It's always a good thing to put a name to a face but in this post I am going to put a name and face to the coffee you know and love. Meet Chance, Hunter Bay's Roaster. Chance, has been roasting for Hunter bay for two years and during that time he has gone above and beyond to produce great tasting and consistent roasts. I can't think of anyone who could do a better job. Let's just say that all of you coffee drinkers out there are in good hands drinking the coffee that he roasts.
I sat down with Chance the other day to do a Q&A that will give more insight into Hunter Bay and the coffee roasting industry.
What does roasting coffee mean for you?
Roasting coffee for me means connecting with people. I like to think that in a small part I help in everyone's morning/afternoon/evening who drinks Hunter Bay coffee. I know how crucial it is to have that little push some days. I want that to be special and flavorful. It also means supporting farmers all around the world who work very hard to provide us with our raw materials to roast. Roasting coffee is my favorite job of all that I've had.
What is the most important part of the roasting process?
The most important part of the roasting process for me is the ROR (rate over rise). We use special coffee roasting software to track every roast. It allows me to ensure a consistency unrivaled by previous generations of roasters who were at the will of their own varying senses. I still trust that feel side of roasting, but having scientific evidence behind the experience gives us another layer of quality assurance.
What do you look/taste for in a well roasted coffee?
I had a conversation after I had been roasting for a couple months with Glenn Junkert that stuck with me. He, along with his wife Carol, are the two original owners of Hunter Bay. Fun fact about Hunter Bay: I always assumed the name of the company was from a place in MT I hadn't heard of, but Hunter and Bay were the maiden names of the two women who started the business! Anyway, Glen told me that good coffee is like a good conversation. It will be flavorful and smooth from beginning to end. A coffee with roast defects might have a bite at the beginning like a person shouting and startling you, or perhaps the aftertaste will be sour like someone leaving on a rude remark. The longer you drink it, the more that's revealed about it's character. I took that idea to heart and found it very true in the coffees that I've tasted.
How did you get started roasting?
I was hired as a packager first, and worked about a year doing that and enjoying it. I'm not very good at hiding my interests though, I would occasionally pop back and ask Cole (previous roaster, current manager) about this or that part of the roasting process. I think he realized around the time he was wanting a transition away from the roaster that I would be a good fit to take over. I learned on a small 200g roaster that's all manually operated. It was something special to drink that first roast I made myself. I then slowly took over parts of the roasting process until I was operating it fully on my own. Our STA 60 is a far cry from the sample roaster in terms of size and complexity, but at the heart is a spinning drum with a flame heating up green coffee beans.
What's your favorite coffee here at Hunter Bay?
I have 2 that I prefer above the others. I love the single origin Mexico that we have. We just started selling it at the Good Food Store and I can't wait for everyone to love it as much as I do. My go to blend is Back Country. Back Country is lighter, but it's full bodied and smooth with that chocolate and nutty flavor. Great cold brew as well!
Besides roasting, what do you do for fun?
I've been a big music guy for over half of my life now. I love playing guitar. I've played guitar/drums/bass/keyboards in bands over the years. Music for a long time was my dream job and favorite activity. However... Now that activity is disc golf. I started playing seriously in the fall of 2019. It was a nice way to get out and hike Blue Mountain while tricking my brain into not thinking about the hike. In 2020 I joined the Garden City Flyers league here in Missoula as well as devouring media about technique and tournaments. There's been huge growth in the sport because of the pandemic and I love seeing so many people out enjoying our local courses as much as I do and watching pros on youtube and live coverage.