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I started this podcast in 2014, but it wasn't called The Nik Hawks Show. 

My wife Lee and I own the company Paleo Treats, so I called the show the Paleo Treats Podcast and had the company buy the initial equipment, like mics and mixing boards and headphones and software.

Beyond one or two half-hearted attempts at advertising (episodes 32 and 33), the podcast never made Paleo Treats any money, and I always had to take time from the business in order to record these conversations and share ‘em with the world.

Over the course of 50+ episodes it became apparent that the podcast didn’t really have anything to do with Paleo, that I was exploring deeply personal topics, that Paleo Treats’ only purpose was to purchase the initial equipment to get this thing off the ground and pay for ongoing hosting, and that just having the word “Paleo” in the title was enough to stop people from even trying to listen to it.

Sometime around episode 58, based on feedback from listeners and iTunes reviews, I started thinking about how to make this podcast more approachable, how to separate it from Paleo Treats in order to pursue topics that were WAY off the Paleo path, and how to stop leaning on Paleo Treats the business in order to keep the show alive financially.

That brings us up to episode 59, which is the first official episode of The Nik Hawks Show. It took me 58 shows to warm into this, and now I’m psyched to spin off in new directions!

As I keep moving forward I deeply appreciate your harnessing in on the journey in pursuit of excellence, please reach out with any suggestions or questions. 

This show is made for me and YOU, let's make this excellent together! 

If you want to support this show, please visit my Patreon feed at nikhawks.com

Thanks for listening!

Nik Hawks

Jan 9, 2017

"The more we understand, the more rational we are and the more courageous we can be."

In this conversation with Prof. Dr. Chahan Yeretzian, a Syrian born Armenian physical chemist based out Switzerland, we dive deep into where the arenas of science, academia, industry, culture, and coffee meet.

From the advice he gives his students to why undergrads can't make good enough coffee, to the religion of freshness, this is a fascinating dive into a different world.

The elements of quality, the translation between measurements and sensory experience, the way that coffee is a cross cultural experience; all these and more are part of Chahan's world.

What will you hear if you listen in?  I'm going to try something new, and just include the notes I typed down while editing.  Please comment if these are useful, or email me if you'd rather I do your thinking for you. 

Notes from a convo with Chahan:

Plenty of mysteries to solve in coffee.

“At the base, good coffee is a sensory experience.”

Sensory profiling vs Q grading .

What he likes (intensity, strong body, aroma), very taken with smells.

“One element of quality is consistency.”

A big field is predicting specific sensory attributes based on objective measurements.

“Fresh had become a religion, but not an understanding.”

The problem is that a lot of people still serve horrible coffee in the industry.

Practical and hands on experience that comes from work in industry vs academia.

“You go into Origin countries and you’re learning cultures [based] around your product, coffee.

“Coffee is a peace building product, a trust building event.”

Soluble or instant coffee, Sudden Coffee.

Q grading coffee.

Q grader and co-worker Marco Wellinger.

Q grader Gloria Pedroza.

Coffee shows the connectivity of the world.

A very important quality of roasting is…consistency, that you’re able to reproduce what you’re doing.

“How does the mineral content of the water affect extraction or flavor profile? We’re still scratching on the surface [of coffee].”

We’re looking into how CO2 affects storage, freshness, formation of crema, flavor, acidity notes; it’s like taking one small molecule and trying to get a more rational understanding [of it’s impact.]

Creativity based in understanding. Knowledge is freedom and helps people explore new facets of coffee.

“Coffee is just as much art as science.”

Mold & mycotoxins in coffee?

The three ways Chahan makes coffee:

-high dollar semi-automatic coffee machines via coffee experts

-filter (hand brewed, freshly ground)

-Single serve capsule

“At home I do filter coffee. I had a professional machine, but it takes too much space.”

What I don’t do is French press. Sometimes I do soluble coffee, sometimes I mix it with Nespresso.

The research that we do is quite high level, so to do good research on coffee, you can not just rely on undergrads.

[The people who make most of the coffee I drink are] highly experienced scientists and also very good in coffee preparation besides being scientists.

“How do you roast to increase sweetness, or fruitiness, or a particular flavor note? We have some understanding, but it’s far too little to have any control over the roasting process.”

Advice to students: Looking over the borders of where we are.

Traveling is vital.

Moving between academia and industry and the importance of experiencing both worlds.

Academia needs people who have industry experience.

The path from Knowledge - Execution - Community

Armenian from Aleppo.

Armenians have a strong feeling of community and family, strong drive to perform, we are pushed to be the best.

A lot of unconditional love from parents.

The importance of being competent before you do benevolent work. If you don’t have the competence then you’re wasting your time being benevolent.

Further interests: indoor air quality, wine, oakwood aging, 2 kids who are 21 months old.

How complexity evolves in our world and how it’s related to self-organization, how life appeared on the planet.

Aspect of self organizing complex systems.