Your role Vice President and Green Coffee Buyer at Irving Farm sounds like a dream job. Actually, it sounds like an awesome way to go about your life and I’d love to know a little bit more about how you started out.
Sure! So about six years ago I was on the Barista Guild executive council and a friend of mine Anne was doing some consulting for Irving Farm by helping the founders look at their business and see what was going on in the market and what they needed to do. One of the core recommendations was to hire green coffee buyer. So I happened to be looking for a job at the time and she was like you’d be interested in this job and I was like yeah!
It seems like your role involves quite a bit of travel and quite a bit of connecting with people across different cultures. What is it about travelling that plays to your personality and what you love to do?
All the unique coffee flavor profiles drove me to continue to dig deeper; for example - why does this particular bean taste like this? The idea of getting to travel and taste coffee in these regions allowed me to go so much further in that journey. When I started to do that, I found out that there are these amazing people behind all this stuff. Getting to know their stories, meeting them on a personal basis and getting to spend time with some of the families of the producers was pure joy. This is the seventh year and I’ll go once a year just to have dinner with them and talk about what happened over the last year. It’s a touching experience.
It’s going to be difficult to rank the places you have been but have you found that there is a visited region that you could call home one day?
Oh man! It’s kind of like asking somebody to pick who their favorite child is. But if I’m being realistic, Honduras is at the top of the list.
Can you tell me one thing about coffee that either you know and no one else knows or it’s just kind of a little-known fact about coffee like something that would be surprising to people?
Yes. Let’s start with wine. Think about a Cabernet or Sauvignon Blanc. These are totally different wines and you never buy a wine and not know what you are getting. Those are two very extreme examples but then you are getting one or the other and in the case of coffee that information is generally pretty obscure. I mean, we put it on the package and it’s on the back, most people probably don’t look at it, they don’t know what it means. In other cases, even if they do - the reality is that most of the time coffee is produced in a way where those different varieties are mixed together and you don’t really know what you are drinking in that sense.
OK, this may be a tough one but I think I know the answer. What is your favorite coffee beverage?
Yep, I nailed it!
I love this phrase and book, Wherever you go, there you are. It was a source of inspiration for naming our shop (Local). What does Local mean to you?
Wow I mean I think there’s two pieces to that right. There is the proximity but I think beyond that It’s about people that you are connected to right now. For me, the producers that we work with in Honduras are the most local – which is the heart of the concept.
One last question I had on my list here and I completely passed on that. I’ve spent time with Mayita, Bill and Dan (from Irving Farm) for the last couple of weeks and I got to know just how special the Irving Farm brand it is. What is it about Irving Farm for you that makes you so passionate about the brand?
I’ve been really lucky to spend a lot of time with David and Steve (Irving Farm Founders) over the years and I think the thing that really has educated me on their view point for how this whole company was built. We’ve grown leaps and bounds over the last six years and we have been consistent in what we are continuing to do, how we do it and for me - why we buy coffee the way we do.