My coffee story began in Montreal at a café called Cafe 8 Oz. I had just moved into a new apartment (in the year of 2014) and they had just opened next door. Expecting nothing, I was surprised by the amount of flavour in my cup.
The coffee was fruity and light and it had a truly wonderful smell. It was love at first sip.
Today, I'm excited to present a short and enjoyable interview with Will and Kathleen, founders of Tandem Coffee and the people behind my coffee obsession.
Coffee and dinosaurs
How do both of you prefer your coffee?
Will: black coffee, cappuccinos or espresso with a little sugar.
Kathleen: coffee with a little milk or capuccinos.
Outside of coffee, what hobbies consume most of your time?
At the moment we mostly play with our kid, meaning lots of Bruce Springsteen, Legos and Star Wars.
Can you describe the town of Portland, Maine?
It’s pretty nice here! A little peninsula with great parks, great food and great energy.
You guys don’t have the classic “About Us” page. Who is behind Tandem Coffee?
Tandem was started by me and my wife Kathleen in the summer of 2012. Since then we’ve had many a great employee. At the moment we have the greatest team ever assembled. I really don’t know what we did to deserve it.
Do you remember the cup of coffee that made you fall in love with the craft?
Of course I do! It was a cup of 3 Africans at Blue Bottle’s Mint Café way back in 2008. I honestly didn’t know coffee could taste good before that.
Tandem and KMA recently paired up to offer a unique Beans & Vinyl monthly package. What would be your preferred album to listen to while brewing coffee?
Beethoven! Lately it’s been the Emperor Concerto. The café is playing Nirvana Unplugged as I write this.
Coffee and vinyls. The finer things in life.
You guys were known in the past for your light roasts but you have recently been developing a wider range of roasts and flavours. What pushed the evolution and what flavour notes are you currently exploring?
When we started we were roasting really really lightly. When you are primarily drinking your own coffee day in and out you start to yearn for different flavours. I’ve seen many roasters change their approach over the years. Many who used to roast very light are going darker and darker. It’s only natural.
I’ve been wandering back into the lighter and lighter roasts lately.
Excluding yourselves, what roaster do you look up to?
George Howell! I’ve enjoyed every minute spent with him. He has such great perspective on the industry. He is above all the noise. Our friends at Passenger Coffee in PA are roasting some very exciting coffees as well. I cupped a mind blowing Kochere from Coffee Collective this morning too. So much good coffee out there. Man!
If you could only import coffee from one region, which would it be and why?
Ethiopia. Coffee from Ethiopia is what all coffee wishes it tasted like.
With an ever-growing demand for coffee and climate change threatening the world supply, are you worried about the future?
Surely! The future is just the WORST. I just got back from Ethiopia where all anyone could talk about was how unusually dry it is. Rivers that have never never been dry are dry for the first time. It’s real. Our production manager Emily Pappo is currently in grad school studying coffee agronomy. She is focusing on climate change resistant coffee varietals. She and a lot of other smart people are working on it. We’re so lucky to have her on our team!
What is one experiment in coffee that you would like to do but haven’t had to chance to yet?
That’s a tough question because every part of coffee is still experimental. People are changing roast profiles and brewing parameters by the day in pursuit of more complexity, sweetness, and balance. It’s endless. Ay ay ay!
Thank you so much for doing this. Where can people learn more about you?
Instagram – @tandemcoffeeroasters
Twitter – @Tandem_Coffee
Brewing absolute amazing coffee at the roaster. This is a first hand account.
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