Q&A with Scott Rao

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Adam Marley (00:01):

Hey everyone. This is Adam from Monastery Coffee. We're doing the other live question and answer today. And today, we are joined by Scott Rao. Oh, hey Scott. How are you doing? So now, I have to work how to do that thing where you add someone in. Viewers, Scott, Go Live with Scott, go live with Scott. Did that work?

Scott Rao (00:33):

All right, you did it.

Adam Marley (00:34):

Hey, worked it out.

Scott Rao (00:35):


Adam Marley (00:37):

I wasn't sure I'd be able to. I didn't do a test last night, and a lot of people logged on and I think were a little bit confused with my live video of a chair.

Scott Rao (00:46):

Well, nice to see you.

Adam Marley (00:47):

Yeah, nice to see you too, Scott. How have you been?

Scott Rao (00:50):

Not bad, and you?

Adam Marley (00:51):

Yeah, good. Well, we've got some nice weather finally here in Adelaide. It's been a pretty cold, difficult winter for Australian standards. And so it's nice to have some warm weather again. But obviously, it's a weird time for everyone. It's been particular odd for us in terms of we expected things to play out with Coronavirus and how that might affect coffee here in Adelaide and Australia. But actually, it hasn't been as bad as we thought it would be.

Scott Rao (01:18):


Adam Marley (01:19):

At least so far, so don't want our chickens before they hatch. How have you been? How are things in the States?

Scott Rao (01:27):

They're about as bad as they could be, as you know. We really have no leadership and a lot of people are not taking the virus very seriously. So we're trapped in a cycle where the numbers stay really high, and there's just a lot of fighting about it rather than people just solving the problem.

Adam Marley (01:45):

Yeah. That's unfortunate.

Scott Rao (01:48):

It is.

Adam Marley (01:51):

But we're thinking about you guys over there.

Scott Rao (01:53):

Thank you.

Adam Marley (01:53):

And hopefully, the situation can resolve itself, and you can start to get some strong leadership and start to see if those numbers go down and the curve flatten a bit.

Scott Rao (02:00):

Yeah, it'd be great.

Adam Marley (02:02):

But let's talk about coffee. I got a feeling most people that are in here know who you are, but I want to give a short intro onto who Scott Rao is. And correct me if you want to on anything. But he basically is one of the most respected coffee professionals in the world, I would say.

Adam Marley (02:29):

And that's not because of hype or ego or popularity or anything like that, but because he gets things done. He uses empirical evidence and experience, pattern recognition to improve coffee both in terms of roasting, but also extraction all the way down to service in cafés in my opinion.

Adam Marley (02:49):

A lot of coffee professionals tend to try and determine a why and then extrapolate that why, and it tends to not work that well, whereas Scott instead uses a huge amount of experience to see what works and what doesn't work. He's had multiple successful cafés and roasteries.

Adam Marley (03:09):

He's a leading author, if not the leading author probably and especially coffee industry, and is now, I think, spending most your time as a consultant, and probably one of the most respected and sought-after consultants in especially coffee industry, again, because the results speak for themselves.

Adam Marley (03:26):

And I can attest to that personally asking our customers. Our coffee improved markedly overnight as soon as we hired Scott to consult for us. I am actually quite ashamed at what our coffee was like before. You came to help us.

Scott Rao (03:41):

Oh, no. [crosstalk 00:03:42]-

Adam Marley (03:42):

Now I look back on it, I'm looking at the old profiles going, "Oh my god."

Scott Rao (03:44):

Hey. We're all always learning, you know?

Adam Marley (03:48):

Yes, which is one of the other things I love about you, is that constant strive to learn and to be proven wrong, and then reassess and improve things. I think the coffee industry needs more of that and less people wanting to protect their egos and feel validated, and more people actually wanting to improve the coffee they roast and serve every day, which I think is fantastic.

Adam Marley (04:11):

And I applaud you for helping push that in the coffee industry as a whole globally. It's made a difference for me even just going to the average café now here in Adelaide, which is like small, little Adelaide, the quality of coffee from the average café, anyone that's read your books, roasting and/or brewing is markedly better than it was seven, eight years ago when we first started, so thanks for that.

Scott Rao (04:37):

You're too kind, you give me too much credit. But it's very kind words. I like what you said about not looking for the reason why, because a great deal of the questions I get are, "Why does this happen? Why does this happen?" And in truth, even in the science end of coffee research, people don't really know why many things happen.

Scott Rao (04:59):

And really, all you can look for is extremely frequent correlations that are probably cause and effect, and you really just have to collect so much data about situations, that you see patterns and you say, "Right. This pattern is probably accurate. I'll always keep my eye open in case the pattern doesn't hold."

Scott Rao (05:19):

But that's probably the best way forward for most people, is to fixate on patterns truly across a lot of data. You can't just do something three or four times and say, "Okay. I see a pattern." And that takes a lot of work and a lot of willingness to be wrong. But it is true.

Scott Rao (05:37):

Trying to figure out why things happen is a fool's errand, so I appreciate you saying that.

Adam Marley (05:43):

Well, that was one of the first things I remember first hearing about you, and then buying the books and reading them. And I don't know if from the first books, you went into that too deeply, but then seeing one of your talks that you did, and then you said something very much along those lines, and I was just like, "Yes, thank you. Yeah, [inaudible 00:06:00]."

Adam Marley (06:00):

Because up until that point, talked to so many roasters who'd say, "Only ever roasted on a PROBAT," and they go, "You should always do this. If you don't do this, the coffee will taste bad." And you go, "Well, does that apply to a different roasting machine with a different green coffee in a different part of the world?" And of course, it doesn't.

Adam Marley (06:17):

But people would just extrapolate from their limited experience, and then come up backwards, almost like the reverse of the scientific process. They would then try and come up with, "Oh, what could possibly explain that very, very small kind of dataset?" and then take that and apply it to everything else. And I'm like, "Well, that's not going to work."

Scott Rao (06:34):

Yeah. It's always tempting to find a tidy narrative to explain it. See, it's-

Adam Marley (06:39):

We want to. We're human. You know? It's natural.

Scott Rao (06:40):

Yeah. I mean, that's what we do and sometimes it's great and sometimes it's a disaster.

Adam Marley (06:47):

Exactly. I'm trying to find a better spot for my phone over here. So we're better. So did you want to jump ... We got some questions that were sent in during the week from people that saw the posts and then the short post and [inaudible 00:07:00] post. Did you want to jump into some of those?

Scott Rao (07:03):


Adam Marley (07:04):

Or did you want to ... Actually, I should start with, is there anything that you wanted to take this opportunity to say in terms of new book or what's happening with the online consulting things or?

Scott Rao (07:19):

Just for one-

Adam Marley (07:20):

[crosstalk 00:07:20].

Scott Rao (07:21):

Just one for one second. I mean, I have a new book out about coffee roasting called Coffee Roasting Best Practices.

Adam Marley (07:26):

I'm waiting for mine.

Scott Rao (07:27):

I'm sorry. It's taking forever to ship to Australia.

Adam Marley (07:29):

No, it's fine. It's Australia.

Scott Rao (07:31):

It's actually become a ... It's become a daily nightmare to deal with how long the postal service is taking. It's much more advanced, much more prescriptive than my first book. My first book was preliminary, kind of like, "Hey. Here's how roasting works a little bit," and a lot of basics.

