Thank you to all the applicants for the #shestheroaster 2018 Coffee Roasters Guild Retreat Scholarship! We are happy to announce the winner of our very first scholarship, Jamiee Juhee Noh, lead roaster at De Mello Palheta Coffee Roasters in Toronto, Canada. Jaimee’s application was chosen from an impressive roster of 59 applicants, many more than we had expected! The number of applicants and their personal stories reaffirm the value of what #shestheroaster is and we’re excited to provide more opportunities in the future. We will be announcing new scholarship opportunities as they develop, so stay tuned!

We’d also like to thank our generous sponsors, Texas Coffee Traders and Montana Coffee Traders, for making this scholarship possible.

Q&A with Jaimee Juhee Noh

Photo courtesy of Jaimee Juhee Noh

Photo courtesy of Jaimee Juhee Noh

1. What are your goals for your coffee career?

When I first started in the specialty coffee industry, I didn’t have any skills besides knowing how to make coffee at home. But I knew that the skills that I would learn, I could keep for the rest of my life, and apply them in an endless amount of ways. To be honest, I was a little naïve; thinking that it would be easy to learn a specialty coffee. Working in a coffee shop looked so simple on the surface. I was blown away at how much more there is to specialty coffee then simply making the coffee behind a bar.

Since starting in the industry, it has opened up so many more opportunities for me. It’s constantly making me re-evaluate my dreams, goals, and achievements, while creating new ones all of the time.

My first goal was to be a great barista. I practiced every day; at the café and at home. I learned really fast and I met my goal quite quickly. So then it made me re-evaluate my goals, and so then I wanted to become a great roaster! About 6 months after starting as a barista, I was given the opportunity to move in a roaster position.

The differences between being roaster and barista are incredibly vast. To be a great barista, there needs to be a certain degree of knowledge and education that go beyond the bar. But to roast, I needed so much more than that. It was an incredibly difficult time for me, because I simply did not have the specialty coffee education that I needed for the position at the time. So I read all of the literature I could get my hands on and quickly learned as much as I could on my own.

From wanting to be a great barista, to wanting to become a great roaster, my goals and dreams shifted quite a bit to accommodate this transition. Not only did I want to be a great roaster, but I wanted to learn as much as I could so that I can share my knowledge with other likeminded individuals who might have gone through this struggle as well. I feel like since I didn’t have a “proper” education in specialty coffee, I want to help other people learn as much as possible; a mentor of sorts. When I was a barista, I had a mentor who taught me a lot about how to prepare coffee, but as a roaster, that mentorship isn’t as accessible. So therefore, I want to be a mentor to other aspiring baristas and roasters!

Since becoming a judge in the Canadian Barista Competition, one of my biggest dreams has been to become a judge in the World Barista Competition. Maybe even a head judge! But we shall see in time!

Another goal of mine is to open a coffee education centers in coffee producing countries to teach children about the value of specialty coffee production. The centers would also contain a café space so that farmers could try how their coffee tastes in a coffee shop environment rather than a cupping table. I’ve heard from producers first hand that they are incredibly interested in how baristas operate. I believe this desire to open these education centers stems from the fact that their really isn’t a proper coffee curriculum out there, and that people learn from other coffee professionals in the industry. It would be so cool to create an official coffee curriculum to help categorize all of the information that is out there into one space.

I believe that we have to connect coffee professional together. And these centers would help achieve that. Since, I’m originally from Korea, and then moved to Canada, I know the value in having connections within the industry. Another goal of mine is to continue to connect coffee professionals from around the world to help bridge the gap that language barriers create.

My last goal(!) is to become a writer for a coffee publication, specializing in either immigration or female-centric oriented coffee culture. I believe that I have a voice that others respect, and readers would enjoy the various discussions I can present.

2. What roasting machine are you currently using?

I’m currently using a Diedrich IR-12 coffee roaster at De Mello Palheta Coffee roasters. When I lived and worked in Korea, I used a Probat 5kg, Diedrich IR-12, and a Petroncini 20kg. Learning how to roast on different roasting equipment allowed me to understand how different roasters operated and how they differ from one another. It was a hard learning curve, but it was so exciting to work on so many different machines. It helped me fall in love with roasting, because the results were all so different and exciting. I’m currently interested in newer roasters, especially Loring, Stronghold, Ikawa, and Bullet. I can’t wait to try them out!

