Dave Beach started roasting as a hobby while a student at the University of Oregon. At the time, he explains, his then-girlfriend was out of town for a term, and to fill the time, he picked up the new hobby. When she returned to Eugene, she dumped him, but the skill set—and love for coffee beans—remained. Now, several years later, Beach has started a successful business (Backporch Coffee Roasters) with his now-wife and, a year ago, they had their first kid.
"It is about connection," says Beach. He is wearing a black shirt with a jolly roger skull laying on an espresso tapper crossed with a screwdriver; two round wooden plugs fill his ear lobes.
This attitude of "connection" carries through from the friendly interactions at the counter, to his desire to have first-hand knowledge about who grows the beans for his shops. Last year, he traveled (with four staff members) to a family farm in El Salvador where many of the beans he uses for his popular espressos originate.
"Coffee is so far away," he explains, "not like hops or wine. You don't get that connection if you don't go down there." (PB)