North Coast Coffee Roasting has flown under the radar for nearly 20 years. With a focus on certified-organic coffee, head roaster Chris Carhart and colleague Ken Noyes have traveled the world in search of the best cup of coffee.
Though the labor involved in the roasting and brewing process can be overshadowed at some coffee houses by slick marketing and indoor plant-intensive decor, it all comes down to the sourcing and final product for Carhart and Noyes. It’s not easy to maintain more than two-dozen blenda. Both Cathart and Noyes worked at grocery stores in Santa Cruz before they landed their jobs roasting coffee five days a week.
Why organic coffee?
CARHART: Going organic, we feel, is the best way to affect change. We are interested in sustainability and someone getting paid what they deserve for their work. But for many farms, it’s really difficult to go organic and provide the practices that we require.
NOYES: Some roasters aren’t strictly organic, so they have other options of sourcing that we don’t. With our paperwork, even if the farm is using organic practices and inputs, if they haven’t been able to get organically certified, we can’t use that coffee. And for some smaller farms going organic doesn’t work. It’s a really expensive, long process, and some people can’t justify it. But for us, it gives us a floor for quality.
You travel to source the beans yourself, right?
CARHART: In the last six months, we’ve been to Guatemala and Honduras meeting with other roasters from around the country and visiting farms and mills. It’s kinda neat to meet other professional roasters from all over. We traveled over 500 miles and cupped over 100 types of coffee. It was intense. It wasn’t a vacation. At the end of it, I was like, ‘Kenny, are you tasting anything?’ My palate was shot.
NOYES: Yeah, you can only taste so much. With our Honduras trip, we were able to secure a lot from one particular female-owned farm, and we’d like to highlight that at some point. It was special to find that farm, and they make really good coffee.