We wanted to get more insight into our new featured roaster, Bold Bean Coffee, so we sat down with their head roaster, Zack, and talked about all things coffee. Bold Bean Coffee Roasters is comprised of self-professed coffee fanatics in Jacksonville, Florida who believe that coffee is an experience. They are clearly a passionate and exciting company, and we weren’t disappointed by the equally passionate answers we got during this interview!
CK: Describe your roasting style in three words.
Sweet, balanced, transparent
CK: What makes your approach to coffee unique?
We have a very do-it-yourself approach at Bold Bean. Our home, Jacksonville, Florida is pretty much in the middle of a specialty coffee desert (though Florida is really coming up in the specialty coffee scene recently).
Since the beginning we have been figuring things out for ourselves. With no background in the coffee industry before starting this company we have really developed all of our processes on our own accord without much influence from prior coffee experiences.
We are excited that this path has allowed us to develop a style purely our own. More or less everything we know was learned through our own successes and failures and we feel this gives us a unique perspective on coffee and the industry.
Our vision is similar to many other quality-focused roasters but I feel we often times approach the fulfillment of our ideals differently than our peers.
CK: What kind of roaster do you use?
San Franciscan SF1 profile roaster and SF-75 production roaster.
CK: What advice would you give someone who wants to start a roasting company?
Taste EVERYTHING! Really develop your palate. Without being able to accurately taste coffee you will be very limited in the results you can produce. A good palate will enable you to source great coffee and develop your own style, it will also help you to create optimal profiles for all of your coffees. Know how you want your coffee to taste and roast and taste, roast and taste until you get there. Buy the best greens you can find/afford.
CK: Where do you source your coffee from?
Central America, South America and Africa. We have some direct trade partners in Latin America and we’ll buy about 40% of our coffee directly this year. We use a network of small brokers to source the remainder of our green coffee.
CK: What is your biggest pet peeve about the coffee industry today?
It’s less common these days to find people who are not open and excited about sharing our industry with people who have not yet experienced it. But it peeves me when some people in the industry are not approachable and don't want to be inclusive to the uninitiated. When we can excite new people and show them how great the specialty coffee industry is, it ensures our survival and the continued sustainability of producing coffee. Coffee is exciting and fun. Share that with as many people as possible!
CK: What do you think will be the next trend in the coffee industry?
More experimentation with processing methods at origin.
CK: How and why did you get started in the coffee industry?
I fell into the industry when my father started Bold Bean as a second career. I had just graduated college with a degree in fine arts and with no real job prospects I began helping him in his new business. I didn't really plan to stay with coffee but I started roasting coffee a few month after starting and just fell in love with it. I really liked that I could learn something new every day and have a hand in creating something for people to enjoy. There are so many great experiences to be had in the coffee industry. There are definitely hard days but so much of it is all about meeting really great people, constantly learning, pushing your boundaries and making a product people love. That is really what drew me to it and what keeps me stoked to be in it every day.
CK: What is your favorite type of coffee that Bold Bean offers?
A couple of years ago we made the decision to only roast coffees that we are completely excited by. So, really I love them all. My favorites are our direct trade offerings because we have a deeper connection with these and I also really love it any time we release something new.
CK: Anything else you want to add about your company or experiences?
We just want to keep having a great time and pushing ourselves to make better and better coffee while forging stronger relationships throughout the entire coffee chain.