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Proud Hound Coffee Aims for Howlin’ High Quality in Cincinnati

Proud Hound building

The Proud Hound Coffee Roasters warehouse and future cafe building in Cincinnati’s Kennedy Heights neighborhood. All images courtesy of Proud Hound Coffee.

Coffee drinkers around Cincinnati, Ohio, may be picking up on the scent of some new high-quality coffees, as a pack of specialty coffee professionals has begun operating under the name Proud Hound Coffee Roasters.

Launched this past summer by Dan Smith and Carl Arvidson, Proud Hound now has a Loring S15 roaster up and running in a 5,000-square-foot space in the Kennedy Heights neighborhood, with plans coming together for a full kitchen and retail coffee bar later this year.

The company’s mission is to treat all of its suppliers and patrons alike with hound-like loyalty, dignity and fairness, which are aspirations made additionally vivid with a playful brand aesthetic that emphasizes symmetry, bright colors and a sort of modern classic Wes Andersonian quality.

coffee bag design

“We love the color palette that [Anderson] uses in his movies — the cinematography with the symmetry,” Smith told Daily Coffee News, adding that the startup brought Cincinnati-based creative studio Wolf Bomb on board to translate a vision for the packaging, merchandise and website.

Said Smith, “We wanted to incorporate what we could to make it so that in ten years we wouldn’t need a new logo and brand to update it.”

From 2016 to 2019, Smith was busy with Brick Coffee, a multiroaster cafe he co-founded that served beans roasted by Columbus, Ohio-based Roosevelt Coffee Roasters and Mission Coffee, Cincy company Pneuma Coffee, and others. Prior to launching Proud Hound, Smith attended the Re:Co Symposium in Boston last year for a deep dive into ethical and efficient green coffee sourcing practices, and then went through the SCA roaster training program offered by Greater Goods Coffee on their Loring S15 in Austin, Texas.

Loring S15 roaster

The Proud Hound Loring S15.

Arvidson builds upon a range of coffee experience, including barista work and green coffee sourcing with Virginia-based Third Wave Coffee, helping former mobile-only coffee outfit Golf Park Coffee transition to a brick-and-mortar cafe in Lynchburg, Virginia, and some barista work at the now-shuttered Landlocked Social House after moving to Cincinnati.

For the past seven months, Smith and Arvidson have shared alpha status in starting up Proud Hound, collaborating on roast profiles and trading shifts on the Loring while juggling sales, marketing, sourcing and the details of the upcoming cafe. David Holmon, a former lead barista for Carabello Coffee, is also expected to join the team.

“We’re both here all the time on roast days,” Smith told Daily Coffee News. “In the future, when the cafe opens, [roasting] might fall under me more because Carl will be more geared towards marketing and green coffee sourcing in the beginning. As of now, we both do the same amount of work on everything.”

Proud Hound espresso

A small espresso setup inside the future cafe home.

So far, greens sourced through Ally Coffee and Red Fox Coffee Merchants are fully developed in the Proud Hound Loring with an eye towards balance and approachability, although as their collective familiarity increases, the hound may start tracking down some more obscure and adventurous coffees.

“We’re both pretty new to roasting, and we’re still learning a lot,” said Smith. “For the first four or five months, we didn’t really play with profiles. We’d find one that we really liked that we think showcased the coffee in a way that was very even from front to back when cupping. Just recently, in the past month, we’ve started to experiment with profiles, now that we have a better understanding of the coffees we’re working with and the equipment that we’re using.”

Currently, a Proud Hound mobile coffee truck rolls over, sits and stays for guests at weddings and corporate events. Through a service window, patrons can fetch espresso drinks prepared on a Synesso espresso machine and Mazzer grinder or drip coffees made in batches on a Curtis brewer paired with a Mahlkönig Tanzania grinder.

Proud Hound coffee

The Proud Hound Coffee mobile truck

Smith said about 3,000 square feet of Proud Hound’s roastery is slated to comprise a substantial kitchen, seating and a flagship bar by the end of this year. The plan is to include a head chef and full kitchen staff to deliver a food program that’s on par with the coffee program.

“When you look at other areas in the United states where the coffee scene has been established, you have those shops that are meeting two things that are both very important to them and they don’t sacrifice quality on either side, and they work really well in tandem,” said Smith. “That’s something that we want to do here, there’s definitely a space for that in our market.”

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