Cropster & Balzac Brothers present: The RoastID competition - See the Curve, Match the Curve
The RoastID competition is officially complete. Thanks to everyone for participating! Hope you enjoyed the quizzes and webinars.
In case you missed them, you can tune in whenever to watch the recordings and learn more about roast defects, roast stages, blends, and much more:
We know many of you, like us have been home these past few weeks due to COVID. In an attempt to lighten everyone's mood during these times, we've decided to team up again with our good friend's Balzac Bros. to bring to you, RoastID a fun 3-week online challenge of roast curves and cup quality knowledge! The competition rounds will take place for 24 hours beginning on the following dates:
- May 13th, 12 am PDT
- May 20th, 12 am PDT
- May 27th, 12 am PDT
Think of it as matching a cupped coffee to the correct roast curve, except, you never cup the coffee (since we can’t do that right now). Competitors (that’s you) will enter an online quiz portal where we'll present some roast curves. You can then try to match them to the correct cupping forms. You'll need to use your understanding of how changes during the roast influence quality, and how those quality differences are scored and described on the cupping form. For example, think about what happens when a roast gets dropped 20 degrees darker than the previous roast - Wow! It’s a lot! We know.
That’s why this competition is more than a competition. It's also an educational opportunity to learn from roasting experts about how roasting techniques and decisions (and the changes in the roast curve) influence the taste of the coffee. We are bringing on board the help from some of the brightest roasting minds in the industry to help us host a webinar after each round to reveal the answers, discuss the curves, talk about how differences in the roast curve translate to cup quality and provide participants with an opportunity to ask the guest roasting experts questions.
Webinars with Roasting Experts
The webinars will be held on Zoom the day after each competition round, and require prior registration to join in and participate in the Q&A. The schedule for the webinars and guests are:
Round 1 Webinar
Roast Defects & The Essentials - Thursday, May 14th, 9a - 10a (PDT)
Anne Cooper, Roasting Consultant at Equilibrium Master Roasters
Shelby Williamson, 2019 US Roasters Champion, and Head Roaster at Huckleberry Roasters
Round 2 Webinar
Time, Temperature, and Roasting Stages - Thursday, May 21st, 9a - 10a (PDT)
Rob Hoos, owner of Hoos Coffee Consulting, director of coffee for Nossa Familia Coffee, and author of Modulating the Flavor Profile of Coffee.
Round 3 Webinar
The Coffee You Use Matters, and So Do Blends - Thursday, May 28th, 9a - 10a (PDT)
Joe Marrocco, management executive for List + Beisler, owner of Hodges Bend MN, and former educator at Mill City Roasters.
Feel free to sign up and join in even if you do not participate in the competition! There is a lot to learn and we would love to have you be part of it.
Check out some FAQ's below:
What are the rules and layout of the RoastID Competition?
The competition will last over the course of three weeks, one round per week. The three rounds taking place May 13th, May 20th, and May 27th will be successively more difficult and be focused on various themes (see the live stream topics for a clue). Each round will begin at 12:00 am (PDT) and be open for 24 hours.
To compete, simply come to this website during the time in which each round is open. A link will be provided that will take you into a SurveyMonkey quiz, where you will be presented with a series of images and asked to match five roast curves (identified as 1 through 5) with the correct coffees (identified as A through E) detailed on the completed cupping form provided. Each roast curve will be presented in a roast compare report and on its own with the “baseline” roast profile in the background. Remember, each curve is produced from the same green coffee roasted differently five times. Answers will be submitted in the dropdown box shown near the top of the page. It is okay to guess a specific roast curve for more than one coffee on the cupping form if you are unsure which is correct, but remember that each curve matches with a unique coffee on the cupping form.
To add a heightened sense of competition, we will be posting an overall leaderboard of the top 10 finishers after round 3. The standings will be determined by the total number of correct curves matched after all three rounds. This is cumulative, so be sure to compete in each round to have a chance to win! Please use the same email each week. Scores will be tallied each week based on your email addresses. If you use a different email address your weekly scores will not be combined.
If there is a tie within the top finishers after the final round, the competitor with the greater number of correct answers in the most recent round (third round, then the second round, then the first round) will be placed higher. If there is still a tie, the competitors will be sorted by the tiebreaker question which will be presented in round 3 (keep an eye out for that).
Note: For the competition, we recommend using a desktop computer to best view the roast curves.
What do the curves look like?
Each round will consist of one type of coffee (i.e. washed Ethiopia Gedeb) which has been roasted using five different roast profiles (plus a baseline profile) to create five roast curves. These are all theoretical curves created in Cropster Roast Curve Designer. The variables adjusted and shape, length, and overall look of the curves are done in a way to suggest notable impacts on the cup quality of the coffee. These variables will not be described explicitly, and it is up to the competitor to notice it and know what that influence is on the cupping form in each round. Watch out! In the third round we have some tricks of our sleeve, so be on your toes! Note that the temperature (y-axis) will be provided in both Fahrenheit and Celsius during the competition.
