Today, Roast Magazine announced the winners of two of the most prestigious awards that exist in the roasting community: Coffee By Design has been named 2020 Macro Roaster of the Year, and Mostra Coffee has been named 2020 Micro Roaster of the Year. Congratulations to these two fine roasters, and all the finalists!
Our friends at San Diego-based Mostra Coffee have been pumping out delicious roasts on their SF-25 commercial coffee roaster for the past six years — we're always excited to see our client thrive, but this is a particularly proud moment! We sat down with Mostra to hear more about what this announcement means for their roastery, how roasting on a San Franciscan Roaster has impacted their growth, and what's next for these caffeine-fueled powerhouses.
Photo: Mostra Coffee
Congrats on winning 2020 Micro Roaster of the Year! That’s a huge accomplishment. How will this affect your business moving into the holidays and new year?
We hope to get busier leading into the holidays?!?! With the national exposure we'll be receiving from this award, we hope this allows us to have a better platform to market specialty coffee from the Philippines. Winning helps our local community gain awareness as well.
What does Mostra mean?
Mostra means show or performance in Italian. It was inspired by Co-Owners Jelynn Malone & Beverly Magtanong’s entertainment background.
Photo: Brandon Joseph
How has your SF-25 roaster contributed to your roasting style?
From the beginning, our SF-25 commercial coffee roaster has been an integral part of how we developed our roasting style into what it is today. Ease of use, consistency and the ability to manually adjust "on the fly" are just some of the few things that we love about our roaster.
Can you detail the growth you’ve seen in your production over the past few years?
Mostra's production has grown exponentially over the last few years. Most recently with the opening of our new retail locations (more in the works), robust wholesale program, Mostra Experience Membership, subscription launch (soon!) and numerous beer collaborations in the pipeline. We are grateful for the upward growth we have experienced and look forward to what the future holds.
Photo: Luke Kyle
How would you describe the roasting scene in Southern California?
There are at least 3 dozen "local" roasters in San Diego. The roasting scene here in Southern California shares similarities with most others, with roasters that experiment on the edge of the innovation right down the road from those taking coffee to 2nd crack, i.e. super dark. San Diego specifically has a lot of this. Two other aspects that are the fabric of our community are the hyper-competitive landscape and how the coffee community embraces each other. With so many roasters, and a good few award-winners in the bunch, and industry heavyweights now realizing San Diego exists, constant hustle is required to shine. It is great that we collaborate with other roasters, whether it is a cask project with Dark Horse or participating in an anniversary party cupping at Modern Times. Relationships and collaboration played a huge role in how craft beer boomed in San Diego back a few decades, and it is also part of the coffee industry — whether it is how we educate and support our wholesale partners or nurture mutually beneficial relationships with producers in the Philippines and beyond. It is also invigorating how there isn't a real need for most anyone around here to claim SoCal is the best or the first to do things, but rather look at how we can create progress. And roasting some dang good coffee to drink together is pretty great.
You work a lot with breweries — tell us more about that process. What’s been one of your favorite or most noteworthy coffee beers you’ve produced?
We started doing collaborations with the intention of providing a service for breweries. Co-Owner Mike Arquines is a craft beer and spirits fan, so he had a good gauge of what was happening: what was hot and what was on the way out. He noticed that a good amount of breweries would buy coffee off the shelf from a local grocery store or online and use it in their beer “hoping” it would taste good. He felt why spend all that time in hop selection, creating complex recipes and ensuring immaculate water quality only to infuse the beer with old and stale coffee that has been more than likely sitting on the shelf for a long time. So, he figured to custom tailor the coffee like a fine “Italian Suit” to the beer. Understand each and every brewer and beer we work with from a process level to help source, sample and customize the roast(s) to fit the flavor profile and vision of each brewery. Using the 3 “C’s” – Cut, Contrast or Compliment also helps with determining which direction in coffee would be best for the project. As of 2019, we have done 600+ Beer, Coffee and Distillery collaborations that we all hold near and dear to our hearts. Each and every one of the projects has been a huge part of our growth and success during our six year journey and we are forever grateful for every opportunity.
You’ve definitely been an advocate for Philippine coffee. What are the unique characteristics of Philippine coffees? How has that been significant to your brand’s growth?
We would say that the characteristics of Philippine coffee are hard to generalize. We don't have decades and decades of people drinking the coffee grown here to say that there are these "specific" inherent flavor characteristics. Not to mention only a small percentage of the coffee grown here is specialty grade Arabica. If we had to narrow it down somewhat, we would say that in our experience, washed Philippine coffees have flavors of sweet milk chocolate, nice silky body, and citric acidity. But we are still learning so much about this coffee and how to roast it. Just today we cupped a sample that reminded us of the delicate jasmine tea notes from a Washed Ethiopian coffee, with the lively juiciness of a Kenyan coffee. Who knows what we will taste in the coffee tomorrow or next year!
Photo: Luke Kyle
What are the trends you’re seeing in the roasting world right now?
We are seeing an overuse of the term "direct trade" without the care of the consequences that buying sustainable coffees carry. With the rise of social media and farmers gaining more notoriety for producing excellent coffees, it makes getting directly in touch with farmers easier. We see coffee roasters take advantage of this by saying that by talking with the farmers, or taking an origin trip it's a direct trade coffee. The true intention behind direct trade was to establish long lasting, mutually beneficial relationships that carry year over year. That means investing in farm infrastructure, paying premiums for coffee to promote fair wages, health care, and more for the farmers and pickers. Not to mention pushing boundaries and creating unique processing methods that improve quality, or planting a new varietal on the farm that is disease or drought resistant to establish long lasting effects. This goes way beyond a photo-op and some likes on Instagram.
If you could give a new roaster one tip, what would it be?
Roasting is about so many things that surround turning beans brown, so it is hard to give just one tip. Be present mentally for every nuance of your day. Cup everything you roast. Taste a wide array of items as part of your diet. Genuinely process feedback. Stay in tune with the industry while forging your own way. Trade coffee with other roasters. Be consistent. Years ago, a friend and super amazing roaster gave me a ten item list when I started apprenticing her. It was impactful and extremely useful for me, but every person is an individual. I guess my tip would be: use your resources.
If you could give a new coffee business one tip, what would it be?
Lead with love and kindness. Part of Mostra’s mission is simply to be the reason why people see the goodness in humanity. Don’t be afraid to lose and fail. That is an important part of the process. But, Go for Broke. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it. Believe in magic. Be magic.
We congratulate Mostra Coffee for winning Roast Magazine’s Micro Coffee Roaster of the Year Award for 2020. Known for not only roasting coffees of superior quality, Mostra is also helping put the coffee industry of the Philippines on the map — an act driven in honor of their Filipino heritage and as a way to bring jobs to poverty stricken regions. Mostra is set to open a second San Diego location at the end of this year. For more information please visit their website.
Photo: Cindy Kyle