Profile: Cellar Door Coffee

in Buying Coffee

I’ve said it before, but every Christmas, family members tell me that I’m difficult to buy for, and every year, they get me amazing gifts.  This year, my brother did his research and identified a quality coffee roaster in Portland, Oregon, and got me a gift certificate there.  This week, I paid a visit to Jeremy Adams, owner of Cellar Door Coffee.

When I arrived, my attention went straight to Cellar Door‘s stock of coffee gear, and the Aeropress I’ve heard so much about but still didn’t own.  Despite it coming with directions, Jeremy was good enough to walk me through the process, taking time to talk through the uniqueness and benefits of this method of brewing coffee.  He had some fresh coffee from Bali, Indonesia, and made me a few sips so that I could decide on this brewing method for myself before buying the gear. 

A unique coffee to begin with.  Freshly roasted.  Specially brewed.  We were off to a good start.  I committed to buy the Aeropress.

I’ll write on the Aeropress in a future post, after I’ve had a chance to play with it, and use both methods that Jeremy walked me through.

Cellar Door Coffee has two roasting machines, a small one in their front retail area, with proper ventilation out above the front of the store, and a large roaster in the basement.  The small roaster upstairs allows Jeremy to roast a half-pound to a pound at a time when sampling a new coffee, and before committing to a larger quantity of it as something that will be offered to customers.  I’ve come to appreciate the finicky nature of good coffee roasters.  It has to pass the test before it’s offered to you.

The large roaster and packaging operation in the basement consists of three employees, filling demand for wholesale accounts in the area and for regular retail customers.  Jeremy started this five years ago as a home-based business, winning wholesale accounts and developing a presence at farmers’ markets with a quality coffee.  It sounded very familiar to my old friend Dave Cook‘s story at Fire Roasted Coffee Company.  A year later, Jeremy moved into the shop he manages today. 

Part of Jeremy’s tour included introducing me to the flameless afterburner that he built, coupled to his roaster, as a method of reducing pollution for his neighbors.  I’ve found this common theme of respect for community in most of the coffee roasters I’ve met to date.  Click the image to get Jeremy’s full tour from a previous YouTube video.  In it, Jeremy does much better justice to the science and benefit of it, than I can here.  In short, this releases less particulates into the air, and uses less natural gas to break down the by-product of roasting coffee.

There are a couple other traits I’m finding in coffee roasters.  The first is that while they are intent on raising awareness of social issues related to their craft, they are also quite modest about their own achievements.  Jeremy didn’t notice me taking notes from a Certificate of Appreciation hanging in the packaging area, made out to Cellar Door Coffee from Mercy Corps, a community-building not-for-profit that combats suffering, poverty, and oppression.

The second trait is how approachable I’m finding almost any roaster I meet.  Not only did Jeremy sit down with me after the tour for as long as I had time, but regular customers all knew him personally.  A regular customer named Andy even helped me select the coffee I went home with – a medium-roasted Guatemalan coffee.  Andy even made sure I knew how to operate the Aeropress I had in hand.

Another amazing encounter with a craftsperson of this business.  Another amazing gift from a family member.  Thank you, Jeremy and brother Jacques for making these arrangements behind my back.


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