What we do

How we brew

posted on Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - 6:15pm by Michael Harwood

New York City. Home of the Bronx Bombers, yellow taxis, and 8.337 million people. Ceremony Coffee added nine more souls to the City that Never Sleeps at this year’s Eastern Regional Coffee Fest, one of the world’s preeminent coffee and tea trade shows.

Over three non-stop days, we brewed through pounds of an exciting range of espressos and filters, microfoamed our way through gallons of milk, connected with a small village of friends new and old, competed in and won America’s Best Espresso, competed in the Latte Art Championship, showed off beautiful Synesso espresso machines and Compak espresso grinders, and ate so much amazing food that we nearly burst.

Ceremony at Coffee Fest

We warmed up each day by running Morning Coffee (an espresso and pour over bar) for the hundreds of people passing through the Coffee Fest gate at the Javits Center. Despite what you may think, it can be pretty difficult to find delicious coffee at coffee events! In light of this, folks were very excited and grateful to taste what we were serving. Some of the crowd favorites were the Ethiopia Wazzala for its lively apricot flavor and Destroyer Espresso for its sweet balance. The Rwanda Gitesi was probably the most challenging coffee we served. Seeing people’s eyes light up from having a first-time experience with such special, complex coffee is pretty amazing. I love my training and QA job, but sometimes I miss being on bar for moments like that. Having the opportunity to serve such beautiful coffees to most-appreciative and sometimes surprised guests is one of the most rewarding experiences I can imagine.

After Morning Coffee, we hustled back to our booth and got the coffee flowing there. It was a pleasure to share a workspace with my fellow Ceremony baristas, roasters, and co-workers. Their talent and knowledge is evident, but I could tell that folks were even more impressed with their commitment to being friendly, present, and polite with everyone who approached our booth (kudos to all my co-workers for running a tight, well-guided ship at Coffee Fest).

America's Best Espresso bracket

As last year’s winner, Ceremony was invited to compete in the America’s Best Espresso competition. In this event, a bracket of baristas pull shots head-to-head. In each round, two baristas must each serve three shots of espresso to a panel composed of three judges in either 7 minutes (1st round) or 10 minutes (all rounds thereafter). The judges assess both competitors’ shots, tally up their scores based on flavor complexity, mouthfeel & appeal, and aftertaste, then announce their vote. To advance, you have to earn at least two out of three votes. Our entry was an espresso roast profile of the Panama Santa Teresa Honey Geisha.

America's Best Espresso plate

To prepare, I dialed-in the Santa Teresa on the Nuova Simonelli Aurelia II on Friday morning during practice time. I then competed twice on Saturday and twice on Sunday, using the same recipe set during practice with only slight changes in extraction time. Aside from the Santa Teresa being an incredibly sweet, round, and flavorful coffee, there were a few methods I used that helped us succeed. These aren’t big secrets, so I don’t mind sharing! The first is to keep a clean machine. This seems obvious, but I noticed that the portafilters and groupheads smelled of old coffee oils before both rounds on Saturday (Sunday smelled cleaner). Doing a quick clear-water backflush, wiping out under the portafilter basket, then pulling a seasoning shot helped our coffee taste much sweeter and cleaner. The other method was to let my shots rest a minute or two before delivery. Giving the shots time to cool opened up their flavors for the judges. Beverage temperatures closer to your temperature allows the human palate to observe more flavor, but this is a double-edged sword. If your shot has dirty or defective flavors, you’d probably want to consume it while it was hot, precisely because you don’t want to taste those off-notes. I would never hold a shot back during cafe service, but in an artificial setting where flavor is being critically appraised, cooling down my shots gave me an advantage. In the end, sourcing an incredible coffee and roasting it for peak sweetness and liveliness produced an espresso that didn’t lose a single vote! We are proud to have won America’s Best Espresso and look forward to representing the East in the Nationals this October. Wish us luck! In the meantime, we encourage you to try the Panama Santa Teresa Honey Geisha SOE for yourself.


