Talk about Roasting – Hideo Gunawan, Curious People Roastery Jakarta, Indonesia

Some people might not be aware that the Shrub has a pretty far reaching global customer base. It’s always pretty exciting to hear about our coffees being roasted in Australia, Korea, or Shrub Ethiopias being snuck into Mexico City (first washed Ethiopian coffee served there?). One very enthusiastic roaster, Hideo Gunawan based out of Jakarta, Indonesia reached out to us about trying to get a little more brightness out of one of our Projecto Xinabajul coffees from Guatemala Huehuetenango produced by Francisco Mendez.

We worked on his approach to this profile until we found the sweet brightness he was after. I also had the good fortune to get to taste his roast of this coffee which I brewed a couple of different ways and cupped as well. On the cupping there was some roast malt and cocoa notes with a great deal of sweetness and a bright black cherry really that lit up the middle of the palate. My favorite brew of this was on the Clever Dripper where this coffee was ridiculously sweet with so much cocoa throughout the cup and those same brilliant cherry notes. I was very curious about what roasting Guatemalas and serving them was like in Indonesia so I shot a few questions Hideo’s way.

CS: What got you into roasting?

HG: Well, I worked as an acoustic engineer for 2 years after I graduated from university. At that time we were getting used to drinking a lot of coffee due to very long and intense working hours. Most of the coffee we bought was a supermarket brand which tended to be very bitter so we’d have to add some sugar. A friend who I met a little later had some reputation in the specialty coffee business and asked me to go travel with him to Singapore where we visited a lot of good coffee shops. I still remember the taste of coffees from Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, Sumatra Lintong and Kenya Gethumbwini. That kind of coffee really blew me away with lots of sweetness and no bitterness, not like any coffee I’d ever had before. I got back to Indonesia thinking “Hey, why not quit my current job and start my own specialty coffee business?”. I got back to the same coffeeshop in Singapore, Smitten Coffee and Tea, to get my first Roasting lesson before starting my Roasting business and a year after that i took a Roasters Guild Course.

CS: What roasting equipment have you used?
HG: I learned how to roast from my mentor using a FujiRoyal roaster, but the problem is that the same brand doesn’t have any sales rep in Indo, so I bought the Taiwanese 3kg Feima roaster which works in a very similar way with Fuji.

3K Feima, built in Taiwan
3K Feima, built in Taiwan

CS: What is the coffee scene like in Jakarta?
HG: Things are a bit different in Jakarta (Indonesia) than most consumer countries since we are also a producing country. History has shown that most of the best coffees would be exported and only the bad ones were available for local consumption. Most of the old school roasters would and still do long and dark roasts, and sell the coffee ground to cover up the bad things. Now the case is different in our country in every aspect, more producers are trying to produce better green coffee, more specialty nano and micro roasters, and more coffee shops than even 2 years ago. It feels like everything is happening all of a sudden. Barista schools, public coffee tastings and everything else to introduce specialty coffees are popping up everywhere. The best part of it is that you can find a wide range of different approaches to coffee, roasters who specialize in Indo coffee, Dark to light roasts and lots of different price ranges. But the case in Jakarta is still that people tend to be price sensitive even though the demand for better coffee is going up.

CS: You sent me the Guatemala Francisco Mendez, what was your approach to roasting this coffee?
HG: I focus the roast to bring out more sweetness to it, while still keeping in mind what a good High Grown Central American coffee is all about. Most people won’t say no to something sweet. I charge the coffee at my machine’s 1st crack temperature, using low heat for 1 minute, then do full power until I have to pull back slightly when I start to smell sweet bread aroma. Then I keep up my heat till i hear 1st crack rolling at 9:20 then pull back the heat again till I finish my roast at 12:30

CS: You mentioned to me when you sent this coffee that this roast is for filter drip, how would you roast this coffee for another use, like for a press pot or for espresso?
HG: Usually we never go into 2nd crack with our coffees, both for drip and espresso. I like my espresso to have a good mouthfeel, sweet, balanced acidity without too much bitter roast flavor, so i never go into 2nd but i will do some more development after 1st crack (3.5 to 4 mins). Doing this i get more chocolate notes with more Sugar browning product like caramel, a smooth acidity and a better body to stand in small milk based drinks.

CS: This is a very different coffee than what I imagine is very commonly available in Jakarta, how have your customers or others reacted to these coffee?
HG: Since we are a producing country, the best (or easiest) way of doing things is sourcing Indonesian Coffee. Most people think that way, and our market is getting saturated with that. Good for producer? I’ll say yes. For customer? it would say it depends on what of kind of coffee they are looking for. This Guatemala Fransisco Mendez is a welcome option to anybody who’s looking for coffee with a different taste profile than most Indonesian coffee. Most of them are excited with the sweetness and complexity while at the same time it still has an excellent mouthfeel. Personally, I think mouthfeel and sweetness are the most important factors to win over our customers, since most Indonesians do not accept coffee with very bright notes.

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