Tartine Manufactory, located at 595 Alabama St in the former Heath Ceramic warehouse in the Mission District of San Francisco, CA made its debut in August as Tartine’s long awaited second brick and mortar. While marking it as the latest bread mecca, the company has also established a coffee brand – Coffee Manufactory. We spoke with Maja Vojnovic and Chris Jordan, the team behind the venture. …
Two years ago I tried to overcome my disappointment with not qualifying for the semifinals at the United States Barista Championship by going to a local latte art throwdown. I was no more fortunate in the throwdown, but I did make a friend in a fellow competitor. Bethany Hargrove, like myself, was a first-time USBC competitor representing a small coffee company. In the short time since, Hargrove has gone on to become an accomplished latte artist, USBC judge, and, most recently, apprentice roaster at San Francisco’s Wrecking Ball Coffee. I caught up with Bethany to try to find out what it’s like to transition from retail to production and Portland to San Francisco.
First of congratulations on your new job! Tell us about what you’re up to at Wrecking Ball.
Prior to this your career has been focused on the barista side of things. What’s it like to work on the other side of the bar?
Meet the man who wants to change the way you buy coffee. Ken Lander is cofounder of Thrive Farmers, a coffee company championing a farmer-direct model in which the farmers retains ownership of their coffee until the final sale. Thrive’s unique model allows the producers to share in a larger percentage of the profits. We caught up with the former trial lawyer to ask him about what it takes to create a sustainable coffee supply chain.
What inspired you to start Thrive Farmers?
My inspiration for thinking about making a living as a coffee farmer was out of necessity. In 2008, I lost all of my real estate holdings in the U.S., which was my exit strategy to leave with the family and move to Costa Rica in 2005.
We lived on a coffee farm, grew coffee, and that was the only and most immediate source of income other than returning to the States and being a lawyer again. …
What inspired you to quit your job and go on a nationwide road trip centered around coffee?
The specialty coffee community has been a welcoming home for me over the last 4 years. From NYC to New England, at competitions and all over the country, so many folks I’ve met have been just wonderful. This seemed like…
Matt Argo is quietly building a coffee empire. From humble beginnings in a basement to a brand new roasting facility in Louisville’s Shelby Park neighborhood, Argo’s Good Folks Coffee Company is going places and shows no signs of slowing down. We recently caught up with the Arkansas-bred entrepreneur to ask him what we can expect from Good Folks in the future.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you end up starting a coffee company?
I grew up in Arkansas and spent 8 years in the Army National Guard after high school. I did a good amount of international travel during that time in the military (one tour in Iraq) as well as with my wife in Africa a few times. We spent 5 months in Tanzania before we moved to Louisville. During my time in the military and throughout our travels, we developed a love for coffee. We loved the social aspect as well as the economic impact it has in producing countries. I knew I wanted to start a business after my military contract was complete, and I loved to travel and work with people from different cultures and backgrounds. Coffee seemed to be a perfect fit. …
Coffee producing countries are beginning to roast and serve craft coffee. We recently came across an exciting new roastery in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic that is introducing specialty coffee to the Caribbean nation. As we learned more we became intrigued by Coral and Edouard, the wife and husband team behind Gente de la Isla. Naturally, we felt an interview was in order.
Tell us a little bit about Gente de la Isla. Who are you? What do you do?
One of the most rewarding aspects of competing in barista competitions is not the moment in the limelight or even the free swag, it’s the friendships one makes with other committed coffee professionals. We were excited to learn one of our barista comp friends just took an exciting new position with Brooklyn’s Variety Coffee Roasters. We caught up with Erika Vonie to chat about working with a new roaster, competing in barista competitions, and the best place to drink coffee in NYC. All photos by Ashley Revell.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get started in the coffee industry?