A roast compare report will display the curves against the baseline curve for the round
Each roast curve for that round will also be displayed against the "baseline" curve for comparison
What does the cupping form look like?
The cupping form used in this competition is a variation of a simple production roast cupping form. In this form, we are subjectively evaluating the direction and intensity of the changes (from -3, most extreme decrease, to 0, no change, to +3, most extreme increase) in body, acidity, sweetness, and roast color of the coffee against the “baseline”, or ideal production roast which is clean, sweet, and complex. We also list the flavor notes for the coffees.
- Body - The intensity of the viscosity, texture, and/or mouthfeel of the coffee. Higher (+) scores indicate more body, or heavier, thicker, more viscous coffees. Lower (-) scores indicate thinner, less viscous, more water-like coffees.
- Acidity - The measure of the organic acids in the brew identifiable during cupping. Higher (+) scores mean more acid whereas lower (-) scores mean less acid.
- Sweetness - The perceived level of sweet, sugar-like taste in the brew, often caused by low levels of sugar or the combination of low levels of acids and salts. Higher (+) scores indicate more perceived sweetness. Lower (-) scores indicate less perceived sweetness)
- Color - The final color, often referred to as the degree of roast, of the exterior of the roasted coffee bean. Higher (+) scores indicate darker colors. Lower (-) scores indicate lighter coffee.
- Flavor Notes - The most unique and noticeable tasting notes found in the coffee, primarily centered around staying consistent with changes in the flavors found in the baseline coffee (e.g. changes like apple to baked apple).
Where will this competition be or how do I even join in?
No need to sign-up beforehand! On the day of the competition, the link for the quiz will become active for 24 hours for competitors (note: on top of this page). All the rounds are to take place online in a quiz portal on SurveyMonkey. All that is required to join in is your name, company you work, country, and an email address (which will be your ID for us) to reach you at.
Note that if you would not like your name or company published on the leaderboard we will be posting, please let us know by sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will have a box to check to ask if it okay to use your name, but we know folks may look past it or not read it fully!
What if I do not know much about roasting?
Great question! We want this competition to be fun and educational, which is why the day after each round, we are going to be doing a live stream Q&A with folks from Cropster, Balzac Brothers, and roasting experts from across the world to discuss the curves and talk about the roasting process and its influence on quality. This will be a unique opportunity to hear how some of the brightest roasting minds in the industry interpret and interact with roast curves, and what they say about cup quality. During the live streams, we will also encourage folks to ask questions and engage in the conversation. The sign-up links to these live streams can be found at the top of this page.
Do not have time to listen to us talk and join in on the Q&A? No worries! We will also be sending out an email recap of each round to the competitors of that week which will reveal the correct answers and posting the live stream video on the Cropster blog after it takes place.
This is a competition, so what will I win?
Another great question! First, pride is at stake. The top 10 finishers will be featured on a final leaderboard at the end of round three. For those who value more material possessions, the top 10 finishers will receive the following:
- 1st place: $150 (USD) Amazon gift card
- 2nd place: $100 (USD) Amazon gift card
- 3rd place: $75 (USD) Amazon gift card
Top 10 winners will also receive: T-shirt + cool swag bundle from Cropster and Balzac Brothers.
(Prizes are subject to change)
Assumptions for the competition
The following is a non-exhaustive list of the roasting variables that are held constant throughout the RoastID competition. These will not change unless stated otherwise on the roast curves. Any additional variables that may influence the roast will not be significant for determining the answers unless they are noted on the roast curves.
Green Coffee Used
- Origin: Guatemala
- Region/Area: Antigua
- Processing method: Fully-washed
- Variety: Bourbon and Marsellesa
- Origin: Kenya
- Region/Area: Kiambu
- Processing method: Fully-washed
- Variety: SL28 and SL34
- TBA (secrets!)
For all green coffees used, the water content and harvest date are “ideal” unless otherwise stated.
- Machine type: Probatone 12kg
- Probe type: 3mm J type probe
- Probe locations: This is not meant to influence the competition and should be assumed the probes are located in the “proper” location for accurate measurements.
- Location: Sacramento, CA
- Elevation: 30 ft (9 m)
- Outdoor Humidity: 67%
- Indoor Humidity: 50%
- Outdoor Temperature: 70 °F (21 °C)
- Indoor Temperature: 70 °F (21 °C)
- Batch size: 7 kg (15.5 lbs)
- Drum speed: 54 RPM
- Drum airflow: Not too much, not too little. There is a small increase in airflow from the beginning of the roast. This is not meant to influence the competition and should be assumed the airflow is proper and sufficient unless otherwise clearly stated on the roast curve.
- Number of roasts before this roast: 5
- Machine runtime prior to this roast: 90 minutes
The hypothetical roasting team
- They are a great group of people who enjoy food, going for long walks, and talking about the meaning of life.
Interested in receiving notifications for when surveys go live or webinar reminders? You can sign up here!