Chris Weir is our Senior Roaster here at Bailies. Having joined the team in November 2018, Chris has played an integral role in our roastery, and even more so since his appointment as Senior Roaster at the beginning of the year. Already making strides in this new role, and with his new team, Chris’s roasting ability has already achieved some notoriety with a mention in the latest issue of Caffeine Magazine alongside the announcement of Ethiopian Microlot, Buku Sayisa claiming the top spot in the Magazine’s blind cupping competition.
In between busy schedules of roasting, cupping, and training, we were able to chat with Chris about his ‘typical’ day at Bailies, how he first got into roasting, and life outside of coffee.
Talk us through your typical day.
Generally, myself and the team- Finlay and Eilis start the day off by planning how many roasts will be needed. This involves checking orders that customers have placed. Once we know the volumes required to satisfy all the orders, we can plan how many roasts we will be doing that day. Then, the team and I weigh out the green beans, for the roasts on the Probat UG22 or load the green beans in the Silos for the roasts on the Neptune 500
On roast days we can be roasting solidly up to lunch time, after which we plan for the next day before doing some cupping, training or personal development with the team alongside tidying and organizing the warehouse.
However, a “typical day” doesn’t really exist in a roastery. There will always be a curve ball of some description and our day-to-day can always look quite different from one day to the next, which, in essence, keeps it interesting!
How did you first get into coffee roasting?
After picking up a copy of the “Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee” - which has a section on roasting at home- I bought myself a Gene Café 101 electric home roaster. I experimented on this with batch sizes and different lengths of roasts. This was a few years ago, so there wasn’t really the same number of resources as easily available as there are now, so learning was quite difficult!
I recall there being a lot of trial and error- sifting through bad advice and opinions not based in anything scientific or in any methodical testing- but that was all part of the fun and it created satisfaction when I would finally find a gem of wisdom amongst all the misinformation.
Our industry is constantly evolving and changing, are there any developments or new innovations that you think could have a great impact?
In my opinion, the work that is going into improving the sustainability of roasting. Namely, the developments in electric roasters to reduce the overall reliance on gas and the recycling of hot air to make the whole process much more efficient I find interesting and exciting.
Do you have a proudest or most meaningful moment in your career so far?
I am very proud of the team that I get to work alongside, Finlay and Eilís. They are both incredibly talented and passionate at what they do. In the short time that they have been at Bailies they have had a major impact on the roastery department as well as becoming great additions to the Bailies team. By sharing their unique experiences and insights into roasting and new ways of doing things, they have brought a fresh perspective to the team.
If you can choose just one from the current line-up, what would be your favorite Bailies Coffee?
I am a sucker for coffees from Central America, so I’d have to say La Torre- it’s sweet and balanced- the type of coffee that you could just drink all day long!
We’re seeing more emphasis on sensory development throughout the coffee industry lately, and in Bailies too. How have you come to develop your sensory skills alongside your roasting?
Developing sensory skills requires a constant practice/training. It’s something that needs to be always worked on. I try to think about everything I eat and drink, focusing on the sensation; the mouth feel, the acidity and sweetness- filing that information away for the next time I cup.
Understanding my own personal tongue map and how I experience different tastes has been invaluable in picking up flavour descriptors while cupping.
Onto some questions other than coffee, what is one thing you can’t live without?
Music. I love all genres of music from across generations. It is a huge part of my life and who I am, and it’s been there for me through good times and bad.
What are your other interests outside of coffee?
I love reading novels & comic books, drawing, going for walks, watching movies, and tv shows. Most of all, I just love spending time with my partner Sarah and our dog Jess- that’s my favorite thing.
What would you be doing if you weren’t working in coffee?
I think I would probably still be working in hospitality in some shape or form. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what else I would do!