On April 2, Bryan Kegley worked his way through the ranks at Coffea doing dishes and pouring lattes. He now spends his time drinking coffee and planning all kinds of fun as the Coffea CEO. He spoke to our group about how he ended up in the coffee business and taught us about coffee tasting. Read more about Bryan in his own words:
What unique space does Coffea fill in Sioux Falls?
Coffea's goal is to show Sioux Falls that coffee deserves a place among the ranks of the world's great beverages. Coffee is an unbelievably complex drink with a complicated history. Coffea exists to demystify and unravel all this complexity and confusion so that Sioux Falls can enjoy some of the best coffees grown in the world every day.
What are some of the challenges you face and how do you meet them?
The biggest problem for anyone trying to create a business serving coffee is that coffee is everywhere. Over time coffee has infiltrated every possible nook and cranny of life; it populates every kitchen counter and every office break room. It's hard to create a mentality that recognizes really well-grown coffee as something remarkably unique and special in the world when coffee, as a drink, is so easily accessible. The biggest way that we try to overcome the challenge of the ubiquity of coffee is by offering outstanding service consistent with outstanding coffee. If someone started a business serving popsicles from a cart but could explain the sourcing and selection of high-quality fruits, proper water configuration for the best freeze, and the pros/cons of freezer conditioning all wrapped up in wonderful packaging, you might reconsider what a popsicle can be. We want to do the same for coffee.
What have you learned by traveling and meeting growers?
Meeting coffee producers has reinforced in me the need for Coffea to help people understand what coffee is and what makes it great. These producers are so enthusiastic about producing unbelievable coffee and are so willing to try new methods of coffee production, to plant new varieties of coffee not typically found in that region, and to sort out coffee that would typically be mixed in with all the rest that it would be nothing short of disappointing for us to not play our role in our end of the coffee supply chain. As a coffee consumer it's hard to see all the hands that it takes to produce a morning cup of coffee but the better that Coffea can provide transparency in our coffees and education the more likely that the enthusiasm for coffee that these producers have will be reflected in the coffees we drink.
What's something that most people don't know about coffee?
This one makes me laugh a bit. Honestly, coffee doesn't taste best hot. This is really, really hard to convince people of because for a lot of people coffee is a piping hot drink that wakes you up and warms you up. But, hot coffee tastes mostly like hot coffee; coffee just above room temperature tastes like all the unbelievable complexities that are grown into a really high-quality coffee. There are actually certain receptors on the tongue that activate and perceive things differently at different temperatures. The best time to drink coffee is when it's just warm.