10 Minutes With David & Mae Clark

David + Mae Clark
Founders, Tasters, and Writers
Purista Coffee Co.
Tacoma, Washington

What other coffee jobs have you had?

Mae’s first job, in 2007, was as a barista at a ‘coffee shop’ that was also a video rental store, in a town with a population of less than 1,000. She learned everything you shouldn’t do to/with coffee while working there for two years (i.e. re-steaming milk, making sea-foam milk texture, NEVER properly cleaning the heads or descaling, using coffee without a roast date, not dosing or timing shots, using horrible-quality unfiltered water, thinking espresso roasted coffee made the coffee espresso, etc.). It was a lot of hogwash. That’s the only industry job besides blogging that either of us has ever held. In actuality we’re of the at-home coffee geek variety (though neither of us would sneeze at a job as a  barista, for the experience and relationship aspect of the industry).

Mae watching, timing, and weighing the Silvia's extraction. She'd rather pull espresso and texture milk than brew manual.
Mae watching, timing, and weighing the Silvia’s extraction. She’d rather pull espresso and texture milk than brew manual.

What’s your favorite part about working in coffee?

Honestly, the people. In and out of shops, via email and social networking, we’ve met a lot of really stellar people and we value the relationships  immensely. Secondarily, we love that there is always something fresh to learn. You’ll never grow old or weary if you’re always learning.

David pouring a Chemex of Heartbreak Coffee's Rwanda. He is better at manual brewing methods.
David pouring a Chemex of Heartbreak Coffee’s Rwanda. He is better at manual brewing methods.

Where do you ideally see yourself in 10 years?

Ideally in the next 10 years we’ll be well into the swing of running our own business with great loyal customers and amazing people working for us. Right now we’re using the blog to learn and get exposure in the industry so that our company and will evolve seamlessly in the next few years. We’ve started roasting at home and plan to expand that into selling at our local farmer’s markets some time this year.

Who and what inspires you?

The who and what of our inspiration…mostly we draw inspiration from each other, our three-year-old daughter who we want to set an example of chasing down your dreams for, people who are going about doing things unconventionally, and the beautiful Pacific Northwest in which we live that has to be credited with paving the way for the future of specialty coffee.

Nothing like coffee, donuts, and family!
Nothing like coffee, donuts, and family!

What are you drinking right now?

We just wrapped up reviews on two Black Oak coffees, their Villa Martinez Columbia and Dukende Kawa Rwanda, both of which were delicious! We’re almost done with their Crosstown Espresso blend and then we’ll be enjoying Heartbreak Coffee’s El Salvador and Rwanda. It’s Rwanda season! We’re roasting one, have had two this month, and will be drinking another by tomorrow. We quite like all of the good coffees coming from Rwanda, and getting to see the different roaster’s interpretations of them.

Crazy/memorable coffee experience you’d like to share?

As much as we hate to sound like we’re fangirling over Slate Coffee Roasters, we totally are, and our most crazy/memorable coffee experience was definitely had at their Ballard coffee bar. It was right after we started the blog at the end of July and there was all this buzz about them that we wanted to get in on. We walked in, were greeted warmly, asked if we had been in, offered help with decoding the simple menu, and given water. After Brandon Paul Weaver delivered our order to our seat at the window, we asked him what we might be detecting in the espresso. Once you open up the conversation for full blown coffee geekery there is no going back. We were there for an hour-and-a-half after moving to the bar to chat, and talked all things grind sizes, dissolved solids, water quality, and low pressure espresso machine coffee brewing. We ended up drinking at least five cups of coffee each (some from Slate, one from Square Mile, one from Workshop) and taking in more new information than we bargained for, but it was a good spark. We left very coffee drunk and very excited about coffee “seeds”.

Always making sure portafilter distribution is perfect.
Always making sure portafilter distribution is perfect.

What do you do when you’re not doing coffee?

We’re almost always doing coffee, since it’s our at-home hobby gig, but when we’re not, we are usually laughing or crying over something our daughter is doing, making repairs on our new house, doing yoga when we get the chance, exploring Tacoma, and eating vegan donuts, always with music.

About Sarah 932 Articles
Sarah Allen (she/her) is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.

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