by Hanna Neuschwander
Hanna Neuschwander is the author of Left Coast Roast, a guidebook to coffee roasters on the west coast. Her writing about coffee and food has appeared in publications including Travel + Leisure, Edible Seattle, Portland Monthly, the Oregonian, and Roast Magazine, among others. She has presented about coffee-related topics at events and conferences from San Francisco to Boston. She lives in Portland, Ore.
Entimos Coffee Roasters is a collaboration between Matt Dittemore and Tim Tubra. Northwesterners by birth and by inclination (they were both steeped in Portland’s coffee culture in the early 2000s), they now call Sacramento home. Matt and Tim began as home roasters (Matt in 2002, and Tim in 2009), but after exchanging notes and critiquing each others’ coffees, they began to collaborate.
“I began this competition between myself and the coffee I was roasting,” says Tubra, “I wasn’t satisfied until I knew I’d found the perfect profile.” Friends and family took notice and began placing orders. With enthusiastic encouragement from their community, the duo formed Entimos in 2011 and began their fledgling business.
For now, Entimos is a tiny, roast-to-order operation. In addition to a small slate of individual coffees for sale online, customers can also sign up for three-month subscriptions, with coffee delivered once or twice a month. As a small operation, they roast only once a week and regularly update their website with their offerings. (Subscribers can expect to see 4-5 different coffees over the course of three months, so there are some repeats.) Beans are always shipped within 24 hours of roasting.
But there is at least one place you’ll soon be able to grab a cup of “the divine draught” on a Sunday morning—at the church where Dittemore serves as a pastor. He’s sharing the gospel of coffee with his congregation: “We are just starting to serve Entimos at the church. We want it to be a true representation of what our coffee is. We are in the process of changing over the equipment—it was pretty bad—which involves training the wonderful volunteers that make it in the morning.”
Might they expand in the future and consider a retail shop? It’s probably a long ways off. “We know that starting and running a retail space would be a large undertaking,” says Tubra. “Our focus is very much in roasting great coffee and we want to keep that our main priority.”
What inspires your roastery and your roasting?
The same bean roasted one day will taste different the next; from one brew method to another it will develop subtleties in flavor. There is no single cup that is the “best” coffee. This is what makes coffee so exceptional. One of our main goals is to help educate consumers about the differences between origins and assist them in recognizing different characteristics in each cup. While we enjoy a good blend, single origins are our main focus right now.
What kind of roasting equipment do you use and what do you love about it?
We roast on a one-of-a-kind, white Diedrich. When we started we tried several different roasters but ultimately fell in love with this machine. It gives us full control over both airflow and gas pressure, important determinants of the roast profile. Apart from producing phenomenal coffee, it’s just so gorgeous to look at.
How would you describe your roasting style?
Knowing that it’s possible to roast a Kenyan and a Colombian very “dark” and have them taste essentially the same, we tend toward the lighter end of the spectrum. We want to give our customers a taste that showcases the particulars of each coffee’s origin and the farmers who grew and processed it.
Tell us about the most memorable coffee you’ve roasted: Where did it come from? How did you roast it? What most excited you about it?
Several months ago we roasted a coffee from Nyeri, Kenya. It was processed at the Gatomboya co-op wet mill in Mathira, Nyeri. After dropping the beans into the roaster, we gradually brought up the heat. Just before first crack, we charged the temperature. We finished the roast just after first crack. It made a very delicious drip that was full of strawberries, but the single origin espresso that came from that bean was out of this world. We miss that coffee a lot!
What does Entimos mean?
Entimos is an English transliteration of a Greek word that carries the connotation of “esteemed,” “honored,” “held in high regard,” and “valued.” It encapsulates much of what we want our coffee to be. Being a student of the Bible, Greek is a language I [Matt] love. I took several years of French in high school but I don’t remember much of it—and “honoré” doesn’t have the same ring.
Do you have a favorite way to make coffee?
We have a mausoleum of coffee brewing devices and it seems like our preferences change all the time. If we had to pick one “go to” method right now? It would be a lovely pour over in a Chemex using Able Brewing’s Gold Kone.
What do you love about the coffee scene in Sacramento?
Without a doubt, we love the fact that it is growing. For a long time, San Francisco was the closest place to get good coffee. Specialty coffee has exploded in Sacramento in the last few years. The sense of community between roasters and coffee shops has been awesome. It is a privilege to be a part of it.
What’s the best thing about being a coffee roaster? The worst?
Hearing the positive responses from those who drink our coffee. Seeing people enjoy the coffee experience as much as we do is phenomenal. Being a part of the coffee community and experiencing the camaraderie there has been very fulfilling. How could there be a “worst thing”? We are doing what we love!
Preferred soundtrack for roasting?
Tim enjoys beats like RJD2 and Matt occasionally gets down with any kind of bluegrass. It just depends on which one of us is roasting.
Finally—and I’m dying to hear this—what’s the story behind that awesome photo of you being arrested for brewing coffee?
Tim: We wanted to enter the Able Xtreme Kone contest [a competition for the best brewing recipe for the Able Kone filter, along with a photo of Kone brewing that is “extreme, creative, and extremely creative”]. We thought it would be a killer idea to have a picture of us being arrested for brewing coffee. After many failed attempts to stage a photo with our buddy who is a police officer, we had all but given up on the idea. I [Tim] was driving home just an hour before the contest deadline. I was stopped at a light and looked to my right and saw the officer. I rolled down my window, got his attention and asked if he had 15 minutes to spare and wouldn’t mind taking a photo with me and my buddy for this coffee contest. He obliged and I had him follow me to Matt’s house. Hilarity ensued. Matt’s neighbors couldn’t figure out what was going on.
Matt: I was almost asleep when I got a frantic call from Tim informing me that he was three minutes from my house and had an officer following him. He told me to get dressed and get my Chemex and Kone FAST! Leave it to Tim to convince a cop to follow him somewhere in the middle of the night to pose for a picture.
Hanna Neuschwander is director of communications for World Coffee Research. She has been communicating about coffee and science since 2004. Her writing has appeared in publications including Travel + Leisure, The Art of Eating, Portland Monthly, and Modern Farmer. Based in Portland, Oregon, she is the author of Left Coast Roast, a guidebook to artisan and influential coffee roasters on the West Coast.