Scott Rao (07:48):

The second book, I much more confidently dove into how to, and try to create the framework for a whole system that roasters could rely on to ... No matter what machine they're on, no matter what their experience level, they could apply this system and get better immediately. That's what that book's about, and yeah, let's jump into questions. Let's do it.

Adam Marley (08:09):

Cool, awesome. I have a very low tech, just taking some screenshots of the questions that I retrieved in the week. That's why I'm looking down here. I'm looking at my laptop. How would you approach the roasting profile for a new green coffee?

Scott Rao (08:26):

That's really difficult. We really don't have ... I don't know how to say it. We don't really necessarily have the science yet to predict very well what to do with a brand new coffee. What I recommend to people, and this is difficult, it takes some time, is to to keep a spreadsheet of every lot of green coffee that you get in.

Scott Rao (08:48):

Track the bean size using screens, track the moisture content, track the water activity, and then track ... Basically, note the best batch of those coffees, and therefore, you'll be able to go back in your Cropster and look at the gas settings, etc., that you used for that coffee.

Scott Rao (09:07):

And then when you get a new coffee in, no matter where it's from in the world, you can look back at your spreadsheet and say, "Uh-huh, the physical attributes of this new coffee most closely match this Guatemalan from last year," or something like that. And then you can assume that the settings for that Guatemalan are going to be approximately right for the new coffee.

Scott Rao (09:27):

It's going to be difficult because number one, you're never going to find two perfect analogs, and number two, something's going to go wrong. First batch is going to come a little bit early, you're going to make some kind of mistake, something's going to go wrong. This is really just about taking your best guess because we really generally are flying blind when we roast something for the first time.

Scott Rao (09:49):

So I would just say bean size, moisture content are the two biggest factors when it comes to deciding how much gas to use for coffees. Assuming that you always roast just one batch size, which would be strongly recommended if you can manage that, you should be using consistent batch size, air flow, charge temperature for all your coffees.

Scott Rao (10:13):

Because those are really about managing the machine, not so much about managing the actual beans in the [inaudible 00:10:17]. And then you're just playing with gap settings per different bean. If you plug in an analog from an old coffee to this new coffee, and you're using the same air flow, the same charge temperature, you should be able to take a pretty good stab at reasonable gas settings and get a reasonable result to work with.

Scott Rao (10:36):

Someone just asked a question about what about density? It's not that density doesn't matter, but if you had to split up the percentage weight of different factors that are going to determine what gas settings you use, I would say that bean size and moisture content combined make up 80% of the determination of how much gas you'll use.

Scott Rao (10:58):

And density is probably 10% or something like that of what you need to know in order to determine the gas settings. If you're focused solely on high-grown specialty coffee, the variation and density in the bean isn't that great.

Adam Marley (11:14):

Yeah. It's not that great.

Scott Rao (11:16):

If you think about it, bean size, I mean, you can go from a Pacamara to a peaberry, and the Pacamara might be three or four times greater in size than the peaberry. That's a huge thing to go up 200% or 300% in size. Moisture content might go from 8% to 12% at most, so that might be a 50% increase.

Scott Rao (11:34):

But density might increase 10% or 20%, so not only is it a small factor to begin with, but the variation and density is a small factor. So I don't think it's that much ... It's not worth spending too much time fixating on density.

Adam Marley (11:47):

Yeah. I mean, at least in our limited experience, tracking those things, density seems to have, probably out of those, the smallest impact on what goes wrong in a roast. On that first roast, it's just like you have these other things that will help us be prepared for what might go wrong.

Adam Marley (12:03):

But density doesn't really seem to have such a strong kind of impact, at least in our experience. Cool.

Scott Rao (12:10):

So Adam, I'm going to track the questions people are asking while we talk also, and maybe I'll [crosstalk 00:12:14].

Adam Marley (12:14):

Yeah. No, great.

Scott Rao (12:16):

So Zach here was asking, "Does the stream get saved?" And yes, you're going to save this Instagram Live, right?

Adam Marley (12:21):

Yes. It's going to be saved in our IGTV after this, so on Monastery Coffee's profile. This will be saved in our IGTV forever, I guess-

Scott Rao (12:30):


Adam Marley (12:31):

... until Facebook does something we don't like.

Scott Rao (12:33):


Adam Marley (12:36):

But yeah, so it'll definitely be saved for all those that can't tune in now. I apologize for our time zone being completely off with the rest of the world, and making this kind of ... especially for those in Europe. I apologize. Though, our Asian buddies above us, they'll be okay.

Scott Rao (12:50):


Adam Marley (12:52):

[crosstalk 00:12:52].

Scott Rao (12:52):

There's somebody in China right now who's stoked about this, but yeah.

Adam Marley (12:54):

Yeah, perfect time. Cool. Sorry if we miss any questions. I'll try and keep track as well. It's a good thought. Scott, if we miss any questions, just repeat them because they'll come up again for us-

Scott Rao (13:07):


Adam Marley (13:07):

... guys. And then so our next pre-sent-in question, "When you roast each batch, do you just pick a profile in your laptop and let it ..." oh, okay, "And then let it run or do you have to fine-tune each roast? And then what factors lead to batch variation?" Air Temp Community.

Adam Marley (13:22):

I think there's a couple questions there, but I think the gist of it for me would be once you set a profile, does that profile just stay set, or do you make adjustments to it on the fly based on day-to-day variations and things like outside temperature and humidity.

Scott Rao (13:37):

I'm assuming we're talking about roasting the same coffee over and over.

Adam Marley (13:39):

I would assume, yeah.

Scott Rao (13:40):

Okay. In general, my hope is that after you've roasted the coffee several times, you settle on a profile, it's never harmful to try to make very small, incremental improvements to the profile. Now, it's tricky if you're talking about things like changes in the weather and atmosphere, temperature and things like that.

Scott Rao (14:03):

It's tricky because it's nearly impossible. Let's say one day, your roastery is at 15C and one day, your roastery is at 20C, you're never going to full compensate for that, and it's going to be nearly impossible to replicate roast perfectly in that circumstance.

Scott Rao (14:19):

So I'm going to make an assumption that you've controlled your green coffee temperature so that it's always the same and that you've kept the ambient-

Adam Marley (14:24):

[crosstalk 00:14:24] something.

Scott Rao (14:25):

Yeah, well, you know? Because really, if someone's approaching the same green in the summer and it's 25C, and the same green is sitting at 15C in the winter, they're screwed. They'll never ever be able to replicate the roast development.

Scott Rao (14:41):

So assuming all of those things, that you're doing a pretty good job of keeping the conditions consistent, you should be able to replicate a profile over and over and over. And really, at most, you should be making one or two tiny tweaks here and there, and then testing if it was better, and if it was, then updating your reference curve and just going from there.

Adam Marley (14:58):

Yep. I think that's a fantastic response. And I think that's one of the things that I don't see a lot of roasters ... no, a lot more now. No, that's not. But you clearly see a lot of roasters would, I think, not cup those changes blind, and then not realize that their subconscious bias, they want that change to be a positive one.

