Roast #15: About Us (or just me)
Who dey, who dey, who the people behind the scenes, who dey, who dey
Happy new year! I hope you all have been well and are excited about starting a new year.
I've been meaning to write about who I am, what this project is about, and where this project is going.
So here we go.
Who am I?
My name is Brian, and I'm a simple dude living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I grew up in the Bay Area but have lived in NYC for the past five years. I write code for my 9-5 profession at some tech company (until recently -- currently unemployed!). I like reading sci-fi novels at cafes, tinkering with things that interest me, and annoying my cat, Toby.
What’s the vision?
My dream has always been to open my cafe. Back when I still lived in the Bay Area, there was a cafe I'd frequent almost every day after work. It was called Suju's Coffee. Suju's was one of the few cafes in the area that opened past 6 pm (they opened until midnight). I'd go there to tinker on my little projects or read.
What amazed me about this place was how it became a community for people with similar interests. I'd get in after dinner around 9 pm and see the same groups of people there. The students were studying, the side-project folks were tinkering away, and the more social-purposed crowd would be sipping coffee and hanging out. Suju's became all of our homes away from home.
I want to build something like this in NYC. I need to do more research and investigate why there aren't more late-night cafes like Suju's, but I'd like to build such a space that prioritizes both function and conversation.
How does coffee roasting fit into this?
We all have to start somewhere, and coffee roasting was my wedge into coffee. I thought coffee roasting was my best chance to gain some social following, so when I try to open a cafe, it'd be less likely to fail. 🥲.
Plus, coffee roasting is technical; it gets into some topics I studied during undergrad (Chemical Engineering). There are people doing research on coffee (UC Davis Coffee Center / Zurich Coffee Excellence Center). So the technical breadth can get pretty deep, meaning that I wouldn't get bored.
To sum up, the current vision is to one day build out a cafe in NYC that'll focus on function and conversation while also serving an array of unique and exciting coffees.
What can you (a consumer) expect?
Before anything, it's important to note that this is a one-person operation. From sourcing and green-buying to roasting to packaging, this is all done by me. Given this, I have to prioritize my time on the aspects of the project that I deem most important. At the moment, my priorities will be on green-buying and roasting. The parts of the project that aren't core, like marketing and packaging, likely won't be something I focus on for a while.
I'm not in this for the money. I'm likely in the red for this project 🥲 (like any successful VC-funded tech startup!). Most of my costs are spent on research and development as I run different roast profiles til I end up with something I'm happy to sell and share.
I apologize ahead of time if the packaging is just a brown bag or if the purchasing experience is bumpy, but hey, it's the actual coffee that's important, right? What I lack in packaging and experience will be made up by additional information about the coffee itself. From how it's roasted to how I got to that target roasting profile, I'll do my best to share everything behind what I had to go through to bring this coffee to you.
I roast my coffee solely based on my palette. Your palette might be the reverse of my palette, and you end up hating everything I produce. That's okay. But I'll only put out the coffee I think tastes good for sale.
The reality is that taste is subjective, and the only thing I can stand by is that I'll always only share coffees that taste good or are interesting to me.
I like to seek coffees with interesting fermentation processes (koji, fruit co-fermented, etc.). I also try to buy beans from farmers that I know are good (Luis Anibal Calderon, Jairo Arcila, etc.) or farmers who push the boundaries of coffee (Diego Bermudez, Wilton Benitez).
I like to roast my coffee light. I don't have any specific preference for processing (natural / washed / honey). I'm attracted to coffee that exhibits fruity, funky, citrus-forward notes.
I test my beans against a V60 brewer. I don't really try my beans against espresso, so I can't comment on how they'll do in that format.
What's in it for 2023?
My hope for 2023 is that this will be the year where things start to accelerate. I have a solid foundation and understanding of coffee and am ready to go public.
My goals for 2023 are:
1. Find a barista temp job somewhere.
Given my dream of opening a cafe, I need to try working as a barista before even considering opening a cafe. Finding a temp job would de-risk the risk when I do open a cafe. Plus, there are so many workflows and pieces of knowledge that you learn by actual barista-ing.
2. Run more coffee clubs
Running the coffee clubs has been stressful and tiring but rewarding. It brings a smile when people reach out and inquire about the next release. Plus, building each coffee club release is a way for me to work with my hands -- specifically putting together all the packaging 🥲.
Now, if I can only finally secure a drop-off location. 🥲
3. Focus on building an in-person presence
I and another roaster (@obscurecoffeeroasters) hosted a cupping towards the end of last year, and it was an enjoyable experience. What I took away from that experience was I enjoyed seeing reactions from people who tried my roasted coffee.
One idea I'm hoping to execute is seeing if I can have a consistent one-day weekend pop-up at a bakery or something where I brew something I've roasted. It'll be a very opinionated menu of just a V60 brew.
I also want to enter a farmers market this year.
4. Continue Learning
Lastly, continue to learn!
Some topics I plan to dive deeper into:
The world of espresso!
Dark roasts / Decaf roasts
Get closer to green coffee production
Go deeper into the chemistry side of coffee
Better refine my palette
I'm going to do one of these for every post. I wouldn't be where I'm at today without everyone's support.
For this post, I'd like to thank a few folks.
Matt and Wing for going out of their way to share barista opportunities with me 🧡
Galonsky for sharing about the coffee club at work while I was on sabbatical. 👀
Mirza, for the helpful advice and willingness to share his network and make introductions. 🔗
Thanks for reading!
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