Though Coffee Culture founders Paul and Lisa Tostberg, along with roastmaster Garrett Esary, began roasting in-house four years ago to support CC’s retail brand, they said they relished the opportunity to develop a new brand that could stand alone from the retail operation, offering opportunities in grocery sales and wholesale roasting throughout the Willamette Valley and beyond.
“We’re chomping at the bit right now,” Paul Tostberg said of the recent Holderness launch. “We’ve been waiting to get to this point.”
The Tostbergs launched the first Coffee Culture kiosk in 1993 after relocating to Corvallis. Specialty coffee retail was so untested then that they also launched a film-development business on site in an attempt to generate traffic. With the 20/20 focus of hindsight, it seems obvious now that the timing was much better for coffee.
“I grew up in Seattle, so I certainly watched the phenomena that occurred there with Starbucks and others. And when my wife Lisa and I moved to Oregon in the early 90s we knew we wanted to be self-employed,” Paul said of the decision to get into the coffee business. “It was a lot of people giving us funny looks, but it turned out to be the right decision.”
Now working with numerous importers from throughout the United States, Holderness has launched with a Stick House blend of Central American and African coffees that it says is durable enough for espresso or filter coffee, as well as several single-origin offerings, which will naturally rotate on a seasonal basis.
“I tend toward the fruity, floral coffees, but we also want to offer our customers a wide range,” said Esary, who leads the Holderness coffee operation while manning a 5-kilo machine by US Roaster Corp. “We’re looking for coffees that kind of challenge the consumer on the spectrum of what coffee can be. But our main criteria is sweet and delicious.”
Tostberg and Esary said that as time and money allow as the Holderness brand expands, they hope to be able to travel more frequently to origin to explore more direct relationships and discover new coffees.
“We always seek opportunities to innovate, tinker, and try new methods. That’s our strength,” said Tostberg. “That’s the amazing thing about the specialty coffee industry. There will always be room to improve and innovate.”