This month, we are super stoked to be the featured roaster in the Coffeeism subscription box. Here's a little Q&A we did with Katherine, the founder of Coffeeism!
Q: How did you get involved in the coffee business?
Tommy (my partner) and I opened a coffee shop in Florence, SC called Lula’s Coffee Co in 2012. We really knew nothing about specialty coffee when we opened up in 2012, but over the last 5+ years, we became enthusiasts of specialty coffee and last year, decided we wanted to learn how to roast.
Q: Can you explain your mission a bit?
I’d say our mission is to rock our customers’ worlds! Since we are the first specialty coffee roaster in Florence, SC, it’s important to bring our community along this journey with us. We’ve played a large role in cultivating the coffee culture here since 2012 and we want to continue that by sharing coffee with them like they’ve never tasted before. We also want our coffee to stand beside some of the best roasters in the country and hold it’s own.
Q: Is there a story behind the name?
Actually yes! When we learned how to roast last year on our little Hottop sample roaster, I had done some research prior to practicing. We went through several really bad batches of roasting, not really understanding why the coffee was no good. So we went back to square one and spent several hours on the internet trying to understand the chemical, physical process of roasting coffee. We had an “AHA” moment and went back to the roaster and on the ninth batch, we produced our first decent roast. We surely didn’t become pros at that point, but that’s when we started to put some of the pieces together on what’s going on inside of the roaster and what’s happening to those beans. The light bulb in the logo is also symbolic of a couple of things: 1) that “AHA” moment we had and 2) the building we roast in has a porch light on it. As silly as it sounds, it was important for me to have a porch light on the front of the building
Q: What would you say distinguishes your coffee?
We search for supreme balance of flavor, sweetness, and body with every coffee we have. We believe that each coffee has its own unique sweet spot and it’s our job to find that and maximize it – without masking it with roasty flavors. I don’t think we will ever venture into second crack because at that point, coffees become indistinguishable from one another.
We’ve been drinking coffee from some of the best roasters in the country for several years now. So that’s what we compare our stuff to, the ones that set the bar for us. Brands like Perc, Brandywine, Revelator, Counter Culture – they were the ones who shaped our idea of what good coffee can be like and anything less than comparable to those guys is unacceptable for us.
Q: How do you decide which beans to source next?
We only have room to carry a handful of origins at a time so we have to be pretty thoughtful when we select our next offering. Like our coffee itself, we want to stay balanced. So there are a couple of things we consider. If we are adding a new bean, it is probably replacing another one, so we try to stay around the same general area of the world. That way we don’t end up with 4 African offerings and no South/Central American offerings or vice/versa. Another thing we consider, is the flavor profile of our current offerings. The culture we live in here doesn’t always get excited about the same kind of coffees that Tommy and I love, like the tea-like, bright ones. So if we had 4 bright washed coffees offered from Africa, nobody around here would like our coffee! We need to have a good natural Brazil (I’m a fan of those anyway) or a good natural Ethiopia that’s a little rough around the edges. We are big fans of balance if you can tell!
Q: Can you share some stories about the farmers you work with, and the families that are impacted by your mission? – Or the specific missions you give back to?
We haven’t begun working with any farms directly, but we’ve begun a relationship with a co-op in Guatemala called Yepocapa and we look forward to buying from them directly in 2018 and possibly going down to meet the farmers and see first-hand what their work is like!
Q: What do you like best about your line of work?
I love the craft side of specialty coffee and I love the final product. I’ve had an appreciation for people that make quality, handmade goods. I always think about the time it’s taken them to perfect their craft and I’ve always wanted to be a person that has a craft and has perfected it. Great Bear Wax Co. or The Mail Room Barber Co. are relatively young companies who have truly created an outstanding, beautiful product and who I look up to in the artisan world. Having conversations with those guys about branding and perfecting products always energizes me.
Q: Something people might be surprised to learn about you or your business?
Our little “mascot” is Grizzly, my 9 year old yellow lab. He’s a frequent visitor in the roast house and he actually LOVES coffee beans. He snags them off of the floor every now and then…not sure if that’s good for him or not!
Q: What’s next for Batch Nine?
We are finishing up a “tour” of sorts with pop ups this fall. We had about 7 or 8 events and it was a blast. So we may do that again in the future! We will also be introducing a new blend called the “Lovelight Blend” very soon. Tommy has already introduced it at Lula’s and it’s catching some eyes. We will also be staggering the release of a couple of new single origins. On deck: Honduras. In The Hole: a new Brazil.