If pour over or press pot is more your speed, our filter profile Geisha can't be beat either! http://store.ceremonycoffee.com/coffees/santa_teresa_geisha.html

As I was hustling back to Port Authority to catch my bus on Sunday evening, I thought about the teamwork that went into making our weekend such a success. Maybe it was the exhaustion or maybe it was just New York street grit, but for some reason, my eyes watered up a bit. I’ve thought it before, but our Coffee Fest weekend reiterated to me that I am so proud to be part of this team.

Midtown NYC

posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 - 4:30pm by Michael Harwood

Brewers Cup judges at Big Easter

What exactly is the point of a barista competition? Is it a positive force that motivates us to better our craft and ourselves, or is it perhaps a distraction from the practical experience of cafe work? Having competed in the SCAA’s United States Barista Championship circuit for the past four years, I believe they’re a little bit of both: though barista competitions are in many ways artificial, they can also be a force for individual career and craft growth, and one that encourages the competitor to bring those skills and ideas back to the real-world cafe or roastery.

This year’s regional competition in Durham, NC was titled the Big Eastern; for the first time, it united the Northeast and Southeast regions. Over thirty competitors, as well as dozens of judges, volunteers, coaches, and supporters journeyed from Maine to Miami to attend. For me, it’s the act of gathering that makes these programs unmissable. These three or four days are a time to connect, to taste the cutting edge of specialty coffee, and to be inspired by a group of talented and highly motivated coffee professionals.

Michael Sammartino at Big Eastern

There are two events that take place at a regional. The Barista Competition is a single-round, fifteen minute, twelve drink presentation of a barista’s ability to make four high-quality espressos, cappuccinos, and signature beverages, all the while guiding the four-person judging panel through a positive sensory experience. What are the flavors? How does the coffee’s journey influence what you will smell and taste? Why does any of this matter? If a barista can efficiently craft harmoniously balanced drinks and guide the judges through a positive, cohesive, and inspiring experience, then that competitor should score high marks. This is easier said than done, as it takes a high degree of control, hospitality, and knowledge. Becoming effective in competition can’t help but make you a better barista: if I can quickly guide you to the correct coffee or dial-in my espresso more consistently in less time, I am doing my workaday barista job that much better.

The somewhat newer competition is the Brewers Cup, which requires the barista to produce three cups of drip-strength coffee using only manual brew methods, like the Beehouse dripper or press pot. There are two different rounds. In the first, each barista receives a bag of the same coffee, which levels the playing field. They have a period of time to practice with this coffee before they must step up to the stage to anonymously brew three cups for three judges in seven minutes. The top six brewers make it through to the ten minute final round, where the competitor brews three cups of a coffee they brought with them. Typically, the barista spends several weeks or months dialing-in this coffee with their brewing device. These six finalists must also verbally present their coffee in much the same way the barista competitor does. And clearly, learning to speak about a coffee knowledgeably and being able to produce multiple craft brews efficiently and consistently are crucial to the successful operation of a cafe.

Brewers Cup at NWRBC

At the end of the long weekend, only one barista from each region is crowned champion, but I’ve found that developing yourself as a competitor is the primary reward, win or lose. By putting yourself through the ringer of competition, through hours of practice and study, not only will you be a better barista, but you’ll often find yourself a more informed, well-rounded person as well. I’ll admit that getting up in front of a large group of peers and being scored isn’t my cup of tea (or coffee), but competing has pushed me to understand everything I do on bar at a much higher level. Being judged by an experienced panel of supportive judges taught me great lessons about customer service, efficiency, tidiness, how to be verbally succinct and informative, and how to dial-in for a harmonious balance of sweet, acidic, and bitter.

I bombed my first year of competing, but hearing what the judges had to say about their experience helped me more than just about anything I’ve done in coffee. It was uncomfortable to receive truly terrible scores that year, but they showed me exactly how I needed to improve in order to become the best competitor I could be. And the best part was coming back to the cafe and putting those heightened skills to good use. Whether it’s knowing how to execute a milk share so that I can make two cappuccinos more quickly, or understanding how to be a guide rather than a gatekeeper of coffee knowledge, competing helped me grow into the coffee professional I wanted to become. I’m also pretty sure my customers didn’t mind that I was nicer and better at what I did, either!

