Dr. Awkward: The Latest Collaboration Between Bangarang and Modern Times

Palindromes abound in the newest collaboration between Bangarang Coffee Roasters and Modern Times Coffee, Dr. Awkward.


Photos courtesy of Bangarang Coffee Roasters

What do a taco cat, a race car, and UFO tofu have in common? They’re all palindromes (spelled the same way backwards and forwards), like the name of the newest collaboration between Bangarang Coffee and Modern Times Coffee, Dr. Awkward. Set to be roasted in late April, the collaboration will feature two coffees—one from Burundi and one from Colombia—roasted by both establishments in palindromic ratios.

Dr. Awkward is a palindrome, meant to reflect the ratios of coffee used by Bangarang and Modern Times.

This isn’t the first time that Bangarang, based in Fullerton, Calif., and Modern Times, based in San Diego and noted for both its beer and coffee program, have worked together. “This is our second blend collaboration with Modern Times Coffee, the first of which was called Telekinetic High Five and was a blend of a rum-barrel-aged Kenya and a Malawi,” shares Travis Hochhalter, co-owner of Bangarang. Travis and the Bangarang team initially approached Modern Times because they were interested in learning about their unique coffee program. “A few months ago, Noah [Poletiek] and Travis came to visit us with some questions regarding our barrel-aged coffee program, as they had been thinking about starting a program themselves,” shares Bartleby Bloss of Modern Times. “From there we continued the dialogue about how to create more collaborations, being that it is a big part of the craft-brewing world and we wanted to created something similar in the coffee realm.”

Collaboration between the two companies seemed natural based on their similar views on coffee. “We each found pretty quickly that our visions of the specialty-coffee industry were very similar,” Travis notes. In collaborating, Travis and Bartleby hope that more coffee companies will come together to create new blends and roast profiles. “At Bangarang we are very open to idea sharing and learning from other roasters,” Travis says, “which is more of a common thing in the beer world—not so much in the specialty coffee world. … Hopefully this will become a trend and we can all work together to just make coffee better!”

Collaborations between breweries are common but somewhat rare among coffee roasteries.

Telekinetic High Five was released last February, and the popularity of the first collaboration paved the way for future collaborations. “The first one was a huge success; we did three small-batch releases and it sold out each time after only a few hours,” says Travis. “Due to the success and positive response of the first (and it was a really rewarding experience), we decided to collaborate on another blend.” The second collaboration will be a series—roasted and released independently by both roasters—featuring two coffees in mirrored ratios called Dr. Awkward. “Bangarang is roasting a version that is 70 percent Burundi and 30 percent Colombia, and Modern Times is roasting a version that is 30 percent Burundi and 70 percent Colombia,” Travis shares. Both blends will be released at the same time with the idea that customers can try both side-by-side and see how coffee ratios affect the flavor of both blends. “Our goal is to educate our customers on how blends work and how the same two coffees can create very different flavor profiles when blended in different ratios,” Travis shares.

Bangarang and Modern Times cupped over a dozen coffees to figure out which two would work together in the Dr. Awkward collaboration.

The components of the blends weren’t chosen at random, but reflect a concerted effort by both roasting operations to try something new and different. “We didn’t want to just make a blend for the sake of making a blend,” says Travis.  “We wanted to stretch ourselves and come up with something more challenging. Together we cupped around 15 coffees from four different importers and found that these two coffees were not only great by themselves, but created something very special when blended.” He noted that many of the coffees they tried, while special on their own, would overwhelm or get lost when paired with other coffees. Finding two coffees that held up in varying ratios presented a new challenge to both companies that they eventually were able to overcome.

You can pre-order each blend separately at Bangarang Coffee or Modern Times Coffee starting this Friday. Both coffees will be roasted on April 25.

About Ashley Rodriguez 413 Articles
Ashley is the Online Editor for Barista Magazine. She's based in Chicago. If you want to share a story or have a comment, you can reach her at ashley@baristamagazine.com.