Danny Andrade defy’s the odds with an Australian first Bootcamp
What do you set out to achieve as a coffee professional? For me, I want to learn something new every day, share that knowledge and collaborate often.
When I started my career in the industry, I set out to learn and experience about each link of the coffee chain. I found participating in specialty coffee competitions supercharged my learning. Every competition was a new opportunity to be curious, research and collaborate. I questioned everything.
My curiosity eventually led me to travel to various origins to learn about processing methods and different farming practices. I learnt many producers used processing methods that had been passed down from previous generations. But apart from sticking to tradition, producers didn’t know why they did what they did.
I found this interesting and used the opportunity to experiment with other processing methods to explore their crop potential and share some insight into their produce from the perspective of a roaster, barista and consumer. This was an eye-opener for many and we have since continued communicating so that we can keep learning from each other.
Back home in Brisbane, I applied the knowledge that I had gained from my travels and conducted an experiment with a single crop from my friend’s front yard. He had a few red bourbon trees growing at 20 metres above sea level (MASL) and next to a busy road – not ideal.
My hypothesis was: If different processing methods are applied to the same varietal (from the same crop), then different characteristics would appear in each processed lot. I processed two lots of 500 grams.
To challenge the hypothesis even further, I applied two washed methods with slight variances. The first was the washed method we all know, I called this the ‘Fundamental’ lot. The second washed method was different, I borrowed fermentation methods used in the wine industry and called this the ‘Innovation’ lot.
The outcome proved the hypothesis.
The Fundamental lot gave me a clean cup, yellow fruity notes, had bright and citric acidity, a low intensity body, tea-like mouthfeel and a medium-to-long aftertaste. The Innovation lot had stone fruit notes, a round malic acidity, a medium-to-high body, creamy mouthfeel and a long aftertaste. Careful treatment of the cherries is what gave me such high quality.
Learning, sharing and collaborating is so important for our industry to transform and evolve. I have since collaborated with some of the best coffee professionals and applied my experiments on a larger scale. In October last year, I hosted my first Processing Methods Bootcamp at Tambourine Mt Coffee Plantation (TMCP) in Queensland, Australia. I teamed up with TMCP as they are passionate producers and always
searching to improve their crop. The farm was also transitioning from organic to biodynamic farming practices which appealed to me.
The decision to host the first Bootcamp in Australia was because I wanted to defy the odds.
Australia is regarded to produce low grade coffee with earthy notes and often score less than 80 points. I wanted to demonstrate to students and the producers that (1) careful treatment of the crop when processing will elevate the end result, and (2) demonstrate the differences in the cup by applying different processing methods.
The course was also a forum for coffee professionals to meet, share knowledge and collaborate. We shared a big AirB&B house together and over 4 days we lived, breathed, talked coffee. The producers learnt about their crop potential and the students learnt about farming practices, the hard work that went into farming and processing specialty coffee, and gained an understanding of the impact processing methods have on flavour, structure and cup quality.
We applied eight processing methods which were divided into two categories: Fundamentals and Innovation.
As per my first experiment, the fundamental methods were the most commonly used methods applied by producers such as natural and washed. Innovation methods were inspired by trends (including borrowed science from the wine industry) and my own experiments, experience and research. Below is a picture of all of the lots during the drying phase.
The coffee was assessed at public cupping events and by a number of Q Graders in Australia. Amazingly, we turned TMCP’s original score of 76 points, to an average of 85 points! There was also one lot which scored an incredible 87.75 points!! So many people, including the students and producers, were stunned that the coffees were Australian.
Although the Processing Methods Bootcamp was years in the making, the results go to show that curiosity and collaboration can create the most wonderful things. I challenge you to reach out to a colleague in a different link in the coffee chain and learn something new. Maybe it’s about how they brew their coffee, or maybe it’s about the decision making process when it comes to roasting. Collaborate with one another and share your experiences. The industry evolves with your curiosity.
by Danny Andrade