h1

Draw a Line In The Sand

27/04/2016

The internet and blogging played a huge role in pushing coffee into the modern era.

 

When an explosion of coffee and roasting information started showing up on our computers from around the world, we all started to question everything and everyone around us. It was an exciting and divisive time to be in caffeine.

 

I specifically remember when “Direct Trade” first came into my life. Matt Riddle was the man that introduced the term to me, by way of Barista competitions that he competed in was actually quite good at for Intelligentsia (for history buffs, he was US Barista Champ in 2006).

 

I was in Ireland at the time from late 04 to 07, but the US was now squarely in my career flight line. So much so, I took it upon myself to book a vacation to Chicago with the sole purpose of introducing myself to Intelligentsia’s founder Doug Zell. Hell, maybe I’d even ask him for work and magic would happen.

 

Incredibly, this plan worked out almost exactly as I had sketched out. Soon enough, I landed in LA, among a bunch of talented implants from all over the country in ‘07.

 

I bring this small bit of history up because at the time that we started roasting coffee in LA we immediately began to question the company’s techniques. With Zell’s blessing we were allowed to explore and ultimately came up with this one simple question: “How do we make our production roasts taste the same as our sample roasts and get all those same flavor notes matching up.”

 

So we started down the bumpy path of exploration. This also happened to be the same time that The Coffee Collective and Tim Wendelboe opened up their doors and started what I call (rightly or wrongly) the Scandinavian Roast style.

 

I have to tell you, for the most part everyone was failing at first. Tim’s, The Coffee Collective were the same and, although Square Mile is not from the same area, I can lump them into the same group as well. From the samples that we were receiving from them and buying from them it seemed consistency was hard to hit and there was so much under-developed coffee flowing out  from this area.

 

Yeah. I know. That’s cold. I’m just trying to tell our history. So, sorry guys you know I love you (we are great friends), but it’s the truth.  Please don’t send hate mail just yet let me explain.

 

This was needed and an open banter occurred with shots being fired all the time. Either Tim W or Tim V wrote on Twitter once that “America should not be allowed to buy Kenya coffees” because Americans roast too dark! In turn when we cupped under-developed coffees (we would say “self cleaning”) we would call them a Wendelboe roast. (Try as I may to find this tweet I could not, I could only find my response which you can see here https://twitter.com/deatonpigot/status/72293859966722049)

 

These roasters were such a loud voice in the specialty coffee world, it made everyone else sit up, listen and try to emulate. Over the years, their roasting and sourcing has been fine tuned and of course they have more-than-earned every bit of the accolades they get.

 

As Intelli/ Stumptown/ Counter Culture were to Direct Trade globally, the Coffee Collective, Tim Wendelboe and Square Mile were to light roasting techniques globally as well. All equally important players in Specialty Coffee in their own right.

 

A few years after all this turmoil in the roasting world and all the debate (in my mind the debate is over), I realized I had hit my roof at Intelli LA, and it was quite timely that Toby Smith from Toby’s Estate, wanted to do something in New York and asked me to join the company.

 

With Toby’s personal guarantee that the company would not just “rubber stamp” the Australian business model in Brooklyn, but they would get behind me and adopt a style that was neither Australian but was something more local to Brooklyn. Tip of the hat to Toby for that.

 

I finally would get the chance to draw a line in the sand, well, for the most part…I will explain in more detail about this in my next post titled.

 

“Balancing Act Of Sweetness – My Most Viewed Post, Updated”

 

h1

Reintroducing Myself

13/04/2016

 

I’ve let this blog sit for a bit with nary a word. But now that I’m launching a coffee company, I figured it was time to fire it up again.
Many of you probably remember who I am. Maybe? It’s me. Deaton. No? Well, either way, here’s a very quick break down of my caffeinated past:
Café Barista from age 15 – Australia
Café and bar manager from 21 – Australia
Barista trainer from age 25 – Australia
Coffee roaster from age 27 – Ireland
Roaster and Quality Control Specialist age 30 – Intelligentsia LA – USA
Operations Manager Green & Coffee Buyer age 33 – Toby’s Estate Coffee Brooklyn
Now, here I am. A small business owner, age 38 and back on the west coast in Los Angeles!
It’s been a long road for sure and I have really lived a lifetime within those years.  I’m really excited/ scared shitless to be taking this next step on my own.
Over the years my biggest learning curves have come from when I have left one job
and started another. This is no exception, there is something about that feeling when you throw yourself into the deep end and try to learn to swim.
My father/ my mentor uses the expression, “bite of more then you can chew, then
chew like crazy!”. (Pardon me for talking with my mouth full for the next few years.)
So you’re probably saying, “So what, Deaton. Why is your coffee company so special?”
Well, I’m here to celebrate the journey. And coffee is a journey we’ve all been on these last few years.
Trends come and go. Things that we have all felt excited about have fallen off. Oddball ideas have surged to prominence.
Over time though I have ended up figuring out what I liked. And that led me to pick out which coffees I bought and which roasting techniques I used. From this foundation, we’ll be starting a new journey here at Take Flight Coffee. I hope you’ll join me.
Over the coming weeks I’ll share my adventure with you,
Next Post:
Draw a Line in the Sand – Owning My Style
h1

