Caffeine's editor Phil Wain had the opportunity to talk coffee with Roasting Plant’s own Genevieve Kappler.
Hello Gen. Tell me, what is your role here?
Gen: Hi! I am the director of coffee for Roasting Plant. There are three parts to my role. On the green side, I am in charge of the curation and sourcing of green coffee beans, relationship building with our partner producers at origin, and getting involved in social projects.
On the roasting side, I'm crafting profiles for each coffee to bring to light the terroir and special character of each of them.
On the café side, I create the brewing profile for the Eversys coffee technology, so every cup served preserves the taste of each bean, obtaining the best extraction possible.
And what does that involve on a day-to-day basis?
No one day is the same. Some days I’ll be working with the cafe managers, getting feedback from them on customer responses, and fine tuning when necessary. Other days, I might be hibernating in the quality lab with roasted coffee samples sent from the stores, or checking green samples sent by producers or importers. Sometimes I’m sample roasting for hours, perfuming the whole neighbourhood with the amazing aroma of all the special beans we come across.
On another day, I’ll be planning sourcing trips to buy coffee from farms or providing technical assistance needed within our stores, or working on new blends and seasonal drinks. Routine?
No such thing!
What is it that you do that makes your Roasting Plant coffee so special?
It’s not what I do, it is what WE do at Roasting Plant. The farmers we work with are dedicated to producing the best coffee, which is the foundation of Roasting Plant’s amazing taste. I'm lucky to rely on extremely precise custom made technology designed by our founder Mike Caswell and developed with the Roasting Plant team. The technology is able to get the level of precision required to tailor every profile to each of the coffees we bring in.
Our technology enables us to spread the profile to each store without us being on site. We can remotely roast and intervene when needed, then get a report for every single micro batch we roast …
You’ll find people working at Roasting Plant who are excited by and love the brand… they’re a HUGE part of the Roasting Plant “experience” and are the ones that advise customers on coffees they should try, whilst explaining the Roasting Plant concept.
Roasting Plant is fully automated, so it’s a company led by technology, it was built to offer a super consistent high-quality product and our baristas are the ones that give it life and soul!
Quality is in everything - the green coffee, the roasting, the brewing, the staff and the products around the coffee too such as milk and food.
You are known for roasting coffee in each and every store, what difference does that make to freshness?
Our coffee is micro-batch roasted fresh all day every day. Our system monitors everything so everyone can be sure that the coffee is fresh all the time…
Freshly roasted coffee, freshly baked bread or a dish fresh out of the oven are always the best, because freshness doesn’t have an oxidised taste, and there are specific aromatic molecules linked to freshness in coffee which are fragile and ephemeral. We want our customers to be able to enjoy that ‘freshness’ in every cup.
Given this, how do you ensure that roasted beans rest long enough before brewing?
We get this question a lot! We use fluid bed roasting, which means forced convection and the beans degas faster than with traditional drum roasting. Depending on the density, shape and origin, our beans are ready within twelve hours for drip and eighteen to twenty-four hours for espresso.
What is your favourite coffee origin Gen?
I’m in Peru, so I'll tell you Peru today, Guatemala tomorrow, the day after it’ll be Colombian. It depends on my mood and often, my favourite of the day is often because it is from specific producers and people we work with.
Their kindness and humble nature, their passion and friendship are what makes the taste so special most of the time! We have lots of friends at origin, so that means lots of favourite coffees!
I drive people crazy because I love a deconstructed latte. I like my espresso pure, but I love milk too, so I have them make the espresso in a ceramic cup, then have oat and whole milk blended ⅓ ⅔!
Tell me about Roasting Plant's sourcing. Do you tend to use preferred green coffee importers? Do you have any connection with the producers themselves?
We do both. As we grow, we'll work to an 100% direct relationship, but for now for coffee that isn’t direct, we use importers that truly share our social and quality values, but also have logistic capabilities and transparency systems that allow their lots to be fully traceable. We have connections with producers in many countries where we use a direct relationship model. We’ll negotiate a farm gate price based on true production cost, unique each lot.
Taking into consideration the reality of what our coffee costs to be produced is critical and should be considered by every coffee company that cares. We need to make sure producers are not only solvent, but successful and motivated to continue producing… direct communication is equally important for us and for them.
And how did you get your start in the industry?
I studied Wine / Oenology, which was a strong base to get me started in the world of coffee which I always wanted to be a part of. I met the ex-ambassador of Guatemala in Paris and started working for her, she then sent me to Guatemala to learn coffee production and I was trained by the best technicians and cuppers at Anacafe, the national coffee association there.
It’s a twenty year long story, a long journey that brought me from France to New Caledonia, to the USA and from there to over 30 countries, producing and consuming. I loved and still love every second, the journey continues!
What would you recommend for a new visitor to Roasting Plant to make sure they try?
A coffee flight would be a start. Try several origins, then discover what your personal preferences are and ask our baristas to make your own blend. You can blend up to 3 beans, brewed fresh to your cup in less than a minute…
Roasting Plant is the personal ‘lab’ of all the coffee lovers that step into our stores.
Find out more at roastingplant.co.uk