7.22.2007

Meet Courier Coffee Roasters


A little over one month ago Ali and I made the official announcement, via our blog, that we would be serving Courier Coffee Roasters (CCR) coffee and espresso at the cafe ('proudly' serving, I might add). Much has transpired over the past six weeks since we wrote that post, and I thought it would be appropriate to give a little background information on Joel, the owner/roaster/courier of CCR, as well as why Ali and I were so adamant about serving his coffee at our cafe.
As I mentioned before, Joel is a Portland native, and has been a fan of good coffee for most of his life. Growing up SE Portland, he had ample opportunity to familiarize himself with the local coffee scene from a young age. A few years ago Joel began experimenting with home roasting coffee. Only a year and a half after he first began roasting small batches of coffee in his back yard, Joel started roasting professionally for one of the most popular (for very good reason) cafes in Portland, Half & Half, and later their sister location, the Acorn. After Half & Half began serving his coffee, Joel was contacted by Olea restaurant, who has since been serving his drip coffee. Today Joel stands at the helm of a very successful one man business, which is driven by his creative energy, as well as his commitment to quality.
Over the past month or so Ali and I have had the great pleasure of getting to know Joel and his business. After spending some time with the guy, it is no surprise to us why his coffee tastes so damn good. For one, the guy possesses serious intuition. During our first visit to his roastery, Joel walked Ali and I through all of the equipment he happened to be servicing at the time. Joel paused at a particular espresso machine and told us how he did have some trouble figuring out how a section of the electrical wiring worked. He held the mass of what looked like 15 or more multi-colored wires in his hand and told us, "I had to stare at it for a few days before it made sense." To me, this statement was comical, because I knew that most people, myself included, could stare at the same wiring for weeks, or even months on end and still not attain a clear picture of the functions of each individual wire. Joel's mind must have been working much the same way when he first began roasting coffee over three years ago. Often described as an art form more so than a skill, coffee roasting requires a good eye, a keen sense of timing, and a great deal of patience. Obviously there must exist a great deal of trial and error during the initial phase of a roaster's career, though I imagine good intuition could greatly affect one's learning curve. Combine that with a tenacity to learn all there is to know on a given subject, and the fact that Portland just might be the greatest city in the world when it comes to the accessibility of information and resources on anything coffee, and I am beginning to understand why the coffee is tasting so good. For now I must stop thinking about it, and just keep drinking.
A few days ago Ali and I received word that a momentous occasion was to take place: Early the following morning the Center for Appropriate Transport (CAT) was going to deliver Joel's new bike. This, as we had already learned, was not just any bike, but a custom built cargo bike which would allow its rider to carry over 200 lbs. of cargo. The delivery was scheduled for 5:00 am. The next morning, I made my way south around 4:45 am to meet Joel so that I could document the event. I found the house just as Joel was coming outside to staple his address above his door for the delivery driver to see. We sat out on the porch for a few minutes drinking coffee until a white delivery van pulled up to deliver the cargo. It was an exciting moment to witness. It seems to me that Joel knows almost as much about bikes as he does about coffee, and this was the first time he had actually seen the bike. Though he did ask for certain specifications, much of the design was left up to the folks at CAT, and from the look on Joel's face upon seeing the bike for the first time, it seems they did a great job.
The delivery of the bike was no doubt a significant moment for CCR, as the ability to carry more cargo offers the potential for growth, regardless of whether its needed or even wanted. Certainly new doors have been opened. As far as Ali and myself go, we have a strong commitment to quality, as well as a desire to support other small businesses through our cafe. The question of whether we wanted to serve Joel's coffee was an easy decision to make. There is a high level of consistency given that the business is a one-roaster operation. As far as quality control, I don't imagine anyone is as critical of Joel's coffee as Joel himself. And to top it all off, to then have that freshly roasted coffee delivered via bicycle, well...you might be beginning to understand why at times we feel like its Joel's coffee, and we are all just lucky to be drinking it.

3 comments:

coffeegeek said...

Cool. I just saw that your roaster was named in WW's "best of Portland." Can't wait to try his coffee at your place. When are you opening?

Tiger Lily said...

I love this coffee and cannot believe it's going to be served in my neighborhood! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Ali & Evan said...

Coffeegeek,
Yes, Joel was named in the Best of Portland and we couldn't be happier for him! If you can't wait for our opening to get your hands on a cup of his coffee you can always call him directly and get some delivered to your front door! Thanks for writing!

Tiger Lily,
We LOVE his coffee too and we will happily supply you with as much as you need!
Thanks for writing!