Judges Training Day

At this year’s Big Eastern, I sat on the other side of the table for the first time. As a new sensory judge, I experienced nerves that I hadn’t expected. When you screw up as a competitor, it’s mostly on you. When you screw up as a judge, you’re messing with someone else’s hard work. I felt this acutely as a former competitor, so I did my best to stay attentive, provide detailed notes, and to assess the coffees in an unbiased, objectively-as-humanly-possible way. Although the barista is serving drinks to four sensory judges, a head judge tastes each drink, and is there to help calibrate the sensory panel to what is true. This deliberation session after each performance gave me great faith in the judging process. There was no room for, “I like..” It was all, “This is what I tasted and smelled. This is what they said.” During my time judging, I was privileged to score both first-timers and seasoned pros alike. Both groups taught me something about our craft and service, both through positive and negative points. I also learned some valuable quality control protocols for evaluating espressos and cappuccinos. I hope you’ll join me in an Espresso or Milk Class to see these protocols in action.

Competition is far from the only path to growth, but James Hoffmann put it best at a Barista Guild of America Camp when he said one of the most important things he ever did was to venture outside of his bubble. Only then did the future World Barista Champion realize how much there was he didn’t know. So whether it’s an SCAA competition, BGA Barista Camp, Roasters Guild Retreat, an informal latte art throwdown, or just a random industry meetup, we as coffee professionals should be excited to be there, because we know there’s still so much to learn.

Until next time, when I might be back in the competition ring and feeling like these guys below. Gulp!

Final 3 at NWRBC

posted on Monday, January 13, 2014 - 8:30pm by Michael Harwood

At its purest, water is simply dihydrogen monoxide, better known as H₂0. But water is rarely found in its purest form; an effective solvent, water picks up baggage on its journey to brewing your coffee. So what amount and type of baggage is appropriate for brewing? The answer is that there are many waters that can help you get your brew where you want it to be; it largely depends on what coffee you’re using and what result you’d like to attain.

This is a little abstract. So where do we go for a concrete start, and what exactly are we looking for? Thanks to the Specialty Coffee Association of America, a solid set of water standards exists, which you can see here.

Odor - Clean / Fresh, Odor free
Color - Clear color
Total Chlorine - O mg/L
TDS - Target: 150 mg/L; Acceptable Range: 75 - 250 mg/L
Calcium Hardness - Target: 4 grains or 68 mg/L; Acceptable Range: 1-5 grain or 17-85 mg/L
Total Alkalinity - Target: 40 mg/L; Acceptable Range: At or near 40 mg/L
pH - Target: 7.0; Acceptable Range: 6.5 to 7.5
Sodium - Target: 10 mg/L; Acceptable Range: At or near 10 mg/L

If your water falls within these ranges, it is probably doing a pretty good job brewing your coffee. If you’d like your water to take your coffee to the next level, you’ll want to explore a bit more. Let’s touch on what these standards are and how we might think of them.

Odor - Smell your water. Does it smell clean, fresh, and odor free? Some waters smell metallic, soapy, chemically, rotten egg-like, sewage-like, medicinal, musty, moldy, or earthy. If you smell them in your water, you may be able to perceive these odors in your brew.

Color - Look at your water in a clean glass. Is it clear, ruddy, or cloudy? Cloudy water might just be air bubbles in cold, wintry water (let it sit for a minute or so to see if it clears), or it could be dirty. Ruddy water indicates rust and negatively influences how your coffee extracts and tastes/smells.

Total Chlorine - Discerned through aroma (does it smell like a pool?) or by a test kit, chlorine, chloramines, and others are disinfectants used to treat municipal water. With distinctive chemical aromas, it is a good idea to filter out these disinfectants.

TDS - Use a TDS Meter to take a reading. Total Dissolved Solids reflect the amount and nature of solids dissolved in water. Low TDS waters tends to overextract coffee. High TDS waters often have high mineral contents and tend to underextract coffee.

