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Janine Cundy, the Master Roaster at Joe Bean, has been roasting coffee for a little over five years now. I had the chance to sit down with one of the nation's best roasters inside Joe Bean’s new space at 565 Blossom Road in our hometown of Rochester, NY and talk about coffee, its community, and the craft of roasting.
When I asked her what she loved about coffee in general, she told me "I value genuine connections with people. I like to know people are taken care of.” She says that “producing tasty things” is how she feels she can care for people. Talking with Janine, I understood instantly what she meant about the hospitality and comfort of coffee. As a mother of a 5-month old beauty, whom she refers to as her roasting assistant, Janine’s warm personality was a welcome addition to our interview and highlighted her passion for coffee.
Janine is equal parts scientist, technician, chef, and caregiver in her approach to coffee. Her background in chemistry, former work as a locksmith, and working on her own motorcycle all strangely come together to make her the incredible coffee roaster she is today. When she stepped up to learn about coffee roasting, she realized that there was a lot more to it than just roasting beans.
Janine leaves the table we are sitting at and invites me to a corner in Joe Bean where the company keeps their green coffee beans. She takes a handful, holds them up, and begins pointing out small details of the beans, explaining the different chemical compositions of green coffee based on their origins. She tells me that incorrectly roasting particular beans from Kenya could result in a tomato flavor, while a proper recipe can bring out a cherry cola taste in the same coffee. Obviously one flavor is better than the other here.
Images courtesy of Joe Bean’s Instagram page, which you can view here
When I say recipe, what I really mean is how Janine chooses to utilize timing, temperature, and green coffee to develop her roast. When it comes to Joe Bean’s Master Roaster, a good roast does not come by accident. At the 2019 US Coffee Championships, which Janine said was like “a geeky family reunion”, she had to know exactly how her beans would turn out. After grading the green coffee, each contestant had to state how they were going to roast their beans and the ending result of the roast. Janine’s roast placed 1st among 28 competitors, and she received 4th place overall in her first trip to Nationals.
Coffee roasting is so much more than just sitting and heating up green coffee, and the idea of coffee as a craft was stressed throughout our conversation. We often associate coffee jobs as temporary positions until something else comes along. This isn’t the case at all with Joe Bean, whose team members excitedly work to create the best coffee they can everyday. As a team of individuals with a passion for great coffee, Janine and the team at Joe Bean have found a purpose to pursue that will last them a lifetime.
You can visit Janine and try Joe Bean’s coffees by visiting them here in Rochester, NY at their new location on 565 Blossom Road (Suite E1). If you’re not in town and want to give Joe Bean's Espresso Blend a taste, we are proud to sell it here on our store.