Adam Marley (15:21):

And we would go through this to start with as well, and we spoke to a few much more experienced roasters who were going, "It has to always be blind."

Scott Rao (15:29):


Adam Marley (15:30):

Because you're going to be subconsciously biased, and I think a lot of roasters maybe still aren't doing that as much as they probably should just because the change you make might not be an improvement. You know?

Scott Rao (15:42):

It's true.

Adam Marley (15:42):

But you're going to want it to be. You're going to want to feel like you made a difference, a positive difference. You're going to want that validation.

Scott Rao (15:49):

The truth is that nobody feels comfortable doing anything blind because no one loves to look stupid. But at the end of the day-

Adam Marley (15:55):

[crosstalk 00:15:55].

Scott Rao (15:55):

... you got to just suck it up and you got to do it, and we all make mistakes. We all blow it doing anything blind. But it's really critical for learning and improving.

Adam Marley (16:04):

Yeah, absolutely. At the end of the day, it feels much better to have a better tasting coffee and to be more proud of your product, customers enjoy it more even if you have to look stupid a bunch of times on the way. It's like I might prefer that.

Adam Marley (16:17):

Does the time between the bean being fermented and dried and roasted change the flavor profiles? I'm guessing like age from export if you're in a country that doesn't produce and then roasting.

Scott Rao (16:29):

Sure. I mean, any form of green aging changes things. But the profile shouldn't change much over any reasonable period of time. A bigger thing that'll change the profile is if the beans are stored in such a way that their moisture content is changing, which would be a serious problem.

Scott Rao (16:48):

Assuming that you're keeping your green in sealed plastic bags like GrainPro, that really shouldn't happen. But sure, if a coffee is a year old, the profile doesn't necessarily change much, but your preference for the profile will change a little bit simply because the coffee's flavor has changed so much, you might want to say, "Roast it lighter to get more acidity out of it," or whatever the case may be. That's an open-ended thing. You never know. It's a case by case. You know?

Adam Marley (17:18):

Yeah. I think for us, we tend to ... when we're doing our QC, I think it's just very small, incremental changes. As the coffee ages, we [crosstalk 00:17:26] to run your coffee for eight to 10 months. Now, the profile will be a little bit different at the end of that time, but it's not something that ... It's not an active, "We need to change this," night and day kind of difference.

Adam Marley (17:36):

It's just like each week, we'll be like, "Oh, okay. The acidity could be bumped up a little bit or we want to get a bit more chocolate come out of it, so [crosstalk 00:17:42]. It became a little bit underdeveloped now." So we just make those kind of slow, gentle tweaks week to week.

Scott Rao (17:48):


Adam Marley (17:48):

I think we've got a good question that just came through here, if you feel like fielding it about air roasting versus drum roasting.

Scott Rao (17:55):

Yeah. It's like this, in a theoretical, ideal world, air roasting is first a period of drum roasting, because with air roasting, you have no conductive heat transfer. You're going to get easier bean development at a light roast, and you're going to get much less in terms of surface damage to the beans from the drum getting hot.

Scott Rao (18:19):

Practically speaking, there really has not been many good air roasting machines built. A lot of the old Sivetz machines initially had just an on-off gas switch. Eventually, they had modulating gas, but it was just a very small dial. They proposed a way of roasting where you basically just set the gas and then had a high limit temperature, and everything would hit the high limit, the gas would go off, etc.

Scott Rao (18:47):

So they really didn't set up for success even though the machine itself could potentially do a great job. So a lot of people have modified those machines and made them into very successful machines. Neuhaus Neotec makes a very, very expensive version of Sivetz platform with more technology, and it can be a great machine, shockingly expensive though.

Scott Rao (19:12):

The answer is that air roasting can and should be superior, but let's face it, there's 200 different drum machines in the world. There's probably 10 different air roasters being manufactured at any scale in the world, and of those 10, maybe one or two of them are actually pretty cleverly built, and the rest are just ... don't have great control.

Adam Marley (19:34):

Yeah. I think that's a great response. I see roasting coffee with the Ikawa. I think that's a good [inaudible 00:19:43].

Scott Rao (19:43):

The Ikawa and the ROEST with an E in the middle, they can both put out excellent coffee. The biggest weaknesses the machines have is that although they have pretty cool-looking technology, their data collection and presentation is not like Cropster. It's not nearly as good as Cropster.

Scott Rao (20:02):

And so the potential of those machines is huge, and I've had amazing coffee with them. But whether you can track your data well enough to replicate excellent roasts with ease is an open question. So I think we're getting there. I think the marriage of technology and roasting is improving things.

Scott Rao (20:22):

The hardest part really has been I've talked to all of these manufacturers, and either they're coffee people or they're technology people, and they're not really balancing the two. And mostly, they've been tech people coming up with clever, new ways to apply tech to coffee.

Scott Rao (20:41):

But they literally blow me off in an almost rude way when I say that it'd be great if we could improve the data collection and presentation. They give me the whole like, "Oh, you're not a technologist. You don't know anything." And absolutely and none of them seem to understand why Cropster is so popular. So there's still a little ways to go.

Adam Marley (21:01):

Yeah. I can't say how valuable Cropster is. I think we were using it almost from the first ... We tried it for the first week we started. We tried just doing it manually, and then the next week, we installed Cropster.

Scott Rao (21:13):

That's good. That's a good ... Yeah.

Adam Marley (21:15):

It was just ... I don't think I could go back. If it didn't exist tomorrow, I think I would just find another profession hence. It's so, so valuable. I think we had a question up here, a fun question, if you feel like answering it. What has your favorite coffee for the last two months been, Scott?

Scott Rao (21:33):

I'm not sure what you mean by favorite coffee. I mean, I'm not-

Adam Marley (21:35):

There's some questions that are related to that.

Scott Rao (21:39):

I'm not sure how specific they want. But I wrote about this company in New York that I'm involved with called Regalia. They do their Roast Defect Kit. And this month's Roast Defect, it was made out of an Ethiopian Halo Beriti, washed coffee. It's really lovely.

Scott Rao (21:56):

It was really the first Ethiopian I've had in the last three years that really had the clean, classic Yirgacheffe sort of citric, fruity flavor that I enjoy. I think Yirgacheffe ... I think Ethiopians have had a relatively rough time the last few years that people aren't talking about too much.

Scott Rao (22:13):

That was lovely. I've finally had a couple of good Kenyas in the last month. Nothing's blowing my mind, but it's been nice to get back into the Africans.

Adam Marley (22:23):

Yeah. It's good time of the year seasonality-wise. This is a good one, I think, because we had some questions about this previously. Is it possible to achieve a decent filter decaf roast? And how does the roasting approach differ between full and decaf? I think full just means ordinary caffeinated coffee and decaf. So how [crosstalk 00:22:46]?

Scott Rao (22:45):

Yeah. The answer is absolutely. In fact, a couple weeks ago, I bought a decaf Colombian Platino from Heart in Portland, and I got to say it was probably the best decaf I've had in my life. And it definitely outcupped-

Adam Marley (22:58):

High praise.

Scott Rao (22:59):

It actually outcups most of the regular coffees I have in my kitchen right now. I would give it like 87 and a half, quite honestly.

Adam Marley (23:06):

Yep, perfect.

