– Can you please introduce yourself in a few words.
My name is Ed Kaufmann. I am the Director of Roasting for Joe Coffee Company in New York.
– What’s your story in the coffee industry? – What’s your specialty and what makes you different?
I grew up in a restaurant in Montana. After living in Portland, Oregon for a few years, I decided to move to NYC on a whim. I needed a job and had heard about Cafe Grumpy as being a great place to get coffee in NYC. I was accustomed to drinking Stumptown in Portland so I needed to find the good stuff in NYC. I thought it might be fun to work in coffee so I bugged Grumpy until they hired me. I fell in love and worked my way through various positions (pretty much any and all of them). I loved on to roast for Stumptown in New York for a few years gaining experience in roastery/production operations. Joe was looking to expand their operations into roasting and I wanted to build a roasting program for a great company so the fit and timing were perfect. I think that having a broad view of what coffee is and who drinks it makes me good at my job. Having worked behind the bar and getting to know what customers like helps me make purchasing decisions and guides us in profile development. The strategy is to appeal to the masses while slowly leading them to becoming educated, discerning connoisseurs
– What was your first coffee experience?
I started drinking coffee at my parents’ restaurant when I was 11. I loved the buzz! I was a snowboarder so the extra buzz made me go faster and jump higher (at least I thought it did back then). We had Farmer Brothers coffee that was brewed into pots that sat on burners all day. One good thing was that we ground whole beans every pot. Even for a somewhat marginal restaurant coffee program, we were sophisticated enough to grind on demand.
– What was your best coffee experience?
I have 2 answers for this one. I big one for me was during my first trip to coffee country. I flew myself to Panama to learn about were coffee was grown, how it was harvested and process and who did all this stuff. Through a friend, I was connected with a man named Graciano Cruz. I stayed at his house for a few days which was located at the edge of a coffee farm. The first thing we did when we arrived at his house was share a French press of 50/50 naturally processed and honey processed geishas. The flavors were out of control and louder than life. I don’t think I could drink that coffee very often but the experience of sitting on the edge of a farm drinking very special coffee was an amazing experience especially for my first visit to coffee country. A recent experience that sticks in my head happened in San Francisco during the Good Food Awards this last January. We stayed at a hotel that was near a great shop called Saint Frank. I had never been there but was excited to try the coffee. We walked in and introduced ourselves. The baristas behind the bar were enthusiastic, passionate and knowledgeable. When they asked me what we would like to order, I said “I don’t know man, fuck us up! We want it all!” Sure enough, within 5 minutes, they made us a beautiful flight of different espressos, hot coffee, cold brew and a cortado. Everything was great. I think the mutual excitement between us and the baristas followed by professional, friendly service and great drinks made the experience wonderful!
– Do you prepare coffee at home ? If yes, what method do you use?
I rarely prepare coffee at home but when I do, I use a bona vita coffee pot. I just broke my chemed and haven’t replaced it. I usually patronize my neighborhood shop for a shot on my way to work. It feels great to be a regular customer at a neighborhood spot. Historically, I have been the barista so it is nice to be on the other side of the bar.
– How do you like your coffee? Black, sugar and milk, iced, vietnamese style,…?
I drink my coffee black. I appreciate many different extractions from a dialed in Fetco batch brew to a v60. I tend to drink straight espresso these days rather than milk drinks. I love a good cortado but a shot is good for me.
– How would you qualify yourself as coffee drinker (occasional, heavy, addict…)?
I would say that I am an addict but I usually drink 2-3 cups over the course of the day. I need it to get going in the morning but after that, I actually dislike the feeling of hbeing over-caffeinated.
– Have you always been into the coffee industry? If not, what was your previous job?
As mentioned above, my parents owned a restaurant growing up. Outside of restaurant work, I don’t have very much history except for a few years where I was a mechanic and a salesman at a scooter shop in Portland.
– Do you have another passion or a hobby besides coffee?
Food is my favorite hobby! I have recently become passionate about home fermentation. There is still a ton to learn but so far, I make my own kombucha and yogurt. I’m excited to keep exploring this part of food and beverage preparation.
– What other place would you recommend, anywhere in the world (coffee or not)?
San Cristobal Las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico is a magical place. I love visiting Chiapas and this city is a gem. I also have to answer New York effing City! I live there because it is the best city in the world!
– What is/are your favorite website(s) to get information about coffee?
www.sweetmarias.com, www.coffeeresearch.org, www.jimseven.com, I occasionally visit the Roasters Guild forums but they are pretty out of date these days.
– What would you say to people who don’t know much about coffee?
Enjoy your coffee! First and foremost, coffee should be an enjoyable experience. After that, try to find ways to push that enjoyment further. Have fun in you exploration!