Minneapolis – Off On The Wrong Foot

27/09/2012

It’s great to be back in the Twin Cities, last time I was here it was 2008, which feels like a life time ago, in coffee years anyway.

It makes me realize how busy we are in our industry, so many events and business trips to cram into just one year. From travelling abroad to find coffee, go to the WBC or the SCAA, then throw in there the regional barista competitions and you still have not got it all covered.

I hold Minneapolis in a very special place in my heart, as it was the start of something special for me and my coffee career.

Today upon arriving at my hotel and answering emails, staring out an adjacent building I sent out a tweet that read. Something like this;

” Ah Minneapolis, not much has changed since 2008…”

Now at face value, and that is the only way it can be taken, it reads like I either think that the place is a shit hole and or I am not happy to be here. Which could not be further from the truth. In my head I was thinking about the hotel room and the ride here from the airport, I was just not thoughtful enough to convey that in my tweet.

So I apologize.

Getting back to what I stated above, this city was really, the start of a huge turn in my coffee career. I had started working for Intelligentsia only months before coming here with the Barista team and Kyle Glanville. Helping the team get Kyle through to the WBC was huge for us, the enthusiastic bunch.

So, I will say that I am truly excited to be here again and I can’t wait to explore the food and coffee scene, over the next two days. Last time I was here we celebrated Kyle’s win at possibly one of the best steak houses I have ever been too! For the life of me I just can’t remember the name of it though.

Now for this.

h1

Anything But Coffee – Tumblr

19/07/2012

Just realized I have had my Tumblr, Anything But Coffee up and running now for two years this month.

Archive is here but be carful some of the content is NSFW. 

I have the least amount of followers on Tumblr but it gives me the most amount of enjoyment.

h1

Goals

19/03/2012

It occurred to me on my recent trip to Nicaragua that I had finally achieved a goal that I had set myself 6 years ago. Whilst working for Bewleys Coffee and Tea, I was sent to Ramacafe in Nicaragua 06. It was at this event that I got to go to my first coffee farm and see first hand what it was like at origin. Needless to say the experience stuck with me, the stunning landscape, the people and the journey. I set a goal that I would become a coffee buyer within 5 years.

I wonder if everyone holds as much value in goal setting as I do. Without them I would not have traveled, started a band, become a Barista, Barista Trainer and a coffee Roaster. I have always set short and long term goals for myself, yes sometimes I don’t achieve them (I am not a famous musician) but for the most part I do, eventually.

So upon returning to Nicaragua, after the gruelling days leading up to the trip trying to organise Toby’s Estate Coffee and after the flight. I was sitting in the back of a taxi headed to Granada when it hit me. I am finally back here doing what I have wanted to be doing for so long! I had been working on this goal for so many years that I almost forgot about it. Sure I took one or two wrong turns that delayed me (6 years instead of 5) along the way but I had made it.

I had returned to Nicaragua as a green coffee buyer, a moment I hope I don’t forget for a long time.

Cheers!

Image

A beer to celebrate my return to Nicaragua as a coffee buyer.
Finca San Jose
Nicaragua 2012

Now to set another long term goal.

h1

James Hoffmann – Reinventing Espresso

27/08/2011

Yet another great video to grab, worth a watch over a cup of coffee.

h1

Costa Rica Cup of Excellence 2011

23/08/2011

This year I was fortunate enough to take part of the Costa Rican COE, I really enjoy doing these events as it gives you a good look at what each country has to offer.

I won’t go into to much detail but Toby’s Estate Coffee, Australia, took a camera along and got some great shots and talked to some great people!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,615 other followers