Why I Hate Trial and Error

We recently got our new roaster in and I was tasked with figuring out how to use the thing. Makes sense, since I’m the roaster and all. I thought I would be able to plug it in and get within 80% of my mark, because that is how it seemed to go on the internet, which is always true. I ran my first few batches to condition the drum and it was a struggle to burn the beans. I mean, I should have been able to burn them, that’s the easy part. Making it taste good is the hard part. I looked up everything I could and I couldn’t figure out why I was not able to get these beans hot enough to burn. All of this just reconfirmed that I hate trial and error.

I am not the type of person who like to explore randomly and hope something comes out of it (no open world video games for me). I am more of a fixer than a creator. I’m not good at making something from nothing. If I can get even the smallest part of structure, I can take that and run. But when there is nothing, I really struggle. This is the most frustrating part of trial and error for me. There is no direction, there is no foundation, there is no leap off point. Most of my research into roasting has been, “just get some beans and start roasting, no book will teach out how to roast.” Everyone seems to think the only way to learn how to roast is through trial and error. As I started my journey, my go to of “find a book and read it and use that as a base,” was invalidated from the start. This was going to be hard on me.

After a few batches and epically failing all of my tests, I became overwhelmed with my inadequacy. Yeah, that probably says more about me than the trial and error process, but it’s another reason I really don’t like it. I’m not the type of person who thrives in failure. Like I said, I am a fixer, so I like adjustments. If it is 60% on mark, I will figure out how to get it to 80% on mark, then 100% on mark. There is a little victory in each of those benchmarks. When I all out fail, I struggle to find the lesson, so my conclusion is that I’m just not good at this. Not the best response, agreed, but it is how I interpret complete failure.

After a few roasts, and bunch of text messages to other roasters, I felt like giving up. I’m not a quitter though, so it was never more than frustration from not finding any small victories to encourage myself. Finally, I found a recipe from the manufacturer and just followed it blindly. It was not a perfect roast by any stretch of the imagination, but it was tremendously better. As soon as I was able to find a small victory, I was off to the races. After five batches I was able to dramatically increase the sweetness in the cup. That is more than a little victory. I was feeling good after that. Now that I have that first “W”, I’ll be able to apply the principles to scaling up batches and using other coffees.

In conclusion, I still hate trial and error. I don’t think it adds as much value to the world as everyone thinks. Sometimes it is better to leapfrog from those who came before us by using what they learned and building on it. If you have some amazing info, share it, please. Don’t hold it hostage so you can watch newbies struggle…at least not for ever. Newbs gotta squirm a bit.

If you would like to grab a bag of this coffee, just let me know

struggling through trial and error in coffee roasting
Coffee fresh from the roaster
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