The People Behind Cameron’s Always Smooth Coffee — Our Roastmaster

Today we continue our story about the people who make “Always Smooth, Never Bitter” not just a slogan but a reality in every batch and package of Cameron’s coffee. Last time we visited with Bill Kirkpatrick, who travels the world as our coffee buyer, looking for the very best coffee beans.

The story continues with Patrick Dinkins, our Roastmaster and certified Q-grader. One of Patrick’s responsibilities is to make sure every shipment of coffee we receive meets our rigorous specifications. “It’s a responsibility,” Patrick says, “that I don’t take lightly.”

This takes several critical steps. First, before the coffee leaves its country of origin, Patrick receives a pre-shipment sample and roasts that sample in a small roaster he has in our cupping room. He then “cups” the coffee (coffee lingo for tasting) to make sure it meets our specifications, which includes an 80 or above score on the scale used by the Specialty Coffee Association, the correct moisture content, and meeting the flavor profile he expects from the specific type and origin of coffee he is tasting. “I know what a Colombian should taste like,” Patrick explains, “which is different than what a Brazil should taste like.”

If approved for shipment, he’ll go through this same process again with an “arrival sample” once the shipment arrives. If at any step the coffee doesn’t meet his requirements, the coffee is rejected and sold to somebody else.

Patrick is also responsible for creating our unique blends, utilizing the specific characteristics of multiple coffees to achieve the flavor profile he wants. “It’s all about knowing what the job for that coffee is,” Patrick says. “A sweet and bright Breakfast Blend will use a very different blend of coffees than a rich and creamy dark roast coffee that might be paired with dessert.”

He also determines the ideal roast profile for each coffee or blend, and works with our team of coffee roasters to bring out the best from each batch. He explains that Central and South American coffees work better as light roasts, “so our Breakfast Blend combines coffees from Colombia, Honduras and Brazil. For a dark roast,” Patrick goes on, “you want big coffees with rich, complex flavors that hold up to longer roasting times.” So Patrick blends coffee from Sumatra with Central and South American beans for the smooth, rich taste of our popular Velvet Moon. For our Intense French, an even-darker roast that still maintains Cameron’s trademark smoothness, Patrick blends coffees from Sumatra, Papua New Guinea and Honduras.

Patrick says there are a lot of reasons a coffee can be bitter, especially a dark roast that’s over roasted. “I like a good dark roast that has bittersweet notes, as long as it’s also well-rounded and has good body.” Too many dark roasts are thin, making the bitterness more pronounced. “It’s like the difference between whole milk and skim milk.”

“You can mess up good coffee,” he says. “But you can’t take bad coffee and roast it into good coffee.”

Patrick’s been in the coffee business for over 20 years and with Cameron’s for over 10 years now. But he didn’t always plan to be in the coffee business. “I received a BA in fine arts,” he says. “I thought I’d be a painter or sculptor, something like that.” Instead, Patrick’s creativity took a different turn. And while the canvas for his creativity has changed, we’re glad he’s here to help Cameron’s create great tasting coffee that’s always smooth, never bitter.

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