We kicked off the new year with a sold-out session of our popular Roasting 101 class this month. The January session was our chance to try out the new class format, schedule, and a brand new break-out session. If you missed the updates, or it's been a while since you joined us for class, here's what's new for students in 2024.
Updated Schedule & Exclusive Video Content
We've said "so long" to our 4-hour virtual orientation and replaced it with a student-exclusive video playlist. This lets students review videos on their own schedule and break the lessons into shorter sessions. Each video covers foundational roasting and green coffee information, vocabulary, and introductions to the instructors and the equipment. Students can watch videos before and after class to help them prepare for class and review important topics afterward when it's time to roast on their own.
In addition to the new videos, we've added an extra half-day to the in-person class schedule. Students now join us on Wednesday at 1 pm to get acquainted with the roasting facility, participate in a long-format cupping exercise, and take part in our new workshop focused on space planning. For Thursday and Friday, we're together all day to roast, taste, and explore.
Roastery Planning Workshop
Based on our most popular session at Coffee Fest, we've added a roasting facility space planning workshop to the first day of Roasting 101. Led by Angie Davis, a trained architect with several years of experience helping roasters install their machines and design their spaces. If you've bought a roaster or venting materials from us in the past few years, you've worked with Angie. She's an expert designer masquerading as Mill City Roasters' VP.
Students work in small groups to design hypothetical roastery floorplans using to-scale roasting and packaging equipment models. Each floor plan is based on a real-life Mill City Roasters customer case study, and the group's plan is critiqued for workflow, health and safety codes, and aesthetics. It's a crash course on what you need to know when choosing your potential roasting facility, or how to use the space you have to maximize your productivity.
Bonus Day: Saturday Q&A with Steve and Angie
One of the highlights of coming to class is getting to talk to Mill City's Owner Steve Green about starting your coffee business. Steve's a fount of good advice and encouragement to new roasters. Angie's expertise in small business ownership, roaster ventilation solutions, and space planning makes her a valuable student resource. For students staying in town after the end of class on Friday, we've added an optional Saturday morning session with both of them to facilitate more conversation.
January's Q&A topics included registering your business name and social media accounts, choosing the right size roaster, getting started with toll-roasted coffee before getting your own roaster, and business planning essentials like liability insurance and workman's comp coverage. People came with a few questions and left with tons of useful information and a much better sense of the next steps for their business.
Keeping the Classics
Some things are too good to change. We still enjoy an excellent and informative tour of the Cafe Imports green coffee warehouse on Wednesday afternoon. The tour is a chance to see over 5 million pounds of green coffee and learn more about Cafe Imports' business from a few members of their sales team. If you have questions about green coffee storage or working with an importer (not just Cafe Imports), it's an awesome opportunity to learn from some of the best.
As always, we still spend a lot of time on the roasters. Students have the chance to roast on several different machines to learn how the experience changes between small lab/studio roasters and larger production machines. If you join us this year, you'll have the chance to roast batches on the MCR500, the brand-new MCR-2E, MCR-3D, MCR-6, and MCR-20. Needless to say, you'll go home with a lot of great coffee.
In addition to roasting, we spend time on sensory skill building with group cuppings, tasting, and calibrations. Other lecture sessions focus on the science of heat transfer, brew variables and measuring extraction, building a great blend for drip or espresso, and finding the ideal finish time for a new green coffee.
Kick Start Your Coffee Business
We're so excited about this year's class format and we received excellent feedback on our first session. Whether you're brand new to roasting, or have a few years of experience, this class will help you fine-tune the fundamentals and strengthen your coffee skills. Still on the fence? Let our student reviews speak for themselves!
We can't wait to have you join us for Roasting 101 this year.