Scott Rao (23:09):

And really, decafs are incredibly easy to roast. It's very rare that the RoR crashes. Because of the decaffeination process, it weakens the cellulose structure quite a bit so that when you're roasting, you don't have that violent explosion of moisture from the beans during first crack where the cellulose structure pops open so aggressively.

Scott Rao (23:29):

So everything goes down pretty smoothly with the RoR and first crack isn't so violent or disruptive to the curve with decaf. So it's pretty easy to get fantastic roast with decaf, yes.

Adam Marley (23:42):

And that's important for you, isn't it? Because I think you drink a lot of decaf, don't you? That's-

Scott Rao (23:45):

Yeah. I don't well with caffeine, so after about 11:00 in the morning, I switch to decaf. So I usually have a cup of decaf after lunch, something like that.

Adam Marley (23:53):

Yeah. And it's one of those things that I think unfortunately, a lot of roasters, baristas, because they don't drink it a lot themselves, they don't focus on it as much as the 'fun' stuff. And so my response to Chad who asked the question would be like of course, it is. But I just think there's a lot of people that aren't really feeling the need to put the effort into it, and it's just about the effort that they're applying to it. And so that's one of the factors with anything, I guess, we do in life.

Scott Rao (24:23):

Yeah. I think it's a huge missed opportunity because if you're a decaf drinker, whether you're someone like me who doesn't do well with caffeine, whether you're a pregnant woman or whoever, decaf's your only option and most decaf drinkers care quite a bit about the flavor because they're certainly not doing it for the high.

Adam Marley (24:41):

There's no drug. You know?

Scott Rao (24:43):

Yeah. And so we're keenly aware of which decafs are better or worse, and I think there's a huge opportunity to win over those people, because everybody blows off decaf. I get attitude from baristas all the time who mock me for ordering a decaf. And really, it just means that they're not caring for their decaf because they should be buying an 87-point coffee, roasting it brilliantly, presenting it really well, and be very proud of their decaf. That would be fantastic. You know?

Adam Marley (25:08):

It would be. Yeah. It's one of those ... I actually think I'm ... We've got quite a few questions about it recently, and one of the questions we had recently was why don't we offer a lighter roast? We only do an espresso roast, a darker roast.

Scott Rao (25:18):

Oh, yeah.

Adam Marley (25:18):

We've got some questions about omni-roasting as well, but for decaf, and I just mention it because it was our batch size requirements, there's not enough demand for it for us to be able to sell a whole batch while it's still fresh.

Scott Rao (25:29):

Yeah, [crosstalk 00:25:30].

Adam Marley (25:29):

And I'm thinking of potentially just doing it anyway and then just upselling it to people, be like, "If you're buying some light roast for home, then drink decaf in the afternoon. Take it home and try it out, and let's get some demand going for it." I don't know what demand is like in general in the US compared to Australia. But in Australia, it is such a tiny demand for decaf just across the board.

Scott Rao (25:52):

In the US, believe it or not, decaf is about 10% of the US market. So decaf is much more popular here than it is in Aus.

Adam Marley (26:00):

Yeah, absolutely. Here, it's like one, I'd say, for our accounts at least, maybe 3% but very, very small. Cool. What is your go-to brew ratio for espresso and why? I feel like some people might throw in some questions here about the Allongé shots and blooming espressos. We'll talk about those.

Scott Rao (26:23):

I'm pretty careful in my writing to not go around saying that there is a correct ratio because there isn't. What people have to realize is that if you can pull a longer shot without channeling, you're going to get a higher extraction and probably a nicer-tasting shot.

Scott Rao (26:37):

Now, of course, some people are hung up on strength, so people might really want a certain viscous quality to their espresso, which will limit their ratio. But the bottom line is that the better a barista you are, the better your pod prep, the longer the shot you can pull without channeling.

Scott Rao (26:56):

So a brand new barista or someone who's not that great probably can't go past 2:1 without having the shot fall apart. Someone who's really good could probably go a little over 3:1 without any obvious channeling. So I'm usually at home. I'm usually pulling shots usually about 3:1, maybe a little bit more.

Scott Rao (27:19):

And if I were to see any channeling, I would certainly stop it. But the bottom line is that it's really all about pod prep. And then there's issues like if you're using a machine that has pre-infusion, you could probably get away with a little bit longer ratio because you're less likely to channel.

Scott Rao (27:35):

If you've got something like a decent machine where you can craft your pressure curve, you can go even further without channeling. I mean, I'm pretty comfortable going to 4:1 in the decent ... with certain profiles, that kind of thing.

Adam Marley (27:46):

Nice. That's great. I reckon it might be useful to people. I don't know how. I'm trying to gauge the education level for the people that are currently in the line, but also then people that watch it at home. Do you have a short and shiny what to look for in terms of when the shots starts to channel if you don't have that feedback loop with a decent espresso machine, kind of way you can see it-

Scott Rao (28:06):

Yeah. I mean, look-

Adam Marley (28:07):

... like visually?

Scott Rao (28:08):

... it's not a problem for the shot to start to yellow if the paling of the color is relatively uniform. But if you start to have more yellowing in one area than another, you definitely have a channel. If you've got a bottomless pot or filter, you can always spot a channel. It's very easy.

Scott Rao (28:24):

And we should really take the approach that all shots channel to some degree. It's impossible to pull a shot that doesn't have some unevenness of extraction, and it's just a judgment call to say, "Right. I really need to stop this because I see one area that's got really light extract coming out of it."

Adam Marley (28:42):

And then you're going to have an excess of bitterness in the stringency, and just a shot that was going to be delicious, will start to be broken down.

Scott Rao (28:47):


Adam Marley (28:51):

I like this one, hopefully you do, "What is your favorite coffee to enjoy with friends and family? How do you share a great coffee with non-coffee geeks?"

Scott Rao (29:02):

I usually ask them questions first rather than assuming I know what they want. And I ask them what they've enjoyed in the past, where they go for coffee, how they make it, and I try to gauge. To the average consumer, roast level is very, very important and brew strength is very important.

Scott Rao (29:20):

And so I'll try to gauge based on that. If I have a ... As soon as I make my mom coffee, and it's like I'm not going to make my mom the light roast Kenya because to her, it's way too acidic. But I know that that slightly close to medium, Colombian is going to suit her. It's going to be a lot safer for her.

Scott Rao (29:43):

But if you ask a couple of key questions, you can always figure out what people really want. I just try not to impose my preferences on other people because it's not practical. It's not reasonable.

Adam Marley (29:54):

Yep. I love that answer. It's a great answer. Okay, I like this one. Actually, I sent you another question during the week, which I think I might tie them together, which is a bit philosophical. And then we go back to some more geeky stuff for those that are looking forward to the geeky stuff.

Adam Marley (30:10):

But a very general question, "What was your intention when you started a career in coffee?" And then I'd like to add to that, if I could, what keeps you in the coffee industry?

Scott Rao (30:21):

The answer to the first question is very not geeky. When I went to university, my third year ... No, my second? My third year, I lived in an apartment with four other guys, and I got along with them pretty well, but a few of them didn't get along with each other.

Scott Rao (30:39):

And so being home wasn't too much fun. There was a really cool, old style coffee house on campus, the kind of place with stained glass windows, and people were smoking, and there was poetry at night and stuff like that, I mean, the way things used to be.

