Ray: I’m Ray.
Kandace: I’m Kandace.
Ray: Welcome to Unpacking Coffee. This week …
Kandace: Mudhouse …
Ray: Of Charlottesville, Virginia. Virginia is for lovers.
Kandace: Is that true?
Ray: You know what I learned? Virginia is a commonwealth. It’s not a state. You and I come from a lowly state called Oregon, but …
Kandace: Mudhouse …
Ray: The commonwealth of Virginia.
2017 Micro Roasters of the Year
Kandace: Do you see this sticker, right here? Very special … They’re winners.
Ray: Oh, yeah! They’re our winners of the Roast Magazine’s Micro Roaster of The Year, for 2017.
Kandace: This year. This year.
Ray: That’s … yeah.
Kandace: Because it’s 2017 right now.
Ray: Yeah, I know that. Micro Roaster of The Year. Sorry. There’s two different.
Kandace: Connie came by and told us about …
Ray: Connie of Roast Magazine?
Kandace: Connie from Roast Magazine.
Ray: Oh, jinx!
Kandace: Oh, great. Uh-oh.
Connie: Well, we started the Roaster of The Year competition in 2004, and there really weren’t any other competitions like this nature at the time. I’m not really sure there still is. But we really just wanted to highlight the work and the effort that roasters go through to produce a great cup of coffee.
I am fortunate enough to have met John and Lynelle a few years back, and they are really some of the most passionate people that I have met in the coffee industry. On top of that, they’re fun, and they just have this contagious energy that I think really flows down to their entire organization. It was a great pleasure to have them enter the competition, and it was a great pleasure to award them the title for 2017.
Kandace: Mudhouse is Lynelle and John.
Lynelle: I’m Lynelle, co-founder, and my official title, aside from money and bunches of cats, is Director of Joy.
John: And I’m John Lawrence, and I’m co-founder of Mudhouse.
Lynelle: That’s so good.
Kandace: They met in …
Ray: Eighth grade math class.
John: Well, we met in seventh grade.
Ray: And they reunited a few years later in Alaska, took a VW bus around …
Kandace: That’s why I liked them so much. A Volkswagen bus …
Ray: Yeah, get that Arlo Guthrie action.
Song clip: This song is called “Alice’s Restaurant”, but Alice’s restaurant is not the name of the restaurant. That’s just the name of the song.
John: And I’d go on to school in Santa Cruz, and so there was a really developed coffee culture there, and we didn’t have that back in Virginia. So we were thinking, you know, when you’re in California and you’re on your little vision quest, what if you found what you were looking for and you took it back to where you came from? What does the rest of the country start to look like?
Ray: And then they ended up in Virginia. They felt that it reminded them of Santa Cruz. Had a Santa Cruz vibe.
Ray: Which totally makes me want to visit Charlottesville, Virginia.
John: Santa Cruz has very similar demographics to Charlottesville. They’re both around the same populations in terms of city and country, and then both skew a little left in their respective states, and they both are university tourist towns. So since the culture was so developed in Santa Cruz, we had a sense that it would do well in Charlottesville. And Charlottesville has a very live and let live feeling about it.
Going for It
Kandace: I find it interesting that they just won Micro Roaster of The Year, and yet they got their start in 1993.
Lynelle: Yeah, 1993 for the cart. We did city markets, and the downtown mall, when there were tumbleweeds.
Kandace: So they’ve been around for a while. They’ve been roasting this solidly beautiful coffee quietly, and they finally decided, “Let’s enter this contest, see what happens.”
Ray: Yeah, “Let’s go for it.”
Connie: Well, they’re kind of, in my opinion, they’re those types of people who are doing all the right things, but they just know that they can do more. And so, for them, it doesn’t seem like they’re doing enough. But really, they’re doing all the right things, plus.
They entered the competition last year, and they were a finalist. So that was pretty fun for them to come back and enter the competition again and actually win this year.
Lynelle: That was …
John: It’s a huge deal.
Lynelle: … so fun. We had so much fun. And it’s been … Yeah, what wild ride. And so much fun to work toward that.
Ray: What else do they do?
Kandace: They throw all kinds of cool games and toys, and funny little things in their bags.
Ray: Oh, yeah, that’s right.
Kandace: I swear you moved them all.
On the Farm
Kandace: Yes, Ray?
Ray: Do they have a farm?
Kandace: Why, they do. And they actually talked about this experience, which is really cool, because I think they’re enjoying the hell out of it.
Ray: Okay. Language.
John: That’s right, just this past year we partnered with Willem Boot and Kelly Hartmann, and started a Geisha coffee farm in Boquete in Panama. So we were down planting that in September and October.
Lynelle: And they’re doing well. Willem’s down there right now. We get to see pictures. We’ll go down a little … in a couple months.
John: Go back down next month.
Well, it’s funny, because Lynelle would always talk about having a coffee farm at some point, and I always thought that makes me crazy. But when Willem and Kelly came to us and asked us to partner with them, you know, with all of their experience, that was a no-brainer for us. So that’s why we said we wanted to do that.
We were also at a place, I think, in the business where we were ready to take on another challenge. And then adding another vertical component to be a company that’s so tiny. To be able to go completely farm to cup is a special thing. It’s the whole part with the farm is just a whole other … You know, when they went through the hedge into Narnia? I think it’s like that.
Ray: So the packaging is nice. It’s interesting … the way they have it printed, it looks like it’s stitched. And in just the right places, so that the little … I don’t know if you call them gussets or what, but these little areas here … Is that what you call them? I never feel like we ever figured that out.
It looks like … It looks as though they were sewn together, but they’re not. Some illusion.
Television clip: Illusion, Michael. A trick is something a whore does for money.
Ray: Very simple, simple packaging, and at the bottom … “I love you”
Kandace: And then there’s this beautiful Geisha. And so, for some of their coffees they are doing these extra nice packaging, and this was a photo that they took themselves when they were out at source.
Ray: Wow. Mudhouse Coffee Roasters of Charlottesville, Virginia.