Ray: You guys are recording. I’m Ray.
Kandace: I’m Kandace.
Ray: Welcome to Unpacking Coffee. This week-
Kandace: We head into the suburbs of Portland to talk to-
Ray: Dapper & Wise.
Kandace: Dapper & Wise.
Ray: Wise. We spoke to Evan and Grahm at their headquarters.
Evan: What is Dapper & Wise about? Relationships and quality and then sustainability.
My name is Evan Aldrete. I’m one of the owners of Dapper & Wise Roasters.
Grahm: My name is Grahm Doughty and I’m the Creative Director at Dapper & Wise.
Ray: Dapper & Wise actually originally was just a coffee shop in Hillsboro, Oregon called Insomnia.
Kandace: Just a coffee shop.
Evan: Our first company that we started with was a café business called Insomnia Coffee Company Est 2007. We started out in the suburbs of Portland in a town called Hillsboro, Oregon, where we are currently.
Served another roaster for several years, we started getting quite a bit of feedback and kind of a longing from our customer base. They were looking for more information, more traceability, more connection to the coffee. Now us being a wholesale customer, we didn’t have as much of that translated information that we could give and so that’s kind of what prompted us to move forward into being our own roaster. We took that leap, that was in 2013. We put a lot of the control into our own …
Becoming Dapper & Wise
Evan: In a lot of ways, we were able to reinvent our passion behind coffee. We were like, “What would we do if we had the control and what can we do and how far can we go?”
The Dapper & Wise came from the concept of: we do want to do really amazing, special things that are unique to the suburbs for sure, but we want to be on the cutting edge of where we can be in Portland proper all together. We’ve been open as a roastery for five and a half years almost. Anybody that would come in, we want to make sure that we’re approachable to them. That’s where the “Wise” part came in so you have the cool stuff but you also have the wisdom to impart it in the right way, in non-pretentious ways.
One thing that we’ve always been big on, and still to this day, is relationships and that’s from across the counter to the vendors that we’ve worked with over the years. We provide sustainable careers as much as we can for the people that work for us and want to have a career in coffee.
A huge part of the business that is international and those relationships across borders. For kind of the size that we are, we made a huge investment into developing those relationships, flying to them, being around them, having dinner with them. Relationships are not just like, “I shook your hand and I bought their coffee.” Sometimes you have to say, “Man, this was really good last year, what happened this year and how can we, together, improve on this product?” Those are things that we didn’t have access to before.
It never should be just an exchange of money and currency just for profit’s sake. There’s so many things tied into a business relationship that is friendship and support and vision and all of these things that … Again, they have visions for their family or their company and they want to accomplish that. We have a vision for our community and our families and we want to accomplish that so we really do work together in that regard to have this pinnacle of the perfect fit.
You could just, as a roaster, start up and just buy from whoever you can get green coffee from and just go. Gosh, there’s so many things we’ve learned over the years now of just like the pitfalls of even just that mentality of just not planning, not investing, you just kind of just buy because you need. It really translates poorly in so many different aspects of business so there’s a lot of intentional effort you have to have in order to do it right. So you have to have an investment in that process, into their lives and then they see that reciprocal value.
La Falda’s got something special
Kandace: So we have this really fantastic coffee right now. This is a coffee from Columbia, La Falda, and it’s the first time that they’ve put out this special coffee in this special packaging. Hope they do more of it, it’s pretty cool.
Ray: Tell us about it, Evan.
Evan: That was a farm that I had the privilege to visit. It was in Columbia and, if you’ve never been, it’s extremely mountainous. This particular farm you could only access it by foot through this crazy bridge that looks like you’re going to die and it’s creaking, you’re holding onto these wire cables and walking on these creaky boards to get across the ravine, and then they send the coffee back over in a gondola over the ravine. It was so sweet.
As soon as we tried the coffee–I think it was the end of the week, not at that farm but they had sent that to a packing table–we were like, “Whoa,” and there was buying so we were like, “Wow, what’s that coffee? That’s extremely amazing.” And then it tied back to that experience and it’s like exactly what you always want. They just care so much. It’s such a beautiful coffee and relationship, too, that’s forming.
Grahm: We wouldn’t even have tasted that coffee if you hadn’t been there.
Grahm: It’s like an example of if you actually take the time to go somewhere and meet people and extend yourself then there’s cool things that are there.
Evan: Yup, exactly. You have to be at the party.
Grahm: Got to be at the party.
A package for the environment
Kandace: Dapper & Wise just put out a new coffee package, so at about the time the show is coming out, you’ll start to see this hit the shelves, this Biotre packaging. We get to one of the first to show it off to the world.
Grahm: One thing that’s really fun about design and brand, in general … At some point you just have to come out with something, and, “Okay this is what it has to be,” and we ordered 40,000 of them, but then over the next year or whatever, you get like, “What are all the cool changes we could make?” The new bags really look similar to the old bags, but they’re better in all these little ways.
Ray: They were excited to do a refresh because, not only were they able to change the type of packaging, but sort of tweak it to fit their product better and now it’s good for the environment.
Grahm: We are switching to Biotre bags which we are super excited about. Sustainability is a big thing for our company. Environmentally, packaging-wise, cost of production for coffee producers…
Evan: Economics and environment.
Grahm: Yeah, so for packaging, the current Biotre is not perfect. It’s not a hundred percent biodegradable. That’s what we want, 100% biodegradable. Support a company that’s working to get there and then, hopefully, they’ll have it and then we can have those.
Evan: So you’ve got to take those steps forward with them.
Grahm: You’ve got to take those steps, totally, yup.
Taking the show on the road
Ray: This month, Dapper & Wise also have their residency at the La Marzocco Home Café in Seattle.
Grahm: We’re having four different Portland pop-ups that are going to be there each weekend.
Kandace: Portland and Seattle for the holidays.
Grahm: Showcasing that collaborative relationship and then we’re also doing a special drink each week that relates to the pop-up.
Evan: That really encompasses the relationship aspect of what we want to accomplish again.
Ray: Dapper & Wise Coffee Roasters of Hillsboro, Oregon.