Scott Rao (30:54):

The place had dreadful coffee, dreadful but it was home. This was a haven and this is where I met my best friends, and this was where I went every night to study and hang out. I fell in love with that environment where there was this place, and it wasn't a bar but it was the sense of community that it provided.

Scott Rao (31:16):

From that point on, I decided, I really wanted to own a coffee house. I'd always thought I wanted to open restaurants because I'd always worked in food and whatnot. And then I never really had enjoyed a cup of coffee until then. Because honestly, it was all crap.

Scott Rao (31:31):

And then shortly after that, a guy opened a roastery café a couple blocks from my house, and I tried his coffee and I was shocked. I loved it and I didn't even know I could like coffee. That made me more confident about opening a coffee house because now, I felt like, "Okay. I'm going to learn from this guy."

Scott Rao (31:49):

"I'm going to try to replicate what he does," and that was how I got my start, was that he took me under his wing, and we're actually still really good friends.

Adam Marley (31:57):

Oh, great. That's cool.

Scott Rao (32:00):

And then I set on this crazy trek where I drove all across America. I spent months driving across America trying to find the smartest, safest place to put a coffee shop on a small budget, and that was what got me into coffee.

Scott Rao (32:13):

But what keeps me in coffee is it's not so much the coffee. It's really I love problem-solving, and I think I could be in almost any field as long as you let me do problem-solving that keeps me interested. And so with consulting, with writing, with various things, I love trying to figure stuff out, and that's really what keeps me going is the problem-solving aspect.

Scott Rao (32:38):

And then the great thing is that there's a lot of great people and there's a lot of great community, and coffee is a painless, pleasant thing to be dealing with every day. You know?

Adam Marley (32:46):

Yeah. No, I love that. I mean, I think that's a fantastic response. Although, a bunch of people are going to be going, "It's not for the coffee. It's not for the ..."

Scott Rao (32:58):

Yeah. Well, the sad truth is that although I love coffee, there are times ... I mean, I've been in coffee for over 25 years. You get tired of coffee sometimes. And-

Adam Marley (33:12):

Then you start drinking tea.

Scott Rao (33:13):

Yeah. Well, there's tea too, but it comes and goes. There've been years where I was just a little bit sick of coffee and I had to back off a bit, then there's the years where I've just been thrilled to be drinking coffee. It's a little bit like a really long relationship where eventually, you get over the honeymoon phase.

Scott Rao (33:27):

It becomes something that it takes work, and there's going to be good times and bad times. You know?

Adam Marley (33:34):

Yeah. I would definitely agree with that. For me, a lot of people are surprised. I don't drink that much coffee. I reckon I have maybe three shots, three espressos worth of coffee a day at most, and then I'll swap to decaf or more often than not, tea, and caffeine just doesn't sit that well with me.

Adam Marley (33:50):

But also, just I don't feel like drinking any more coffee. After I've had enough caffeine, something switches and the thought of having more coffee just doesn't really do it for me. I have a cup first thing in the morning or else, I just don't like anything. You know?

Scott Rao (34:03):

True. Yeah.

Adam Marley (34:04):

But [crosstalk 00:34:04] then after that first coffee, I'm always like ... Because then it's like this flavor experience. So in the morning, I'm still in love with coffee and by the nighttime, I'm [inaudible 00:34:12] for divorce.

Scott Rao (34:14):

So true.

Adam Marley (34:14):

We'll go to counseling at night. But in the morning, I'm back in love again. All right. This is a hard question. Actually, no. Let's get something a little bit more geeky, I reckon. How do you deal with a coffee past one month to make a nice espresso with? I assume they mean one month past the roast day.

Adam Marley (34:33):

And maybe let's assume that it's not stored perfectly well either, not in freeze or in a vacuum seal or anything.

Scott Rao (34:39):

I'm not going to make that assumption right away because I think that there is a lot of misconception. I think you would agree with me when I say that there's no sin in making espresso out of a coffee that's rather light roast that's only four or five weeks old.

Scott Rao (34:53):

I mean, it could be brilliant. And I mean, darker roasts fall apart really quickly because they oxidize and they get rancid really quick. But light roasts can hold up well. I mean, I'm not afraid to drink coffee four or five, six weeks after roast if it's been held well and it was a light roast.

Adam Marley (35:10):

Yeah, same. Absolutely.

Scott Rao (35:12):

I mean, some really light roast, like some of the Nordic roasters use Loring. Some of that stuff won't even come to its own for three weeks.

Adam Marley (35:17):

Oh, wow. Okay, you're right.

Scott Rao (35:22):

But I think the only thing to look out for is that when a coffee gets old enough that it's lost the vast majority of its gas, it's going to channel more easily, more readily because there's going to be a little bit less turbulence in the perc.

Scott Rao (35:35):

And you're going to see the water drizzle through certain areas of the perc. The off-gassing, although it has its own challenges, the off-gassing actually helps make extraction a little more even.

Adam Marley (35:48):


Scott Rao (35:49):

So when coffee gets old, you'll always see this kind of watery, channely thing that you can't really fix.

Adam Marley (35:55):

That's really good to know. That was a ... I hope people were paying attention. That's a great little tip. That's something there, because I always considered that off ... I've always thought of off-gassing as ... kind of looked to the negatives in terms of the closed environment of espresso. But the fact that it helps minimize channeling, I'm glad to know that.

Scott Rao (36:14):

I mean, as you know, it's good to get some off-gassing for a couple or few weeks because it'll increase your extraction. You don't want off-gas-

Adam Marley (36:19):

That's where I went. Yeah.

Scott Rao (36:22):

I mean, there's obviously a tipping point where you've off-gassed so much that the oxygen gets in more readily and you've effectively lost aroma while you've been off-gassing. And so you're gaining extraction, but you're losing aroma. And there's a point where you're like, "Okay. This coffee is not tasting so lively anymore."

Adam Marley (36:38):

Yeah. And then as a roaster, I drink leftovers, so the coffee at home is always like two months old and it's still delicious. So I'm not drinking the stuff we can sell. I like this one because I had the same thought recently, "Any plans for an updated version of Everything But Espresso or the Barista's ..." I think it was the Barista's Bible, was the-

Scott Rao (37:02):

Professional Barista's Handbook.

Adam Marley (37:03):

Yeah, it was the handbook.

Scott Rao (37:05):

Yeah. I've actually been working on a couple of projects including a book, but I almost finished, but because of COVID, I can't really take care of some things like photo shoots. And so I've been a little bit stuck. So anyway, eventually, yeah.

Adam Marley (37:25):

Okay, that's exciting, eventually. We'll have to keep an eye out for that. I like this one. I've got these two questions in here which I know you get a lot, and you're probably sick of hearing them. But I know everyone in here is not going to have heard your answer to them before.

Adam Marley (37:39):

One of them, I think, is actually deliberately, a little bit of a joke from Dave who's in here. But I'm going to combine them. One of them is not a joke, and it is, "What's your opinion about omni-roasting?" The second one is, I hope, a joke, "And why do you hate natural so much?" I think that's also a tease.

Scott Rao (37:59):

Okay. Omni-roasting is like this, most people are concerned about how they should roast for filter versus how they should roast for espresso. So I want to say two things about that. One is that you don't necessarily have to roast differently for them.

