The Matchbook Coffee Project highlights the unique talents of individual roasters through a monthly release of a coffee picked by a roaster with accompanying swag and gear.
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos by Lindsey Shea
Matchbook Coffee is a project dedicated to highlighting the hard work of individual roasters. Giving credit to one roaster is hard, as most work for companies with multiple roasters, and when you celebrate the quality of the company, you’re really celebrating the collaborative team effort and skill it takes to roast coffee consistently across multiple roasters. Matchbook, by selecting individual roasters and giving them free reign over a coffee, will showcase the unique talents and styles that individual coffee roasters have.
The Matchbook Coffee Project, run by longtime friends Dani Goot and Israel (Izzy) Fraire of Bellwether Coffee (full disclosure: I do all the content writing for the project), runs sort of like a monthly subscription club. Every month, the team picks a roaster to feature and sell their coffee, and then everything else is up to the roaster—bag design, logos, names, roast profiles, etc. “Matchbook is a project that explores roasting creativity with coffee,” shares Dani. “Our intention is to spotlight roasters with their roast profiles and design aesthetics. Our hope is that it will translate into an opportunity for discovery and community education—a platform for coffee roasters to provide industry-wide enrichment.” Roasters are encouraged to take on all the creative elements of their release, and work with Matchbook to print labels, design swag, and sell their unique releases online for one month.
Dani and Izzy were inspired both by the breadth of talent in the roasting community (both are longtime roasters) and by music. Dani describes himself as a ’90s punk kid whose wardrobe is still stuck in that era, and Izzy can rattle off the most significant albums to every era of his life without blinking. Matchbook operates sort of like a small record label, picking roasters they like and respect, and finding ways for them to craft a voice and release a coffee. “We modeled this project by looking at our favorite indie records—sometimes a record has really specific liner notes, or it comes with a poster, or whatever,” Izzy notes.
The project means to recognize the highly skilled work of roasters, who are often obscured behind brands and don’t interact or engage directly with customers. “Roasting is a highly technical and skilled profession, and through this project we hope to showcase both the unique abilities and tenacious determination each roaster has shown their craft,” says Dani.
The first featured roaster will be Jamie Smith of Sightglass Coffee in San Francisco. “We wanted to work with Jamie because she’s a total badass, she’s well respected in the community, and she’s creative and connected to music,” says Dani. After Jamie picks her coffee, the Matchbook team will announce the coffee and roast dates, and begin taking pre-orders for a limited amount of coffee and swag to come with the release. “This is a way for me to show my family what I do and have them have something that’s all mine,” shares Jamie. “And a coffee project that works like a record label? Please, I’m there.”
Beyond the creative possibilities, the project allows roasters to share within their circle what they do with others who might not be in coffee—a barista can craft a drink for their best friend, but roasters working for a company don’t get the same creative control over the products they produce. The Matchbook Project gives roasters a direct way to craft a product that they can share with their friends and family, demonstrating what they do and the creative control they have over the final creation.
Jamie and Matchbook will be releasing and selling her coffee in the next few weeks. After Jamie, Matchbook will be working with Tony Querio, director of coffee and green buyer for Spyhouse Coffee Roasters in Minneapolis. Tony is the current U.S. Roasting Champion, so keep checking out Matchbook on Instagram or on the website to learn more about the team, get coffee updates, and find out who will be featured next.
I know Jamie has passion, which is what makes her so good at what she does. I applaud Barista Magazine and the Matchbook Project for recognizing her skills and others so those regular clients can more fully appreciate their favorite drink of the day.