Meet The Roaster | John McFarlane, Phoebe Rose Coffee Roasters

From an engineering background, John McFarlane found his education very beneficial in understanding a coffee roaster. He loves the challenge of coffee roasting and the integration of craft and science.

"I love coffee. I only drink coffee and water. I don't like much water in my coffee, so my go-to is an espresso."

Phoebe Rose Coffee Roasters began as an idea in 2019, with negotiations being made with a cafe operator to set up an industrial-looking cafe. The idea was to roast beans to supply to this cafe and the others owned by the operator.

"We purchased and set up a roaster in expectation of this. Our roaster at the time had been working with the cafe operator on the blend and roast profiles to provide the taste they were looking for."

However, the progress was put on hold due to the hitting of the pandemic, and they ended up with a roaster, bean origins, blend ratio, and roast profiles all sorted, but nowhere for the beans to go.

"We are really what you could call 'accidental' coffee roasters. But we loved coffee and enjoyed the product, so we had to continue. After all, we had everything in place. So it grew from there."

The roasters usually develop profiles they like but understand that everyone has a unique sense of taste and love when their favourites are also appreciated by the customers, like their Indonesian bean, which has a rich, chocolatey flavour.

"Every bean is different, and the roast is different. It all gets treated differently to get a consistent taste. We work hard to get the best flavours out of the bean."

Their roasted beans are carefully sourced through ethical chains and crafted from an exquisite Rainforest Alliance Certified Beans selection.

In terms of equipment, Phoebe Rose Coffee Roasters use a 10kg Toper drum roaster and is working on automating the process as much as possible. They have combined engineering, readily available bits and pieces, and the Artisan software commonly used in the industry.

Temperature control is now primarily automated with human intervention at a few tricky roast stages and has improved consistency.

McFarlane advises upcoming roasters to accept that it will take time and dedication to get the results they and their customers will like.