People ask me all the time how I got into coffee and how I arrived at it with my background in film and television. How do we find our passion? When you have worked on enough productions at various times and hours, you undoubtedly come across that cup of hot black liquid we all call coffee. For me, it was getting my fill of bad coffee, you know that stuff that requires large quantities of sugar and cream just to be consumed. It was at this point in my career that I knew I could no longer drink bad coffee. It became a personal quest to get into small batch coffee that led to where I am now with the process.
It started in Hollywood working as an Assistant Editor and putting in way too much overtime. I had days where I stayed up for 2-3 days straight to get a job done that I literally hit my coffee saturation point. The next break came when I was hired to do a video on a coffee roaster and during the shooting and editing, I consumed many gallons of this particular roaster’s coffee. I had to know the difference for I could taste the subtle flavors in his artisan roasted FRESH COFFEES versus the corporate stuff we are all offered as the only viable solution.
He loved his video and it greatly helped him spread the news of fresh coffee. It was in that moment I knew that I had to actually spend time learning this amazing subtle art called coffee roasting. Lucky for me, I was offered an internship and spent over 40 hours learning how to run a Probat drum roaster. It’s a lot like flying an airplane by the seat of your pants. You have to listen to the cues, watch the color of the bean and detect nuances in the smell so it doesn’t burn. Running a drum roaster means you do only that and nothing else for multitasking beyond the roaster usually means a burnt batch of coffee.
I was amazed to be offered this opportunity to combine my love of technology with my fascination with cooking and in it I realized that I was learning a trade and an art-form that few people often get to experience. Upon completion of my 40 hours of traded time, I went back to work in my career and put the coffee on the back burner for another decade.
It wasn’t until small coffee roasters for home became available that I decided to try my hand again at a small roaster called a Behmor that I truly realized I had been bitten by the coffee bug. I outgrew the small drum in a matter of a few months and once again taking to research to find the ultimate coffee roasting device, I happened upon another technology called AIR ROASTING which never burns the coffee (if properly monitored) and it produces an unrivaled FLAVOR unmatched in large scale roasteries.
I bought a used Sono Fresco from a Master Roaster who claimed it was not able to properly achieve the Maillard Reaction which is a measure of the heat applied to produce a reaction known as carmelization. I contacted the company and was able to secure replacement parts and before long, I was roasting my very own Artisan coffees! It was in my kitchen that I had the idea to call it the TeenyTinyCoffeeCompany and in that year since the company was born, I have shared the passion of coffee with others who have come to realize that the only way to truly enjoy something is to get into it deeply. Find your passion whatever it is and dive into it and perhaps too you will come to realize that there is much ado about learning new things and applying those skill sets and sharing them with others. In the end, it’s really about learning and sharing that knowledge with others that reaps the largest rewards and dividends.
-Ken Graham is a Video Engineer, Film Editor, Educator and a Artisan Coffee Consultant and is the owner of TeenyTinyCoffeeCompany.