Get to know the affable, talented guy behind BUNN’s great barista-focused products
INTERVIEW BY DIANA MNATSAKANYAN
If you’ve attended a coffee event in the past five years, you have likely bumped into Rusty Angell of BUNN. Energetic, goofy, warm, and enthusiastic, Rusty’s personality is a magnet for coffee nerds. Starting out as a barista in college, Rusty began his coffee career within the four walls of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based Dilworth Coffee. Over the course of a decade, Rusty worked in a variety of coffee positions, and now currently serves as a Field Representative for Illinois-based BUNN. These days, you can find Rusty traveling all over the United States with BUNN, teaching classes at various SCAA events, and serving on the committee for the SCAA’s Brewing Pathway Board.
How do you think growing up in the American South has influenced your approach to the specialty-coffee industry?
Growing up in the South, I was taught to be a œSouthern gentleman and that chivalry was important. This concept of chivalry goes beyond just opening a door for a lady, though, and extends into being entirely hospitable to everyone that you encounter. This mindset manifests in my customer service and attention to detail.
I also think that growing up on a farm made me comfortable with the fact that, in order to grow, you must constantly be willing to learn and to teach. My dad was (and still is) a great educator ”he often used a storytelling style of teaching ”and I learned that there are many diverse ways to explain things to others to help them better grasp a concept. I have to give him credit for helping me become a well-rounded educator.
Tell me about one of your favorite coffee projects you’ve gotten to work on?
BUNN has given me a huge license to explore the world of coffee, especially as it pertains to filtered coffee brewing. My work with BUNN and the trifecta took me around the country to learn from professionals who are way smarter than I am. I think the work that I’ve done with turbulence and how it can manipulate not only the extraction, but specific sensory elements of coffee, has been the most exciting. It’s an ongoing project and has really become my passion in the last 2.5 years. There are also some fun, new products that I’m excited about that are coming down the pipeline ¦ But that’s all I can share about them, for now.
What are some non-coffee projects that you’re working on?
My wife, Emily, and our two kids, Larkin (5-and-a-half) and Ruby Anne (2-and-a-half) recently moved back to my family farm in super-rural North Carolina. We’ve been remodeling my grandparent’s farmhouse that was built in 1949. It’s been a labor of love and we’re very excited to be back on the farm.
Who has inspired you over the years?
I’ve got several people that I look up to in different capacities and who have inspired me in different ways. In coffee, I’m forever indebted to Jason Dominy for giving so much time and passion in mentoring me in my early years. Professionally, I’m inspired by my current team leader, Karalynn McDermott. She’s the senior vice president of market development at BUNN, and has challenged me to grow as a young professional with a vision to impact the coffee world at large. And, personally, I’m challenged by the leadership and life teachings of Steven Furtick at Elevation Church in Charlotte. His teachings inspire me to give my all in every aspect of life and to strive for excellence.
Describe your perfect day.
Family and food are the theme of my dream day. I love my kids and family so much. There’s really nothing like seeing my childrens’ eyes filled with wonder. We recently went to the NC Zoo and I’d have to say it was pretty darn close to the perfect day. What more could you want than to see incredible wildlife and to spend quality time with your family? The only way that day could have been better is if we’d had better food. Zoo food sucks.
If you didn’t work in coffee, what do you think you’d be doing today?
I was a music major in college ”an oboist. I might have been an oboe teacher. Or who knows, maybe I would have just been a full time farmer.
Tell me one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you.
One of my favorite ways to de-stress is to drive a tractor. Specifically a John Deere 4020.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I hope to still be teaching about coffee and mentoring the next generation of baristas.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Diana Mnatsakanyan is a cat-lady-turned-barista living in Charlotte, North Carolina. A workaholic and coffee nerd, she is currently in the process of opening her first coffee shop, Undercurrent Coffee. She also dabbles in barista blogging, coffee consulting and Netflix binge-watching (she highly recommends ˜Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ and ’30 Rock’).