Pulley Collective, a co-roasting space in Oakland, Calif., announces the winner of their Golden Pulley Award, which includes a year of free roasting and financing for green coffee.
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Last week, Pulley Collective announced the winner of their Golden Pulley Award, a roasting scholarship that grants the winner a one-year free subscription at Pulley, along with financial assistance and guidance to buy green coffee and launch a roasting company. Dozens of hopeful entrants applied, but the scholarship was given to Taylor Valerga of Modern Coffee in Oakland. “I applied for the Golden Pulley scholarship because–since I started roasting commercially–I because addicted. I am really into science, to there point where I’m pursuing a degree in food science from UC Davis so I can better understand it,” says Taylor.
This is the first year that the scholarship is being offered, but it hopefully won’t be the last. “We wanted to get our name out in the Bay Area and also make coffee roasting here more accessible,” says Ramin Narimani of Pulley. The facility in West Oakland is the Pulley Collective’s second co-roasting space, following the success of its original outpost in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Pulley, which is the brain child of Steve Miersch, has been an influential presence in the New York roasting community. Before it opened, there weren’t many coffee companies in New York roasting their own coffee—most cafes worked with well-known reputable roasters like Intelligentsia or Counter Culture, but not too many were taking the plunge into roasting, and not much coffee was being roasted in New York City at all.
Now, there are over a dozen small café/roaster businesses in New York that have been empowered to roast because of the resources that Pulley provides. A potential roaster can essentially rent time on any of the roasters in the space and pay an hourly rate for the time they use it. Pulley also provides a cupping lab and a production space to taste and bag all coffees, and if a potential roaster has never roasted coffee before, Pulley will work with them to get their business off the ground. “I’d say about 90 percent of the roasters who use our Brooklyn space learned to roast at Pulley,” Ramin shares. Businesses big and small are members of the Pulley Collective, including coffee institutions Joe and Ninth Street Espresso, as well as smaller single-shop cafes like Southdown Coffee in Long Island.
Pulley is hoping to replicate that success in the Bay Area, and the Golden Pulley Award is just the beginning. “We want to remove the barriers to roasting,” Ramin shares, with the benefits provided in the scholarship allowing small would-be roasters to launch their businesses without needing capital to buy green coffee and invest in other resources. And although the intent was to award one scholarship, Pulley was impressed by a number of applicants. “There were some people that didn’t win, but we still wanted to work with them and gave them three-month scholarships,” shares Ramin, citing as an example a representative from 1951 Coffee, a nonprofit coffee shop based in Berkeley, Calif., dedicated to teaching and employing refugees in coffee.
Ramin and Pulley hope to continue their mission of making coffee more accessible through continued initiatives like the Golden Pulley scholarship and programs like Jumpstart, which helps coffee businesses and new roasters who aren’t necessarily sure how to start roasting. “We’ve seen for so long this idea that roasting is a unique skill and that only certain roasters can roast a certain way, but that’s not true—we can teach anyone how to roast,” Ramin shares. If you missed your opportunity to apply for the Golden Pulley scholarship, Pulley plans to offer it again next year and expand it to their New York location as well.