17 Oct 2016


Adam Shaw is one of the four founders of Deeper Roots,  a specialty roasting company based in Ohio which keeps two values close to its heart: great quality coffee and community development with farmers & cooperatives.

We met Adam at SCAA Atlanta after he tried Keith Pech’s  IKAWA Pro Sample Roaster and could see how this could help Deeper Roots operations improve their sample evaluation process- as well as that of their producer partners.

Deeper Roots now have two Pro Sample Roasters; one for their  roastery in Cincinnati and one in Guatemala that’s used by the team at De La Gente.

Adam developed a fantastic roast profile for the washed Guatemalan coffee they buy from partners De La Gente, which he was kind enough to share with us. It’s quickly become one of our most used ‘start points’ for washed Arabica (particularly from Central America) so we thought it would be excellent to share more of the story behind Deeper Roots, and the theory behind Adam’s roast profile.


“I’m Adam Shaw and I’m the Lead Roaster and Green Buyer at Deeper Roots Coffee in Cincinnati, Ohio.  My background is in Mechanical Engineering but in 2012 I jumped ship from consumer product and medical device design to start full time at our wholesale specialty roasting company. I started working with a few people in specialty coffee during my time during and after university – and after seven or so years of working together four of us went in and started Deeper Roots in 2011.

Deeper Roots’ origins began with community development in Guatemala and a relationship with the growers themselves. We started with a few suitcases full of coffee from a small farmer in the Antigua region over ten years ago and have been able to see that farmer galvanize his neighbour farmers into a small cooperative.  We now purchase their entire harvest, about 15,000lbs (6,800kilos), every year and have since been able to start working with cooperatives in San Miguel Escobar, Huehuetenango, and Atitlan to bring more great Guatemalan coffees into the US every year.

We’re constantly looking for way to extend our Direct Trade relationships and now are able to source directly from Colombia, Brazil, Honduras, Sumatra and Ethiopia. Our goal is to empower local farmers and cooperatives via economic exchange rather than handouts and to showcase their coffee in the US as beautifully as it can be.”

Deeper Roots’ Guatemalan Coffee – Photography by Gina Weathersby

“We decided to purchase the two IKAWA Pro Sample Roasters for a few main reasons:

First, on the United States-side part of the business, I was striving for accuracy and repeatability in addition to quality when it came to sample evaluation.  We had a decent experience with our Quest M3 but often repeatability became an issue.  I needed something that could repeat a roast profile, let me make very small changes to the profile and then execute those changes in a repeatable way.

I was sold on the IKAWA when I was able to blind cup the same coffee roasted on the IKAWA fluid bed style directly beside more traditional drum sample roaster and couldn’t tell a bit of quality difference.

Additionally, the IKAWA allows me latitude to start a roast and go do other things while the roast is going. It’s a great option to dial in a roast profile and let the roaster do the work.  I can even roast a ton of samples at the same time that I’m doing a full day of production roasting.

The last reason was the most compelling for us.

Since we work directly with farmers and cooperatives, we wanted to be able to set profiles, share them with the coop and have them be able to roast coffee at origin the same as we’re roasting here.  We wanted to rely on their expertise on harvest and processing and they wanted to rely on our expertise in roasting so shareable profiles allowed them that luxury.

The coop that we work with most in Guatemala really wanted to boost their sample roasting program so we sent them a roaster and our baseline roast profile.  This allows us to have conversations about the same coffee without outliers of roast defects or roast profile differences.  It also makes pre-ship and post-ship sample cupping easier when we can remove the roast as a variable.”

Preparing for a coffee cupping with leaders of all five cooperatives for the 3rd annual De La Gente Coffee Congress. Source: Deeper Roots Coffee.

“The profile I use is as close as I’ve come to the SCAA standard cupping roast profile.

At my first Roasters Guild Retreat several years ago I heard instructors repeat over and over “maillard at four minutes, crack at seven minutes, drop at nine minutes”.  I wanted to get as close to this four-seven-nine rule as possible since they represent very specific chemical reaction changes in the coffee instead of trying to create my own profile and self-generate arguments to defend it.  At Deeper Roots we try to keep SCAA standards in mind when doing most everything so keeping to these numbers also seemed imperative.

To do this I had to start at the very beginning.  I aggregated every IKAWA profile I could find from past roasters on the blog as well as a producer friend from Panama and roasted every single available curve multiple times.  With each roast I documented the time and temperature that each visible chemical reaction happened, which is easy since the top of the roaster is glass, and I noticed that none really achieved similar results to SCAA guidelines AND keep a constantly decreasing ROR.

However even though all the roast profiles were different, they started to show me some trends as to what temperature, according to the IKAWA’s temperature sensor (which measures the exhaust temperature in the roast chamber), certain reactions happened.  From there I worked my way back into a few profiles that I generated on my own until I achieved what is most consistently similar to the SCAA standard cupping roast profile.”

The roast profiles show the curve in degrees Centigrade (left) and Fahrenheit. Read about how to change this setting here

“In layman’s terms I view the heat transfer in roasting as trying to push a car that’s out of gear.  Once you get it moving, it’s easy to keep it rolling.  However once rolling, to speed it up requires a ton more pushing.

In this profile I get the energy moving early, and slowly back off the heat energy input to allow the coffee to easily roll into the next chemical reaction.  This will also be friendly to those who like Scott Rao’s rule of constantly decreasing Rate Of Rise.  At each point in the curve the line subsequent to the point is a lower slope to make this style of roasting happen.

The caveat to this profile is that it may need some minor editing for each specific origin.

I’ve set only the main set points for this curve but I’ve noticed that I can run a new coffee through this profile, take notes on chemical reaction changes, move the set points +/- maximum fifteen or so seconds and have the second roast nail the four-seven-nine goal.

My default charge weight is 50g to make this profile consistent.  IKAWA suggests up to 60g but I wanted to give the coffee some room to move around without turning the airflow too high.  With a 50g charge and my baseline profile you should see full yellow at four minutes, first crack at seven minutes and drop the final temp at nine minutes.”



Since creating this profile, Adam has revised it. 

Updated version below. 

Here’s why:

“I changed the profile a bit on the airflow side of things to help do a full 60g batch.  So the profile now accommodates a 60g batch but with the caveat that our samples are roasted at an altitude of 810ft asl and are mostly washed coffees.  If someone tries this profile at origin where altitudes can be significantly higher, the profile will change dramatically.”

We may have to catch up with Adam about how to adapt the profiles when roasting at altitude another day! 

A massive thank you to Adam Shaw from Deeper Roots for sharing this profile, and the theory behind it.

If you have the chance to try it on a washed Arabica, let us know how you get on – particularly at hitting the four-seven-nine goal!

author-img By Alex Georgiou