With 16 episodes this year involving roasters from across the globe — from Arkansas to Zurich — Unpacking Coffee gave coffee pros a glimpse into some of the industry’s most thought-provoking and design-conscious coffee brands in 2018.
The show’s co-hosts and creators Kandace and Ray of the Portland, Oregon-based design agency Needmore Designs provided enough zingers, one-liners, bloopers and thinly veiled innuendos to fill up a quote-a-day calendar for a year. But they also drew out some serious insight from the real stars of the show, the roasters, who address many of the ethical and strategic challenges facing coffee businesses today.
We’ve looked back through this year’s Unpacking Coffee episodes to catch some of the most insightful lines. Click on each episode for even more!
“There was no one we could talk to for any information on what the pricing structure should be like… What was paid before? Is there a correlation in price to what this coffee is scoring? Does the producer actually know what’s being paid?” — Jon Allen on direct sourcing
“My wife got pregnant, and it was like, ‘Oh s#*t, we either need to do this now, or we’re never going to do it.” — Kevin McGlocklin on the Bluebeard origin story
“It’s a little bit like having a beautiful color photograph in a sunlit room — a year later, it’s going toward sepia. That was my problem; it may be seasonal in May, but is it really seasonal in July and I still have it?… So we started freezing coffee, and then we just take out what we need for a few weeks, and we roast that.” — George Howell on freezing green coffee
“I would like to see, in the long run, farmers become independent of roasters… I would like to ultimately see them as equal partners — equal powers — where there truly is a give and take.” — George Howell
“I remember 1995 someone came into the cafe and asked for an iced latte. It was the equivalent of someone asking me for, let’s say, a piping hot pint of beer… I made it for them, and as the years went on, that percentage of cold products grew. So, right now, 62 to 65 percent of all coffees that we brew on premise in 34 cafes across the United States are cold. That transition is probably the most dynamic that I’ve witnessed among all these changes that we’ve seen in coffee.” — Todd Carmichael
“I was the first social worker to become a coffee roaster… When you bring two ideas together for the first time — or two professions together for the first time — you’re going to get an explosion of new ideas.” — Paul Katzeff
“It’s really very important that businesses — especially being a B-Corp — that we’re using business as a force for good in the world… So in our little ecosystem, we’re doing everything we can possibly do. We’re not perfect, but our intention is perfect.” — Helen Russell
“We started our company on the back end of what was called the coffee crisis. Now, 11 years after, we have another crisis on our hands… At the same time there’s all this money floating around in coffee. Big conglomerates are buying coffee shop chains, and so on. Too little of that value is getting to the farmers.” — Klaus Thomsen
“In the West, coffee culture has gone through a never-ending evolution among consumers, including the development of coffee’s first, second, and third waves… But here in China, the first, second, and third waves have happened or are happening simultaneously. From a business perspective, this provides more opportunities for the development of specialty coffee in China.” — Tom Zong (translated)
“Relationships are not just like, ‘I shook your hand and I bought [your] coffee.’ … Sometimes you have to say, ‘Man, this was really good last year. What happened this year, and how can we, together, improve on this product?’ Those are things that we didn’t have access to before.” — Evan Aldrete on direct sourcing