Adding to the Variety with Component Coffee Lab
Dec 22, 2017 11:00AM
● By Jordan Venema
Popcorn & Coffee
Story by Jordan Venema
Photos by Peter Amend
There are people who like coffee, and then there’s Greg Amend, coffee roaster extraordinaire and co-owner of Visalia’s Component Coffee Lab. For Amend, coffee began as a hobby when he bought his first roaster in 2012.
“A buddy of mine said you could roast coffee with a popcorn popper, so I went to a thrift store and picked one up for two bucks,” says Amend. “I started roasting my morning coffee every night, and it became a thing where people started asking for it.”
Which begs the question: Is coffee roasted in a popcorn popper any good?
Amend laughs. “Probably not, but it was fun, and the more I drank different coffee and compared it to mine, the more I wanted to figure out how to get the best cup of coffee. I started doing a lot more research, then upgraded to a small one-pound roaster, and eventually ended up with a three-kilo coffee roaster.”
By 2014, Amend had started Slow Train Coffee and was roasting about 10 pounds of coffee a week, selling locally at farmers markets and by subscription. From roasting on his kitchen counter to inside his garage and now at a small roasting facility, Amend roasts about 50 to 80 pounds a week. He expects that number to grow since starting Component Coffee Lab with co-founders Jon Anderson, and Mikayla and Miguel Reyes of Quesadilla Gorilla.
Leave it to somebody with the ingenuity to roast coffee in a popcorn popper to create a mobile coffee lab. Though Component Coffee plans to open its brick and mortar in early 2018, Amend and company opted to bring their coffee to the streets first.
The original idea was to open a physical location, “but as we got the building ready, we would operate with our mobile cart so we could continue to get our name out there,” Amend says.
The cart is a fully functioning espresso bar equipped with a generator, water filtration system and a Slayer espresso machine.
“It allows us to make what we’ll be making in the shop,” explains Amend, who says the Slayer takes “the spotlight next to our coffee.”
Component’s mobile espresso bar launched in August, but has become the business’ first introduction to local coffee drinkers, and an avenue in itself to spreading the coffee culture.
“It’s a way to bring the product to people,” Amend says, adding that it creates “a non-intimidating environment. If you don’t know what you’re getting into when you pull up, you kind of hold your breath and ask, ‘What am I getting into here?’” By bringing Component to people at catering events, weddings and farmers markets, Amend is able to offer coffee culture without the apprehension sometimes associated with visiting a new store.
Amend hopes the new coffee shop will add to the already growing coffee culture here in Visalia, though he doesn’t see it as competition. The idea that there are too many coffee roasters in one area is like saying there are too many wineries in Napa. Every roaster has his or her own signature, and Component is bringing more flavors to the palette, so to say.
“As a team, we want to see more options – variety, really,” says Amend. “I tend to roast with a different method, and I think our town needs all the shops. Adding us into the mix creates a really cool variety for people.”
While Component Coffee Lab will focus mainly on coffee, Amend says they will also be selling some kind of food. Miguel and Mikayla Reyes bring their culinary experience to the table, and will contribute “very interesting takes on simple food items,” says Amend. “They’re culinary masterminds, so whatever they come up with will be really cool.”
Component Coffee Lab
513 East Center, Visalia • componentcoffeelab.com
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