Scott Rao (38:17):

The big factor is really there's two factors that affect how you should roast for espresso relative to filter. One is espresso's a lot more concentrated, so the acidity is much more concentrated. And there are mitigating factors like the oils and colloids will dampen some of the effect of that acidity.

Scott Rao (38:34):

So you don't necessarily have to roast it much differently, but it's a thought. The big thing to me is how are you extracting your espresso? If you've got a Mazzer grinder which extracts pretty low, you've got a La Marzocco Linear that doesn't have any pre-infusion, you're probably going to end up getting 19%, 20% extractions that are pretty uneven.

Scott Rao (38:57):

And in that scenario, a very light roast is going to come out a bit too sharp no matter who you are, no matter how you make it. Now, if you have a really good grinder, let's say you've got a PEAK or a Mythos or you're at home and you've got something like the Niche, and let's say you've got pre-infusion, let's say you've even got a potential declining pressure profile, and let's say you're pulling ... At home, I pull like 24% espressos, in that scenario, I have no reason to roast espresso differently then filter.

Scott Rao (39:29):

Because the extraction is so good and so even that you can really push things, and it doesn't come out too sharp. Whereas at that uneven, slightly channeled, slightly low extraction, you're going to get a lot of sharpness, and that's going to make you want to roast darker. Okay?

Scott Rao (39:47):

But another perspective really is should you be thinking so much about espresso versus filter, or should you be thinking about black coffee versus white coffee? And I don't have a strong opinion, but I think most people probably want a slightly different roast for something that's being drowned in milk versus something that's being drunk by itself.

Scott Rao (40:10):

And so I think that's where people's attention should really be, is should you have separate grinders and separate coffees for black and white espresso in your café. And I think you shouldn't worry too much about the filter versus espresso thing because if you're extracting really well, and you should be, then you can omni-roast or come close enough to a omni-roast to make one roast fantastic for both filter and espresso.

Adam Marley (40:31):

That's good.

Scott Rao (40:34):

Long-winded answer but hopefully, that works.

Adam Marley (40:36):

No. I've got a feeling it's going to be very valuable for a lot of people, especially when they watch this on IGTV. We're going to have ... All the people tuning in at the moment probably are the big geeks looking for those really geeky, digging deep into the science. But then on the IGTV, I think one of the things I love about how you approach educating people about coffee is that there's always a practical end, what does this actually mean in a cup?

Adam Marley (40:58):

There's a cognizance of people's preferences being different. It's not this kind of specialty elitism that sometimes people have. So you mentioned it before, not imposing your opinions on people. But then we can talk to you ... You're very good at talking to people that aren't coffee geeks, but then also the geeks as well.

Scott Rao (41:18):

Well, thank you.

Adam Marley (41:21):

I think that's really appreciated.

Scott Rao (41:22):

And I avoided the naturals question.

Adam Marley (41:25):

You did deliberately. I noticed that. I noticed the dodge. I was about to bring it up again. I wasn't going to let you get away with it.

Scott Rao (41:31):

It's not that I hate all naturals. It's just let's face it, until a few years ago, the vast majority of naturals were pretty funky, pretty fermenty, quality control, etc., weren't great, and the flavors weren't necessarily all that balanced.

Scott Rao (41:48):

I think on a cupping table, put a good natural versus a good washed coffee in a cupping table, take on slurp from a spoon of each, you're probably going to like that natural a lot. Now, sit down and drink a whole 12-ounce or a 350-mil mug of the natural, you might get a little tired of the massive amount of fruit in that cup after a while. Right?

Scott Rao (42:10):

So I think I look at coffee as what's not going to win at a cupping table, but what's going to win in terms of consumer-drinking coffee all day long. And to me anyway, and this is just personal preference, to me, something more subtle and more drinkable is great.

Scott Rao (42:30):

That said, I've enjoyed naturals before. For better or for worse, they've all been tragically expensive, and I don't know what means. But I really like clean and I like delicate, and a lot of naturals are punch you in the face with fruit and that just doesn't suit my palette. I know it suits other people's palette fantastically, so so be it. You know?

Adam Marley (42:51):

Yeah, there you go. That's Dave, so [inaudible 00:42:55] making naturals as light ... Yeah, I think I would agree with both of you there with your response, and then also with Dave's, that ... And he's there for those that are watching the IGTV later on.

Adam Marley (43:06):

Processing over the last three to four years has improved dramatically for naturals, making naturals a lot better than in the past, and I would agree with that definitely. It's funny actually. Every now and then, we ... Because I do have a soft spot for naturals.

Adam Marley (43:21):

But I'm not a huge ... Personally, I'm not a huge fan of the really heavily fermented punch-you-in-the-face stuff for pretty much exactly the same reason. Because it's fun to take a sip of it in a cupping table and then I don't want to just sit down and drink all of it because it's like [inaudible 00:43:33].

Adam Marley (43:36):

But they're getting so popular at the moment in Australia. It's funny because I still get the naturals coming in, and a new season arrives from one of our producers and I'm going, "Oh, wow. This is cleaner than last year. This is more balanced, it's more subtle, there's more complexity in it. As a result, brilliant."

Adam Marley (43:50):

And then our customers go, "Oh, I don't like it as much as last season. Where's that boozy hit gone?" It's just ... Not everyone, but I definitely think in Australia, there is this push at the moment for very strong fermentation flavors. I wouldn't say it's going back to five or six years ago where it was accidental, poor processing which was leading to some kind of off flavors in the cup.

Adam Marley (44:14):

But now, there's a deliberate push for really, really heavy fermented flavors, and I'm going, I'm cupping some of these coffees going, "Surely, that's ... Is that a defect? I don't want to be one of those people that calls a preference on a defect. I don't want to be someone that's going to [crosstalk 00:44:31] preference a defect.

Adam Marley (44:31):

I don't want to be one of those people. But I'm like, "I don't know." And so I give it out to people and everyone's like, "That's amazing." I'm like, "Okay. I'll buy it for you." But it definitely seems to be a trend at the moment to go like, "I don't know if we've peaked on that clean, clean [inaudible 00:44:42]," and then we're going back down towards the depths of really fermenting.

Adam Marley (44:45):

And then there's also this really serious political issue, or micro-political issues about what that means for producers or people making these ... roasters coming and making these strong requests for potentially very risky coffees that might be hard to sell.

Scott Rao (44:58):

Oh, yeah.

Adam Marley (45:00):

But let's not get into that too much today unless you feel like it. So omni-roasting. And then for roasters ... I reckon you have a good response to this. I'm looking forward to this. What is the number one cause of excessive roastiness? And maybe can I add in there, excessive or unintended roastiness.

Adam Marley (45:22):

Because maybe you just want to roast really dark for your customers if they want that.

Scott Rao (45:26):

Sure. That's a good distinction because, of course, I don't know how dark somebody wants. I think the simple answer is that the RoR goes up at the end of the roast. We call that a flick. So whatever your roast level, even if you're roasting quite light, if it starts to flick at the end, you'll end up tasting a little roastiness that was probably undesirable and it's pretty harsh.

