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Inside the Roast Summit 2024

Visiting the coffee mecca for Roast Magazine's signature educational event.

In late February, Daniel Mendoza, the Area Sales Manager for the Americas, and I headed out to one of America’s coffee meccas, Portland, Oregon, for Roast Magazine’s Roast Summit. Each year Roast Magazine hosts this educational event over 1 or 2 days, sometimes in-person and sometimes online. This year for the first time since The Great Pause, we would have two days together. 

Nestled in the eastern part of the city, Portland greeted us much more warmly than the rainy week that many of us experienced at last year’s SCA Expo. The event was hosted in the McMenamins Kennedy School, which was a renovated high school, now complete with hotel rooms, boiler room turned bar, and a movie theater with couches for seats.

 Our first day was spent on those comfy couches as we heard lectures. Roast Consultant, Rob Hoos, spoke about how to notice the details that could affect your roast. Camila Khalifé, CQI Quality Evaluation Assistant Instructor, had a really interesting talk (complete with cats) that helped us question how we define a green defect and can we actually taste that in the cup. University of Oregon Associate Professor, Dr. Chris Hendon’s chat also focused on sustainability by explaining his research on reviving roasted coffee using an electrochemical method. Shuana Alexander, Stumptown Coffee Roasters’ Vice President of Coffee, gave us a palate cleanser after lunch, which discussed how to collaboratively and ethically visit origin. Finally, Laudia Anokye-Bempah from a Ph. D. student from the Biological Systems Engineering Program at the University of California Davis shared preliminary results from UC Davis’ Coffee Center that will provide the foundation for a new coffee roasting control chart.  Our lecture day ended with a mixer in the Boiler Room, where we chatted with other attendees and presenters. 

The second day was hosted at Buckman Factory, a co-ro and home of Marigold Coffee. The space was full of natural light and included a roastery, green bean storage, a packing area, a kitchen, a large tasting space, and espresso bar. We were divided into four groups, which represented hands-on activities that would fill our day. Part of the group practiced sample roasting with the San Franciscan team. Adding another layer to the previous day’s lectures, another activity was green grading and tasting defects with Camila Khalifé and Todd Arnette. Laura Woodruff took us on a walking coffee tour of Roseline Coffee and Coava Coffee Roasters. Finally, the last activity was tasting all of the 2023 Cup of Excellence coffees with Alex Pond and Scott Merle

When we go to events, our time is partially spent at the event, but before, during lunch, and after, the Cropsterians are making the most of being in town to visit our customers and interested contacts. Talking to coffee folks to learn how our product positively impacts their businesses, which features we can add, and in general, what’s going on to the local coffee community.  Sometimes this means we have 14+ hour days, but exploring cafes and roasteries and connecting with people is really enjoyable. 

Overall, intimate events like the Roast Summit are special for several reasons. They are smaller than large conferences, which gives you the chance to chat with the speakers one-on-one during lunch and the mixer. You get a chance to know other roasters during the hands-on day. Roast Summit is a great opportunity to meet new folks from different parts of the industry and hear lectures from the top thinkers. Following the success of Roast Magazine’s 20th anniversary events, like Roast Summit, we can’t wait to continue the celebration and develop our friendships at our combo party at SCA (To learn more, click here).  

Written by: Kelsey Maher
Pictures taken by: Daniel Mendoza

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