Handsome Coffee Roasters
Handsome Coffee Roasters co-founder (and World Barista Champion) Mike Phillips works with Brie on v60 technique
In addition to the coffees from Intelligentsia/Ecco, Volta staff and customers cup and brew coffee from all over North America looking for exceptional coffees to add to our menu. Most of the time when we receive samples, the coffees don't make it any closer to the menu than the Sunday cupping table. We can afford to be selective-- Intelligentsia has set a high bar, and there's just not much reason to bring in coffees that don't offer something special. Most roasters don't have the resources or connections to source coffee as carefully, nor do they have the dedication to quality control. Every so often, we do find roasters who have amazing coffees that offer a notable contrast to what we can otherwise offer. You'll see a number of guest roasters have their coffee on the bar throughout the year, but three in particular have impressed us enough that they regularly cycle through the menu: Handsome Coffee Roasters, of Los Angeles. Ritual Roasters, from San Francisco. Coava, from Portland.
In spite of being the new guys on the scene, Handsome Coffee Roasters has long-standing ties to Volta. Co-founders Chris Owens, Tyler Wells, and Mike Phillips have been crossing paths with Volta from points all over the country. I first met Chris Owens a year before we opened the shop. At the time, Chris was working for Counter Culture and Volta was just a business plan-in-progress. I remember long discussions over dinner as I pummeled Chris for advice about how we should shape our espresso and brewed coffee service. When we had our opening party, Chris and Melissa drove down from Atlanta to help us celebrate. Both will always be considered part of the extended Volta family. I first met Tyler when he was managing the coffee bar at Frank Hot Dogs and Cold Beer, in Austin, TX. We couldn't talk much because he was competing in the SCRBC and I was a judge, but after the competition he flew in to spend a week at Volta while he dialed in his USBC coffee and attended cuppings and trainings with Intelligentsia's Geoff Watts. Although I never judged Mike in competition, I first met him when he won the US Barista Competition in Portland-- and later, while he was the training director at Intelligentsia, he patiently answered all of my questions about brew specs and techniques.
Now that Mike, Tyler, and Chris have struck out on their own to create Handsome Coffee Roasters, it was pretty much inevitable that we would be working with them. They've hit all of the right notes: small batches of carefully sourced coffees (directly traded whenever possible, but also working with top-grade importers); fastidiously intense QC procedures from purchase through production roasting; focused and productive customer service and training. So far, Handsome have been very limited in their offerings. Two coffees from El Salvador and Honduras. One or two other Central American and one Kenyan coffee. A Central American-centric espresso blend that shimmers with bright fruit flavors. The Handsome crew are taking their time to build their coffee offerings to reflect their own tastes and personalities-- and we're very happy to be along for the ride.