JL: Why is it important to roast your own coffee, and what distinguishes your coffee from other roasters?
KA: I have a lot of respect for other roasters, but at the end of the day I do things my way. I source primarily in-season coffees that express the best examples of their classic origin notes, but whenever I find something that’s not just unique but excellent, I jump on it. I source many small lot coffees that have been processed experimentally. I roast for sweetness and brightness, but I stay away from “light roast for the sake of being light,” something I see from other roasters that’s often sour and watery. Our consistent style is a developed light roast that brews best as a 1:15 ratio filter, and makes a sweet& juicy espresso shot. I’m also constantly developing our dark roast, as a way of bridging the gap between the taste of roast that some people enjoy and something that expresses the origin’s terroir and the farmer’s work.
JL: What’s a typical coffee consumption day for you?
KA: When I’ve just started working with a new coffee, I drink it hot and cold through both a classic Mr. Coffee percolator and a Kalita brew. (I only cup for defects when I’ve dialed-in a profile and do quality control checks, and even then it’s just a few sips.) I might have a couple espressos on a quality control run through our L.A. accounts. It typically ends up at 4 cups. Weekends I usually go entirely without caffeine.
JL: What is your favorite brewing method, and why?
KA: Kalita, for consistency.
JL: Who else in the industry do you look to for inspiration, guidance or advice?
KA: Honestly: everyone. I’ve only been doing this professionally since 2011, and I know I have a lot to learn. Baristas who’ve served thousands of shots but have never stepped behind a roaster know better than me at serving; everyone has their specialty.
JL: When people hear your name, what do you want them to think?
KA: I’d really love to put my roastery in peoples’ minds before myself. While I’d love to have the reputation of someone like George Howell or Tim Wendelboe who’ve transcended the title of “roaster” and done a 360-degree evaluation of how to improve the coffee industry, it’s my goal for Compelling & Rich to have a reputation for quality, innovation, and service to everyone who comes in contact with us rather than just one person.