By Julie Horner
What better time to savor the divine than to head out on a gray mountain morning to Boulder Creek’s Goble Coffee Roasting outpost tucked neatly and oh-so-welcome inside Burger 9 across from Garrahan Park. I arrived in tandem with a couple of guys in a pickup stomping in from the damp for the daily grind. Americana and a drip. Another couple of guys arrived right on their heels, “Do you guys have Wi-Fi?” The woman manning the nozzles steamed and frothed, whirling among her cups while Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers danced on the flat-screen behind her. In short order everyone was settled, upper lips tipped with foam, tapping away on their handhelds and laptops, connected to the world.
Owners, Michael Goble and Kendra McQueen opened the outpost quietly several months ago. I noticed that buzz was building on the Nextdoor community website, so I asked to come out to sample a sip when they were ready.
Some might remember Michael as the ebullient barista at Coffee Cat in Scotts Valley. Musician friends and I had a regular Tuesday evening carpool over the hill for a gig and we’d meet at the Cat for a jolt. Mike artfully prepared our drinks, cheerfully exulting beans and grind.
Kendra remembers when the inkling occurred to start their own coffee roasting company. “I was in my third trimester and Mike said, ‘Let’s buy a roaster!’” When the opportunity opened up to share the space with the folks at Burger 9, they jumped on it. Kendra says she and Mike take turns running the shop and taking care of the kids, “It’s been great for our relationship and great for business, a way to find balance.”
Mainly it was an opportunity to be in control of their art. “The more you can make things by yourself, the better enjoyment-wise. It’s nice to have control of every little detail.”
They purchased the coffee cart from an old couple in Truckee, “totally mom and pop.” Now we’re The Coffee Lady and The Coffee Guy, just us two, and feeling very comfortable. The whole effort is as bootstrap as it gets – it’s all very organic – everything you see here is us.”
“We have so many ideas, we love the community. A lot of energy is going into that little cart, we don’t want to jump into anything and not finish it.”
Kendra and Mike make their own syrups, sauces, and flavorings from scratch. Mike is the master roaster. “Mike is the scientist in the family, he can tell you anything about coffee – he really gets into it.”
Mike knows what he’s doing and prioritized in the right places, like investing in a specific grinder. “That’s where it all starts, the grind. Mike’s dream is the beans – he wants you to ask him about the beans.” They buy the highest quality beans and roast them in incredibly small batches, hand processed from beginning to end. The drinks become an excellent way to “showcase the coffee.”
He points out that Santa Cruz has become known for its coffee, like its cannabis and craft beer. The concept of the “California coffee house” got its roots in the Bay Area from the folk music and politics of the 60s. “We live in an area where you have the time and resources to craft the product; the region really feeds on the slow foods movement. We get a lot of comparison to the wine industry with its appeal to the distinguishing pallet.”
“Once you elevate your taste for excellent coffee, the term ‘coffee snob’…it’s not a thing,” Mike says. “Anyone who drinks highly cared for coffee for a week will discover that it’s hard to go back to lesser quality.” GCR coffees are track-able and non-GMO. The coffee beans are selected from around the world, “down the mountain on a donkey to the docks, to the Port of Oakland and into your cup.”
When you bring beans home, “you don’t’ want to settle for off-the-shelf, for ‘dead coffee,’” once you realize what good coffee can do for you and how your body reacts to it. “My whole goal with this business, with this roasting: If you’re going to make coffee at home, why not make the best cup that you can.”
For folks on the go, Mike observes, “People are taking their time and being realistic about the time it takes to make the commitment to the commute. That’s what I love about living in the mountains. It’s a kind of meditation, we’re like-minded people. Commuters are obviously in a hurry, but a bad cup of coffee will ruin your day. Don’t settle. Let me bring you a pound – make the effort and it will change your day.”
(c) 2015 Julie Horner
Julie Horner is an Irish folk musician and writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org On the Web: leap2three.com