03 Jul 2020

Importer Sample Roasting: Yimara Martinez Agudelo

As we have discussed in the past, the role of quality control at an importer is tough, but critical. Last year, we caught up with Kaya Carretta, the Quality and Lab Manager at Nordic Approach in Oslo, Norway.

In this post, we learn from Yimara Martinez Agudelo, the Quality Control Specialist for specialty coffee trader Sustainable Harvest at their office in Portland, Oregon, USA.

Her role at the company is vital: every single coffee that Sustainable Harvest receives must be evaluated in order to give constructive feedback to the producer, check quality against contracts, and find the correct market fit.

In her words: “We are very strict in doing our job. We are especially careful when roasting our samples.”

Sustainable Harvest have become strong adopters of IKAWA sample roasters, Yimara has become a power user of IKAWA, championing their use throughout Sustainable Harvest’s operations. She has developed excellent, thorough IKAWA resources, training documents, and guides for her team to use.

Yimara is methodical and extremely detail-oriented when roasting; in this blog we’ll learn how she approaches sample roasting and profiling.

In addition to being an expert sample roaster and cupper, Yimara is one of a handful of globally certified Q-Processing instructors having achieved levels 1 and 2, and has worked at many stages of the coffee supply chain, from farm to exporting and importing.

Level 3 for Q Processing is an expert level that was launched last year. Yimara is currently developing her research which investigates drying temperatures and its impacts on the deterioration of the quality of the shelf life. When she completes this research, she will then hold level’s 1, 2, and 3 for Q Processing Instructors.

She began her coffee career early, having been raised on her family’s coffee farm in Colombia. Her parents encouraged her to continue pursuing coffee, which led to her training as a cupper and subsequently working for FCC, the Federación Campesina del Cauca.

Currently, Yimara has been performing her quality control role from home in Portland, USA. She’s brought all of the equipment she needs in order to work from home, and set up the most amazing garage coffee lab we’ve ever seen!


From Yimara:

“My name is Yimara Martinez Agudelo. I am from a small town called Tunía in the state of Cauca in Colombia. [I am the] daughter of small coffee farmers, and all my life I have been around coffee.

I was trained as a cupper and worked for the FCC, or Federación Campesina del Cauca, a beautiful organization of small producers in Cauca. After that, I got my first Q- grader certification.

My work in coffee has been focused in quality analysis and evaluation, as well as providing educational support and training for coffee growers and their children. The goal is to promote the improvement of agricultural practices, quality control and the impact of quality in coffee.

I started working with Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers [when I moved to the USA]. Sustainable Harvest is also the importing partner for FCC where I worked for many years at origin. This is really a beautiful story because I have ‘lived’ the coffee supply chain, in a sense—from being in the field as a producer, participating in a second level organization, learning and sharing knowledge with producers, working in the export logistics of coffee, and now working in importing in the United States.”


“My challenge being part of a quality control team is to have people understand that we must always be open and humble; even if you already know how to roast coffee, there is always more to learn. The producers do an incredible job. As a roaster, we have to respect their work and roast carefully so that we highlight coffee’s unique flavor notes and characteristics.

When we roast a coffee sample poorly, we are being unfair to the hard work of the producer, and we limit their opportunities for market access.

My reward is having the opportunity to communicate and see other roasters doing an incredible job roasting coffee, buying it at a fair price, investing in origin, and recognizing the valuable work producers do.

This makes me happy, although I know that much work still needs to be done in the industry, but I work to improve it every day.”


Yimara is very process oriented. She has a set of baseline profiles that provide a starting point for coffees, but she will almost always adjust a profile slightly when roasting a new coffee.

For her teams abroad, Yimara has created a guide in Spanish on how to use the IKAWA, detailing which profiles to use and how the IKAWA can be controlled. It’s comprehensive, and there is a massive amount of testing and development that went into it.

With IKAWA, “I [have worked] on an average of 100 different profiles trying to find profiles geared towards the best bean development, optimal extraction during cupping and which can be adapted to larger roasters.

Profiling coffee for me is very important because it allows me to bring the coffee to its fullest potential and expression of flavor. Each coffee has a different moisture content, is produced at varying altitudes and processed differently, so we have to make adjustments for each coffee.

Sample roasting is a big responsibility and, for us, roasting and profiling should not be different. We must be able to find the best roast that fits the characteristics of each coffee, being precise with variables like temperature and the amount of air injected when roasting.”

garage lab 4

In creating this reference, she said her goal was:

1) Develop profiles that allow for a correct extraction without the crust breaking on it’s own (3 to 5 minutes).
2) Accurate, realistic flavour profiles that can be replicated in a large roaster.
3) Bean development that brings the coffee to its fullest potential by maximizing aroma, clean acidity, flavor, and body.


Sustainable Harvest Standard

“The Standard profile is the base for all of our profiles. It is the most stable for QC since it has good bean development of the bean with good expression of aroma and flavor. This profile can be easily adjusted for a larger roaster, and can be adapted for any type of coffee of any processing method.”

Sustainable Harvest Less Dense

“This profile is tuned for less dense and more porous coffees. It was created with good Brazilian coffee in mind, allowing for slower and slightly longer development.”

Sustainable Harvest More Dense

“This profile uses a slightly higher temperature gradation than the other profiles allowing much denser coffees to develop properly. It is a profile that works very well with coffee from Ethiopia, Malawi, Rwanda, Congo, Guatemala, and Ecuador.”

“As a roaster, it’s been a very cool experience working with Ikawa. After we developed our own profiles, we felt very confident working with this roaster. Having a machine like this gives us the opportunity to roast wherever we want, and to do trainings where there may not be access to a traditional sample roaster. Being able to record and share our roast curves is also very useful. It saves time and space.”

Thank you to Yimara for her insights and expertise!


On 30th July Sustainable Harvest will be hosting a Live Zoom Triangulation Challenge for roasters in North America. Places are limited, sign up here.


author-img By Geoff Woodley