Interview: Bruder Coffee Roastery - Pieter Schoonwinkel

Friday, 9 September, 2022

The team at Bruder Coffee, led by Pieter and Maryke Schoonwinkel, are doing an incredible job of bringing specialty coffee culture to Klerksdorp in the North West province. And this year, they're in the Top 10 of A Shot in the Dark.

Name of Roastery: Brüder Coffee Roastery

Name of Roaster: Pieter Schoonwinkel

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

I first taught myself to roast by watching Youtube videos and doing research online. Then I bought a few books on roasting and almost burnt down my house in 2019 with my very first batch of roasting. A few of my coffee friends gave me some tips and the roasting improved! In 2021 I did my SCA Foundation & Intermediate Roasting courses with Donovan J McLagan and this year, in 2022 I did my SCA Professional Roasting Course as well. I have been entering the Shot in the Dark competitions since 2020 and this year I was so humbled to finally be in the Top 10!

What roasting equipment do you use? 

I’m roasting on a Genio 15kg Drum Roaster

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? 

Yes, I’m using the Genio Software to help me with the roasting profiles. I start by doing research on the coffee bean itself and gathering following information: moisture content, the altitude where the coffee was grown, the bean size and density and the varietal. 

I then determine my Charge Temperature and my roasting profile. Donovan taught me that it all comes down to the taste of the coffee so after tasting the first batch, you can start making changes to your approach of roasting…So we value the cupping process after each roast

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

The Tanzanian was a difficult coffee to roast for me. I’m always looking for sweetness and bright flavours in my coffee and I really struggled to get that out of this coffee. I had to dig deep to get the best flavours in this coffee and to get the perfect balance in the taste of the coffee. 

Do you have a ritual when you roast? (Ie Listen to music, specific days or times of day)

I don’t have a ritual but I enjoy to roast in the evenings because of the lower outside temperatures and then there is also less distractions. The batch that we chose for the competition was roasted 12:30 am in the morning to be exact. 

What is your favourite thing about being a coffee roaster?

To be able to explore with different coffees and to learn about new coffees and processes every season. We as roasters have a massive responsibility to showcase the farmer’s hard work by giving your best with the roast! I strive to bring out the best flavours and balance in taste because at the end it is about the coffee farmer that had produced that coffee in the specific season. This is challenging but also super exciting for me! 

Coffee for me is a huge passion and brings great joy and now I am privileged to roast my own coffee and also get to brew it in different ways! I’m trying my best to glorify the coffee and to make the farmer proud and then I also get to see the customers’ reaction of enjoyment and the ultimate purpose for me is to see people have great fellowship around the roaster coffee! 

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

We have found a few of coffee popcorns in our roasting process and then me and my wife fights over who gets to eat it!!! 

The most ridiculous thing my wife did was to use our Chemex as a flower vase. 

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 have 2 Jobs, Coffee Roasting & then I work in a Family business that specialise in Railway Manufacturing. And I studied Mechanical Engineering at North West University Potchefstroom (Pukke). What is very interesting is that Neil Maree the founder of Genio Roasters also Studied Mechanical Engineering at North West University Potchefstroom (Pukke) but a few year before me.

Firstly I will choose I Black coffee that is Balanced and with great flavours and then secondly I love eating Gourmet food where the chef put in a lot of effort to enhance the food with excellent flavours. I told many people that research shows that people get more satisfaction from enjoying excellent food than to have a super Fit body (just to be clear being healthy is very important for me even with all the excellent food & restaurants out there). So yes I enjoy food a lot but I actually enjoy it more when I know someone but a lot effort in something that I can Enjoy and that can be anything like food, coffee, wine and the list can go on.

Then the other thing I really enjoy is Holidays with my family, Shawn Cloete from Equipment Café always ask me when Am I leaving for next holiday because he now I love to travel a lot (Shawn maybe one day we can visit a Coffee Farm up in Africa together). I really love to travel and to see the world and me and my Wife were very fortunate to explored a use part of Europe and then my heart is at Africa and Me and my wife travelled to Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi and we just love Africa and most of all the people of each Africa Country we visited. My biggest dream is to visits a Coffee Farm in one of the Africa countries but maybe one day….

See the full Top 10 of ASITD 2022 here.

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