Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Guest post in Royal Coffee News

From the beginning of my time working in the coffee business in 1980 Royal Coffee in Emeryville, California was one of the most important green coffee suppliers, but as usual in this trade the business relationship was just the tip of the iceberg of the value of the connections made. 

Bob Fullmer and Helen Nicholas, along with the late, great (and I do mean great!) Pete McLaughlin provided, in retrospect, not just  coffee but a great education, for a fanatically product-driven person like me, in the necessity and urgency of expanding the definition of "quality" to really include the farms and farmers who make it possible. 

Early on Royal was well-known, thanks in part to Bob's father, for its strength in Indonesian coffees, but in short order they grew to be the most complete "candy store" around, with a bevy of spot and forward offers from all parts of the world. Among the many highlights: Bob Fullmer's travel diaries (Hunter S. Thompson, eat your heart out); the phenomenal Harrars of Mohammed Ogsaday; the incomparable Fino Rojas coffee and its legendary grower; learning to love Mexico and Panama through Helen Nicholas's infectious enthusiasm for their people and culture (with coffee as almost an adornment, rather than the sole focus). 

Fast forward to the present and an email conversation with Bob and Helen's son Max (prompted in part by posts on this blog) led to an invitation to contribute to their newsletter, and a great post in the previous edition of it about sample roasting provided the perfect opportunity. The link is here

There's a nice piece by Max Nicholas-Fullmer on the Ethiopian crop situation, my missive below it, and - for me the highlight of the issue - Kevin Stark taking my suggestions on progressive roast tastings and putting them to innovative good use. Obviously these are challenging times for coffee and for our planet, but at Royal anyway it's clear the future is in good hands. 


  1. Excellent article as usual, Kevin. I wanted to share this video, which is mostly just a bit of fun, but ironically mimics reality pretty well. I must say I find the coffee antagonist's point of view in this spot on. Also, the "professionals" "sounds good on paper" responses irk me. Conan's dismissal of his buddy's attitude towards coffee and blind acceptance of what the "professionals" say is a portrait of pretty much what most American's, and hipsters tend to do today, which is blindly believe somebody's self-appointed authority over something, here being coffee.


  2. Hi Patrick -

    Yes, saw that video when it came out and thoroughly enjoyed it.

  3. Really cool, if a bit pricey. http://dailycoffeenews.com/2015/02/04/a-qa-with-the-inventor-of-the-bullet-1kg-roaster-coming-soon-hopefully/

  4. Kevin,

    Always appreciate seeing your knowledge and vantage point with new posts.

    If you find more time to do guests posts, myself and others would appreciate your voice in these coffee conversations- http://baristahustle.com/hustles/

    Best wishes,

    Corey Autobee