What’s better than starting your morning with a beautiful mountain sunrise? Starting your morning with a beautiful mountain sunrise paired with a fresh, energizing cup of coffee from Bear N’ Bean. Just like distilling spirits, brewing beer, or baking culinary creations, coffee roasting is an art form that is difficult, but rewarding to master. Thankfully we have Roast Master Matt King on our team, who’s truly an artist in every sense. He has a rich musical history. Matt has recorded two full length albums for Atlantic Records, has been a regular on the Grand Ol’ Opry, and has scored music for film and television. To top it off, he even has a Grammy nomination under his hat. In addition to his love for music, he has a strong passion for the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into creating a delicious cup of coffee. We caught up with him to find out why he loves roasting, what his favorite drinks are, and more.
What inspired you to get into the world of coffee roasting?
A couple of things. Whenever I’d go play a gig in any given city, I’d get off the bus, go look for an old bookstore and a coffee shop. I became fascinated with the culture and nerdery of coffee during those years! When I was a staff writer for Warner-Chappell Music, I used to frequent a coffee shop/roastery. They were an internet café, and I’d go pay to get online! The owner, “Joe”, was always roasting these Malabar beans from India and made the smoothest espresso I’d ever had. Needless to say, I became a regular both behind the roaster watching and annoying him with questions, and out front as a customer.
What do you enjoy most about roasting coffee?
That’s a tough one because there are so many aspects of roasting coffee that I enjoy. I’d say at this given moment, it’s the global coffee community that I’m getting to know. Coffee is as complex as the world of wine and so are its citizens. A runner up behind that would be learning the nuances in beans. For example, I can take three beans of the same variety from a given region, let’s say from Ethiopia, one is mid-grade, another is washed and A grade and the last is fair trade/organic and a natural wash. Those three beans will be astonishingly different in flavor.
(Our parent company, King Coffee Roasters is launching a line this Fall called “Blue Ridge Bootleg” which is going to be exclusively fair trade/organic and super unique offerings)
What’s your go-to coffee/espresso drink each morning?
Pour-over, usually with a roast I’ve been working on, or my regular espresso drink is always either a ristretto or cortado.
What types of coffee and espresso can guests enjoy at Bear N’ Bean? Any recommendations?
I definitely recommend trying a shot with very little flavoring or milk. You’ll be astonished at how smooth it is! We use an Indian Malabar bean in the roast for B&B, roasted to a Full City+ meaning, not totally a dark roast, but pretty darn close. I highly recommend this as a pour over or French press, or the Bear Lake cappuccino is a concoction from yours truly that will set you straight.
Side note: a dark roast has LESS caffeine and lower acidity, contrary to popular opinion. Ask any college student what they prefer and 3 out of 4 times they’ll say something about a light/blonde roast because the kick helps with studying!
What are you up to when you’re not in coffee roasting world?
I’ve been moonlighting as a singer and songwriter for over 20 years in Nashville, TN. I’ll be recording my first full length album in almost a decade this year and touring as a guitar player in my wife’s band whenever time and the call of caffeine permit!
Give us your best coffee cocktail recipe!
2 shots of espresso, pulled tight
A small amount of steamed 1/2 and 1/2
Tiny amount of steamed condensed milk
Super rich dollop of foam on top
Cardamom sprinkled on top
… and you’ve got yourself what I call a “dirty blonde” (and a sugar coma, but it’s oh-so-delicious)!