Miami native Wade Windsor moved to California for surfing and studies and eventually settled in Long Beach with wife Lindsay. They operate Lord Windsor Roasters near downtown, where Wade roasts coffee according to a mantra: “do it right, roast it light.” I recently corresponded with him by e-mail, and Windsor shared several caffeinated insights.
Where are you from originally, and what brought you to Long Beach?
I’m from Miami, and moved to California for surfing, with a side dish of college. I grew tired of Southern CA after graduating from college, and hauled ass up to Santa Cruz, and eventually to San Francisco. While living up north, my wife (then girlfriend) and I would come down and visit friends that remained in the area for birthdays, holidays, etc. For some reason or another, lots of them gravitated towards Long Beach. I really had never spent much time in Long Beach for fear of being assaulted by Sublime fans, but quickly grew to love the city after several visits. It’s such a quirky place, keeping its own identity while being sandwiched between OC and LA counties. After visiting for so many years and seeing the lack of specialty coffee, we decided to take the plunge and move to Long Beach to open our own coffee roasting company.
What’s the very first cup of coffee you ever remember drinking?
Growing up in Florida, I’ve had many sips of that motor oil the Cubans call coffee, but I can’t say I necessarily remember one specific time. I never really thought much about coffee growing up, I didn’t dislike it, but I also didn’t fiend for it. I’d say my first detailed memory of drinking coffee was my freshman year at college in Reed McGinnis’ room. He had red hair, and loved ’90s hardcore (music, don’t be pervy!), so those two things set the context rather memorable. He made a batch through an automatic machine, and we sat around drinking it discussing how that Earth Crisis might have a point in their message, but they were going about communicating that message wrong. If we didn’t have bandanas on, we probably would’ve had berets on.
At what point did you know you’d work with coffee for a living? Also, what were you doing for a living leading up to coffee?
I started roasting coffee as a DIY, money-saving thing at home. I was interested in the process of doing something on my own that I previously had been paying for, kind of like brewing beer, making bacon, etc. But there was something about coffee that had me hooked. I loved reading travelogues on sourcing, different roasting practices, you name it. So, at that moment I felt like I wanted to work with coffee for a living. That being said, I was also trying to stay awake to the fact that I have a low attention span. In my life, only a few things outside of surfing and brushing my teeth daily have held my attention for a long enough period of time to consider it a career. After college, I did everything from slanging produce in Santa Cruz, teaching English in Japan, mason work in Hawaii, to yelling at customers behind the milk box at Trader Joe’s. The majority of my time in San Francisco I worked in a cubicle for a company that administered and monitored an international visa. I was able to travel internationally with work, so that was nice. Otherwise, it was a typical cubicle job, and I was antsy as shit, and coffee was still making me so damn excited.
What inspired you to open Lord Windsor Roasters?
Lack of wanting a boss, ha! I love coffee, and I wanted to surround myself with it. I knew I had a lot to learn, but I didn’t feel like going to work for a company with the end result being opening my own shop. I felt I had the opportunity to skip to what I wanted in the end, so we went for it. My wife really inspired me, she was hell bent on making it happen and never let us reconsider. There’s this whole cheeseball story of how we found our location that also deeply inspired me. We had been talking about it for so long, that it became second nature to move in the direction of opening.
What were the circumstances surrounding the first time you roasted coffee, and how did the batch turn out?
Like most, I imagine it was gnarly. My first roast was on a Whirley Pop in a tiny apartment. I had the popper way too hot, and immediately singed the coffee. By the time I dumped the coffee, it was carbon. It was undrinkable, I didn’t even need a grinder it was so roasted through. I had luck with the second batch, but the first was raunchy.
What does a coffee be for you to roast and brew it at Lord Windsor Roasters?