July | August 2021
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I’D LIKE TO DEDICATE this column to the theory of proportional-integral-derivative (PID) controllers. Now that I have your attention, I will attempt to explain how the engineering is simply an extension of human behavior.
A PID controller uses set values, such as water temperature measured in a brewer, and fancy math to continuously calculate and adjust the amount of power being used to heat the water and maintain the desired brewing temperature. This technology is so omnipresent in our lives today that we typically don’t even realize when it is being employed. Continuous adaptability runs the cruise control in your car, tankless hot water heaters for your house, fan speed and direction in your drones and countless other systems in our everyday lives. The controllers are terrific at maintaining a set value, so the real challenge is telling the system what that value should be, especially in a system that undergoes rapid changes.
What in the world does this have to do with your favorite coffee trade journal, you ask? The Roast team has always made it our goal to follow the ‘set values’ we started with over seventeen years ago. We are dedicated to covering the art, science and business of coffee from a technical perspective. Our print editions have adapted as needed over the years, based on input from our readers, editorial board and expert writers, in order to maintain relevance around those values. Our business is a human-driven control system.
Our ‘system’ has undergone rapid changes in the past sixteen months, but I am encouraged by how quickly we have been able to adapt and find new ways to engage with our community. As face-to-face events were cancelled or postponed, our digital content has grown to extend our values to a broader audience. Through online events such as Roast Summit and the Coffee Roasting Forum, a new series of audio articles and our ongoing coverage of industry happenings through Daily Coffee News, we have been able to reach coffee professionals around the world who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to participate or learn from these resources. We also added to our growing list of published books, with the recent release of Cheap Coffee: Behind the Curtain of the Global Coffee Trade by Karl Wienhold, available in both print and digital formats.
While it seems that the only constant is change, I am proud of the people who do the ‘fancy math’ at Roast and ensure our business stays on course regardless of external circumstances. Given that change is constant, I am sad to announce that Kelly Stewart, our technical editor who has been working with Roast for over 10 years in some editorial capacity, is moving on. We will miss her dearly and greatly appreciate everything she has done for Roast.
I am happy to welcome our new associate editor, Emma Dixon, to the Roast team. I look forward to Emma’s contributions and some new ‘fancy math’ to continue to keep our aim true.