Calcium Hardness - Use a test kit to take a reading. Calcium Hardness is the presence of positively-charged calcium ions in water. There is also Total Hardness, which is a measure of positively-charged calcium and magnesium ions, among others, in water. High Hardness waters tend to underextract coffee and reduce acidity. Low Hardness waters tend to overextract coffee, raise acidity, and slow pour-overs drawdowns. Although some mineral content is critical to extracting oils from the coffee grounds, minerals do build up on boiler surfaces over time, causing a functional problem known as “scale”. Harder water creates scale more quickly, so cafes often have multiple carbon filtered lines with a softener built-in on the line to the espresso machine.

Total Alkalinity - Use a test kit to take a reading. Total Alkalinity measures the concentration of negative ions, which indicates the water’s ability to neutralize acidity. Think of Alkalinity as a buffer of acidity. To help me understand this concept, I like to imagine a leaky ceiling dripping into a bucket. The bucket is alkalinity and keeps the floor from getting wet for a while. Once the dripping (added acidity) is too much and the bucket overflows, the floor gets wet, changing its dampness (pH). High Total Alkalinity tends to subdue a coffee’s acidity. Low Total Alkalinity tends to promote a coffee’s acidity.

pH - Use a test kit or strip to take a reading. pH measures the concentration of H+ and OH- in a solution. The pH scale goes from 0 (most acidic, like battery acid) to 14 (most basic, like lye). 7.0 is neutral. An acidic pH tends to produce a more overextracted, acidic coffee. A basic pH tends to produce an underextracted, less acidic coffee that may feel flat.

Sodium - Use a test kit to take a reading. Sodium levels change the way we perceive tastes, so high levels should be avoided. Water softeners may raise sodium levels slightly.

Once you have taken the appropriate readings, you can develop the ideal filtration (keeping in mind that your water might change in composition at least once a year). At home, it’s hard to beat the ease and convenience of a simple carbon filter like the oft-used Brita pitcher. If you live in an area where the water is quite hard, your best bet may be to source water from a nearby cafe, roastery, or grocer. In a commercial cafe setting, there are several options depending on your water needs. For harder water, a Reverse Osmosis system with blend capability or a water softener with a carbon filter may be in order. For cafes with soft to moderately hard water, a basic carbon or activated carbon filter may work well.

To help understand hardness/TDS in a different way, I have an analogy: Imagine a bellhop as you pull up to a hotel with your family and all of your bags. The distilled bellhop (Almost zero TDS/Hardness/Alkalinity) has no hands and can only take away one bag under their arm, thus underextracting your coffee. The Low TDS/Hardness/Alkalinity bellhop is underworked and overenthusiastic. This bellhop grabs all of your bags at once and even snags your baby under their arm. This leads to overextraction. A third, SCAA standard bellhop is attentive, but not desperate. They pick up just the right number of bags from your taxi to keep everything organized and well-extracted. Then there’s the stinky bellhop, who may have been drinking chlorine this morning. They may get your bags to the right room, but your extraction may smell funny afterwards. Finally, there’s the bellhop who is overworked and already has their hands full (High TDS/Hardness/Alkalinity). This bellhop tries to pick up your luggage anyway, but is only able to grab one or two pieces, leaving your brew underextracted.

If you are in the market for bottled water, do your best to avoid deionized, distilled, and harder spring/mineral waters, as these will not extract your coffee well. Although it is a little soft, Gerber Pure Water satisfies many of the SCAA Water Standards and has a high level of transparency. I am told that a certain former Ceremony Head Roaster and two-time United States Brewer Cup Champion favored Deer Park, which seems to have a wide range of possible attributes as it comes from multiple sources. Another Ceremony patron expressed a preference for Walgreens’ Nice brand. Some spring waters are too hard, so do a little online research on their latest water quality report before you hit the grocery.

Depending on where you live and the condition of your building’s pipes, you may even be able to get away with unfiltered tap for pour-over brewing. I’d almost always recommend carbon filtration, but in the water tasting and brewing experiment we did recently, the unfiltered tap water from our roastery held up quite well to the other filtered options. It smelled of chlorine by itself, but that odor barely registered in the brew. Unfortunately, I don’t feel quite as positively about the unfiltered tap water from my apartment in Washington D.C. Just like with real estate, water quality is all about location, location, location.

