Introducing TED Roaster : Stumptown
As part of the build-up to TED, we’ve asked that each of the participating roasters write a brief introduction for one of the others. This would typically be a tough exercise, but the mutual admiration shared by these companies is really amazing.
By Benjamin Kaminsky, Ritual Coffee Roasters, SF, CA
After getting his start in Seattle, Duane Sorenson opened Stumptown Coffee Roasters in 1999, in Portland, Oregon. The initial Division Street store was the birthplace of some revolutionary ideas, in both roasting and coffeebar design.
In utilizing a lighter roasting style, Stumptown eschewed the standard roasting practices of the West Coast, and highlighted the coffee’s inherent characteristics – of farmer and terroir. In the coffeebar, the design was open and spacious; the counters were low, as was the espresso machine, which encouraged customer-barista interaction. The coffee was brewed in small batches via french press to maintain freshness, quality, and craft.
Stumptown then began sourcing coffees from Central America; building relationships with producers in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and beyond. I am not alone in thinking that they are privy to some of the best green coffees in the world. Since then, Stumptown has expanded its roasting and retail operations to both Seattle and New York City and, most recently, to Amsterdam, where it opened a pop-up coffeebar in the summer of 2010. With the company’s entrance into each new city, it has changed the landscape of specialty coffee.
There is a simple rule at The Stumptown: everyone cups coffee. Everyone knows what the coffees taste like and which producers grew them. I once overheard a Stumptown trainer say to a new barista, “it’s not about you… It’s about the coffee. Always.” That, right there, is Stumptown.