Saw this article on one of the coffee industry’s more interesting personalities, Duane Sorenson of Stumptown Coffee. With the continued developing interest in Pittsburgh (i.e. Aldo Coffee, 21st Street, Tazza D’Oro), Stumptown has a story that explains a lot about where the industry is headed:
This article appeared in The Tacoma News Tribune (Tacoma, WA, my hometown!), March 23, 2008
“Sorenson looked like many other customers in the coffeehouse, but despite appearances, he isn’t some indie rock geek hunkered over a latte and a laptop. Sorenson owns the joint, along with five other Stumptown coffeehouses and a roastery that supplies nearly 200 cafes and restaurants in this coffee-soaked city. As founder of 9-year-old Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Sorenson is among a small group of artisans and entrepreneurs who are jolting the business of beans by nurturing relationships with coffee growers, demanding training standards for baristas and turning on consumers to varietals.
Born and raised in Puyallup, Sorenson, is both unassuming and larger than life. A caffeinated, down-to-earth 36-year-old man-child in grunge couture, he not only rolls up his sleeves to befriend family farmers in developing nations but also pays premium prices for their beans in exchange for promises to improve their crops.
“Most of my employees are ex-bike messengers,” Sorenson said, shrugging off any fundamental differences between the guys who pull shots of Stumptown espresso and the guy who calls the shots for Stumptown’s business. “I tend to recruit the tattooed, hard-core types.”
The article gets a little deeper into the business practices and relationships Stumptown has developed with coffee growers around the world. If you have the time, it’s worth the read. Someday Stumptown may show up in a coffee shop near you…