By no means is he new to ACR, but he is officially our new Head Roaster. Vincent Bathea is quite the jack-of-all-trades around here. Always going above and beyond for the company and for our customers, he's usually found knee-deep in one project or another. None of us know where he finds the time, but he also has a side gig framing burlap coffee sacks using locally sourced materials under the name Coffee Sack Art. He was kind enough to take a few minutes to answer a question or two between roasts this week.
So, how did you get started in coffee, and how has your interest evolved throughout the years?
I first started in the coffee industry back in 1996 working for an Coffee Products and Equipment company. I learned how to work on coffee equipment but soon become very interested in learning about coffee itself. My interests have evolved to include the roasting and farming side of the industry.
What draws you to roasting in particular?
The attention to detail and the passion that is required to allow the natural qualities of a particular bean shine through. To me, that’s the best roast possible, and that’s what I strive for each and every time I roast.
Which current coffees are your favorites and why?
Right now, I’m really enjoying the Bali Blue Moon, this is a new Semi-washed Indonesian coffee that we are trying as a component in blends. It has a wild earthiness and a lingering spice finish. I also enjoy our El Salvador Santa Emilia, this is a Honey Process coffee that we stumbled upon that has rich molasses taste in the initial hit and a smooth cocoa and almond finish.
What does your typical day look like at ACR?
I usually get in early in the morning and start roasting things we need for the day. As the day goes on, I receive updates and adjust as needed to fill orders. I usually brew coffee when I start the day so we can all try the coffees from the previous day’s roasts.
Do you have any suggestions/tips for home roasters?
First and foremost, be careful. Roasting produces quite a bit of smoke. Don’t try to roast too large of a batch, and make lots of notes so you can achieve the same profile again.
What kinds of innovations do you hope to bring to your new role as Head Roaster?
I’d like to put the focus on sourcing green beans more from sustainable farms and CoOps. I hope to enhance the customer experience by featuring new coffees and hopefully by creating a coffee pairing guide. Also, since cold brew and nitro are becoming a more popular in our local coffee scene, I’d like to create blends and custom roasts with intriguing profiles that will show best in those methods.
So, you have a custom framing business, Coffee Sack Art. How long have you been framing burlap coffee sacks?
I started framing burlap sacks about 10 years ago. I kept seeing all these bags piling up and/or being thrown away, so I decided to re-purpose them.
What do you look for in the bag or materials that really sparks your inspiration for a new piece?
I find inspiration in everyday objects. Things left behind, things slightly broken or used. These coffee sacks come from all over the world. Often, they have unique and colorful estate markings. It was a small leap to incorporate them with other found objects. Coffee Sack Art is a way to give new life to these materials. Being able to frame some of these and display them at Addison Coffee Roasters and local markets has been a good experience for me. I use wood and bamboo that still has good integrity. Bamboo grows wild in many places, so I like to use that a lot. I really enjoy the story my frames can provide to coffee lovers. Our customers really seem to enjoy seeing them on the walls. It gives them a little tangible connection to the coffee they enjoy drinking.
How long does it take to frame one of these, and what is your price range?
It depends on how custom the project is. Getting the frame put together and set, stretching the burlap evenly, these things can take a little time. If paint is involved, that can be time consuming. Generally speaking, though, I can crank one out in under a week. The price depends on the amount of customization, but mostly, they range from $40 to $120.
If you’re interested in Vincent’s burlap wares, you can “tootle on over,” as he is fond of saying, to his Facebook page Coffee Sack Art and give him a like.