BLOG // // 7.7.2017

Paulig DIY Roasting Challenge 2017

“Paulig Coffee Nerds” organized the second annual DIY Roasting Challenge in the front yard of Paulig Coffee Roastery in Helsinki.

What is the DIY roasting challenge?

There was a variety of different roasting methods and styles to be seen during the competition. The basic idea was that the roasting machine cannot be commercial. Everything else would do. Maybe something you can find from your kitchen, garden shed or cottage? There were some crazy machines as well as simple things presented in the competition. Some say simple is good, but is it always?  

Just like last year, the weather was very windy but sunny during the event. Wind gasps took away some of the competitors’ roasted beans, but that seemed not to make any harm – just some more batches to be roasted! Of course, the competitors using a flame had not too stable roasts.

Luckily there was enough green coffee for the competitors to roast many batches which of one was finally selected to the cupping table. Everyone had the same green coffee. The blend included Colombia and also coffees from Central America and Eastern Africa.  

Gadgets and gadgeteers:

To make sure that our judges stay neutral when giving points, all the competitors got a secret competitor name (in brackets after their names).  

Annina Ansas, (Kona), New Product Development Coordinator, Product and Concept Development

Annina trusted in a fluid air bed roaster made of a steel bowl and a blow torch. She used the similar technique last year, and practice really paid off! Her performance seemed calm and confident.  

Annina Paulig DIY
Annina, "Kona", roasting calmly with her blow torch.

Jori Korhonen (SL34), Training Specialist, representing Paulig Barista Institute

Jori with his colleagues in PBI built the roaster based on an Instagram competition. He ended up to use an empty tin and a huge gardening fork above a Trangia camping cooker – a kind of a drum roaster you could say. Jori also modified his roaster a bit along the way.  

Jori roasting small
Jori, "SL34", roasting in a tin.

Sampo Latvakangas (Sidamo), Paulig Kulma Flagship Roaster & Barista Expert

Sampo was the glorious winner in 2016. This time he used different combinations of a blow torch and a bowl – something a bit similar to his gadget last year, a fluid air bed roaster. Some of his coffee was blown away with a gasp of wind but he was calm enough to just carry on.  

Sampo roasting
Sampo, "Sidamo", using a blow torch and a bowl.

Tomi Nieminen (Kent), Paulig Kulma Flagship Roaster & Barista Expert

Tomi started with a drum roasting device, but soon he tried to modify the gadget as it was not working the way he wanted. Drum roasting it was for sure – but in many, many ways! Tomi was seen on his knees, lying down, standing and – we think – jumping around too, trying to make the best out of his batch. He used at least three different styles in total to get the best result.

Tomi roasting
Tomi, "Kent", with his drum roasting gadget.

Teemu Tommila (Santos), Senior Manager, Strategic Marketing  

Teemu trusted in the sun. He assembled a huge solar roaster which – not surprisingly though – was so powerful, that the coffee pot used as the first roasting bowl broke down. Definitely a great idea to be developed further, and not only to coffee roasting!  

Teemu roasting
Teemu, "Santos", and the solar roaster.


Was the roast worth a toast?

We had three lovely ladies tasting the interesting results of this competition, all Paulig employees as were all the competitors. One of them is a world class professional in coffee tasting, one is actively involved in tasting processes in general, and one just drinks coffee and works in the industry. By gathering up a jury like this we wanted to make sure that all opinions would be counted – from the pros all the way to the consumers.

The Coffee Nerds wanted once again see if some of the gadgets would beat a professional roasting equipment. That is why we had a reference batch from the laboratory of Paulig Roastery. The reference batch was the same coffee as the competitors were using.  

The honored judges.

Our judges:

Marja Touri, The Head of Cupping Team and a Q grader

Mari Outinen-Lahti, New Product Development Manager, Product and Concept Development

Kaisa Eskola, Graphic Designer, Out of Home Marketing dept.  


Here is what our honoured judges had to say about the coffees in the order of succession.

  1. Tomi: Polite, high in acidity, nice ensemble, perfect.
  2. Annina: Balanced, zesty, vivacious in acidity and hint of chocolate.
  3. Sampo: Citric, a bit over roasted, drinkable. Flavours a bit lost but OK.
  4. Reference batch: Quite mellow, balanced with an edge, a bit empty and girly. 
  5. Jori: Stingy, high in acidity, flavours a bit hidden and bitter notes, too.
  6. Teemu: Very smoky and dark aroma, requires a glass of whisky to go with and tastes like smoky sauna. “Did I just drink ”Eau de Grill”?!"
Winning three
The winners!

We also wanted to give out two special prizes: Innovation Prize and Attitude Prize. No wonder that the Innovation Prize went to Teemu. He was hands down most innovative with his execution! Also, it was a no-brainer that Tomi was entitled to get the Attitude Prize for his hard but happy work.  

What’s next?

We will carry on the tradition of DIY coffee roasting in some form or another. It would be interesting to broaden the concept a bit. How would we do that – it is still a bit open. But you will sure hear from us next summer, when it is time to dig up the weirdest roasting gadgets and the propeller hats and have a blast!

While waiting for the next year’s event you can ready about home roasting our blog posts:

Sampo wrote about coffee roasting basics and how to develop the flavor by roasting.

Tomi did a home roasting guide: is coffee roasting at home a stupid idea or a culinary adventure?

Check also this video giving a quick summary about the science behind coffee roasting.

And if you are thinking about home roasting, you can try different styles, e.g. how to roast coffee at home with air popper style!

Happy roastings!