Catching Up with Tanager Coffee

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Catching Up with Tanager Coffee

(Inspecting the coffee during the cooling process)


One of our 2 featured coffee roasters for our November coffee box will be from Tanager Coffee, out of Portland, Oregon. They were kind enough to take time out of their busy day to catch up with us for a quick chat about their business, their philosophies and of course, their incredible coffee!


What was the catalyst that took this from an idea to a reality? 

I was able to build relationships with like minded people who challenged me to move forward.


What is one adventure that made it all worthwhile?

There are so many things that I can look back to that affirm my choice to become a coffee professional. The first time I roasted a coffee, learned where that coffee had come from and who grew it, really made me feel connected to coffee and this industry as a whole in a way that was very intimate.


What are your motivations for doing what you do? Environmental? Passion for providing quality products?

The Tanager is a bird that migrates from North America to Central and South America. The Western Tanager, specifically, can be found in the Pacific Northwest during the summer and actually migrates and lives on coffee farms in Central America during the winter months. At Tanager, we want to use this as a motivating metaphor for who we are as a company: we are invested in our local community as well as the producers and communities we work with in different coffee growing regions throughout the world. Relationship and community are really what drives us and dedicating ourselves to the craft of roasting coffee from hardworking and incredible producers is how we accomplish those things.


How has visiting your coffee growers changed your perspective on the roasting process?

Visiting origin and building relationships with coffee producers is an incredible experience. Most of the hard work and preparation that goes into making a coffee taste amazing is done at origin. By having a thorough knowledge of a producers philosophy on growing, harvesting and processing coffee, a roaster will have a much better idea of how to approach that coffee. Each time I roast a coffee, it reminds me of who grew that coffee, what the farm looks like, the soil beneath my feet. Having that relationship ties you to the farmers and farm workers, to the land and to the country.


(Checking out Faustino Reyes' farm in La Floresta, Colombia)


What is your relationship with your coffee growers and how important is this to your business model?

Most of the green coffee that I buy is relationally connected in some way. Since Tanager is still a newer company and is building its customer base, we are not able to spend as much time at origin as we will in the future. That being said, we have been aggressive in seeking out producer partners because it is the bedrock of who we are as a company. The farmers who I have been able to visit have an incredible understanding of practicing hospitality, they treat me like a family member and I can only hope to reciprocate that sentiment as well.


What is your vision for the future of the coffee industry?

My vision for the future of the coffee industry is to push the limits of hospitality, quality and relational/economic investments at origin.


What’s your differentiation from other roasters out there? Why did you choose to be a “roaster”?

There are so many amazing roasters in the world, I can only humbly say that I have a passion for learning about coffee and continue my pursuit to push my knowledge and craft as much as I can.


What’s your favorite roast right now, either for sale or “in testing” and what’s your favorite brewing method?

Right now, my favorite coffee that I roast is for a special project that I am involved in called "The Las Cruces Project." It is a collaboration to re-build a soccer field in the community we source coffee from in El Salvador. We are partnering with Cuatro M, our partners in El Salvador and The Timbers Army, a soccer supporters group for the Portland Timbers which is a local Professional soccer team here in Portland, Oregon. El Salvador and Portland each have deep passions for soccer and coffee and it is our hope to use that passion to really benefit the community of coffee workers and their families in El Salvador. This coffee and lots of information on the project is available at