When you think about it, that’s such a loaded word. Quality doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive or the highest scoring or the latest trend. The more you learn about the coffee industry, the more you’ll find those things might be indicators of quality, but quality is actually an opinion. It certainly can’t be simplified across a grade since nearly every country of origin uses a different grading system! So what does quality mean to us?
We believe quality coffee tastes good and does good.
Ok, we get it, that just sounds like some lame corporate slogan…let’s break it down:
It means sources matter! There are lots of coffee importers in the U.S., and we’ve done the hard work to find the really great ones. The ones who have strong relationships with honest, innovative, sustainable producers. We believe in helping hard working farmers make a good living — not just because it makes the world a better place, but also because these are the farmers that produce the best coffee beans.
We believe it means fair pricing. We don’t pick the prices for our coffee willy nilly, they’re priced based on what we paid for them, not our opinions of them. If a coffee is priced at a premium, it’s because we paid a premium for it and the farmer was paid a premium. We don’t deal with anyone in the coffee supply chain who exploits producers and we certainly don’t believe in exploiting our customers! Speaking of which…
It also means building trust with our customers! If quality is just an opinion, it’s really important to us that you trust our opinion! That means we’re honest with our evaluations and we provide as much information on every coffee and product we sell so that you can make an informed decision. Because quality is based on your opinion too! We encourage your feedback and that feedback loop helps us make better purchasing choices. So reach out to us anytime!
WHAT'S IMPORTANT TO US
At The Captain’s Coffee we believe anyone can be a coffee roaster, so our mission is to inspire and empower home roasters in their journey to find their perfect cup.
Well that sounds nice and all, but what does it actually mean to us?
Coffee is a journey, not a destination, and everyone we meet is at a different place on that journey. We want to meet people where they are and guide them wherever they want to go!
Everyone’s goals with coffee are different. The perfect coffee for one person may be wildly different than for another. We want to help people reach their goals, regardless of whether it’s trendy or meets the current industry standard.
Home roasting is about putting the creative process of coffee back into the hands of the coffee drinker. From selecting the exact green beans you want and roasting those beans exactly the way you want to, all the way to choosing your favorite brew method. We want to help coffee lovers have full control over that process. That means providing education and resources on everything from farming and processing methods, to how roasting influences the flavor of those beans and finally how variables in the brewing process can draw out their desired flavor profile.
That comprehensive approach extends to how we treat everyone in the coffee community, from our customers to the farmers. We depend on our customers to support what we do. We depend on our suppliers and importers to treat us fairly. We depend on the farmers to produce amazing coffee. Therefore, we treat everyone the way we want to be treated: fairly and equally with respect, gratitude, and transparency.
Because we also believe in the strength of community. We’ve come this far in our journey because of generous members in the coffee community and it’s important to us to return that generosity in kind. But no one can possibly know everything there is to know about coffee and we should be constantly challenging assumptions and standards to grow our understanding of coffee’s potential. That means it’s important that we build and encourage spaces where the coffee community can connect and share knowledge.
Finally, we believe in accessibility. We want everyone, without exception, to feel comfortable pursuing their coffee journey. Home roasting can seem too difficult at first, but it’s really only as difficult as you want it to be! We want to lower the bar for entry and raise the ceiling for potential.
Like we said, we believe everyone can be a coffee roaster.
Oh and we also think it’s super duper important to not take everything so seriously allll the time. When you get down to it we're just goofy coffee nerds. The only thing better than an awesome cup of coffee is a good laugh! We also believe roasting should be FUN! So…you know…add that to the list.
Wow. You read all that and still want to know more about us? Well alright, if you're really curious about who we are, we're happy to share!
