A great interview with the owner of 4 Barrel Coffee in San Francisco, from the same article I posted a week ago on Sightglass.
Four Barrel Coffee
If a little rope art and taxidermy are your idea of a nice coffee time, Four Barrel’s reclaimed Hell’s Angels playhouse is just the ticket. Though the company—like Ritual—began by pouring Stumptown coffees while establishing their roastery, Four Barrel now cranks out bag after bag of coffee to drinkers who can watch the coffees roasted from a handsome back bar. Give the Colombia San Agustin Buenos Aires and Colombia San Agustin La Cabana Reserve a try. We spoke with owner Jeremy Tooker about the shop’s evolution.
How long have you been roasting?
We started roasting Christmas 2008.
How much coffee are you roasting these days?
It was our goal to be a roaster first, wholesale second. I treat it like an art project, but it ended up being profitable. Currently we’re roasting 1,000 pounds a week just for the cafe, but about 7,500 pounds a week total. We’ll outgrown our 15 kilo roaster and move to a 60 kilo one day.
How would you describe your roasting style?
We are much less about a specific roast level, e.g. color, than how we get it there. I don’t see it as a manual process—it’s beyond technology. There’s no standard equipment out there that can do what a human does to coffee. It’s akin to cooking versus science. That said, we generally roast lighter, but it’s all about the approach. Machines can’t smell for maltiness and sweetness.
What kinds of coffees do you prefer to source?
Our goal is to start with limited amounts of certain origins. As far as our portfolio, I like them all for different reasons, but Kenyans, Ethiopians, Colombians, Guatemala in no particular order are among my favorites. We tend to steer away from Brazilian coffees, which tend to be more focused on production than quality.
Four Barrel Coffee