Good coffee was hard to come by on a grad school budget. And we drank boatloads. One day a roasting company showed up on campus and started passing out free cups of coffee. The difference was hard to put my finger on. It was smooth, sweet, fresh, with a rounded feel and nice bright taste in my mouth. It was like eating grandpa's oatmeal bread hot out of the oven after years of store-bought white bread. It was just... better.
So I began to roast. Oven, stovetop, air popper. Those early roasts were unpredictable and uneven; grassy green one minute, and ashy black the next. But sometimes, I hit the sweet spot, and then it was coffee nirvana.
Years later, I'm still roasting low-tech, though now it's in a hand-made drum turning over 82,000 BTU's of propane heat. The results are more consistent and refined than they once were. But coffee as they say, is a "bottomless subject". And though we are in love with our coffee, we are always learning, modifying, and having our minds blown in pursuit of that perfect cup.