Interview with Ted Jones; Owner of Riverview Coffee Roasters
Hi everybody, we’re here tonight with Ted Jones the owner and creator of Riverview Coffee Roasters. And he’s gonna tell us everything you wanna know about coffee and how he got into the business. And, in this interview, he tells us everything you wanna know about coffee, how he got into the business, how he imports and roasts his coffee, his passion for relationships with his clients, brewing methods, and his wonderfully personalized coffee subscription program! I love that Ted thinks outside the box to serve our Santa Cruz community and his clients. I think that’s huge to be in business right now and today. And I think it’s even better to deliver coffee to his clients’ homes, especially during COVID when people don’t even want to leave their homes. So I think Ted Jones is providing a huge service. I’m a huge coffee fan, and I not only subscribe to his coffee delivery program, but I am in love with his coffee. Thank you, Ted, for being with us and serving our community.If you guys want a bag of coffee or a coffee subscription, reach out to Ted Jones at Riverview Coffee Roasters.Visit riverviewcoffeeroasters.com to get started!
Here’s the Interview with Ted:
Shemeika Fox: How did you get into the coffee business? It seems like a very unique and specific industry.
Ted Jones: Yeah well I started out by just being a coffee drinker and loving to get coffee every day. And I found that I was going out and I’d try to make it at home, it wouldn’t come out as good as when I went out. So I’d go out and get a cup every single day. And then one day I found a coffee shop that kind of blew my mind in the way that it had all these different blends and they had these whimsical names. So you didn’t really know what was in them. But the main thing it taught me was that there was more to coffee than I had thought before. And I realized that just with different coffee beans from around the world in different ways that you roast them you can create all different flavor profiles. And, you know, like most people, I was just used to the classic American dark roast or whatever. So that was an enlightening experience for me, and then I quickly realized, while spending $4 or $5 per cup every day is gonna add up quick. So I tried buying pounds of their coffee and then realized that I wasn’t getting the same results at home. I was doing things like leaving it on my fridge for a month at a time. And any way along the journey, I realized that freshness makes a huge difference in the coffee brewing. And as I started looking up how to brew coffee and going into the finer details I saw that a video where a guy said, if your coffee isn’t about a week from roast or less then your coffee is too stale, look how creams up. He brewed it and it creamed up so beautifully. And I thought, oh! my coffee doesn’t do that. So all of a sudden I thought, what if I could figure out a way to roast it myself? And then I started doing that research and figured out how to roast it for myself, but of course I burned it. And then I’d under roasted. And I went through a whole journey with that. Just learning how to make it good for myself. Eventually I started getting results so good that I wanted to share it with all my friends and family. And I thought this coffee is way better than anything I’ve ever had before so. But like I was onto something, you know that I was excited about. But one day I was at my old career and it dawned on me, this isn’t my career anymore. Coffee is my career now. I need to share this with people.
Shemeika Fox: Well, you shared it with me and it is really good coffee. I can confirm that that’s true. What was that? Will you share with us? What was the coffee company that inspired you?
Ted Jones: Philz Coffee. So they tend to be the darker end of things just by going through all their different lights, mediums, and darks and getting, you know ones that really I could tell the difference of that was exciting to me. It just showed me that coffee isn’t just coffee like most people often think.
Shemeika Fox: And will you share with us how you get the coffee beans? Cause they are green, right? They’re like green fruits. How do you get those? Most of them, as far as I understand are grown in South America. So you have to import, roast them, which I don’t even know how, do you do it in a frying pan? and then grind them and then drink them. So can you share with us what that process looks like for Riverview Coffee Roasters? Are you willing to tell us?
Ted Jones: Yeah of course. So when I was first starting out, I was just trying to find any coffee I could find small amounts of, and, you know, I looked around the internet and found some different ones and they would have literature on them that made no sense to me it would say all these different wild fruit notes. And it would say S.O. good and S.O. espresso. And I’d be like, what does that even mean? So, you know, then I learned that meant “single-origin” which means from one specific place or one specific point. And I tried doing it in an air popcorn popper and that worked really well but you’d only get about two cups of pop or two cups of coffee out of it. Then I tried, doing it in the cast iron skillet, and then I’d be scorching it all the time, but I could do a whole bag of coffee at a time. And tried all different ways like that and eventually I realized that it was hard for me to get a consistent roast because I was changing the kind of coffee, and I was changing how much I was roasting all the time. So I had no consistency, you know. And then when I thought about supplying it for other people I realized I needed something I could grow into with more volume and started looking for, you know, bigger suppliers. But along the way what I realized was really important is all the details of what happens to the coffee before you get it. So as far as the altitude, it’s grown at, the type of soil, the surrounding vegetation, you know the moisture content, the drying methods, all these different things that lead to the perfect cup of coffee. And I quickly realized that there were only a few importers that were really focused on those details, and we’re willing to pass them along. And sometimes I would have to ask him for, you know go through 20 emails just to find everything I need to know about a coffee because they’re not giving this information up. So over time, you know, you find a few that you really like to work with that really have great product and you learn to trust their product and what they say as you use it over time. And then I got into a wild, why don’t I create a whole bunch of different varieties and I sewed up a little bag, and put dividers in it and put my different varieties and put all those specifics on it. You know, like the varietals and every detail I could and then set out and shared it with the people and let them choose what they wanted.
