We had a total blast attending a very coffee themed evening at Powell’s Books on Hawthorne Monday night. Snoozy it was not (special thanks to Stumptown and Fresh Pot for providing some excellent brewed coffee)! It was both a reading of Hanna Neuschwander’s new book “Left Coast Roast” and a Q and A session with the “elusive” Duane Sorenson, CEO and founder of Stumptown Coffee. If you have any curiosity about coffee roasting from the Bay Area up to Seattle, Hanna’s engaging new effort is a must read. In it she questions 55 roasters about their companies and their varied approaches to craft roasting, with discussions concerning farm to cup ethics, and at the same time lifts the veil of language to provide a window into the coffee speak we in the industry use. AND, Hanna has included a short primer about at home brewing! Full disclosure and shameless plug here, Hanna distilled our thoughts on home espresso, and wrote most of the copy for “The Craft of Espresso: A Guide for Home” which we published late last year. Yay for us!
After a short reading from her book, Hanna introduced Duane and asked him to describe for us how he got into coffee way back in the early ’90’s. Turns out he grew up the son of foodies who were concerned with farm to table practices in the 70’s. No wonder what Duane brought to the coffee world was the idea of a well sourced, transparent coffee supply chain which honored the hard work and dedication of the farmer, as well as the craft of being a well trained and knowledgable barista, the end of that chain for many. I know in Portland starting about 12 years ago, we baristi felt that we were culture warriors to some degree, and at least in Portland, that is mostly Duane’s fault!
It was inspiring to be standing there (no place to sit!) listening to this discussion. I kept thinking that what Duane helped to jump start, we continue to follow and improve upon. We strive to educate our customers along the same lines as good baristi and roasters do in cafe’s every morning. Except that in our opinion, the person at home is that last link from farm to cup.