Stephen Houston



JOB TITLE:       

Speciality Coffee Roaster and Production Assistant, Bailies Coffee Roasters      


Cycling, kickboxing and creating artwork


Well so far it has to be the Panama Mama Cata Geisha we roasted last year – it was full of complexity and tropical flavours.


V60 – good clean cup of coffee every time and very portable so I’m never without coffee.


My motto in life is something I was taught by my family, ‘Onwards and upwards' and always being positive and moving forward no matter what life throws at you.


What does it take to become a coffee roaster?

It takes a lot of passion, commitment, dedication and borderline obsession. I have the dream job! I’m continuously learning more and more, there's always something to keep me interested and motivated. There’s so much more to just roasting coffee as it involves many processes ranging from green coffee sourcing, roasting styles, profiles, tasting and brew methods and continuous coffee education and learning. You need to have confidence and have a hunger to learn, you should never feel like you know everything, that’s what really drives me!


When did you realise you wanted to pursue a career as a coffee roaster?

I started working with Bailies 2 years ago on the production side. After seeing the process of coffee roasting and production, I just fell in love with it. Learning to operate a coffee roaster is a complex, technical and scientific process and requires 100% concentration. At Bailies we roast the majority of our coffees on the Probat G60 and our speciality and microlots are roasted on a Probat UG22. Both are very different, but so are the coffees. 

When I’m roasting I never forget our responsibility to stay true to the farmer's wishes for his crop and taste profile. We take great pride in ethically sourcing and importing coffees from around the world. During the roasting process I’m constantly monitoring the air flow and temperature of the drum to create the perfect and consistent profiles that result in a world class cup of coffee.

I love making coffee and there is no better feeling than preparing a cup of coffee and seeing other people enjoying it!


What have been the highlights of your job so far?

Oh there are many – it’s great being part of a team who are focused on excellence. As a company we are continuously growing and our new premises and future development plans are all very exciting. Participating in national and international coffee trade shows such as London and World of Coffee in Dublin this year was intense but also so much fun. We had lots of interest in Bailies and our coffee across all offerings was a big success. I enjoy being an ambassador for Bailies and sharing what we do best. I had the opportunity to meet and connect with some really interesting and talented people in the industry.   


Describe your typical day as a Bailies Coffee Roaster

Every day can vary, depending on business needs but a typical day as a coffee roaster involves: 

6 am                     

Get up and brew coffee – depending on my mood my brew preference can be anything from a V60 to an Aeropress. 

7.45 am               

I like to get into work early and brew the first coffee of the day for my colleagues and catch up on emails.

8.30 am               

First things first, carry out safety inspections and begin the roaster warm up procedure followed by setting the roast profiles accordingly.

Plan the days roasting schedule against customer needs deciding what blends/micro-lots need roasted and how much. I also check stock levels of green beans and replenish to ensure we have enough to hand for our roasts making for a more efficient day.

Throughout the roast I’m constantly monitoring the roaster and product as well as emptying the chaff (waste product of coffee) every few roasts as it can be highly flammable. Safety is key when roasting!

12.30 noon         

Time to refuel and eat. Our staff room is a coffee enthusiast’s haven with all the equipment you need and of course coffee. After lunch it’s back to the roastery.

3 pm                     

Cupping session with our Quality Control Specialist to monitor and score our roasts. This usually takes around an hour and can consist of 10 -15 types of coffee with two of each to cup and taste. 

5 pm                     

At the end of the day the roaster needs cleaned, including air hosing the roaster, hoovering and carrying out any other cleaning and health and safety duties around the gas and machinery.

Other duties on a normal day range from stock control and monitoring in the warehouse, packing and dispatching customer orders and receiving deliveries and coffee containers to the warehouse. When on the roaster, you would also be tasked with stocking out green beans (usually after you have planned your day) making it more efficient during your day of roasting.


What are your top 3 tips to anyone wishing to pursue a career as a coffee roaster?

  1. Passion, you've got to be passionate about your job.
  2. Dedication, it takes a lot of hard work. At Bailies the standards are high and being informed and dedicated will go a long way in helping make you a great roaster.
  3. A thirst for learning - there's so much to coffee in general, so asking lots of questions, researching, speaking with other people in the team like the engineers and baristas, attending Bailies Academy and workshops and entering industry competitions. We are very lucky here at Bailies to have such great resources and coffee experts - it's mad not to use them!

Also one thing to add, 'Team work makes the dream work!' and that’s being a big sentiment here at Bailies and our success is evidence of this.


If you would like to pursue a career as a Coffee Roaster for Bailies or learn more about other opportunities please visit the careers section on the Bailies website



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