– Can you please introduce yourself in a few words.
My name is Lance Schnorenberg. I’m from the Pacific Northwest and currently live in Brooklyn, NY. I’ve been working in the coffee industry for around 10 years. I am the co-founder and roaster for Lofted Coffee Roasters. Outside of coffee I’m pursuing a luthier apprenticeship in making stringed instruments.
– What’s your story in the coffee industry?
I started my journey in coffee as a barback at a cafe/roastery in Seattle, WA called Espresso Vivace. There I fell in love with cafes, cafe culture and the artistic/craft approach to making and serving espresso. From there, I moved to New York and found a home at Stumptown as they had also just moved from the west coast to the east. Stumptown was my first introduction to the depth and complexity that coffee is and has. Here I was introduced to single origin coffees, different varietals, all the different growing regions and the breadth of coffee flavor profiles. From here, I went on a coffee tour that led me from Montreal to England and to Copenhagen. This opened my mind to the vastly different approaches to coffee roasting and was enamored by the lighter style, complexity of fruits and acidities that I discovered in Europe. When I returned to New York I purchased a San Franciscan 1lb sample roaster and after about 3 years of trial and error Lofted Coffee was born.
– When was Lofted Coffee created and what is the story behind?
There isn’t really a date of when Lofted Coffee was created. It was a lot of trial and error and working with friends while figuring out our roast profiles and roasting approach. We started by, and continue to, sell coffee out of the 4th floor of an industrial artist loft space in a neighborhood of Brooklyn called Bushwick. We hit a stride about 2 years ago, 2014 and have been slowly growing ever since. The idea of Lofted Coffee was born out of my experience of tasting lighter and more delicate roast profiles while traveling abroad and Tobin Polk (my business partner) desire and willingness to help build something that we didn’t feel quite existed yet in New York.
– What’s your specialty and what makes you different?
At this point what I feel our speciality is is nuanced. There are many amazing roasters that I feel are roasting amazing coffees. We as an industry are constantly improving with growing. What I believe pushes the industry is us pushing ourselves. Constantly trying to do better. From growing and sustainability to coffee development in the roaster to brewing/extraction and service. I would like to believe that we are part of the conversation that is pushing the industry forward and trying to improve as a holistic approach.
– What was your first coffee experience?
My first memorable experience with coffee was in college when my brother bought me a french press for Christmas and I started buying coffee and brewing it for myself. I believe it was the romantic notion of personally making coffee in such a simple way that drew me most to the process. I can tend to romanticize things.
– How/when have you discovered about specialty coffee?
I discovered what i consider specialty coffee to be at a public cupping at Stumptown in Seattle, Wa. It was Panama Esmeralda Geisha. It was mind blowing.
– What was your best coffee experience?
I’ve had too many to count. Cupping coffee with Joanna Alm at Drop Coffee was inspiring to say the least and a turning point in how I approach coffees. Talking with Tim Wendelboe about his growing practices and experiments is always a reminder that we can work harder and we can always do better. The constant reminder of how similarly coffee is to life. The necessity for sustainable, careful and loving cultivation, soil health and an increase of biodiversity are all key in growing, producing, roasting and brewing excellent coffee.
– Do you prepare coffee at home ? If yes, what method do you use?
I currently live where I roast so my morning coffee is generally a cupping. If I brew coffee my preferred method is the Kalita wave.
– How do you like your coffee? Black, sugar and milk, iced, vietnamese style,…?
Black, however I’m trying to open my mind to experimenting with buying coffees with milk in mind and potentially roasting a coffee with milk in mind.
– How would you qualify yourself as coffee drinker (occasional, heavy, addict…)?
Ha it is fortunately/unfortunately my job to drink coffee
– Have you always been into the coffee industry? If not, what was your previous job?
I’ve been in the coffee industry for a long time. Basically right out of college.
– Do you have another passion or a hobby besides coffee?
I make instruments as well. Specifically acoustic stringed instruments; guitars, ukuleles etc.
– What other place would you recommend, anywhere in the world (coffee or not)?
Scandinavia is always an inspiring place to go for various social, political, cultural, artisanal reasons. Also, the Andes
– What is/are your favorite website(s) to get information about coffee?
Barista Hustle has been an invaluable source and I’m constantly impressed with Matt Perger and his ability to promote insightful conversation and community within the global coffee industry. Also, Jim Seven.
– What would you say to people who don’t know much about coffee?
Read The World Atlas of Coffee by James Hoffmann. He says it far better, more clearly, more eloquently and more succinctly than I ever could.