Name and Role: Kathryn Melheim, Roaster at Logan House Coffee in Denver, Colorado
Experience: Barista 4 years; Roaster 1 year
How you got into coffee: I started in coffee about 5 years ago as a barista… I had worked in social work before that, my undergrad degree is in social work. I worked for a couple of years in homeless shelters and that just got to be a little tough for me emotionally, so I decided to take a break…I thought I would just take a year long break or something like that and then go get back into it, probably get my masters degree in social work… but I started in coffee and I just absolutely fell in love with coffee, so I haven’t left.
What’s it like to be part of the Colorado Coffee scene: I can only really speak about Colorado’s coffee scene from an insider perspective… I haven’t been on the inside anywhere else. It just seems like we have such a tight knit community… I feel like I could pretty much ask anybody if I needed help with roasting….everybody is just super awesome, super helpful and really friendly.
What keeps you in coffee: I really love to learn and when I stop learning I get bored. So the thing about coffee, I think, is that there are so many different avenues to coffee… I can go to roasting, then there’s also green coffee buying, also sourcing, there’s also competition, there’s also judging competition and there’s just such a depth and breadth…of things to do in coffee. But I feel like I’m always learning, always growing and that…I’m not near the end of that. There is just so much more, all the time.
Something in coffee that is not for Kat: I at least like to try everything once. I can’t think of any coffee thing that I’ve had that I’ve hated, though I’m sure there are coffee things that I’ve had, that I’m like “naaaw” – but I’m also the kind of person that if I’m on a road trip, I will get gas station coffee…I don’t like hotel coffee, I can go for gas station coffee, I can’t do hotel coffee.
What are you up to when you are not roasting: I make coffee earrings. They’re just little studs with one coffee bean each and i sell them on my Etsy page, which is “2,000 Miles” but it’s spelled 2, the letter k, and then the word miles [2kMiles]… I sell them by origin. So if your favorite coffee is Ethiopian, you can buy Ethiopian earrings if your favorite coffee is from Colombia, you can buy Colombia coffee bean earrings. Its really fun because I figured…and, well, maybe I’m just a nerd, but I figured if I like to wear these, and if I like to know what origin my earrings are from, maybe other people will too.
Playing the name game at work: Everything that we have, has a name, even each group head on our espresso machine has a name… So the roaster is a Falcon, that’s the model, and Freyja in Norse mythology owns a cloak of falcon feathers. So I named the roaster Freyja, after the Norse goddess cuz I’m super interested in Norse mythology. My boss wanted to call it Tweety Bird, and I told him, “ABSOLUTELY NOT, if I’m gonna be roasting on this thing, I will not allow it to be called Tweety Bird!” and I won.
Seed to Cup:…This past year…I went to Guatemala. Logan House sent me and two of my co workers to Guatemala to see the coffee growing there and that was super fun because that was when I was beginning to roast and that was a farm that we had bought coffee from before so it was meeting the people who literally sent me the coffee that I was roasting which was just an amazing and really humbling experience because when you’re drinking a cup of coffee you don’t necessarily think of all the hands that its been through or the person who created that bean in the first place.
Shout outs: I think my first shout out would go to my bosses at Logan House Coffee Company because they’ve really given me the platform to learn roasting and continue to develop in coffee in general. And now that I know mostly what I’m doing, they’ve really given me the freedom to just run with it, so I’m really thankful in their trust in me and their encouragement. I’d also just have to shout out to Elle Jensen and K.Wade cuz they’re freakin awesome and I feel like their presence in the Denver coffee community and especially with starting and maintaining Cherry Roast has just been so powerful for our community but also for me, just seeing them doing their thing and being bomb at it… my Logan House family, all of my friends who work with me…