With a 6-kilo-capacity Giesen W6A roaster as its instrument, roasting firm Three Keys Espresso is offering a welcome dose of musicality to the Houston espresso scene.
“We attempt to think about what if Dizzy Gillespie or Miles Davis or John Coltrane roasted espresso; what flavors and emotions would we wish to come via when our espresso is brewed and consumed?” Three Keys Co-Founder Kenzel Fallen lately advised Each day Espresso Information. “Often when evaluating a roast profile, we measure how properly it aligns with the title — which is normally musically oriented — and the playlist that corresponds to it.”
To this point, Q Graders, jazz lovers and Three Keys Co-Founders Kenzel and Tio Fallen have roasted greater than 10,000 kilos of espresso in a 250-square-foot portion of a second-floor business kitchen at a church in Midtown Houston.
Inexperienced coffees for the Black-owned enterprise are sourced by means of practically a dozen completely different import firms — together with Mighty Peace Espresso, Sucafina and Catalyst Commerce — with an emphasis on these focusing on particular international locations and areas.
“High quality is paramount, very intently adopted by the traceability to the producer, demonstrating there’s optimistic impression and a sustainable chain within the journey from the farm to our roastery,” stated Kenzel Fallen. “These days, so as to cut back our carbon footprint, we have been searching for to deepen relationships with importers who retailer on the Houston [Dupuy] espresso warehouse.”
As soon as roasted, Three Keys baggage the beans with art work that additional references jazz classics.
“A few of our product labels are direct inspirations from the Reid Miles Blue Observe album artwork period,” stated Fallen. “That is very a lot intentional. We’re grateful to have labored with a design agency, Area of Research Design, in our early levels. They have been in a position to masterfully translate our imaginative and prescient of jazz art-inspired product imaging into our firm branding.”
For instance, packaging for Three Keys’ Quartet blended, Kenya Double A Practice single-origin and Brazil Bossa Nova single-origin coffees all characteristic vertical traces that nod to the 1962 album “Hub-Tones” by trumpeter Freddie Hubbard.
Along with the visible reference conveyed by every bundle, the model offers really useful listening for every espresso. For the Bossa Nova, it is “Manteca” by Duke Ellington.
Guests to the corporate web site may discover the Three Keys Espresso Jazz + Espresso “Notes” Wheel, a re-conceptualized specialty espresso taste wheel that maps out the corporate’s synesthetic commingling of flavors and sounds.
Whereas the faces of artistic management all through the historical past of the jazz have been predominantly Black, the identical actually can’t be stated for leaders within the specialty espresso trade. The Fallens hope Three Keys might help play a task in reshaping that imbalance.
“It is undoubtedly trending in a optimistic course,” Fallen stated. “I’ve additionally been happy with the methods during which firms and enormous gamers within the area are making deliberate efforts to empower the Black group inside espresso.”
One other necessary parallel between jazz and occasional has to do with entry and venues. As Black individuals have not all the time been welcomed into the locations the place jazz has been carried out, Fallen sees an identical shortcoming in a lot of at the moment’s espresso homes, the place coffees produced by Black and brown persons are primarily consumed by white audiences.
“I feel there’s nonetheless lots of work to do when it comes to welcoming extra Black and brown prospects into specialty espresso,” Fallen emphasised. “For instance, many individuals in Black and brown take pleasure in darkish roasts, which include a little bit of a stigma in sure specialty circles. The extra welcoming we may be to a wider spectrum of what ‘good’ espresso may be, the extra we are able to embody these from underrepresented teams.”
Since 2019, the married enterprise companions have juggled the regular progress of Three Keys with the expansion of their household, most lately together with a 3rd child boy this previous December. In addition they each proceed to carry exterior jobs: Tio as a mechanical engineer within the vitality trade, and Kenzel in company banking danger administration.
The Fallens are planning to broaden Three Keys into a brand new 1,800-square-foot area the place a brand new 15-kilo Giesen machine might be uncrated, pending metropolis approvals which have dragged on like a damaged file.
“Now we have so many concepts and plans in retailer as soon as our bodily area may be opened up, however we’ll stay tight-lipped on these till we are able to execute them,” stated Kenzel Fallen. “Would not wish to jinx it.”
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Howard Bryman is the affiliate editor of Each day Espresso Information by Roast Journal. He’s based mostly in Portland, Oregon.