My involvement in specialty coffee began when I moved to Philadelphia in 2009 and started …
Recent controversy around the cancelations of regional barista competitions by the SCAA has led to lively online discussion concerning the future of coffee competitions. Many voices are calling for a competition that features teamwork, audience interaction, and realtime judging. In many ways, coffee professionals want a competition more like America’s Best Coffeehouse, a competition put on by one of our sponsors, CoffeeFest. In addition to having one of the largest prize packages in competitive coffee sports, we think this competition has the highest correlation to a barista’s actual job: serving real people coffee in a café setting. We recently had the opportunity to interview Patrick Burns, owner and founder of a previous winner of the competition, Palace Coffee in Amarillo and Canyon, Texas.
Whether it’s USBC or latte art, you and your staff are seasoned competitors. What inspired you to compete in the ABC competition? What’s unique about this competition?
What did you learn? Did it change anything at Palace Coffee or confirm what you were already doing?
Photo by http://www.coffeeloversmag.com
ABC is unique with its three-person team format. What was the experience like for your team?
What was the biggest challenge? Why do you think your team was able to win?
Whether it’s the material cost or the long hours of preparation, competing can be a big sacrifice. Was it worth it?
Going to competitions is one of the most important expenses we invest in as a company. It helps you become a better barista, team, and all around coffee professional. The camaraderie with your team and honestly the other shops and judges is what makes it well worth it.
What advice do you have for other teams considering doing this competition?
Many baristas dream of opening their own shop, how long have you been planning BLK \ MRKT?
The pictures we’ve seen look gorgeous. Did you work with a designer?
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If Andrew Klass is taking the photos, you can add to that word count. Klass’s work in many ways embodies the core values of the craft coffee movement: precision, intentionality, and artistry. We asked the Chicago-based product photographer what inspires him, and, more importantly, what’s in his mug.
Judging by your Instagram feed, you seem to have a thing for specialty coffee. How did that get started? Do you have any experience working in coffee shops?
I’ve always had a love for coffee. I started drinking it when I was about 10 years old, albeit with an abhorrent amount of cream and sugar. Luckily, as I grew up, so did my palate. The more time I spent in specialty coffee shops, the more I got to know the people in them and the more they taught me about their products. I’ve never had any experience working in specialty coffee shops, but I have a little in what I call “corporate coffee”. Corporate coffee isn’t big on educating its baristas on much of anything other than their own products, so I had to go searching for that education on the outside. It helped that a good friend of mine was already headlong in the specialty coffee scene. People who are passionate about their craft love to share their knowledge and I am grateful for that.
You’re a craft beverage photographer. How is that different from other types of photography?
Craft beverage photography is an interesting thing. I consider it a subgenre of product photography, but there are more variables. It requires someone trained to prepare that beverage and as soon as they are finished, the window of prime photogenic quality is closing. I often need to set up and decide on the shot before I even have the finished product. I really enjoy that challenge.
What inspires your work? There’s never been more competition in the freelance photography world. What sets your style apart?
I find myself being inspired by a myriad of things. From the farmers who cultivate the initial product, to the people who transform it, to the spaces they are served in. I am tasked with presenting this temporary product and it’s temporary beauty. Not only making it look good, but making people want to drink it. I take on the responsibility of doing justice to the hard work of every hand that has touched it. That is a task I don’t take lightly. All of us involved with this product are artists in our own way and I have to uphold that until the end of this product’s life. My favorite way to capture that is by shooting these products in the places they are made. I want to put the viewer right there, in that café and make them wish they could drink that delicious coffee. In a world filled with all kinds of talented photographers, I’m trying to give people an experience.
Have you had a favorite assignment?
I would have to say my favorite recent experience was in Nashville. I was lucky enough to meet the owner of Barista Parlor, Andy Mumma. I spent a lot of time during that week at his second location, Barista Parlor x Golden Sound which he initially opened with Dan Auerbach. Andy and his staff there were amazing and so welcoming. I drank a lot of incredible coffee and took a lot of photos. Ever since I left, I’ve been dying to get back.