Interview: Pascal Bauwens, Now Coffee/Above Ground

Friday, 9 September, 2022

Very new to the roasting scene, Pascal has only been roasting coffee for 5 months! And he is apparently nailing it! Top 10 of A Shot in the Dark, just like that! Let's get to know him a little better...

Name of Roastery: Now Coffee / Above Ground

Above Ground and Now coffee are basically the same company with 2 different target markets. Now Coffee is our speciality brand focused on high end single origins and the retail market. Above Ground is our health coffee brand and wholesale market

Name of Roaster: Pascal Bauwens

Where can people find you: 36 Newport Avenue, Glenashley

Where did you learn your roasting skills? And how long have you been doing it?

The university of YouTube, Scott Rao Books, Scott Rao courses/forums and continuously experimenting. I've been roasting on and off for about 5 months now.

What roasting equipment do you use?

Genio 6kg, Huky 500g, IKAWA Pro50

Do you use software to help you create profiles for coffees? What is your process when you get a new green coffee in the roastery? 

Of course, I believe that without software it is impossible to achieve consistency and discover a beans true potential.

We have quite a few steps before we profile our first production roast of a new bean. All the steps help us learn about the bean and the way it responds to the roasting process. We start by analyzing certain characteristics of the green bean and its growing conditions/processing. Then we sample roast it with our standard calibration profile on the IKAWA. We use this profile to help us learn how these beans respond to heat compared to our previous beans that we have roasted before. We cup it multiple times over a few days to try and learn about the potential taste profile we think this bean might possess. We then roast the bean on the IKAWA again with multiple different approaches to the roast and cup it again. This helps us calibrate to which approach we think will highlight this beans intrinsic characteristics best. Once we feel like we know what taste profile we will be chasing, we do multiple roasts on the Huky with the a similar roast approach to our favorite on the IKAWA. We use the Huky to learn about the beans response to temperature, heat transfer, and development in a drum roaster. It also helps us experiment with different variables during the roast and there influence on taste. We cup every batch we roast along the way and only once we are confident on how its tasting will we move to the Genio. We follow a similar process on the Genio where we approach the roast with everything we have learnt from before. We are constantly pulling samples and cupping them to help tweak our profile. 

How did you find the Preliminary Round Tanzanian coffee, was it interesting to work with? And in what way?

It was tough, such a dense coffee to roast. It also had a unique taste profile to it that I didn’t expect. We haven’t tasted many Tanzanian coffees before and never come across a Kent varietal so we weren’t 100% sure if we were getting the most out of it. 

Do you have a ritual when you roast?  

I try roast in the morning before my ADD gets the better of me, but my true roasting ritual is listening to worship music with noise canceling headphones. It helps get me in the zone and keeps me calm. Yes, I do take them off for first crack for those of you who are wondering.

What is your favourite thing about being a coffee roaster?

Empowering people, tasting a new coffee for the first time and that constant pursuit of the perfect cup.

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you in the pursuit of delicious coffee?

Ending up on a roof top of random apartments in Barcelona after searching for a roastery for 2 hours. When asked by one of the residents what we were doing, I confidently told them we were going to the coffee roastery. There was no roastery on the apartments roof but we trusted google and searched every inch of that roof.

Please tell us a little know fact, completely un-coffee related, that will give readers some insight into who you are as a person.

I've done my honours degree in biokinetics and an Atlantic crossing on a yacht!

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