role Cafe Lead
focal length 35mm
tasting notes Paprika, Raspberry, Fontina
You were saying this isn’t your first time around the block with coffee, right?
Yeah, no, far from the first. I mean, I got into coffee as most people would—it was just an easy job that I qualified for as a high schooler. That was at Caribou, and then when I was in the Bay Area for a while I worked for Peet’s.
Wait, how did you end up in the Bay Area?
I was in school out there—in a media studies program doing some photography and gallery work. At the same time, I was working at what was basically West-Coast-Caribou; coffee was only a part time sort of thing. I didn’t a-hundred-percent know what I was gonna do, but I was doing a lot of art stuff generally, listening to underground music—I don’t know, it was just a very art-school time of life. *laughs*
How did you end up getting back into the coffee world, then? Or, I guess, how did you end up diving deeper in?
I got reconnected with the arts high school I had graduated from here in Minnesota, and they recommended me for work with a nonprofit organization who was working in Ethiopia. So I flew to Africa and was there for three months working with an arts education program. I first met my friend Kat there, and she was just doing all sorts of things coffee-related. I think at that point she would’ve been toying with the idea of building a podcast out of her experiences in Ethiopia, and eventually she went on to found the Coffee People Zine. We would go to nearby coffee farms almost every day, and the farmers would give us tours of their land, explain their process to us, and tell us stories about why they were growing coffee, or just generally where they’d been. I guess I came to really care about buying local and doing things sustainably after getting the face-to-face time with the actual people who were responsible for the planting of the seeds. Things become a lot more real after you’ve met people.
And when you got back home to Minnesota?
I think I started to look at coffee as a pursuit that I was excited about. I started roasting for Dunn Bros, and then I was with Peace Coffee for a little while, too. The more time went on, the more I wanted to go work with smaller and smaller teams, push for more and more transparency, and get my hands dirty with sourcing local and bringing high quality coffees to areas that didn’t often get to experience them. I think that’s probably most why I’m going down this path now.
Do you still get to do the art stuff that you went out West for?
Here and there! I still take photos and enjoy getting to do portraits for people—I do some weddings, too. There’s definitely still a bit of art-kid in me, but I’m also realizing how much I’ve grown and seen and done since those times too—cause I just don’t wear my Doc’s as often. *laughs*
top five Bootsy Collins
Soy Cuba (1964)
Ecstasy — Ohio Players