Sometime in early 2007, I was enjoying a day off in my apartment in Minneapolis. Back then, I spent my early week roasting coffee, and the later part of my week was spent serving coffee.

The day off was just what was necessary for some solid decompression. My ambition was simple. I just wanted to stay away from my places of work.

However, I love coffee and I wanted to enjoy some delicious coffee. So, I grabbed some wonderfully roasted coffee from Ethiopia. My home setup was minimal; just a couple of french presses and a cheap burr grinder.

I ground my coffee, scooped it out, poured my water on top. Let the thing brew for 4 minutes, plunged, and poured. The coffee… Absolutely atrocious.

I’d been making coffee ‘professionally’ for about a year and a half. I was confident and comfortable with an espresso grinder and an espresso machine, but all my brewed coffee experience involved a Clover or a Fetco. The experience of trying to make coffee myself, away from a bar, was humbling. I had even roasted the coffee I was trying to brew… and yet I knew nothing of manual brewing.

It was such a bad experience that I will never forget the terrible flavor of the brew. It was that day off that purposed me to want to learn how to make coffee well at home. It was that day off that made me want to be able to teach many people to make great coffee on their own.


Home Again.

Welcome. It’s been awhile since I’ve written, and I really feel that those of you who follow my blog deserve a real update… I woke up this morning, checked the tweets, and found this. After seeing the news in writing, I decided it’s probably as good a time as any to fill the world in on what I, myself, have been up to.

It’s been three months since I worked my final shift at Intelligentsia in Silver Lake. I miss that coffee bar. I still think it is the greatest coffee bar in the Intelli fleet… and I think it will be damn near impossible for anyone to top the kind of magic that happened when it opened in 2007. I grew up in and around that coffee bar, and I’m incredibly grateful for the experience I had there.

Speaking of grateful, there are people I cannot thank enough for imparting knowledge, wisdom, and resource into me. Doug Zell, of course… Changed my entire perspective on coffee. Showed me what ambition and drive really are. Doug is the kind of CEO that can motivate you when you’re ready to give up…  He was the one who opened up huge doors for two kids from Minneapolis to come and take on an entire city with stellar coffee. He never stops believing in his baristas and fully supported us when we wanted to do something totally different from the status quo.

Kyle Glanville is a tough motherfucker. He’s demanding, ruthless, and can sometimes just be brutal. However, no one has ever taught me more on how to be a great barista. His philosophies redefined customer service for me. I was luckier than I’ll ever admit for having a chance to learn from him… He, more than anyone, has shaped me into the coffee person I am.

Justin Lacher is a quiet guy. He currently manages Silver Lake, and he’s doing a pretty killer job at it. Justin is patient, good with people, and more encouraging than anyone I have ever had supervise me before. He is the best manager I know. He’s so selfless it’s unhealthy, and there are days I simply miss the guy.

Of course there are many other people who I owe huge thanks to. Many whom I will miss…(Devin Pedde, Nick Griffith, Brandon Tyler McNulty, Mike Phillips, Deaton, Steve Lee, Nicely, Jesse Crouse, Doug Palas, The Owens’, Nic Barnette, and others) I’m excited to watch from a distance as Intelligentsia continues to grow and evolve. My time there was incredibly well spent.

In August, I moved home to the Northwest. I had no set direction in mind, other than to simply remain in the coffee industry. I took time to reset from the whirlwind of the previous three years. I took time to read, to write, to think, and to sharped my thoughts and ideas. When I left Los Angeles, I had a giant thought cloud floating above my head, filled with many loose ends and fragmented theories. Over the course of two months, I engaged in many discussions with all kinds of coffee people. Asked questions, talked about theories, and I can say that I learned more in those two months than I had in the year before that. My coffee brain went off ‘auto-pilot’ and at the beginning of September, I had a new sense of purpose to what it is I believe in coffee and what I want to do in my career.

As things began to settle in my head, I began to have a few conversations with some old friends. Those conversations paired with a more purposed mentality lead me to my new home at Stumptown Coffee Roasters. I can’t really call myself the kind of barista that I had been. I’m now working in the wholesale realm of things. However, I’m loving the new opportunities that surround me. My job now involves much more of the education and coffee geerkery that I’ve been looking to indulge on. Everyday I am handling situations that prove to me just how valuable my previous five years in the industry have been. There is no monotony. I’m surrounded by an incredibly sharp and passionate group of people, and I’m stoked to be in my new home.

Beyond the professional, it’s been amazing to be back around my best friends. Everyday I see people I’ve known for nine or ten years. Portland is still possibly the greatest city in the world. The coffee, culinary, and music scenes all speak for themselves. All in all, I’m happy… happy in a way I’ve wanted to be for some time.