In our first rendition of “Humans of Creativity” we were able to learn a bit about the art of crafting coffee and it’s importance to West Virginia born roaster, Rusty Isaacs. He’s the man behind the @CoffeeBeerandMountaineers account on Instagram and has a lot of passion when it comes to coffee. From being a consumer to a barista to roasting the actual coffee, he is a part of it all.
1. When did coffee become one of the most important parts of your life? I started drinking coffee in high school, but it wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I really began to dive into it. A specialty coffee shop called Moxxee opened up in Charleston, WV where I’m from. One of my best friends took me there all the time and began to introduce me into the world of coffee. Sometime during a summer of visiting that shop every day, talking to the owners and seeking out other shops like it whenever I traveled, coffee went from being a daily ritual to a significant part of my life. I wanted to know as much as I could about it.
2. When did you start working in the coffee industry and what was your first job with coffee? My first job in coffee was at Moxxee. I was hired there the summer after my sophomore year in college and worked as a barista there on and off for the next two and a half years. They serve Commonplace Coffee from Pittsburgh and have some amazing equipment so it was a great introduction into coffee.
3. Who are some of your main influences for roasting coffee? (Companies, individuals, etc.) Number one is Chris Baca and Jared Truby of Cat and Cloud Coffee in Santa Cruz. They have been running an amazing podcast (Coffee Podcast by Cat & Cloud) on coffee for a while now. It doesn’t largely focus on roasting, but their passion for coffee and for people is really what pushed me to get out of my previous job as a beer salesman and back into the coffee industry in a real way. Chris also makes some great educational videos on his YouTube channel (RealChrisBaca). Besides them, Scott Rao’s books and blog have been a huge resource for me, especially being in West Virginia with very few coffee professionals to learn from.
4. Do you have any rituals or things you do every time when you are cupping? Since I use cupping as a form of quality control, I try my best to keep it as consistent as possible so that the only variable changing is the coffee I’m tasting. That’s really important for me because I am tasting the same coffees over and over, looking for any small changes from the adjustments I’ve made during roasting. I always use the same grind size, same grinder, same cups, same water, same everything.
5. What’s your favorite part about roasting? I think my favorite part about roasting is how much there is to learn and how much our industry still doesn’t know about coffee. Every single coffee has to be handled differently and understood for its unique characteristics. I do my best to help those qualities shine through in each cup of my coffee, but there is still more to learn every day and I’m still getting a feel for what my style is going to be as a roaster.
6. What is the future for you in the coffee business? That’s hard to say. I am really enjoying where I am at now, I never could have dreamed that I would be doing this at this stage of life. At the moment I want to do everything I can to further specialty coffee in the state, but in the future, who knows. I dream of opening my own roasting company someday, a brand I have created that can show people why coffee is such a special thing. You can follow Rusty on Instagram, @CoffeeBeerandMountaineers to get more information on his craftsmanship as well enjoy the abundance of beer selections he approves of.