I’m not sure how I first heard of Bespoken Coffee Roasters (in Corvallis, Oregon), but I am pretty sure it was when I was scooting around Instagram last fall, and I came across one of their posts. I immediately started following them. Because they seemed awesome. And then, they posted something about a big custom order of their Holiday Blend they had just finished packaging. I could not resist… I asked if they had any extra bags I could buy and, lucky me, they did! The beans were as amazing as I had hoped, and I ordered a second bag to have for breakfast on Christmas morning. The coffee is delicious, true, but also true is that Bespoken’s husband and wife team – Collin and Ann Schneider – come across as just really friendly, down-to-earth people. Not a surprise, then, that they said yes when I asked if I could interview them.
On their website, there is a definition for bespoken: \bi-’spōk-’en\: made to individual order; custom made. Their philosophy is that coffee is inherently unique, and by focusing on those unique characteristics they can custom tailor each roast so that their customers can enjoy the very best cup of coffee. Below is my Q&A with Collin.
Q: When did you first discover coffee?
A: It was a pretty slow process actually. I wouldn’t say the first time I took a sip of a middle school friend’s white chocolate caramel mocha was necessarily a euphoric revelation, but it definitely got the wheels turning. And I’ve been drinking it ever since. But black now, of course.
Q: How did you end up working in the coffee industry, and then how did you end up starting Bespoken?
A: When my wife and I started dating our sophomore year of high school, owning a shop was always something we talked about. It was almost fated, I guess. We worked for a lot of different coffee roasters (Sterling) and shops (Coffee House Northwest) over the next 10 years. Some big some small, but we eventually had a family and wanted to settle somewhere outside of downtown Portland, and we figured it was time to pull the ‘ol pipe dream off the shelf and dust it off.
Q: What are some of your favorite cities for coffee in the U.S.? And what are one or two coffee shops you like to frequent when you are visiting those places?
A: Portland is home, but I also think it has a track record of fostering a ton of very small and focused coffee shops. Though we moved away from it, it will always be my favorite place to crawl from cafe to cafe. I toured in a band for a little while, which happened to be around the time that third-wave coffee was a coined and practiced idea. I nearly made us late to gigs again and again because I really wanted to try coffee somewhere that had a really good reputation. We’d always hit Temple [Coffee Roasters] in Sacramento, and Cartel [Coffee Lab] in Tempe. Granted, that was 2009, and there’s been an explosion since then. Now there’s a great cup pretty much anywhere you are.
Q: Where do you plan to go on your next vacation?
A: We don’t get out too much, but if we’re able, it’s mostly just around Oregon with the kids. Hoping to travel Europe at some point, but we’re still a few years off. But with the recent Brexit, that might not be bad timing.
Q: Any coffee places you are looking forward to checking out on that trip?
A: All of them. Square Mile [Coffee Roasters, in London] has been quite a fixture in my time. I’ve always appreciated what James Hoffman has done for the coffee industry, and continues to do. But if we end up in Germany, I’m very much looking forward to starting the day with great espresso and ending with a stein. Several of them, if we’re honest.
Q: How do you brew your coffee?
A: At home, it’s usually a cup at a time, so Aeropress is the way to go. At work, it’s espresso.
Q: What is your favorite thing to eat with your coffee?
A: More coffee. I’m one of those weird people that doesn’t really eat breakfast. Unless I have time to make home fries with eggs over easy. Diner coffee is great though and one of the few times I’ll ‘bastardize’ decent coffee with a heavy dose of cream to pair with the oversized pancakes and bacon. I think Waffle House while touring was probably the root of this practice.
Q: What is one items of clothing you love?
A: Ann would have something very insightful to say about this, but I just love my Levi’s commuters. Update: I asked Ann, she said her Free People overalls are the current favorite, or her Steve Madden boots.
Q: What is the one thing that you feel has had the biggest impact on your success?
A: Family and friends, for sure. We wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without a lot of support and candid conversations.
Several months after starting Bespoken, Ann and Collin opened Tried and True Coffee Co. – their coffee shop in Corvallis:
Tried and True Coffee Co.
160 SW Madison
Hours: M-F, 7a-6p; Sat/Sun, 8a-6p
City-dweller, designer, writer and lifestyle consultant practicing the art of living well in the 21st Century. Fixated with good coffee, great design, and any little thing that makes life better.
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