I view that achieving the first optimal roast, blend, or coffee creation as the art. The science is replicating consistently the initial success. Of course the scientific method is a valuable guideline to aid discovery.
Many roasters view their daily routine as that of an artist yet they continue to rely on gauges, controls, and technical devices to deliver their product. True, it is the interpretation of that information but the same occurs on an assembly line. Attention to detail is more important to consistency than “winging” it.
The evolution of a process is guided by passion, curiosity, discipline, and organization. Passion pulls you through adversity, it focuses the mind on details, sometimes apparently non associated, that are otherwise missed, has been known to make some people quite obsessive. Much of the information gathered through the senses is interpreted through the lens of passion. By that I mean, seemingly unrelated observations are pondered for possible application in the matter or subject of passion. The curiosity, drives to understand the “5 Ws” and how the fundamentals interact. The discipline, is a developed ability or methodology in which the anally retentive are triple blessed. Notes give the best and most accurate recall especially is they include readings of measurements. Good notes will almost allow you to relive an experience and rehash the information gathered. Organization or structure, the super-set that encompasses the other characteristics, helps to establish a discovery path or to stay on the intended path. Roasting coffee is influenced by numerous variables which can hardly be played with as a group. On the other hand, if one variable is changed it is possible to gather meaningful results. It takes skill to be able to keep track of multiple variables. One quite well known administrator got muddled up in the “unknown unknowns”.