Ray: This week, Lofted.
Kandace: The most Portland of any coffee roaster we’ve ever covered.
Ray: Of Bushwick, New York.
Kandace: This is so exciting.
Ray: In fact, they get their name from roasting in an actual loft. Like, a 1000 square foot loft. They actually ran a commercial Probat and stored basically a literal ton of coffee.
Kandace: They run, not ran.
Ray: They still do?
Kandace: They’re still in a loft, yeah.
Ray: Is this legal to talk about? I feel like there’s got to be some sort of …
Kandace: Lofted was started by Tobin Polk and Lance Schnorenberg, who both had some experience in coffee. There was time spent at Zoka, Vivace, Stumptown. This was their first self-taught roasted experience, so I think that they really knew what they were going for when they were starting the roastery.
Ray: Kandace spoke with Tobin Polk and Aric Carroll from Lofted.
Tobin: My name is Tobin Polk, and I am one of the co-founders.
Aric: My name is Aric Carroll. My official title is the taskmaster.
Kandace: They’re getting their coffee from people like Red Fox. Self-taught.
Kandace: Yeah. They’ve been around for a short while, and they’re on Thrillist’s 21 Best Coffee Roasters. I think that they’re actually the newest coffee roaster to make …
Ray: In America?
Ray: The coffee’s really good, folks.
Tobin: Me and Lance have been good friends for a very long time. We were living in Seattle together, and wanted to do something, but also wanted to leave Seattle. We both moved out to New York around the same time, and decided we would try to start something out here, and it took a good four-ish years to sort of get things set up.
When we first got out here, I just started running around sort of industrial areas and looking for space to start out of. I found a loft in Bushwick, where we are now, and we moved into it and bought a sample roaster, and then actually the first thing that was in this space was, it’s a big open space with just a sample roaster sitting in the middle of the floor.
Kandace: Lofted is three people. Three people. They haven’t been in business all that long. They’re basically, sometimes some of them are living in the loft. Sometimes some of them are living in a boat. They’re self-taught roasters. They gave us a few tips for starting your own …
Kandace: Yeah, for just kind of getting going.
Tobin: Roasting’s complicated. It’s not something that you can just really … You can’t go out and read Scott Rao’s book and actually know how to roast.
It’s helpful to read books, that sort of thing, but when it comes down to it, taste coffee. Just know coffees, and continue to cup all the time. Know what you’re looking for in coffees, and then the first time you roast it, you’ll taste something that you did wrong.
I built out the space so that people could inhabit the space while we were also working out of it. I built, like, a two-bedroom apartment in the space, and then we started just teaching ourselves how to roast. Messing around a lot. Just talking with people around the area, sort of like dredging information as much as possible.
We upgraded to a Probat 12, started roasting on that, and once we figured out if we could create good coffee. Once we figured out our style, we started to try to sell it. We officially started selling coffee in January of 2014, so a little over two years ago.
Ray: This is their coffee. We are trying the Burundi. I put out some beans here for added realism.
Tobin: Our personal flavor profiles always sort of fall in line with very hyper-clean, hyper-sweet, very loud, boisterous coffees. We sort of have found that for the most part, we can only find those coffees from certain regions. Obviously, we’re not into island coffees, because it just always tastes a little bit like chicken shit, I guess.
Kandace: They have a cat in their loft.
Ray: They have a cat. A roasting cat.
Kandace: The roasting cat.
Ray: That’s awesome.
Tobin: There’s still a cat. Charlie, still, she owns this place. We all actually answer to her.
Aric: That’s true.
Tobin: She’s busy sitting in the bottom of a giant box that used to house a Fetco right now.
Kandace: The cat stays. I actually made a joke about when they leave, do they move to a boat.
Tobin: We categorize everything for specific purposes. We have three different categories.
One, we call simple and sweet. One, we call, rad and mad, and one we call intricate and animate.
Basically, anything that you would usually look for in a blend, you can find in our simple and sweet. It’s going to be strong bottom ends, very simplistic acidity structure. Muted acidities, basically, and then heightened sweetness.
We kind of figure that as long as we can get people to jump on board with that process, and know that we will always provide them with a coffee that’s pretty close to the one they were last using for espresso, basically, then they’ll be able to sort of just use those coffees, rather than having to worry about a blend that always tastes the same.
Honestly, when it comes down to it, the least you mix coffees, the better off your extraction’s going to be. Happens with even, like, a bag that has multiple varietals. They’re always going to roast a little bit different, so you might as well try to minimize the margin of error in order to continually have a consistent coffee.
Ray: Lofted Coffee of Bushwick, New York. No spiders.