Since Perfect Coffee at Home #2: Compass Coffee and a Lucky Break

This is part two of a four part series on what we’ve learned and what we’ve been up to since publishing Perfect Coffee at Home. Read the first post here:

Since Perfect Coffee at Home #1: Starting a Roastery and Cafe

On November 20, 2013, we founded Compass Coffee. Like so many great American companies, we started in a basement.

(And yes, calling Compass Coffee “great” is a bit premature, but we act with that intent in the hopes of one day deserving the title.)

While we looked for a suitable home for our roastery and cafe, we started building a laboratory where we could work on all things coffee, everything from selecting the best green coffee importers to perfecting our roast profiles and brewing some amazing cups.

What we had realized in writing our book was that America is in the midst of a coffee renaissance. Americans are seeking out better coffee, they know it’s out there, but there are only a few places around the country which deliver on that promise. And the reason is because meeting that standard is incredibly difficult. It takes painstaking research, lots of trial and error, and a willingness to reexamine conventional wisdom–even stuff that became conventional just a few years ago. We spent hours and hours failing, testing over and over, marking our progress in the smallest increments.

It was around that time that we caught another break.

We received a call from the National Coffee Association (NCA), the trade organization which represents coffee businesses in America. Their mission is to promote coffee, educate people by facilitating research, and address key industry issues, and they were in the midst of a search for new spokespeople. They were looking for someone who was passionate about coffee, knowledgeable about its health benefits, and capable of expressing firsthand its role in creating human connection and community.

On the phone, we joked that we would need some help filing down our rough edges, but the good news was that it would be two for the price of one.

We were initially a bit skeptical about what the job would actually entail. It was like “what’s the catch?” Coffee in America is a multi-billion dollar business and we aren’t the type of guys who can just go on stage and deliver Orwellian talking points. If the NCA was just another lobbying firm covering up for corporate malpractice, our answer would have to be thanks but no thanks.

Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. The more we learned about the organization, the more things we found we liked. It turns out that the NCA is a collection of people from all throughout the coffee industry—small, medium, large, and enormous—who come together, put aside their company rivalries, and work to promote coffee.

When we accepted the role, we were told that the first thing we would do is present at the NCA annual convention being held in New Orleans. We would introduce ourselves to the membership and talk a little bit about our story. Additionally, we would do a couple of interviews about the most recent studies showing that Americans are seeking out better coffee, they’re drinking more of it, and the increasing body of evidence highlighting coffee’s health benefits. It was all stuff we believe in, and it was a natural fit.

Continued in part 3…