Shemeika Fox: Interesting. So how do you roast it now? Do you have like some like extra large popcorn popper? Do you have a shop where do you do it?
Ted Jones: I do have air poppers but I have a 12, a 12-pound roaster. You can go up to about 14, 15 pounds but I try to keep it a little under capacity and go for around 10 pound batches just to keep the consistency of the roast really smooth and nice. And I don’t use the air roasting like a popcorn popper. It’s a, like a natural convection gas propane, you know with a nice thick metal in between to really diffuse the metal or the heat really smoothly to get an evening roast. And then the roaster will have nice big stirring veins inside that keep the beans moving constantly while they’re roasting. Then it’s just a matter of getting used to knowing how to raise the temperatures at certain times and how to treat different coffees cause different coffees that even are from the same country, but processed differently after picking, can be a completely different style to roast. So, you know, I had to learn about those coffees that would get out of control on me and I would burn and all that stuff over time, until I got to where it’s just instinctual and I can feel what’s going on with the coffee as I’m doing it, like the way other artists and food makers would make their products.
Shemeika Fox: Yeah, that’s awesome. And then what I love about your company, Riverview Coffee Roasters, is that you actually hand deliver the coffee right when it’s been roasted. So if you want it fresh, like there’s no better way. And then you were telling me last time we were messaging that you used to sell wholesale in stores. And do you do that anymore or is it just subscription-based and delivery based on individual orders?
Ted Jones: Yeah, I do shipping nationwide, I ship them at the night. I roast them and then deliver locally the day after. And I did do wholesale, but not with the beans. I did it with different beverage products. I did bottled espressos that were quadruple shot bottles. And I had a couple of different flavors like a traditional and an exotic. And then I did one that was an espresso concentrate for a while. That was a syrup that you could make iced coffees with make like an iced latte, but you know some people wanted a sugar-free version and that’s why I ended up coming up with the pure quadruple shots. But yeah, along that way, I found that I wasn’t as excited about making the brew and bottling it. And I wasn’t as excited about selling in grocery stores and that kind of thing as I was and having one-on-one relationships with people and focusing on the beans and giving them away teaching them how to prepare their coffee to make it the very best possible because it’s always gonna be better when you grind it and brew it on the spot.
Shemeika Fox: So what is your favorite coffee drink? And what’s the best way to prepare it?
Ted Jones: Well, you know, years ago, people would have said I was a guy that liked a little coffee with my cream and sugar, but time as I started testing all of my roasts, I wanted to taste everything pure to really get the essence of each different coffee. And now it feels adulterated if I add something to it, most of the time. I like to do a latte sometimes but really my favorite is a pure Brazilian natural process coffee or pure Guatemalan stop coffee medium roasted or a light roasted Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee. So it’s more specific coffees from specific regions processed a certain way and then roasted to a certain level that really brings out the best in them.
Shemeika Fox: And then what do you use to actually make the brew the coffee?
Ted Jones: You know, I go through phases, so I, now I can go through a whole repertoire of different brewing methods but I went for a while doing aero press brewing every day. I don’t know if you’ve heard of some of these in Chemex. Most people have heard of Chemex brewing.
Shemeika Fox: I’ve seen them. I think we tried like a $20, three-ounce shot of coffee. One time when there was a pop-up I was like we’re not spending $3 or $20 on a three-ounce cup of coffee and I couldn’t even finish it. Like it was so strong is good, but it was like, Woo! They apparently had just had it flown in from Africa or something. It was like the top tier on the menu and I was like, that’s insane. It might’ve been like, we’re not doing it. And my husband’s always like, it’s the experience So I’m like, alright, fine. it was good. But so I’ve seen that. What do you call it? Chemex or whatever?