This past Friday, we invited the public in for a water-based cupping. The idea was to taste five different waters, then to brew two different coffees with each of the waters to observe their extraction and in-cup characteristics. Here’s what we found:

TYPE OF WATER Distilled Soft (RO with Minerals) Filtered Annapolis Tap Unfiltered Annapolis Tap Hard Spring
ODOR None None None Chlorine None
COLOR Clear Clear Clear Clear Clear
TOTAL CHLORINE 0 ppm 0 ppm 0 ppm 0.75 ppm 0 ppm
TDS *Approx. 0 ppm 30 ppm 150 ppm 160 ppm 300 ppm
CALCIUM HARDNESS 0 ppm 10 ppm 70 ppm 70 ppm 150 ppm
TOTAL ALKALINITY 10 ppm 70 ppm 50 ppm 50 ppm 160 ppm
pH 7.5 9.5 8 8 8
Sodium 0 ppm 18 ppm 3.48 ppm 3.48 ppm 20 ppm
Distilled Soft (RO with Minerals) Filtered Annapolis Tap Unfiltered Annapolis Tap Hard Spring
Brazil Cerrado medium acid, thin body, under extracted low acid, medium body, soft mouthfeel sweet, rounder, best flavor, full body sweet, rounder, good flavor, fullest body low acid, low sweetness, muddled, heavy
Kenya Kabare high acidity, some sweetness, thin body, under extracted low acid, thin body, soft mouthfeel, slightly bitter, good flavor juicy, sweet, best flavor & balance, full body juicy, sweet, fullest mouthfeel, good flavor low acid, low sweetness, muddled, heavy

As you can see, we found the best results with the 3M carbon filtered tap water from our Training Lab. Coming in a close second was the unfiltered tap water straight from our roastery sink. Not bad, Annapolis! The RO water with trace added minerals did have a nice, soft mouthfeel, but overall, the experience wasn’t complete. Most articles we’ve read say to never use distilled water for brewing, so we were surprised that it didn’t make for the worst brew. That said, I wouldn’t recommend distilled water unless you were in a bind. Our least favorite was the harder Spring Water, which didn’t develop the coffees’ flavors and was very muddled.

The differences in how the waters affected the two coffees was fascinating. One of the main varying characteristics was acidity. We found acid-subduing waters (higher hardness, pH, alkalinity, and TDS) seem to do better with coffees that are lower acid to start with. For example, we found that the deeper Brazil Cerrado was more enjoyable with soft RO water than the brighter Kenya Kabare was. We suppose this is because the Brazil had less acidity to lose than the Kenya did. Since we’re looking for acidity in our Kenya, we were disappointed that the RO water did not bring it out. However, if you are looking to subdue acidity, you may want to look for these higher attributes in the water you use.

The bottom line is that having water within the SCAA acceptable range is important to bring the best out of your coffees. Within that range and even on its fringes, don’t be afraid to experiment to see what you can bring out in your coffee. If you find a great water for brewing, please let us know!

One of the big takeaways from our experiments is that even with different waters, if you start out with well-sourced, well-roasted coffees that are freshly roasted, ground, and brewed, you will end up with a brew that is better than most coffee out there. This is only to say, don’t get so wrapped up in water chemistry that you forget the most important variable of all, the coffee itself.

Until next time, happy brewing!

posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 2:15pm by Michael Harwood

There’s no doubt we love our single-origin coffees. From the Sumatra Simalungun to the Mexico Santa Teresa, we prize these special lots, grown and processed in one area, for their singular flavors and straightforward nature. When a customer demonstrates excitement about the return of a seasonal single-origin coffee like the Guatemala San José Ocaña, it gives us great pride. So why do we offer blends of different coffees?

