Behind the Roast: Roseline CoffeeChristine Quach
Nestled in rainy Portland, OR, the birthplace of artisanal coffee-making culture, Roseline Coffee is an independent roaster on the rise. Focused on quality over quantity, the hardworking team has turned their passion for high-quality coffee to a flourishing business. We caught up with Justin Dedini, Lead Roaster and Green Buyer, over at Roseline Coffee to learn more.
FROM INSPIRATION TO REALITY
How long has Roseline Coffee been in business? What’s the special meaning behind the name?
Roseline Coffee has been in business since April of 2012. We wanted to come up with a name that pays tribute to our home city, Portland, OR. Since Portland is known as the city of roses, we thought a riff on that nickname would be a good fit.
How did you come up with this concept?
At the time we started, we thought there were few roasters who had a business focused on quality. We decided to start small and build up a reputation by servicing high-profile multi-roaster shops. When we gained that exposure, we were able to pick up some amazing local and national wholesale partners that provide us with steady week-to-week business. We are currently a wholesale only roaster, and these partners have done an amazing job showcasing our coffee and have helped us steadily grow our business.
Considering Portland’s strong coffee culture, what kind of presence do you have in your neighborhood?
Since we don’t yet have a café, we’ve established ourselves locally by attending throw-downs, cuppings, and other events within the coffee community. We are also frequently building relationships through visiting cafés around town whether they carry our coffee or not. We are extremely collaborative and rely on our wholesale partners and friends in the coffee industry to give us feedback on how we are maintaining quality and consistency. In return, we like to be a resource for the coffee community whether it’s giving out business advice, brewing tips, or discussing roast theory.
How did you perfect your roasting technique?
I like to think of roasting as a practice rather than something I can perfect. One of the things that keeps me interested in coffee is the idea that quality is a moving target. We are consistently receiving amazing quality green from importers and farmers all over the world. My goal as a roaster is to find the balance point with every new coffee we bring to the menu. I try to aim for profiles and buy green coffee that exhibits maximum sweetness, have pleasant acidity, and don’t have any off flavors caused by defects. The key is to refine our palates and taste as many types of coffee (both high and low quality) every day. From there we are equipped to pick out the finest quality green coffee and the better quality green coffee we get, the easier it is to work with.
What is your most popular (best-selling) roast?
Our best-selling coffees tend to be our Ethiopian coffees. All coffee originates in Ethiopia so I think it’s easy to acquire really tasty Ethiopian coffees and I like to think our roasting style complements their flavor profile very well. Right now we have a new Ethiopian coffee that’s been flying off the shelves. It’s called Bedhatu Jibicho, which happens to be the name of the woman who owns the coffee farm. She’s in her 80s and has been coffee-farming since the 1960s. This coffee is fairly unique because in 2008 the Ethiopian government started regulating coffee sales through an exchange. The exchange system has made it really difficult to obtain coffee that is specific to one producer because coffees from many farms are usually homogenized at community-owned mills and sold by region. I think the quality and story behind this coffee really resonates with people.
How many coffee shops do you supply?
The number of shops we supply fluctuates, but we sell to numerous shops nationwide as well as through our web store.
Where do you source your coffee beans?
Since we are a 4-person team, it’s hard to get to origin and find new amazing coffees directly. We rely heavily on our network of importers to seek out and find great coffees for us. They are all small businesses as well and really care about the quality of coffee and the communities they buy from. We usually like to keep our menu equally balanced between African and Latin American coffees. We evaluate samples from our farmers and importers blind to eliminate any biases and buy what tastes the best. That model keeps us honest and has seemed to work out well for us.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Are you planning to expand to other locations?
We are actually finishing up an expansion to our roasting space and building out our first Roseline Coffee Café at this moment! It’s a very exciting time for us. Expanding into our own retail space has been in the pipeline, but it has taken awhile to find the right spot. It should be open in the spring of 2018.
It’s clear that 2018 will definitely be Roseline’s year. We’re excited to see what this admirable company brings to the table. If you’re ever in Portland, make sure to stop by Roseline Coffee at 800 SE 10th Ave to sample the best roast the city has to offer. We’ll definitely be on the lookout for their new café next spring!