Ray: I’m Ray.

Kandace: I’m Kandace.

Ray: Welcome to Unpacking Coffee. This week …

Kandace: Sweet Bloom …

Ray: Of Denver, Colorado. Yeah, tell me about Sweet Bloom.

Kandace: They talk about how coffee begins: the beautiful flower blooming, and then it ends in your cup with the bloom. Focus on everything that happens from bloom to bloom, right? Yes.

Ray: So Andy Springer started and runs Sweet Bloom.

Andy: My name is Andy Springer, and I’m the owner of Sweet Bloom Coffee, and I thought I’d just start by giving you a really quick tour of the roastery.

Kandace: Here’s the thing about Andy.

Ray: Tell me about Andy.

Kandace: So he was the runner up in the World Brewer’s Cup championship.

Andy: We just closed the café side of it today.

Kandace: 2013 Aeropress champion and a certified Q grader, do you know what that means?

Ray: No.

Kandace: It’s like a sommelier but for coffee.

Photo courtesy Sweet Bloom

Andy: As you can see, we’re still really busy in production. This is the roaster that we start on. It’s a 25 pound roaster. Miguel’s helping out with production right now, but he’s our trainer and educator. Miguel, say hi man.

Miguel: Hey everybody.

Andy: Here’s Jin. Jin’s our head roaster. He’s been working with Sweet Bloom for about two years now.

I’ve been in the business for about 14 years, before I got into coffee. My wife Laurel and I, before coffee, were working in conservation in the country of Lebanon.

Here’s our production manager. She helps us get our bags filled every day, and also an awesome barista.

We work to protect a wetland out there. A lot of my work revolved around bird studies, so I was doing census counts, and bird banding, catching birds in miss nets, and putting little bands around their legs and taking biometrics of the bird.

Justin’s been a barista for us a couple years now. Going off to do his own thing called Good Part Coffee.

There’s Carol May. Carol May has been with us a little over a year, and is just an awesome barista, an amazing person, and fantastic for our staff.

When Iraq war started, we kind of abruptly came back to the U.S., and right around that time, realized that Laurel was pregnant with our first child, James. We decided that we should probably restart our lives here in the U.S.

Lloyd is our administrator. Also helped us do the build out in our café. He delivers our coffee.

Moved out to Annapolis, Maryland, and I just needed a job, and so I started applying at different cafés around Annapolis. Café Pronto was one of those places I applied to, and actually got a job there. Café Pronto’s now Ceremony Coffee; they rebranded. That’s where I spent my first 10 years in coffee.

Realized, wow, not only do I love it, but I think I probably have a good skill set for it.

Kandace: Sweet Bloom started as a family business. Husband, wife, nephew, just the three of them.

Andy: And then we came out here, about four years ago, to start Sweet Bloom. My parents live out here, and we want to be close to them, and it was just a good time, I think, to make a change in my career.

Kandace: So Andy was formally the head roaster at Ceremony Coffee, who we’ve also covered.

Ray: Oh sure, we’ve profiled Ceremony.

Kandace: They have a focus on their direct trade model.

Andy: I want to bring producers here, to Sweet Bloom, and the idea’s that they get to see the cafés that serve their coffee. We have a Meet the Producer night, where we invite our retail customers, our staff of course, and also wholesale customers who come and meet these producers.

So far, we’ve had Fito and Rafa Amar from Bambito Estate in Volcan, Panama, and also Edwin Martinez from Finca

Vista Hermosa in Huehuetenango. Just amazing people, and those events were really special, and so that’s wh-

Kandace: It’s in this beautiful bag.

Ray: It’s lovely illustration.

Kandace: Watch this.

Ray: Oh yeah.

Kandace: Yeah.

Ray: Yeah. Who did the illustrations?

Kandace: That’s interesting you should ask. This is Laurel.

Ray: Okay.

Kandace: She is an amazing artist and illustrator, and she also is part of the Sweet Bloom family, and she did all of these illustrations.

Andy: Here we are in our back yard, and this is my lovely wife Laurel.

Laurel: Around the time that Andy was working on the package he designed, I was taking classes in botanical illustration at the Denver Botanic Gardens. When he came home with this idea for a botanical design on the package, I said, “Hey, I think I could do that for you.” Yeah.

So our designers were “The Made Shop”, and they had this idea of having a coffee plant: leaves, berries, and flowers, on the package. They suggested that it be an etching, and the reason for that is that you can get really fine, uniform lines with etching, and also there are no shades of gray. It’s either black or white.

I had never done an etching before, but I figured I could learn, and found that it’s actually a fun and interesting medium, and I enjoy doing this a lot. I just made this branch here, with the buds, and the flowers, and the berries, and a few extra flowers to add to the design, and then I gave this to the designers, and they turned it into this by inverting it, and then they layered this over itself to create the wallpaper design that is on our bags.

Ray: I like the starkness, the black and white. It’s very simple, but very memorable packaging.

Kandace: It’s definitely … this stands out whenever you see it on a shelf. It’s lovely, and it makes you feel like people are paying attention to the details, caring about the coffee.

Ray: Yeah.

Kandace: Well, I think it’s interesting that the identity and logo is pretty straightforward, and then it gives them this ability to play with the patterning. There is no patterning here.

Ray: It’s true, there is no patterning there.

Laurel: I am also our accountant, which has caused me some gray hair, and it was really nice, since that behind-the-scenes kind of job it was really fun to be able to have a part in the final product that our customers receive, so I was glad to be able to do this artwork for the package.

Andy: Bye from Colorado.

Ray: Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters of Denver, Colorado.

Yeah, there we go. That’s what we were looking-

Kandace: Yeah, that was a good one.

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