Scott Rao (45:46):

It's not the gentle, caramely kind of pleasant bitter sweetness. It's just edgy burnt flavors. I'm assuming that's probably the most common cause of excessive roastiness.

Adam Marley (46:03):

Yeah. It was definitely one of the things when you first were talking about that, this was before we were talking in-person and stuff like that, but sort of online, that sort of thing, and first time we'd heard of it, and then we looked at our profiles and sure enough, we ... But we tried to go backwards.

Adam Marley (46:17):

And so we went to ... There was coffees that at the same roast level, same color, same kind of TDS on the refractometer and stuff, would always taste a bit roastier than the other coffees, and we didn't realize why. And then so instead of looking at those coffees and looking at the Cropster profiles, we looked at the Cropster profiles ... Sorry, we tasted the coffees first without looking at the profiles.

Adam Marley (46:40):

I mean, obviously, they're going to be in here a bit. And sure enough, all the coffees, 100%, all the coffees had that unintended, slight ... It wasn't crazy, but that slight roastiness. There was no flick initially, but then when we made our RoR settings more sensitive, all of a sudden, now, we could see that those coffees had a little flick on the [inaudible 00:46:59], and none of the other coffees did. And then we couldn't see it because our RoR was too smooth at that point.

Scott Rao (47:06):

That makes communication with roasters sometimes very difficult because people will smooth out their RoR settings excessively and/or they will have relatively thick, slow probes. And they won't see some of the action and the curves and/or they don't want to see the action.

Adam Marley (47:21):


Scott Rao (47:22):

And then I'll say, "Oh, this crashed," or, "Oh, this flicked," and people say, "No, it didn't." And really, if you get the settings right and you have the probe right, it looks very different. And so that's a tricky scenario to navigate. You know?

Adam Marley (47:36):

Yeah. That, and I think also for baking as well for roasters that don't realize, because the smoothing is such that you might not realize the coffee is more crushy or crushing harder than you thought it was, particularly at the very end of the roast.

Adam Marley (47:49):

And we have some coffees that were a similar sort of thing. When you came to Adelaide and then it's like this ... They can't have any ego on the table with you cupping the coffees because it's just like, "That one's baked, that one's roasty, that one's baked. This one's okay. I like this one." So it's kind of like emotionally recovering afterwards. But [crosstalk 00:48:09]-

Scott Rao (48:09):

I'm sorry.

Adam Marley (48:10):

... because then the next ... No, no. Thank you, because then the next ... As of that day, our coffees improved drastically-

Scott Rao (48:17):

Good, good.

Adam Marley (48:17):

... because of that. But again, it was the same thing going, "Those coffees, what went right with the coffees, Scott? The one coffee's got light." And then what was ... All those coffees that were baked, we did the same thing, went back and then we noticed that some of the RoRs were actually almost negative at the very, very end.

Adam Marley (48:32):

But if you change the settings, you can't see that, the settings that we had it on previously. And I think our probe was okay. The Diedrich probe we had in there normally was ... I think it's like 1.5 and it's relatively responsive. But just we liked the probes, but that we liked the curves looking nice.

Adam Marley (48:49):

It's like, "This is [inaudible 00:48:49], right?" and it's like, "You've just got to remove that and the coffee will taste better.

Scott Rao (48:54):


Adam Marley (48:58):

Okay. I like this one as well. I like this actually. We're going back to brewing now. We've done a lot on roasting, so going back to brewing, how do you keep your ... I'm going to say how and why, but how do you keep your temperature for your filter brews so high, almost boiling yet not get bitterness even though your drawdown times are pretty long? I think they're probably thinking of V60s when they're talking about this.

Scott Rao (49:21):

Yeah. So I'm confused by the question a little bit. Number one, even if your kettle temperature is like 98C, it's not too hot in the sense that by the time the water hits the grounds, it's lost several degrees. And assuming you have built up any kind of slurry, the slurry itself has cooled, so you're really just warming up the slurry.

Scott Rao (49:43):

You're not abusing any particular grounds with 98C, nothing like that. So you're pretty safe to use something like 97C, 98C for pour-overs. You're not 'burning' anything, you won't get any acrid flavors from that. As far as the drawdown time being long, it's true. My pour-over is generally between four and five minutes, depending on-

Adam Marley (50:05):

Which is long drawdown.

Scott Rao (50:05):

... depending on the coffee and depending on the dose that I'm using. But let's face it, after the first ... I don't know. By the mid-point of your brew, the pour-over's never going to get too hot. It's cooled off a little bit. There's a fair amount of water mass in there.

Scott Rao (50:23):

At some point, you stop. You're not adding water anymore. So I don't see the connection between brew time and heat damage because I don't think that's possible.

Adam Marley (50:34):

I think if we just separated out that bottom part of the ... And I think this goes back as well to your blooming espressos and your 24% extractions that you're talking about at the moment, and it's getting a lot going, "What? Seriously? Really?" and they haven't tasted it. So then they're calling it bollocks and they haven't even tasted it, which I think is hilarious. And so I've tasted them in there at MICE and they're delicious.

Adam Marley (50:52):

So it is a thing, but I think that not getting bitterness ... If we just replace drawdown times with very high extractions, I think ... And we could probably look at both, your V60s and then also the longer espressos, getting those very high extractions without getting bitterness, I think that's one of those things a lot of people are ... They're seeing these things come up on Insta maybe and then going, "Wow. How is that not ... 24%, how is that not tasting bitter?" I think you've mentioned it previously, but for those that haven't, how do you talk about it at that point?

Scott Rao (51:27):

I just made a post about this about a week ago.

Adam Marley (51:30):

Everyone, just look at that post. Let's not waste time.

Scott Rao (51:33):

I mean, the answer is that people throw around the term over-extraction. But really, the damage to coffee flavor always ... I shouldn't always, but almost always comes from channeling. And so it's the extreme amount of extraction that probably happens along the walls of a channel, along the grounds of the wall, along the walls of a channel that's causing the extreme bitterness and the stringency.

Scott Rao (51:57):

But if you have a good grinder, if you have a good technique, getting up to something like 24% doesn't ... There's no actual reason that that should taste bad. It actually usually tastes quite good. With that blooming espresso, I mean, I've got up to 27%, 28% and made it taste quite lovely.

Adam Marley (52:14):

Wow. That's crazy.

Scott Rao (52:16):

But you could use ... I mean, going back again to a grinder that doesn't extract very high, you could get a little channeling at a 19% extraction and have it be extremely bitter. So I think people confuse high extraction averages with being bitter when it's really channeling that's the culprit almost always.

Adam Marley (52:35):

And then I think that probably that makes sense because most of the time, when they've experienced those high extractions, there was channeling. So it's like there's this correlation. It's not causation, but there's this correlation and that's just what we do as humans.

Adam Marley (52:47):

Every time I extract to that point, it tastes bitter, so I'm just not going to do it. It's like I just make that decision to not go to that point. But it's like always going back to the basics and ignoring the conceptions you already held and then trying again.

Adam Marley (53:01):

It's one of those things that I'm waiting for the day that you suggest doing something, and then we try it out of the roastery and I don't like it. And partly because then, I would go, "Oh, okay," because then it opens up this huge realm of other things that could be possible.

Adam Marley (53:18):

But that's always the way, is that we're always learning something new until the AI overtakes us and then we're all out of a job.

