Ray: I’m Ray.
Kandace: I’m Kandace.
Ray: Welcome to Unpacking Coffee! This week…
Kandace: Looking Homeward
Ray: Of Seattle, Washington.
Kandace: Founder Jake Deome drove down here.
Ray: He took the train, props for that.
Kandace: Props for that. Hopped on a train from Seattle to Portland.
Ray: Train hopping.
It was really exciting to do the interview with Jake in the studio here. We have not done that yet.
Ray: Our new redesign, so-
Kandace: We’re going to be doing that more often. Hopefully just take a train here. Take a train.
Ray: So what did you and Jake talk about Kandace? Kandace?
Kandace: We talked about his path from starting coffee to running his own roastery. I really liked how Jake talked about the idea behind the brand.
Ray: I like how Jake talked about that too.
Jake: My name is Jake Deome. I’m the director of coffee, of Looking Homeward Coffee in Seattle, Washington.
A Home in Coffee
Jake: I’m looking to create more of a home for people. I lost my home in a way; at the same time that I moved away to college, my parents sold the house that I grew up in. Their new home wasn’t home for me. My new home wasn’t home for me and where I came from wasn’t home for me. Trying to figure out what home actually meant, I found it within myself and within my friends.
We’re all looking towards something. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a home, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a job or anything like that, but it can be looking towards each other, looking towards creating connections, creating a connection between two or three or four people and then it creates something lasting and something long term.
Starting Down the Road
Kandace: Jake’s been in coffee since 2007.
Jake: All my friends worked at Starbucks and I worked there for two and a half years. I fell in love with it. I really got into tasting different coffees and figuring out what different regions tasted like what and understanding that.
I realized that I wanted more from my situation. So, I moved from where I was living in the Bay area to Sacramento and worked in specialty coffee from there.
I worked as a register operator, a barista, apprentice coffee roaster, production roaster, head roaster, and quality control manager. Before I became a roaster, I was about to open my own cafe, but then I got the opportunity to learn roasting. I did that and then that was the beginning of the five year plan. I was like, I’m always going to open something. I’m always going to own my own business at some point.
Jake: I just need to get to the point where I’m able to do so. Roasting, as I was building that up and learning my skills and honing my craft, and then with cupping and scoring and sourcing and all of that stuff, it was always reaching a point where I’m like, “Okay, I’m ready to open my own thing.” And then, the next thing would present itself and then I reached the point where it was like, “Okay, I need to move, so let’s do it.”
Looking Homeward boasts a rotating roasted coffee lineup that favors high-quality, traceable, single-origin offerings in bright and colorful bags — designed by Deome himself — that recall a sense of home in their own special way. – Daily Coffee News
Beginning Looking Homeward
Kandace: He just recently (last year) started looking homeward.
Jake: Became a green buyer officially and became the Director of Coffee for my own company and so it’s been a weird long journey and now we’re finally seeing something come of it.
Kandace: Jake does a lot of this on his own.
Jake: The start of the company started with just myself. I was the only employee doing all the work, building that out in a city that I know basically nobody and finding those connections in order to make everything work was really challenging and a lot of fun.
It took about a year and it kept me on a path of always moving forward and always pushing myself to make those next steps, to produce anything for my company. I haven’t paid anybody for it, never outsourced it. I’ve done everything myself as much as I possibly can.
Stamp Take You Home
Kandace: He also designed the packaging.
Jake: I went through probably 15 to 20 different label designs and bag designs before I landed on what I actually wanted. To this day I’m still adjusting and changing and growing and being like, Oh, why did I do that back in the day? But now I have 500 of these labels that I have to use and I’m not happy with it but I’m still happy with it.
Kandace: Want to see it?
Ray: Yeah, he actually-
Kandace: It’s okay.
Ray: Okay, perfect.
Kandace: You’ll survive this.
Ray: Jake actually showed us on his laptop. He has an Illustrator file with a ton of these different labels. Super cool. We should see if we can get that file. We can do a little panning shot or something.
Kandace: A lot of these are inspired by vintage stamp design.
Jake: I find a lot of inspiration in stamps, find different stamp designs and then I recreate them in Illustrator. I then build different designs off of those designs and do a lot of really cool, fun things.
Kandace: Fits nicely with this idea of looking homeward.
Jake: Oh yeah.
Kandace: It’s kind of a nice thought.
Kandace: Yeah, cool.
Ray: It was good.
Jake: I like that, I’m going to use that, that’s nice.
Kandace: I really love how each coffee has a distinctly different design and yet they’re all noticeable as part of this larger brand.
Jake: Everything for me with the label is with the intention of getting people to pick the bag up. If I can get you to pick the bag up, then I can get you to try my coffee and if I can get you to try my coffee then I can have you come back. I have some information on the front, but I have a lot more information on the back.
Jake: And in order to figure out what I’m about, you have to turn the bag around.
Ray: Jake did mention they’re working with some pretty cool importers, Red Fox among others.
Ray: And it’s pretty neat that they put it right on the bag.
Importers & Producers
Jake: While I do a lot of the stuff myself, the stuff that I don’t do, I need to highlight. I wanted to talk about the importer because I’m not the one down there doing the work and they should get recognition for it.
My customers should know where their coffee comes from because it’s not me shaking hands with the producers, at least not yet. Even when I do go down there, I’m still going to use the same importers. I’m still going to highlight their coffees and build my company off of their work.
Take that next leap into education and be like, “Oh, who’s Red Fox? What are they about?” And then they can go on Red Fox’s website and be like, “Oh, these guys are really cool and they’re doing some really amazing things in Columbia and Peru and Mexico. All of these little programs that they’re doing are making a big impact. And I’m learning that because I read it off of a bag from a roastery in Seattle.”
Building a Home in Seattle
Ray: Did you get a chance to talk to Jake about why he chose Seattle?
Kandace: I did.
Jake: If you’re looking at saturation in different markets, Seattle doesn’t have a lot of specialty coffee roasters. There’s some good roasters and there’s some people who have been doing it a very long time, but when you’re looking at modern specialty coffee roasteries, there’s half a dozen.
We’re all just a small group of really passionate people. And so it was a community that I wanted to get a part of and help bring everyone closer and push it towards what it could be and then make the market a little bit better and a little bit more accessible to people. Make it easier to get better coffee.
Kandace: Also, I’m pretty sure he’s opening a cafe somewhere in Seattle.
Jake: I am.
Kandace: Is this a coffee shop?
Jake: It is about to happen. It’s in the works. I’m in the design period right now.
Kandace: And I tried really hard to get him to tell me where, it did not work. Can you say where it is? Are you, I guess-
Jake: No. Not yet.
Jake: I’d like to. I want to, but no, I can’t.
Ray: Tried to get a scoop for you guys. But Jake wasn’t having it.
Ray: Jake wasn’t having it.
Kandace: He’s really good at keeping that on the down low. Do you have people following you around? Where is he spending his time?
Jake: What neighborhoods does he go to? Luckily I go to every neighborhood in town.
Kandace: So we’re just going to stalk his Instagram and see where he goes.
Ray: Yeah. We’ll let you know when we know.
Kandace: Jake sightings. When we figure it out.
Ray: Looking Homeward of Seattle, Washington.
Kandace: Feels like Seattle here today. Cut. And we’re done, okay.