OUR JOURNEY (SO FAR)
David Tatum, co-owner – “I began my coffee career in 2006 as a barista during college at Appstate University in Boone, NC. Being a barista was eye opening for me: this is what coffee is supposed to taste like?! My grandmother had imparted her love of coffee to me when I was very young, but this was like discovering a whole new beverage. I spent two years learning to appreciate coffee as a part time gig, but I had no idea I had just began my career. In 2008 it came time to pursue the job I had studied for: music production and engineering in a NYC music studio, but it just didn’t feel right. I stuck it out for a year, but it turned out the music industry and the big city just wasn’t for me. So, I returned to the little mountain town I had fallen in love with while attending Appstate and I picked right back up where I had left off as a barista. Within a year I was 2nd in command of 2 coffee shops and I had fallen in love with coffee too! From 2009 to 2017 I learned everything I could about the “shop” side of the coffee industry. I trained more baristas than I can count, took barista classes with Counter Culture Coffee out of Raleigh, NC and learned the basics of coffee tech with Astoria General Espresso in Greensboro, NC.
And most importantly, I met lots of passionate coffee people! Two of those people were Josiah and Meredith Davis who worked with me in those college coffee shops. In 2012 they went on to open their own shop: Local Lion. A couple years after opening, Josiah approached me and asked me if I knew anything about roasting coffee. At that time, it just felt like the next logical step to learn! As it happened, a friend he grew up with, Heather Cotten and her husband Ben, were now the owners of a small online home roasting supply store: The Captain’s Coffee. They sold us a Gene Café and taught us the ropes. By 2015 we had purchased a 5kg gas fired Ambex roaster and were selling our coffee to Local Lion as well as other local coffee shops. Then Heather and Ben approached us again in 2016; they had other passions they wanted to pursue and wondered if we might like to take over The Captain’s Coffee. We figured we were in this deep, why not?!
So by 2016 I co-owned two coffee businesses and was co-managing two coffee shops. My coffee career felt like it was really coming together! And at this point in the story, the narrator usually says: “but something was missing.” With Hollywood level timing, a freak landscaping accident would cause an eye injury that led me to a randomly selected Optometrist’s office who had just a month before hired a new doctor. And so it was that I would meet (with eyes weeping no less) the woman who would become my wife and eventually my business partner: Brittany, or as her friend’s call her Britt. Two years later we were married and a year after that our son, Declan, was born.
In 2020 we decided it was time for a new adventure. We’d dreamt of the Pacific Northwest ever since visiting it years before and figured it was now or never! The good folks at Local Lion were looking at expanding in a new direction so the timing felt right. It made the most sense to split the business leaving me with the online part as it was well suited for travel and in the years since acquiring TCC I had developed a particular fondness for home roasting. Britt found an Optometry practice in Eugene, Oregon in need of a 2nd Optometrist so we packed up our little family and headed out west.
We had a blast in the PNW and for the first time, I dug into TCC as my sole professional preoccupation. Since discovering home roasting, I had always admired it but didn’t realize just how challenging it was. I had become spoiled with my big shop roaster! It was time to get back in touch with roasting using the same machines home roasters used. I dedicated myself to learning coffee all over again from the ground up and realized just how little I knew and how little information was available. Here I sat on nearly 15 years of experience in the coffee industry; how daunting it must be for an absolute beginner! If I wanted to grow the home roasting community, I was going to have to make it more accessible. So, I dusted off TCC’s YouTube channel which had been inactive since we purchased it from the Cottens and leaned into my experience teaching baristas. And as it turns out, video production and editing isn’t all that different from music production, so my Bachelor’s degree finally came in handy!
After a couple years in the PNW and with my newfound passion for TCC, 2 things became clear: First, TCC was growing rapidly, and second, it takes a village to raise a kid. All our friends and family were still on the other side of the country! We missed them and wanted our son to grow up with them in his life, so we decided it was time to come home. But what about TCC? It was quickly becoming more than I could manage alone and desperately needed another full-time employee. I guess my passion for home roasting is contagious because Britt needed very little convincing to join the cause! Especially considering the pay cut from her career…
So here we are back home in North Carolina! We’re still on a journey to learn coffee from the ground up and learning new things every day. We feel lucky to get to explore the world of coffee with the small but growing home roasting and micro roasting community since we learn as much from them as they do from us. And that’s our favorite thing about this business: it’s part of a community. And while we still call ourselves “The Captain’s Coffee” in honor of the pilot who founded the company in 2004, we really think of ourselves as guides. We’re happy to share our experiences and knowledge but at the end of the day, we’re all on this journey together.”
David, Britt & Declan Tatum - 2023