Asymmetries Tasting Notes

A big reason why we blend is for balance and complexity. When we combine two or more coffees, we are thinking about how each component may complement each other. Take our Destoyer Espresso Blend with its three coffees, for instance. We start with Brazil Cerrado Gold as the base for its milk chocolate, caramel, and mellow orange profile. This deep, full-bodied coffee offers a lot on its own, but we are able to create a richer experience by adding contrasting coffees. Think of the Brazil as the bass notes. To those lower tones, we add in the Mexico Santa Teresa to fill out the mid-tones with notes of vanilla spice cake, cherry cola, and butter croissant. The Brazil and Mexico alone would be pretty delicious, but for the blend profile we’re going for, we’re missing a high note. This is where our Ethiopia Yirgacheffe comes into play. With floral, citrus, and berry flavors, this brighter, higher toned coffee harmonizes perfectly with the lower and medium toned coffees. When we bring these three together, the result is a very balanced and complex espresso blend that tastes great on its own and with milk.

It was this idea of balance and complexity we had in mind when we set to work on creating a new, seasonal espresso blend. Our perspective on a seasonal espresso is that if you use only fresh, in-season coffees, your beverage will taste livelier and often will be more flavorful. Starting from scratch, we roasted six different single-origin coffees and pulled shots of each. After sipping way too many shots, we had a solid list of flavor and body notes for each coffee. At that point, we assessed which combinations might make sense. We tried a few pairings and had some success, but we still felt like we could do better. Then one of us had the idea to pair the elegant, bright Ethiopia Wazzala with the bigger-bodied, heavily-fruited Ethiopia Worka. Starting with a 50:50 split, we were instantly smitten. The two coffees played off each other in a way that made them both even more delicious than they tasted individually, which is saying something. They complemented each other on body and flavor, making for a very balanced and complex espresso. We didn’t stop there though. Just splitting the coffee 50:50 was fine, but we had more exploring to do. “What happens if you change the proportions?”, we asked ourselves. To answer the question, we created four distinct blend ratios: an 80% Worka:20% Wazzala, a 60% Worka:40% Wazzala, a 40% Worka:60% Wazzala, and a 20% Worka:80% Wazzala.

Roaster at Work

After pulling a head-spinning number of shots, we were torn. We loved each variation for its own distinctive combination of the two coffees’ flavors and body. The more Ethiopia Worka we mixed in the blend, the bigger the body, the more berry we tasted, and the sweeter the espresso was. The more we shifted towards the Ethiopia Wazzala, the silkier the body, the more citrus we perceived, and the crisper the espresso became. Each of the blends showed its own unique balance and complexity and in the end, we decided that it would be a shame not to share each variation with you all.

That’s how Asymmetries was born – out of the desire to open up the blending process for each of our customers. So please join us as we release a different combination of Asymmetries every two weeks for the next two months. We hope that you’ll find value in tasting how the balance and complexity change with each blend – furthering an appreciation for this roaster’s art.


posted on Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 10:00am by Michael Harwood

I love to cook, so I find it useful to keep a sharpened set of knives. Over the past couple of months, I noticed the most-used knives becoming quite dull and ineffective. I set to honing and found my next dinner easier to prepare with better results (fewer onion-related tears, for one). This sense of staying sharp seemed appropriate as four of us from Ceremony recently attended The Roasters Guild’s annual retreat at the Stonewall Resort in West Virginia. Ceremony roasters Caleb and Jin were seeking to hone their bean-browning craft, while Ronnie and I were generously sponsored by Espresso Supply to attend and prepare a dynamic range of coffees for the attendees.

What is Roasters Guild, you ask? Let’s go to the source, which says that the “Roasters Guild is an official trade guild of the Specialty Coffee Association of America that consists of specialty roasters dedicated to the craft of roasting quality coffee and promotes quality as the principle standard for success.” (roastersguild.org) Once a year, the RG finds scenic accommodations somewhere in the US, then invites roasters and coffee professionals from across the country and world to attend to participate in focused classes, team challenges, and to enjoy positive connections with other roasters. The retreat is a great place to share ideas, improve roasting craft, and deepen one’s world-view on coffee. I know that Ronnie and I gained great insight on current roasting styles by serving multiple roasters’ coffees. We had the pleasure of brewing Ceremony’s Ethiopia Wazzala and Ethiopia Azmera Espressos, then rotated though a variety of other roasts and origins. Some were single origin, some were blends, some were lighter, and some were darker, but all provided useful perspective on what we do here in Annapolis. Ronnie and I were making drinks all weekend, so I wanted to find out how the classes went for our roasters. I asked Ceremony’s Head Roaster and all-around great guy Caleb Podhaczky for his thoughts on his experience at Roasters Guild Retreat:

Michael: What did you take away from attending the Roasters Guild Retreat?

