The Roast – David Burton

David Burton, or Silver as he is affectionately known by many in the industry, is one of our NZ Roaster Guild committee members. You name it, he’s probably done it … roasted on more machines than most, judged at World Barista Championship events and been a friendly face at almost every NZSCA event.
Find out a more about him here
What is your earliest coffee related experience?
I worked for Quality Packers in the 70’s and 80’s and we were agents for a number of products including Moconna and Melitta .They had a plastic filter holder that fitted snuggly over a mug .I used to take it camping and the smell of freshly brewed coffee was too much for many of those around the fire . I still have the filter holder which is becoming very vogue nowdays.
When / why did you first get working in coffee?
I was the tea taster and buyer for the Tea Division when the coffee buyer ( Coffee Specialists) retired in about 1982 .I had 4 weeks with him to learn as much as possible . Not enough time!
What led you to becoming a roaster?
When I left QP in 1987 I joined Norbert Eichblatt and Rob Phillips ( ex Coffee Specialists) I sourced a Swadlo 12kg from Australia , rented some space in Manukau and hooked it up . No afterburner in those days so the Italian roasts caused some concern for our neighbours ( when the wind was going their way)
What do you roast on, anything unique about your set up?
At Burton Hollis we had two NZ built roasters before we renovated a 90kg Probat from Melbourne.
At Jack’s Coffee I use a Petroncinni 25kg .
It comes with a bean lift , afterburner and destoner.
It is a very “easy” machine to use and produces a fantastic product.
Apart from your roasting machine (in its factory floor form), what’s your favourite “tool” you use in your role?
Would have to be my tasting set up. Can’t go past a cupping session.
What do you find most rewarding about roasting?
Talking to people who come visiting ,especially when they have not experienced roasting before.You can take them through the whole process and they love it.
Talk us through a typical week
I always start with a plunger of …….. you guessed it, Jack’s Coffee.Naturally this is an important part of the day .
The week is planned out so Monday and Tuesday are roast days followed by sales and deliveries and all the things that keep a business running.
Friday for me is …….. you guessed it again …golf!
What are your roles outside of roasting?
Being a one man business , EVERYTHING .
If I ever have a staff problem I look in the mirror and give him a good telling off!
Have you visited Origin? Any interesting harvest trip experiences or story? or which origin would you most like to visit and why?
I have visited a few origins but not for some time.
Kenya was the most fascinating with some amazing scenery.
Hoping to visit Brazil next year.
Any fire stories?
Where do I start.
I have experienced fires in the roaster , ducting , cooling tray , chaff collector . All very controllable but none the less worrying.
The worst fire I had was in the ceiling and roof .Not very nice to be woken at 3.00am to a call out and finding 4 fire engines at work. The roof was half gone and we were minutes away from losing the building.
Luckily the neighbours worked 24 hours.
We were out of roasting for weeks and I really appreciated the support from my friendly competitors . I asked quite a few roasters to help , and they were more than happy to oblige.