Roasting coffee began as a hobby for Rhys Evans-Brown, but quickly grew from passion project to small business in just the past few months. Evans-Brown recently launched a coffee roasting company called Kind & Co., and his beans recently sold out as the guest coffee at Blue Sparrow Coffee.
A carpenter by trade, Evans-Brown became interested in coffee roasting in his native New Zealand, and, through the kindness of people in the industry (hence the name Kind & Co.), learned the skill himself. Now he roasts just one pound of coffee at a time to fill orders.
"It started as mostly hobby stuff — I'd go to local roasters in New Zealand that would offer me some green beans after nagging them long enough, roast it, bring it back to them and see if they liked it," recalls Evans-Brown. "It was cheaper than me buying directly off the shelf."
When Evans-Brown moved to the U.S. with his wife, Bethany, he got a job working in a roasting facility. "I got to know everything there is to know about the back end of things — cleaning roasters, learning the ins and outs," he says, which helped him establish his own home-roasting techniques.
Meanwhile, Bethany started her own company, Woolberry Fiber Co., for which she selects and dyes sustainably produced yarns and identifies as part of the "slow fashion" movement. Evans-Brown joined the team a year and a half later and began selling his home-roasted coffee on Woolberry's online store.
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"I think for us at Kind & Co. our entire ethos around how we source, roast and share our coffee comes down to the simple practice of seeing and valuing people over profit," Evans-Brown explains. "The process is much the same with slow food because it takes time to establish relationships that you know are mutually beneficial, including for the planet. If that means we pay more per pound/unit of coffee, then so be it. We want everyone from the farmer's family, all the way through to the people enjoying each sip from their favorite cafe, to thrive. We have a long journey ahead of us, but with this standard in place from the beginning, it gives us time to grow sustainably and carefully without massive structure changes later on in the future."
Being part of the slow food movement also means slow growth. "We may not be able to roast as much or be in every corner of the country, but our purpose is for slow, intentional growth toward a better future," the roaster notes.
While the small size of his roasting machine currently limits growth, he's keeping an eye out for a slightly larger but still affordable roaster.
Since selling out at Blue Sparrow, Evans-Brown is using the momentum to schedule sales at pop-ups around town later this year. But for now, Kind & Co.'s Guatemala Antigua, Ethiopia Sidama, Campfire Blend and other beans are once again only available online. You can purchase bags on the company's new website, kindandcoroasters.com.