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From the Publisher
It’s often used in the context of failure—a cliché applied frequently to failures of political systems or favorite sports teams. But what might this phrase mean when applied to a successful company, person or group? Certainly, messing with a good thing and expecting the same results isn’t necessarily the brightest plan; however, it is human nature to become complacent with success, which, although “sane”, truly can limit growth and lead to artificial boundaries.
So how do successful coffee roasters disrupt the norm, escape ruts and continue to find new opportunities? Traditionally, roasters have become involved with grassroots regional coffee organizations, tradeshows, conferences and Roaster’s Guild retreats. These activities are critical to healthy cross-pollination in our field, and the benefits of industry involvement are one of the reasons we include this as a critical category in our annual Roaster of the Year competition.
There are, of course, other avenues to explore, and a natural connection is with industries that are having similar, craft-based movements. Although there have been occasional collaborations between craft brewers, craft distillers and coffee roasters for many years, my unscientific analysis suggests this trend is on the rise.
Living in Portland gives me ample opportunity to experience this every day. For example, I recently was fortunate enough to host a dinner for four amazing coffee professionals—Jessie and Jared Durham, a brother-and-sister team from Sisters Coffee Company, and Maria Cristina Escobar and Jack Caughey from Café Oro Molido S.A.
Both parties were thoughtful enough to bring a hostess gift. I found it interesting that each brought a gift of coffee liquor—one, Café Oro Molido’s Juan Valdez coffee rum, which is a new product from Colombia, and the other, a Bend Distilleries hazelnut coffee vodka made with Sisters’ Coffee. Both products were delicious and provided a lively round of cupping after dinner. Beyond great drink and enjoyable company, it was a chance to understand how coffee professionals can benefit from working with other industries.
A partnership with artisans outside of coffee gives not only an expanded sales base, but also insight into how these companies conduct business. The opportunity is there to learn how brewers, distillers, ice cream makers and others approach quality control, inventory, marketing, product development and market research. If you are currently working with other craftsmen, don’t let this chance for company growth pass.
Sane or not, Roast will continue to do the things that have made us successful for the past 10 years, but we will also continue to look outward, at other successes, whether within our industry or not, to inspire us and all that we do.
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