Interview: John Evans - Blank

Tuesday, 20 September, 2022

John Evans has a lot of experience in coffee brewing, but found a new love through the roaster! He has recently joined the team behind the beautiful Plato Coffee brand…

Name of Roastery: Blank

Name of Roaster: John Evans

Coffee legends that have joined the Plato team: Harry Mole on the left and John Evans, roaster, on the right

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

I took an interest in roasting coffee shortly after joining TriBeCa in 2016. I roasted some small batches on a 5Kg Diedrich for some niche clients, as well as for most of the barista competitions that we took part in. I then started Asmara Coffee with TriBeCa in 2018 which is when I started roasting full time on a Giesen W15A.

What roasting equipment do you use? I’ve got a Genio 15Kg 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 use Genio’s software. I generally have a standard approach that I use based on certain criteria like origin, terroir, processing method and batch size. When I receive a new green coffee, I’ll select the applicable approach based on these factors, and then tweak the profile as I need to.

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

It was a really challenging coffee. I’ve travelled to Tanzania a few times, and roasted a fair amount of Tanzanian coffee, so I had a good idea of what I wanted to do with this coffee, but it turned out to be quite different to what I’ve experienced in the past. I tried three different profiles and cupped them with our team. We chose our favourite from the three, and I then roasted two more batches which we cupped again and then I submitted the one that we felt would perform best in the competition.

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

I prefer to roast alone without any distractions. Once the roaster starts warming up, I like to get really organised for the day. I usually make a coffee and run through my roasting plan, set up the spreadsheet that I use for my roast log and then start weighing out the first few batches of green. I then try to get into a rhythm so that I can get through my roast schedule without any interruptions.

What is your favourite thing about being a coffee roaster? 

I really love coffee and initially I expressed that just by brewing it, but roasting allows me to be involved in more of the process – from green coffee, to nailing a roast profile and ultimately creating a recipe for baristas to work with. I really like processes, and so I get a lot of satisfaction from all of the processes involved in roasting coffee.

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

It’s really difficult to think of just one thing – I’ve worked with some very funny guys like Harry Mole and Matt Carter, and it’s a laugh a minute with them! One of the funniest moments I remember was when we travelled to Cape Town when Harry and I were competing in the National Barista Champs in 2018. We took a GB5 to CPT with us and installed it in the Airbnb we were staying in. Harry and I worked non-stop for about 5 days leading up to the competition and one evening we just needed a break. We had a braai and a couple of beers, and then played Cards Against Humanity. Matt Carter and Shannon Black were staying with us too, and I laughed more that evening than any other time I can think of. I can remember competing a day or two later with extremely sore abs!

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 got a Bcom Law degree and started my career as a business analyst for one of South Africa’s biggest cement producers! Clearly coffee was the logical next step from there, haha!

See the full list of Top 10 here.

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