Opening a coffee roastery is a major operation. A good roaster can be more expensive than a new car, not to mention the cost of goods and infrastructure. But two young coffee professionals in Phoenix, Arizona are flipping the script. Harlin Glovacki and Niko Kovacevic, the duo behind Nom de Plume Roasters, have taken an unconventional approach to starting a coffee company. Inspired by Danish brewery Mikkeller, Glovacki and Kovacevic “ghost roast” their coffee. By renting time on Scottsdale-based Press Coffee’s Probat, Glovacki and Kovacevic are free to invest more of their capital in higher quality coffees. Although Nom de Plume is not even a year old, the company is already attracting some serious attention.
Glovacki and Kovacevic met while working at Arizona specialty coffee pioneers Cartel Coffee. Both originally from the Northeast, they quickly realized they also shared an interest in coffee that extended beyond a part-time job. The two began dreaming about starting their own company. The name “Nom de Plume” was chosen to represent the contingent nature of the new project. If nothing else, it would be a learning experience.
The first serious test for the young company came at the Big Western Barista Competition, where Glovacki competed and Kovacevic served as a sensory judge. The Southwest is known as the most competitive region, largely due to the burgeoning Los Angeles coffee scene. Glovacki’s fifth place finish earned him a spot at the 2015 US Barista Championship, where Nom de Plume’s coffee will share a stage with the best roasters in the country.
Given Nom de Plume’s unconventional business model, perhaps it should come as no surprise their approach to marketing and sales is just as atypical. Rather than cafés and coffee shops, Nom de Plume is focusing on gas stations and farmers markets to peddle their wares. Although not usually the first choice for craft coffee connoisseurs, Glovacki and Kovacevic recognized these places offer an opportunity to introduce their product to a new market. On most Saturdays Glovacki and Kovacevic can be found at Singh Farms, an organic farm that specializes in heirloom varieties and traditional practices. It was here I got to try their coffee for the first time.
I was lucky enough to score a bag of Glovacki’s competition coffee, a Nyeri, Kenya from the Giakanja Farmer’s Cooperative. Nyeri is my favorite region in Kenya and this vibrant coffee reminded me why. Crisp pomegranate notes gave way to an allspice finish. I expect Mikkeller is not Nom de Plume’s only Nordic influence, as their ultralight roast profile was reminiscent of Tim Wendelboe or the Coffee Collective. It was a great coffee that I enjoyed both with an Aeropress and Gino Dripper.
We’re not sure what Glovacki and Kovacevic’s next move is going to be, but we expect great things. Such drive and ingenuity is rare in any industry, and combined with the right amount of skill they’re bound to succeed. Nom de Plume is off to a great start. We can’t wait to read their magnum opus.