This past quarter, I co-oped in Fairborn at Reza’s Roast, a small coffee roaster that is locally owned by Audria Ali-Maki. I was in charge of roasting, packaging, brewing, and cleaning up the spills of coffee. Each day (Monday through Saturday) I would get into work and start by brewing three pots of coffee. Then, I’d do whatever needed to be done for the day. Often that would include making sure that the roaster was filled with packaged coffee. If it wasn’t, I would fill a scoop with 13 ounces of coffee to make sure we didn’t short the customers with the rounding. Then, I’d put a label on a paper bag, and put the coffee in the bag. Finally, I’d use the heat press to seal the bag. It was very important that I start my day by immediately turning the bag sealer on as it takes a few minutes to heat and customers frequently need coffee to be resealed after being ground. After the coffee was put into the bag, I would put a date sticker on the bottom of the bag. Coffee would be thrown away two weeks after the roast date because freshness is important to quality.
Often, I’d get a chance to roast coffee (see a video of coffee roasting here). This was my favorite part of my job. I would roast 6-30 pounds of coffee at a time. There were many different roast profiles that I used to roast coffee. The different roasts changed the flavor of the beans in different ways. The roaster had a built-in computer that controlled moisture and monitored temperature. However, it was up to me to adjust the burner to roast the coffee at higher and lower temperatures. I took pride in how well I was able to keep this on track. After the coffee was roasted, it was placed into buckets overnight to release gas before being packaged the following day.
I was enrolled in “Work 341: Sound, Sight, And The Phenomenology Of Place” during my co-op. It really had me think about what it meant to be in the place where I was. I had two different work environments. My normal place was where the coffee was roasted, but I also visited Antioch frequently during my job. I won’t focus too much on Antioch because it was not where I normally was and it is very familiar to most people reading this. However, I want to point out the similarity in sounds. In both places, I played NPR on the radio. It makes me think about how sound impacts place, and how sound can connect two places.
Reflecting on my workplace, it was very clean. There were Persian rugs, a new counter that was installed while I was there, and a marbled floor that could easily hide small coffee stains. My boss had a self-admitted problem with moving furniture constantly, and customers took notice. New customers always mentioned how nice it looked though. It was inside of a sandpaper factory, but it didn’t appear that way. I think that made a huge difference to people. It looked like a real store mixed in with a comfortable living area. For many customers, it was inviting, clean, and pretty.
The sound of NPR mixed with the beeping of the bag sealer, the crackling sound of the coffee beans as they come out of the roaster was a distinguishing feature of the roastery. You can hear it on my map of greater Dayton featuring some of my favorite places in the area. However, what I will always remember is the smells of my job. It isn’t possible to record these scents, and this class did not focus on scent, but it is still important to my workplace. The earthy scent of green coffee beans could be an air freshener. After roasting, it always smelled like amazing coffee. Every time I smell blueberries, I think of the coffee that I messed up.
It is my opinion that place is more than sight and sound. There is scent too. There is the feel of the place. Some things about a place cannot be described, but they are there. You cannot experience places without going there.