Behind the Scenes with Canyon Coffee
Meet our roaster, James Klapp
A lot of pieces came together to culminate in the creation of Canyon Coffee—our passion for coffee, our love for ritual, a vision for something unique and new. But of all the elements that led to Canyon, perhaps the most important was friendship. One friendship, in particular, we could not have started our company without.
That friendship is with James Klapp.
Casey and James met years ago while working together in the coffee industry in LA. Both musicians, they bonded initially over music. We also loved how avid he is for climbing and the outdoors.
Over time, we found we shared a lot of similarities with James with regard to what kinds of coffees we enjoyed. We also came to really respect his talent as a roaster.
When the idea for Canyon Coffee came around, James was the first person we talked to. We found common footing in what we wanted to do with coffee, and how we wanted to talk about it. From there, we got to work.
Now, we’re excited to share some behind-the-scenes footage of a typical roast day for us. We also took advantage of the occasion to ask James some questions about roasting (with some climbing and music sprinkled in!).
Hope you enjoy.
What is a roaster? How do you explain roasting to people?
Coffee's roasted inside of a large convection oven with a powerful burner to apply heat and a rotating drum to help that heat be applied evenly. A small thermocouple is installed into the front of every roaster so that it sticks a few inches into the mass of roasting coffee and the temperatures reflect the approximate temperature. Most roasters these days use computer applications to visualize and record that temperature, viewing the temperature of the beans of the time they've been in the roaster. We taste and evaluate every batch we roast, then use the data we capture to replicate our favorite batches. We repeat this process each week in hopes of developing the best flavors each coffee has to offer!
How does Canyon find coffees?
The world produces a couple billion pounds of raw coffee each year. The types of coffees we enjoy in specialty coffee shops represent just a small fraction of that total and we're just one company choosing a few lots out of thousands to stamp with our label. Where do we even start and what makes a coffee well-suited for Canyon? Our tagline is "Enjoy, like all things, in balance". I wholeheartedly believe that well-balanced, complex coffees make for a well-rounded, enjoyable cup of coffee. My goal is to be able to pick out three distinct, delicious flavors when I take a sip, but a lot of work goes into producing that level of quality. Growing, processing, shipping and storing coffee is a huge undertaking, so great partnerships are essential. We have great relationships with producing, exporting and importing partners who are committed to quality, paying traceable fixed prices for organically-grown coffees and helping us meet like-minded coffee producers and organizations.
Why did you get into roasting? What excites you about coffee?
It's pretty simple to understand wanting to roast coffee, it just tastes so good! It's a lot of fun to taste and talk about it every day.
What are you excited to see in the future of coffee, or where are you excited to take it?
There's so much to be excited about! I'm excited to see more economic parity between coffee consuming countries and coffee producing countries. We're doing what we can to participate in supply chain models built around fixed, quality-based prices and long-term relationships, so as our company grows, we can participate even more substantively. As quality keeps improving, it's really exciting to think about how much of the best coffee could stay in its local market. I had experiences at Azahar and Colo in Bogota as well as at Coocentral's Kahve Hotel in Garzon, Huila that were better than most coffee I drink in Los Angeles and it really impacted me. I really hope the future holds the liberation of specialty coffee from pretense.
James, when we met you you had never climbed. Now you fly to Alaska to climb glaciers and Colorado to scale frozen waterfalls. How did you get into climbing and why do you love it so much?
Frozen waterfalls are just the coolest looking things in the world! I like that they change from day-to-day and year-to-year and conditions even change wildly throughout the course of a day. Nothing else I do demands 100% of my energy and focus, no matter how much I care about it. Like most people, I think, I tend to go through the motions sometimes so often that when I have to commit completely to something, it becomes a transformative experience. Being in an alpine environment just amplifies all of it. The mountains really are something else.
James, what's your favorite guitar pedal and what traits does it share with your favorite coffees?
Easy! The Eventide Pitchfactor because it's just so simple but has limitless possibilities. It also makes everything better :D