue to buy. Something I experienced as a direct result of being a coffee roaster.
Talk us through a typical work day
We have a small retail offering at the roastery so I start with setting up both the Mazzer electronica’s typically one with a blend, one with a single, then I have two espresso’s.
Fire up the Sivetz and roast according to stock levels
Cup samples taken from the days roasting
Assist our dispatch with packaging
I am also a service tech at UG so I take care of all domestic repairs so once roasting is finished for the day I repair coffee equipment.
Talking with customers and making coffee in retail.
What are your roles outside of roasting?
Service technician
Head Cupper
Head of R & D and training our wholesale staff
Have you visited Origin?
Yep, was in Ethiopia in Nov 2011 visited Sidamo, Yirgacheffe and Harrar cooperatives.
Had a great experience where we travelled two hours literally down a goat track to a small place called Cheffe Jannataa in Harar and camped out for the night in tents we had purchased. Shared stories with producers over a camp fire and enjoyed Harar coffee the traditional way cooked over a fire 😉
Also, I fed some Hyena’s at night using a stick held in my mouth outside the walls of the city of Harar. Very cool.
Any fire stories?
Arrggghh hmmmm no. You?