No grand claims here. But I want to talk about coffee, its history, its characteristics, the industry, and the many interesting people who engage with it. So, I thought I would start with my own origin story.
When one devotes large portions of their time and energy to a craft, people often wonder why and how? How did you get into coffee roasting, Sam? Why did you leave music and academia for coffee, Sam? Often, I get defensive with this line of questioning. Wondering if, in fact, I AM solidified in my decision. I can’t accuse them of passing judgement or shaming. They aren’t. People are just curious.
But indulge me for a second. Ask yourself the same things about something you love…a passion of yours. It’s hard to answer, isn’t it?
Recently, the pinpoint of my love for and devotion to coffee came to me. Interestingly enough, it actually had nothing to do with coffee. I was in my mid-20s, had started a professional life, was back in graduate school, and trying to be an adult. My body wasn’t naturally accepting the crap I put it through; food and lack of exercise. I was somewhat paralyzed by the reality. But I knew I needed a change. I started surrounding myself with healthy and dedicated people, people who had their physical and mental selves “figured out.” I wanted that too. But it was too much all at once. Eating the right food. In the right proportions. At the right time. Waking up early. Making breakfast. Packing lunches. Running longer distances (running again, period). Reading books instead of Netflix-ing. Always developing yourself. Never indulging.
What Did I do about it
Perhaps I built a scene of a reality that never was or ever will be…The Platonic ideals by which a “healthy human” should live (there is another conversation here, but I digress). So I decided to focus my “intentional living” efforts on something small; something that I did daily but wouldn’t put me completely out of my comfort zone. Coffee. If I could change just this one little thing in my life perhaps branches would sprout in other areas of my life. Like so many worthwhile endeavors, if you start with what you CAN accomplish, you WILL accomplish. Building as you go. I must say, it worked.
One thing led to another. I started brewing at home: The Chemex. Aeropress. Kalita Wave. V60. Then the syphon (that was the all-time high). But it became obvious that I could only increase my coffee experience by buying fresher and better sourced coffee, from "specialty coffee" roasters. On the surface it seemed like I paid a bit more for a bag of coffee, but get this…The MATH worked out!
When stacked up against the daily coffee from Starbucks or other local café it was cents against the dollar: an $18 bag of coffee can produce over 12 large to-go mugs (16oz) of coffee for $1.50 each. With the average price of a café cup at $3, that’s HALF the price! Saving $1.50 365 times a year is nearly $550! Of course, I still go out for coffee occasionally. But still. The point is…I was creating a routine, a moment of daily reflection and craft, developing myself without too much effort, and saving money while doing it!
Then I started roasting…and that’s when the craziness started!