“The very first year Alastair Durie (owner at Elysian Coffee Roasters) bought coffee from Soledad, we had no place to roast it – and we had never roasted coffee before... He’d been visiting the farms enough and knew that this crop was amazing.” Christopher Rodgers, Quality Control at Elysian shared with us. This was in 2006, and perhaps was a bold move, but one that took them down an incredible path.
Bold decisions, team work and removing the ego. Those would be some of the main principles that the team at Elysian uses to guide their decisions.
“Our whole vibe is trying to make it easy for people and really try and remove ego from the equation for the consumer. We want to let them know that we want to roast the coffee that’s like the juiciest, sweetest, most delicious coffee that you’ve ever had, but it’s super easy and accessible.”
How accessible are we talking here?
“If you can feed this coffee to your grandfather who drinks Folgers all the time and he likes it, that’s success.” Explained Christopher.
One bold change they have implemented in an effort to make coffee more accessible is to make their menu simple. One coffee simple. Remove the complexity and have their customers enjoy the one coffee they’re serving that day. Sometimes it’ll be a familiar tasting coffee and sometimes it’ll be a bit more on the wilder scale.
“Now it’s like really cool to see a family come in with their kids and they’re like ‘we don’t really know a lot about coffee’ and we’re like ‘ Here! Just taste this, it’s great.’”
Although the simplification of the ordering may sound like a negative, it’s something that has been fundamental to spark a conversation with their customers. That conversation leads to the customer learning more about specialty coffee. It creates an atmosphere that is far from pretentious and tailored to the individual trying to learn, as opposed to the one who already knows everything.
The analyzing of details like this are really important to Elysian. When it comes to who they’re working with, they have built relationships with producers who think in a similar vain.
For the Perez family who manages the farm at La Soledad – they have a very progressive approach when it comes to producing coffee. They have built a quality control lab to roast and taste the coffee that the farm produces each year. It is pretty rare for farms to invest in a lab like this, but clearly it’s working in their favour. In 2012, Barista Raul Rodas used the coffee from La Soledad when competing in the Barista Competition and took 1st place at the Worlds with this coffee; an unbelievable accomplishment.
Elysian has held on tight to this relationship that started almost a decade ago. They understand how much coffee means to the Perez family and can definitely relate with their pursuit.
When Alistair Durie (owner at Elysian) first met Henio Perez, the producer at La Soledad he asked him what coffee meant to him and he received this very succinct reply:
“He rolled up his sleeve and held out his arm... ‘coffee runs through my veins’”