Ted Jones: Well, it sounds like a geisha if that was that expensive, Cause that’s like the most famous most revered varietals these days. And yeah, Chemex, it’s like a hourglass. The clever dripper is one that I supplied a lot of my Riverview Coffee Roasters customers with, that they all use it to this day. And once in a while, they’ll contact me and say, hey I need a new one of those brewers, you know? And that’s a real simple one because it combines drip brewing with French press brewing and eliminates the drawbacks of both. So it’s like the French press but then it has a valve and you put it over your mug or your craft and it’ll let all the coffee through a filter to give you a cleaner profile but give you that rich steeped quality that you get.
Shemeika Fox: Yeah. Cause I hate, I mean, we used to use a French press until we just upgraded, but I would hate that last sip. It would always inevitably have the chalkiest ground nasty sludge at the bottom. So that’s cool. I like that idea. Have you ever read the book, “The Go Giver?”
Ted Jones: No, I don’t know that one.
Shemeika Fox: I’m gonna send it to you because your, it reminds me of your story. And I love the fact that you’re like, you’re in a business that’s actually a product or an industry that you’re selling a product, but for you, it’s about the relationships, which like you’re gonna love it. So I’ll send it to you. What else do you wanna share with people about your company and you and how they can find you and get you and what, tell us about your subscription.
Ted Jones: So the way I created the whole format of Riverview Coffee Roasters, is to give people the same experience I was giving myself before I started this, and that was roasting the coffee and then having it immediately for that first one to two week period after when it’s really popping. It’s like getting something from an amazing bakery, instead of getting it at the grocery store kind of difference. And even most cafes, they don’t start serving the coffees until at least a week after they roasted or and often it can be even months or years, you know? I mean, you know there’s a real big company everyone knows that they serve some pretty old coffee. But so the way I do it is you go on the website you could see what items I have currently whether you know, what country, what kind of flavor profile. And then you can pick one that sounds good to you and then try it out that way. And then in the menu, there’s suggestions for different brewing supplies and there’s brewing tutorials on the major brewing methods. And then I’m always in touch, anytime which gives you a little bit of a personal touch to it. And I always like to know whenever I get someone new that orders. I ask them about their experience with coffee and how they like to brew it and how they found out about me and start a relationship there, you know? And some people like to talk more than others. And I get to know that but, I have the subscription which the way I developed that was I would bring it to people’s doors, loved the coffee, but they were so used to buying it at the grocery store that they think, “Oh darn I ran out at 6:00 AM. You know, I don’t wanna bother Ted.” So they ended up going and getting their own coffee. And often what really gets them clicked into the subscription is that coffee that used to be their favorite now kind of tastes like crap to them. And then what I did initially is I was like, damn I’m not getting a lot of reorders at the beginning. So then I went out and talked to the people and they said, thank God you came back. You know, we loved, and it was amazing, all the stuff. And I’m like, why didn’t you just order more or call me? And they say, all of those reasons, right? So eventually I started just leaving Riverview Coffee Roasters coffee at the door and then saying, hey I know that you like this type of coffee. I figured you’re about due for it. I’m sorry I missed you cause I realized I can’t just keep going back to the same doors over and over and over. I would always cross my fingers thinking, Oh God I hope they don’t tell me. “Don’t do that. I didn’t ask for this coffee”, but never once did that happen every single time people said, “thanks so much for knowing what we like when we want thanks for trusting us to pay you later.” So I said, you know, why don’t we create like a monthly payment methods so that you don’t have to think every time you need it ordered and I can bring it to you just after roasting at the pace that you like to drink it. And so if you go on the website and you go to subscriptions it’ll give you an option for the kind of coffees you like. And then it’ll give you a frequency of how many bags you want at what pace. And then you just get charged once a month. And from there, I customize it for you. So, you know, you send me a little note saying I really don’t like light fruity stuff or I really don’t like anything, dark roasted. It tastes burnt and better than me or whatever that is, I love nutty coffees or something. And then I customize the Riverview Coffee Roasters subscription to the way you like it.
Shemeika Fox: That’s awesome. I’m sold. I’m gonna have to sign up for a Riverview Coffee Roasters subscription. I love that you think outside the box to serve our community and the clients. I think that’s huge to be in business right now and today. And I think like it’s even better to deliver coffee like who doesn’t want coffee delivered to their house and especially during COVID when people don’t even want to leave their houses. So I think you’re like providing a huge service and I’m a huge coffee fan, so that’s awesome. And we thank you for being with us and serving our community. If you guys want coffee or coffee subscription reach out to Ted Jones at Riverview Coffee Roasters. Visit www.riverviewcoffeeroasters.com. Anything else?
Ted Jones: Just thanks,Shemeika!
Shemeika Fox: Thank you, Ted!