Scott Rao (53:24):


Adam Marley (53:29):

But it's part of the fun. I think it's part of the fun. It's like there's moments of heartbreak where you're expecting a change you made to improve the flavor and then it doesn't. The coffee that you expected to not have some roastiness is a bit roastier. I had that recently.

Adam Marley (53:38):

And then I'm like, "Oh, damn. I was going to ..." It was washed Ethiopian and the first roast came out much roastier than I expected based on everything else. And not a lot of experience, but seven, eight years, first time ever with those kind of numbers in the roaster, that that coffee, without any tipping or anything, that already flicks.

Adam Marley (53:57):

First moment is, "Oh, that's terrible," because I wanted these beautiful flavors to come through and I go, "okay. Well, Great. Why?" So now, there's this opportunity to learn some more with that particular coffee. And when I can't work it out, I email you and pester you.

Adam Marley (54:09):

So have we had any ... Have you noticed any cool questions coming through? I've been a little bit distracted listening, I'm afraid.

Scott Rao (54:19):

There was [crosstalk 00:54:20]-

Adam Marley (54:19):

We've gone through out pre-sent-in questions.

Scott Rao (54:23):

There was a question Jack asked, "Is there ever a point where higher extractions and thus higher TDS readings at a fixed brewing ratio aren't as favorable due to potential loss of flavor clarity?" I think that's somewhat subjective. I mean, everybody's got their TDS levels that work for them and there's a little cultural aspect to it.

Adam Marley (54:45):


Scott Rao (54:46):

I mean, Italians only drink espresso. To them, coffee is a 10% TDS and to them, a 1.5% filter TDS is dishwater. So I think we all ... Our palettes adapt to certain TDS levels, fringes. I mean, I happily drink this Allongé, this long espresso that might be at 4% TDS or something like that, which is a no man's land. But you get used to it if you drink it enough.

Scott Rao (55:14):

But I don't think that higher extractions per se are ever a problem in the sense that without doing something like a Büchner funnel, which is like a specialized vacuum funnel, it's almost impossible to use one of our common daily brewing methods and simply extract too much out of the coffee.

Scott Rao (55:33):

It's just not really going to happen. I mean, again, if you channel, you channel and that's that. But if you can avoid channeling, if you get 24 instead of 22, it's probably going to be better. And if you get 26 instead of 24, it's probably going to be better. It's not always, but usually the case. But as far as the TDS and the clarity, I think it's really about palette adaptation.

Adam Marley (55:53):

Yeah. I think the Italian example's a great one, and I think it also goes back the other direction for a lot of coffee drinkers who aren't necessarily filter coffee drinkers in Australia. That's relatively rare, but like latte drinkers, milk coffee drinkers, and then getting them onto espresso.

Adam Marley (56:11):

They want to try. So they see people enjoying single [inaudible 00:56:14] espresso and going, "Hey, I want to do that." And then the first time they taste it, they just go, "Whoa. How do you drink that?" because there's this smack of 10% or even 8% TDS when they're compared to a latte or something like that.

Adam Marley (56:25):

And then they keep doing it and they get used to it, then like six months later, they're enjoying them. And certainly, they didn't have any flavor clarity to begin with because it just tasted strong. Now, it has a bunch of flavor clarity because they can start to get used to it.

Adam Marley (56:40):

We've only got this. Well, I don't know how much time you have. I was going to say we have about three minutes before we let you go.

Scott Rao (56:45):

Yeah. We'll do [Pete Darth 00:56:47] in three minutes, so let's try to get one more question [crosstalk 00:56:51].

Adam Marley (56:51):

Yeah. So I wanted to take the opportunity to mention a couple of things before we ... I know we probably have some time for at least one more question. But so I don't cut off, I wanted to mention ... First of all, I wanted to thank you, Scott, for your time today-

Scott Rao (57:01):

Oh, thanks. Thanks for having me.

Adam Marley (57:02):

... on behalf of everyone that's going to watch the video, is watching right now and has learned something if not multiple things, so thank you for that, really appreciate that.

Scott Rao (57:09):

Thank you.

Adam Marley (57:11):

For people that want to read Scott's books, there are some people in the country, in Australia ... So I'm thinking about Australians right now. Sorry for the non-Australians, and I'm sure in your country [crosstalk 00:57:22]. But in Australia, there are some roasters selling the books including us.

Adam Marley (57:26):

We are putting preorders for Scott's books and Dear Coffee Buyer up online today, and so including the new one. And so if anyone wants to dig deeper into these things, which I highly recommend doing if you haven't read Scott's books, or even if you had, read them again, we'll have those available for purchase on the website including the new one, which is the new roasting book, which I'm very excited about, and I'm sure a lot of roasters are.

Adam Marley (57:53):

The video will be saved onto IGTV. So for those of that had to leave early or you're not here right now, so I guess I'm not talking to you, but for those who want to rewatch the video or share it with other people, it'll be saved onto the Monastery Coffee IGTV, so you'll be able to find it there. And Scott, was there anything that you wanted to sign off with?

Scott Rao (58:14):

No. There's this last question, "Do you do critical review of coffee baristas?" Sure, send me a message. I'm actually working on something related to that. But hopefully, I can figure out how to do it through COVID because there's a couple of challenges. But I'd like to start publicly reviewing some coffees in a certain format, which could be kind of fun, and that's probably it. I think we'll get it kicked off in the next couple seconds.

Adam Marley (58:42):

Yeah. We've got ... [inaudible 00:58:44] time, we're at the top. So I've got one minute to look forward to.

Scott Rao (58:45):

Oh, you do?

Adam Marley (58:45):


Scott Rao (58:45):

Oh, okay.

Adam Marley (58:46):

So it's really nerve-wracking because how much of a sentence can I fit into one minute and something so it doesn't just get cut off halfway through the sentence. Scott's not going to do it, but I would like to point out for the roasters that are listening that aren't aware, Scott does consulting work.

Adam Marley (59:01):

And as a roaster who's availed ourselves of Scott's consulting, it is underpriced. It is absolutely worth the money. Your coffee will improve dramatically, and it's like I definitely recommend getting in contact with Scott if you've ever thought of doing so and learning from him. It's definitely worth it, definitely a great investment.

Scott Rao (59:20):

Well, thank you for the plug and-

Adam Marley (59:24):

I know you're not going to do it for yourself, so I figure I might [crosstalk 00:59:24].

Scott Rao (59:24):

No, I don't. I don't like to plug too much. But hey, I'd love to come back to South Australia when travel is okay again. It's been too long.

Adam Marley (59:33):

[crosstalk 00:59:33].

Scott Rao (59:34):

And I've still never surfed Adelaide, so I got to do that too.

Adam Marley (59:37):

Yeah. We'll have to go down the coast. There's not much in Adelaide City, but down the coast, there's some great spots.

Scott Rao (59:40):

Yeah, so anyway. Well, thanks for your time. This was great.

Adam Marley (59:44):

Thank you, Scott. All right.

Scott Rao (59:46):

[crosstalk 00:59:46].

Adam Marley (59:46):

See you everyone. Bye, Scott, and [crosstalk 00:59:48].

Scott Rao (59:46):

Thanks, folks. Bye-bye.