Training to be a coffee roaster

What does it take to be a coffee roaster? Our trainee roaster Jake takes you on his journey through his roaster training.

Photo : Jake talks to other members of the Merlo Coffee roasting team

For the past six months I have been training to be a Coffee Roaster as part of the team at Merlo Coffee. Here is my story.

I started working in a Merlo cafe about five years ago. I’d always enjoyed coffee, but it was once I started at Merlo that I discovered my passion for it.

It was a small dream of mine to one day work my way up to be a coffee roaster, and after transferring stores for a while I was eventually asked if I’d like to give it a go.

So, you’re probably wondering, what does it take to be a coffee roaster? In my experience so far I’ve found the keys to success are:

  • organisation
  • timing
  • precision
  • a keen eye for detail.

It also helps to have some mechanical experience as well.

Photo : there's always something new to learn as a trainee coffee roaster

I’ll admit that it took a while for me to get used to roasting but being trained on manual and automatic coffee roasters has definitely helped a lot. I thought I knew all there was to know about coffee until I started my training and quickly discovered that there is always more to learn.

In terms of my day-to-day work, I’ve learnt that if you can keep the flow of work happening, it relieves a lot of stress from the job. I just have to remember what’s coming next, whether that’s filling the green beans, checking the coffee temperatures, waiting for first or second crack, making sure it destones correctly, colour testing or even just general cleaning around the roasting area.

Juggling all the different aspects of roasting has been easier than I thought and I was lucky enough to have other roasters who were patient with my training. They taught me little bits at a time until I got the hang of it and made sure I was a step ahead every time.


Roasting is a physically demanding job and it’s also very hands on. If something breaks or isn’t working correctly, it’s up to you to get the tools and fix it yourself.

My job involves a lot of lifting, whether that be green coffee bags or roasted coffee tubs. Even parts of the roaster that need to be removed for cleaning can be rather heavy. I don’t believe I need a gym membership with the amount of coffee I manually move every day.

Roasting isn’t a good job for those who have a short attention span, as it requires a lot of concentration and patience. I’ve found this while using manual roasters particularly, as you have to watch the coffee until it’s been roasted to the right colour and then manually drop it out of the roaster into the cooling tray. It took time for me to learn how to do this, but after doing it for a while you catch on pretty quick.

I hope I have given you a bit of insight into the life of a trainee roaster and hope you have enjoyed reading my journey so far. Stay tuned for more…

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