In the spring of 2004 a tall gentleman with thick, horn-rimmed glasses came into our Atlanta Roastery to interview for a production position. He had a quiet, yet confident demeanor and his communication style was polite, if not slightly reserved. As two of us conducted the interview we quickly learned that that this guy had a knack for, and an interest in, all things artisanal and craft-based. From having a previous gig restoring antique furniture to getting up on Saturdays so that he could catch all the cooking shows on PBS he seemed to get bitten by the kinesthetic and the sensory. He was also an everyday regular at one of our local retail accounts and could talk passionately about the profiles of our coffees. He passed the interview and was hired shortly after.
His name: Brad Lawrence. Today, Brad is our senior roaster on our Atlanta staff and also manages our Roastery there. After a couple of years of employment in our production department, that he was by then supervising, Brad took a roasting position. Our roasters take pride in their craft and can speak eloquently about coffees. Every day we cup the days roasts to ensure quality and consistency. The cupping table gets dominated with adjectives giving explanation and depth to the range of flavors, textures and sensations we get from the cup. Brad has always been a natural at this. With his long time culinary passion he has always brought new ways to describe coffees to the table.
Over the years, hes turned many of us in the office on to preparing new foods or trying new things with staple kitchen items. Brad has definitely given me inspiration to continue to expand my palate development through exploring food. Once, I was planning on cooking a multi-course meal for a woman I had started to date. It was going to be her first time at my home. I was thinking soup as a starter. Brad told me about a cauliflower soup he had recently made that was a keeper. It consisted of roasting a cauliflower head, caramelizing the tips and softening the core. It had onions, chicken stock and a few more ingredients. You take it through the food processor for consistency and texture and top it off with white truffle oil. It sounded good to me. However, when I saw the price for white truffle oil at the store I hesitated, but then caved in and bought it having a hunch it would be a show stopper. Oh man, it was a hit. My date and I ate well that night. Brad is very good at these kinds of things.
He got into brewing beer for a spell. It took him only two tries to produce a beer that could hang on the shelf at the store with any other micro-brew out there. He gave that up because he realized that you really dont save that much money brewing your own beer when you buy the proper ingredients. And he and his wife started having kids, which will always make you work your hobbies as efficiently as possible. He may not always be the most vocal person in the room of coffee professionals, but I guarantee his opinion is well worth hearing. In fact, in most cases, his opinion is the one that you actually want to hear.
It's been a pleasure working with Brad over the last 12 years. Hes brought his expertise to our Batdorf family and hes taken on new challenges that have put him in a leadership role as our Roastery Manager in Atlanta. Hes humble and unassuming which only make his depth of character more inviting to be around. When you're at our Atlanta Roastery go up and say hi to Brad, you wont regret it (remember: the tall guy with the horn-rimmed glasses).
Oh, and about the cauliflower soup and the woman on that date I married her.