Why I Am (A Letter from Our New Roasting Apprentice, Ben)

Why I Am,

If I loved coffee just for its flavor or aroma I might not be in the industry. Instead, I’d probably be in some MBA program (or MPA, lest my Mom kills me) at a random school. Don’t get me wrong, I love coffee. What I love more than the liquid in the cup, however, is everything that isn’t: people, places, processes. It’s why I decided there was no way I wanted to work for a certain famous roaster; they had recently decided to sell their shares (and their soul) to a large company, one that just-so-happens to be known for its appreciation of the slave trade and their belief that water isn’t a human right. Fuck them. That’s why I threw myself at this company.

You see, working for “them” isn’t right or wrong, it’s just not for me. Yes, they roast decent beans. Yes, they’re well known. No, I don’t hate their roasters (actually that’s a little complicated... buy me a beer... or two... or twelve... you might get a rant about them or Ronald Reagan).

To the coffee world -- to those who see coffee as a whole world and not as their own little alley, a world where we can all push each other to learn and prosper -- forever I am yours. I will always be inspired by you, and your devotion to education for all. I one day hope to be called your peer. That’s what really mattered to me while applying for jobs: finding good people that saw learning as a lifelong process best done with friends. I got lucky. I found a spot and threw myself at it. My exact words were:

I’d love to have the opportunity to work for you in any capacity. I don’t care much about what the hours are, or what the job is. I’ll figure out how to make it work. I just want to work around people that Inspire me to grow and inspire me to make the best product possible. Please let me work for you.

It’s why I’m here. Claudia and Flight gave me a chance to learn. I reread that email and realized that I might’ve come across as out-there. I wrote a second note to try and make me seem more reasonable... it might’ve worked.

At the end of the day, I might have been too upfront. I might have been too open, too vulnerable, but dammit that’s so much of what coffee is to me. It’s sitting around a table willing to be open. It’s understanding that when I get it wrong I can start again. It’s letting that strange essence of the bean protect you (I swear I’m not some New Hampshire hippie, just a regular New Jersey asshole). It’s hard. I’m not very good at it. I always want to show myself in the best light, so often times I fall into the trap of not showing myself in the most honest light. Here's hoping that opening up will be part of my continuing education.

At the end of the day, coffee, for me, is about sitting around a table with good people: to be able to sit there, if only for a moment, enjoying the company of someone else and the stories that led to you all to that table. If I can provide that opportunity I have succeeded, if only in part.


Benjamin Sherwood Evans

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