Illustration by Andrew Roberts. Coffee roasters are like a crossbreed of engineers and artists, perpetually looking for a better way to do things, adding just a slight tweak to improve the end result. It might appear as though there is only one empirical way to roast beans, just as it might seem there’s only one way to plug in a video display and some speakers, but our readers know how much finesse it takes to do the latter, so you can only guess how coffee snobs feel about their roasts.
When Rapheal Bernadine, my local coffee roaster, talks about his roasting techniques, there is a distinct pride blended with just the right amount ofn modesty. Before opening his own café, he worked at two others, and the owners at each leaned on him to help with roasting tasks. He soon developed his own tactics, and customers started asking for his blend.
Thinking he was an expert, he took several classes to refine his skills and discovered that he was in fact doing many things wrong, or at least differently from convention. Now he applies layers of practical knowledge and philosophical insight to his roasting. To become an expert in any subject matter, one has to first have interest, curiosity, and confidence to risk imperfection along the way. if you’re destined to be good, after making an error you’ll pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and build on the new knowledge gained.
But you can’t go this road alone. Just as Bernadine had his boss’ support for his burgeoning talents, the technical practitioners in our industry have mentors and networks of colleagues who light the way toward advancement. We are fortunate to be a part of an industry that has even more variables than coffee roasting, and also offers the camaraderie of a café. And like a neighborhood hangout, there are regulars who you can always count on seeing.
That’s what the SCN Hall of fame is about. It’s a celebration of the names and faces we all know, and the philosophy and expertise they bring to our everyday work. This year we induct four new Hall of famers, and salute one more AV installation that changed the industry. I hope you’ll join us in saluting these new honorees and those inducted previously, as together they add distinction to our business.