Caleb: For me being new to the Specialty scene in the US, I was excited to meet some people in the industry and network a bit, which I did. Hopefully, RGR was the start of some good relationships over the coming years. There were a few things I took away from RGR, the first being that it's always a good thing to see the industry, roasting styles, etc of other people and companies. I think it's important to have an open mind. For me, that's the best way to learn: filtering all of the info and taking what I think is valuable. It was also refreshing to refocus on the fundamentals of roasting. I think it’s hard for a roaster without a strong foundation of basic knowledge to progress because there's so much information and knowledge to take in and the industry is evolving so quickly.

Michael: How does this translate to what you do at Ceremony?

Caleb: I think having an open mind to learn is key here. It's a little bit of a different market from what I'm used to; and no doubt my roasting style is morphing from what I had been doing to what we are doing now at Ceremony. To be confident in making these changes and learning on the fly, you have to have these fundamentals and solid knowledge locked in. I'm also looking forward to hopefully sourcing some great coffees from some of the great people we met.

Michael As demonstrated at RGR, you are pretty dominant at ping-pong. Is it your hand-eye coordination that makes your roasts taste so good?

Caleb: I'm actually a pretty uncoordinated guy! Haha, I can barely pat my head and rub my tummy! But I am competitive by nature, so if you give me something to do, I'll usually find a way of trying to win. Haha! I suppose that comes into play with Ping-Pong (It was nice to whoop Ronnie!), but I'm not too sure how you can win at roasting?? Ha!

Michael: I don’t know, I think our coffee has been winning! You have a lot of roasting experience, but as a recent Aussie expat, you are having a lot of American firsts. Our RGR trip was your first time visiting the Appalachians. How did you find it?

Caleb: It was so pretty out there. So green and lush, nice and cool. I'll definitely go back.

Michael: Finally, what is your overall philosophy on roasting coffee?

Caleb: I think some of my answers overlap here a little, but to put it simply, my philosophy is to bring out the best that coffee has to offer without leaving my mark on it. So, no roastiness! I knew Ceremony was a great fit for me when I found out that it's the same philosophy here. If the green coffee is good enough, it'll speak for itself in the cup! Also, don't be scared to take some risks and try new things. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but that's what I love about roasting and the Specialty coffee industry. It's never boring! And lastly, taste, taste, and taste some more. Ultimately, we are drinking coffee to enjoy it, so it has to taste amazing!! I think that's about it. Haha!

Michael: Awesome! Thanks, Caleb!

It may have only been an extended weekend, but our time at Roasters Guild Retreat definitely sharpened our coffee craft and mind. This dedication and intention towards understanding and growth is one of the main reasons Ceremony is some of the best coffee you’ll find anywhere. Come hone your tasting and brewing skills with us soon!


Upcoming Public Events

Weekly Coffee Break: Recipe - WASHINGTON, DC

Join us every Thursday at our DC Workshop (1228 31st St NW) for a taste of what's new and exciting at Ceremony.

This week, we're taking a look at some of our favorite brew recipes and how to tailor them to each coffee and brew method.

Free for all, no registration.

Upcoming Wholesale Labs

Brew Hall: Office Hours - WASHINGTON, DC

Just like Study Hall, this is a free-form class designed to get you hands-on with any brewing method or practice on any barista-related behavior. Under the guidance of our trainers, this is the perfect time for baristas to troubleshoot!

Level 2

Complimentary for Wholesale Partners
$25 for Non-Exclusive Wholesale Partners
$100 for General Public