3. What is your most memorable coffee drink or favorite coffee of all time?

In 2009, I started working at a café. I had no idea of how or why coffee tastes different, not to mention varieties, processing, etc. I didn’t even know that my boss in Korea was very famous in specialty coffee. He is on the board of directors for the Specialty Coffee Association of Korea. So when I first started working there, I had a Panama Geisha from the Esmerelda Farm. I had no idea what a Geisha was or even where panama was! But he intentionally didn’t tell me how special this coffee was until after I drank it. It was actually the winner of the Cup of Excellence of that previous year. The flavours were very lemony and clean, but super sweet like candy with a hint of jasmine florals. That cup of coffee changed my life and I knew that I had to learn how and why that coffee tasted the way it did!

4. What is your favorite place you’ve visited?

This is a hard question! But to be honest, my favourite place I visited is our coffee shop every morning before I head to the roastery. I love seeing my friends and colleagues every day and getting to drink the coffee that I roast and having it made by some of the best baristas is one of the most humbling experiences of my life, and I get to experience that every single morning.

Scholarship Runners Up

After awarding the #shestheroaster scholarship to Jaimee we found that we had enough left over from our generous sponsors’ donations to offer $400 each toward attending the 2018 Coffee Roaster’s Guild Retreat to two more applicants, Karla Quiñones and Baylee Engberg. Here’s a Q&A with each scholarship runner up.

Q&A with Karla Quiñones

Photo courtesy of Karla Quiñones

Photo courtesy of Karla Quiñones

1. What are your goals for your coffee career?I think my personal goal is to learn as much as I can and multiply that knowledge by sharing it as much as I can. We need to share more in this industry. I'm really grateful that I'm bilingual and can get experiences and knowledge that most of us in Latin America don't have access to; I want to be able to just make it more accessible. Somehow I always end up teaching something wherever I go, so I want to keep doing that in a more purposeful way. I know a lot of women coffee producers, baristas, etc. in [Latin America], and I think that's a great starting point for me to share all of this experiences.

2. Which roasting machine are you currently using?

I own a home roaster, a Behmor 1600 Plus --that's how I learned about coffee roasting.  With Joe Behm I got the opportunity to travel to [Latin America], attend SCA and teach others how to use it. In reality, that's what a lot of people have access to since it's affordable. I've mostly roasted on a Probat sample roaster, but I don't own one. That's when I got the courage to apply for the scholarship, I want to be able to roast and understand the whole mystique, culture, and technicalities behind roasting.

3. What is your most memorable coffee drink or favorite coffee of all time?

Pacamara, Finca Las Botijas from Comayagua region, Honduras (José A. Girón is the producer). Last year I spent a month in Honduras and attended the Escuela de Catadores de Café, IHCAFE. During that time I had the chance to participate in the Project Origin auction. I remember the exact moment I cupped that coffee.

4. Where is your favorite place you’ve visited?

I have to say La Finca de Don Pedro Fiallos in Corquín, Honduras (the soil was so healthy, bouncy and happy) and Finca Cañada Fría, Daniel Cobilt Veracruz México.

Q&A with Baylee Engberg

Photo courtesy of Baylee Engberg

Photo courtesy of Baylee Engberg

1. What are your goals for your coffee career?

I’m so much of a dreamer. Currently, I’m working on finishing my roasting certifications through SCA and gearing up for SCA Pathways. I volunteer locally with Dillanos whenever there’s an opportunity. Maybe someday I’ll compete— who knows! I’m looking forward to continuing networking and meeting people associated with #shestheroaster. I just want to make friends and roast coffee. Wholeheartedly, I would love to work with Matchbook Coffee Project. As a career path: I hate idle hands. I want to keep learning. I want to help others and feed their fire. I’m hellbent.

2. What roasting machine are you currently using?

Diedrichs & Probats! I’m lucky in the sense that I work for a company with a spectrum of machines. I roast on a Diedrich 240, Diedrich 120, Probat L25, and Diedrich IR-2.5. I am never bored— it keeps me on my toes.

3. What is your most memorable coffee drink or favorite coffee of all time?

Memorable is a tricky word. When I was six years old my grandmother poured a bottled “Vanilla Frappuccino” into a mug, heated it up, and told me it was hot chocolate. I’m sure it was barely coffee, but I was young and it was unlike anything I’d ever had before. I’m going to call that the most memorable because it kick-started this love affair I have with coffee. In all seriousness though, I remember my first natural Ethiopian Harrar vividly; I’m a huge fan of our Congo Muungano, and as a rule of thumb: I really dig Kenyan coffees. As for my preferred varietals: SL’s & Ethiopia Heirlooms. How could you pick a favorite when they have their own strong suits?

4. Where is your favorite place you’ve visited?

Bisbee, Arizona. The desert is wild to somebody that has grown up in the Pacific Northwest— let alone, an old mining town full of semi precious stones and copper-roofed shanties built into a hillside. It shocked me.

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