Thursday, October 23, 2014

Five Questions With Simon Thompson Of Cravens Coffee

Cravens Coffee Earth & Sky Blend
Cravens Coffee Earth & Sky Blend
In this week's segment of "Five Questions" we talk to Simon Thompson of Cravens Coffee located right here in Spokane, WA. Simon's love for coffee goes far beyond roasting and selling coffee. His love for the product shows not only within his own company, but in our community and within the countries that produce the beans. I'm not going into great detail here, but visit CravensCoffee.com it contains a wealth of information.

From my first cupping experience, to learning about professional coffee grading systems and learning how to find subtle flavor nuances, Simon Thompson has been a significant influence in my coffee journey.

1. What led you to start roasting your own coffee commercially?

I left Seattle's Best Coffee in 1993 to start Cravens with my wife Becky. We had both been in the Hotel and Restaurant business, but in one of those "right place, right time" moments, were in Seattle just as the Specialty Coffee phenomena was building. So came to Spokane to start Cravens.

2. What has been the most enjoyable aspect of creating your own roasting company?

The continuing love of the product, which has has been fueled by annual trips overseas to coffee growing countries since 1999. I love the travel to remote parts of the world, and bring back spectacular coffees.

3. What is your typical week like? I.e. events, travel, visiting shops, etc.

Cupping coffee - multiple times each week; Tasting espresso blends - daily; Espresso training - as they arise, and they seem to come in waves; Buying coffee - also concentrated at times of the year (harvest); Visiting customers; Working in our accounts - I am not a "chatter", I prefer to be out there being active.

4. Can you give any hints what may be coming down the pipe from Cravens Coffee?

Cravens is growing. The phone is ringing and we are actively opening new business all the time. We have also become the African Coffee Roaster it seems, with 2 coffees from Ethiopia, then Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. Watch out for the new crop Colombians in January.

5. What are your personal top 2 coffee's?

1) Tanzania Mondul Estate Peaberry - sweet, wine-like, full bodied, tangy - both as single cup and the majority of an espresso blend. I have a personal relationship with the farm and the people, being the early adopter of this coffee.

2) Then it varies, but the Colombia Huila Valencia is almond-nutty, caramelly, apple-buttery - fantastic. Although a perennial favorite is the Ethiopia Abaya - unbelievable berry-like notes.

I would like to thank Simon Thompson and Cravens Coffee for taking the time to answer these five questions and for all the help provided to help me learn. Thank you!