Five Questions with a BGA Member - Brandon Paul Weaver
Ed. note: This edition of Five Questions was authored by BGA Executive Council member Cole McBride.
For this month's Five Questions, I sat down with Brandon Paul Weaver of Slate Coffee Roasters in Seattle, Washington. Brandon is the current Northwest Brewers Cup Champion and is very active in the Seattle coffee community. Brandon is one of the most dedicated coffee professionals I know and it's a pleasure hearing his views on Specialty coffee.
Brandon Paul Weaver double pours his way to Brewers Cup glory.
Photo courtesy of our friends at Barista Magazine.
Cole McBride How long have you been a barista and what is your current role at Slate Coffee?
Brandon Paul Weaver I have been a barista for almost four years, three in Specialty. At Slate, I do a lot of writing: bag copy, website content, wholesale documents, etc. I also work behind the bar and train people how to make coffee taste good.
CM What new direction would you like to see happen in Specialty coffee?
BPW I would love to see people figuring out to serve high quality coffee in a setting that does not resemble fast food (i.e. overhead menus, lines, walk up to the register, order, waiting area). Whether that means table service, bar seating, food pairings, or other things, I'm not sure. Maybe all of them! I understand that it's risky for business owners to vary from the norm, but I think if we start playing with ideas like Portola's Theorum or Everyman Espresso's Bikini Bar or most things that G+B do (to name a few examples), we will start to create more engaging ways to present the coffees we love so dearly to a public that has no idea what we are talking about. I can't help but think that will pay off, especially if executed with omnipresent hospitality.
And... If I may be so indulgent as to sneak a second answer into this one: a personal pet peeve of mine is the persistence of the compound phrase "coffee bean, which is really a seed." Since we are all so transparency focused, lets just start calling them seeds! "Beans" create a psychological expectation of savoriness on which most high end specialty coffee does not deliver. However, if we start talking about the seeds of a tropical fruit, it becomes a lot easier for our guests to understand what we try to present as extraordinary coffee. I'm starting a campaign! #seedsnotbeans
CM What do you love most about coffee?
BPW Coffee never ceases to amaze me. Be it some new elegant variety, the minds of the people who choose to make it a career, or the conversations with strangers it enables, I am constantly in awe of what coffee does.
CM Why is being a BGA member important to you?
BPW As a BGA member, I have been connected with SO SO SO many incredible people, resources, and opportunities. Barista Camp last year was one of the best coffee experiences I have ever had. It lead to my desire to compete and competition lead to me meeting so many people for whom I have utmost respect. I am a far more competent coffee professional for having participated in these events. Also, access to the online SCAA Library is a gold mine for any trainer, educator, or obsessive coffee professional like myself. Good bye free time.
CM What is your preferred brewing method and why?
BPW Clever in a clever way! It takes advantage of the way hot water naturally interacts it coffee and thereby allows extract coffee evenly and consistently. At a microscopic level, coffee is porous just like a sponge. And, just like a sponge, it takes time for water to make its way into the center of each coffee particle. By steeping the coffee with a small amount of water for a short time (in a Clever Coffee Dripper), you allow time for water to make its way to the center of the coffee particle (i.e. saturate it) without extracting too much from the edges of the coffee particle. Once the coffee is fully saturated, throw the Clever on a decanter and add the rest of your water fairly quickly. As the water drains, it moves through each point of each particle evenly so you don't overextract the edges while underextracting the center. Plus the fines will mostly stick to the edge of the filter while the water drains, stopping their extraction early and preventing some of the more nasty bitter compounds from dissolving into your brew.
Clever in a clever way: delicious coffee with a more even extraction, every time!
It's a lot simpler than it sounds, I promise!