A coffee company is reliant on many team members to be successful. One that is crucially involved with the process, however, is the Master Roaster. For many, roasting is a skill that’s honed over years of an apprenticeship or assistantship. As a coffee professional, you learn quickly that roasting is as much a science as it is an art, and it doesn’t simply boil down to learning the steps of roasting and letting the machine do the work for you—It takes constant sensory evaluation. As a roaster, you are listening to, smelling, and seeing your roast, and adjusting temperature and air flow accordingly. During the years of an apprenticeship, you are also developing your coffee palate: the ability to taste the nuanced tasting notes of coffee and determine levels of sweetness, acidity, bitterness, and body. It’s important to be able to pick up on even the most delicate of flavors and defects, so that you can consistently provide high quality coffees.  

Green Coffee Beans

Throughout the day of a Master Roaster at Lucky Goat, they will be managing green coffee inventory, watching harvest seasons to order samples of new coffees, sample roasting and setting up roast profiles for new coffees, cupping current coffees for quality control, and managing production needs for shipments to our cafes, wholesale customers, and online customers. This all goes on while they are churning out thousands of pounds of roasted coffee per day—what a busy eight hours! While it’s a highly coveted job for many coffee professionals, the job of a roaster isn’t glamorous. It involves plenty of heavy lifting, long hours on your feet, and sweltering temperatures next to the roaster. You must have a passion for coffee to be up for the job and the talent to do it well. We are so lucky that our Master Roaster, Joe Anthony, fits the bill.  

Joe Anthony Head Roaster At Lucky Goat Coffee

Joe has spent 17 years in the coffee industry as a professional, but his journey with coffee began much before that. His maternal grandfather owned coffee farms in El Salvador, and he spent holidays during his childhood picking cherries and sneaking a few to munch on when he could get away with it. As a teenager, he was exposed to high quality and expensive bulk coffee in South Florida. He would try different coffees from different origins to learn what they all tasted like, after only having been exposed to beans from El Salvador. Things became oddly foretelling of his future career, however, when he discovered he could buy this coffee green. At home, he would experiment with roasting this green coffee with an aluminum bowl and a heat gun that he borrowed from his unwitting dad (he would later get in trouble for this). 

 At 18, Joe took a hiatus from backyard roasting to start a music career. After almost 20 years of chasing these dreams, he found himself drawn back to coffee in the Pacific Northwest. His work started as a service technician for espresso equipment, but with some connections in the industry and an interest in roasting, he quickly found an assistant roaster position to dip his toe into the specialty. He spent around five years in this position, and lovingly referred to it as “Coffee University.” This was an environment of fast-track learning of roasting and the industry where he was inundated with information about coffee, origins, and tasting profiles. Here, he fell in love with coffee, took on a lot of self-learning and studying, learned how to sample roast, met farmers, learned about coffee species and varietals, and growing in regions. A lot of this knowledge and information often came directly from farmers or origin natives, and he describes this first-hand experience as being important for the passion he found in the industry. Here is where he also began developing his palate; by cupping all of the coffees around him, he began to learn more about tasting notes and sensory analysis. To understand these coffees further, he not only cupped them, but brewed them in a variety of ways: pulling espresso shots, making pourovers, and even trying them iced.

Joe Anthony Old Pictures

After his experience at "Coffee University," he was ready to take a step into leadership and creativity, as the Head Roaster at another coffee company in the Pacific Northwest. His five years here taught him how to run an entire production--from ordering to roasting to packaging—and this experience gave him a complete understanding of all of the steps in coffee manufacturing. He started from scratch at this company: a brand new roastery that had huge machines. This is where he learned how to mass produce coffee, applying the principles he knew about small scale production to operate much more difficult equipment during a roasting cycle.  

Dan Watkins and Joe Anthony

Joe has spent the rest of his 18-yearlong coffee career pursuing excellence in roasting, refining his palate, and honing his skills. Four years ago he made the journey back to his home state of Florida, and we are so lucky he chose Tallahassee to call home. We are grateful to have Joe’s expertise to assist in getting us some incredible coffees—you don’t just get a supertaster palate over night; that takes decades of tasting unique coffees to develop. If you want to get a good idea for Joe’s talent in sourcing excellent coffees and roasting them to perfection, try some of our Single Origins; this is where Joe really gets to shine! 

February 19, 2024