Sunday, March 11, 2007

Field Trip to NOVO Roastery

Who say’s small means less, when it can mean the difference between a delicately selected, beautiful, full city roasted coffee and a dirty espresso machine. What do I mean? I mean the difference between a smart roaster, and one doesn’t care about what happens to their beans. Whenever you see a company that will sell to just about anybody, doesn’t care about how you prepare it, only cares that your last check didn’t bounce, and you made the minimum 15lb order this month (month??!!). Makes you scared? Right? But there is always a flip side to the coin, and I got to see it in action, right in front of my eyes, and without a self-congratulatory word uttered.

The space is maybe only a thousand square feet and change, divided amongst three separate rooms located in a central part of the city. A few doors down from them is an industrial metal artist, who I must admit, has some very cool stuff outside his door. The only people in the roastery today is Simeom, a very quiet and confident roaster from Ethiopia, and Herb, the PR man and father to Joseph and Jake, the other two masterminds behind NOVO.

The first space I enter, the actual roasting room, where some roasting action is taking place, I meet Simeom and he directs me to next door, where Herb is at. This is office/bean storage/meeting room/anything and everything else room. Herb greets me and we start talking about the facility, and how much expansion they have done, and will need to do soon, as it looks like they’re about to burst at the seams in some places. We look at some pictures of Joseph’s trip to Papua New Guinea, and all the people who where on that trip, which, if pictures can only describe 1% of the amazement, was incredible. Then Simeom comes in, and Herb says a couple jokes, I laugh, Simeom smirks, not even stopping in his quest for labels of some sort. Later I realize that Simeom is a machine, dedicated and efficient, in the few minutes that I watched him work, he is the MAN.

Their roaster is considerably different than most I have seen before. I do not have the words to describe it, but I will say that it does make some darn good coffee in their capable hands. You cannot miss the tubs and tubs of roasted beans against the wall. These will be shipped out the next day, which of course, Herb and I partook of, some Los Lajones Estate made in a Clover just for me. In this space the also have a small cupping and sample roasting lab, which like everything else, is slightly crowded, but has some CoE samples, and the obligatory growing pile of samples sent from farms around the world. A person could get lost here, a playground of Clovers, roasters, espresso machines, and mountains of freshly roasted beans, sounds terrible, right?

Then as get back to office I meet Patrick for first time, again, as we had only meet for a very brief time at the tasting the Friday before. Herb and I speak, he answers a few phone calls, which I think is nice, knowing that when somebody calls, they will get a person on the line, not an answering machine. I know that he needs to get back to work, and that I should go, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. As I say my goodbyes and get into my car, I start to drive away saying to myself, ‘Now that’s how you do it.’


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