Kuva Coffee has made quite a name for themselves since they opened in 2003. I had a chance to sit down with Andy Gray, Kuva’s Roastmaster and hear Kuva’s and his amazing story. Come check out Kuva’s Coffee Roasting and Brewing Dabble Class and taste their amazing single origin, small batch coffee.
How long have you been living in St. Louis and how did you end up working at Kuva Coffee? I’ve lived in St. Louis almost my entire life and no matter how long I spend away, it’ll always be my home base.
My primary training is in film/design and so after doing some media work for Kuva and becoming friends with the owner, I was asked if I wanted to learn to roast. I said yes immediately.
For those that haven’t heard of Kuva Coffee what differentiates you from other roasters?
What I really love about Kuva is the accessibility of the brand. I can give my grandfather, who likes his “coffee to taste like coffee,” a cup of a variety I know is a little more robust and one I roast a little longer and he’s over the moon. At the same time, all of my friends in the city who want to try something a little different are blown away when they try one of our micro-lot selections.
The point is, no matter what kind of coffee we’re producing or who’s drinking it, every batch gets the same attention to detail. And when every one of your varieties is held to that high standard, your demographic is gonna be huge.
Having lived and worked in Amsterdam, how is the coffee culture different there than here in the U.S.?
Well, the Netherlands is always ranked in the top five coffee consuming countries per capita…so it was everywhere. I actually was hired by a Dutch coffee company, Douwe Egberts(2nd largest coffee producer in the world) to do media and translation work so I became quite familiar with the logistical side of the coffee industry.
Because it’s such a global commodity and so widely consumed, coffee’s a really comfortable experience to share with people while traveling or meeting for the first time.
Did you bring any practices back with you?
I learned a lot there…all the good study abroad stuff about life, the world and my small place in it. But I physically brought back a vintage stove-top percolator that I bought from a cheerful Dutch granny for €7. I use that guy all the time 🙂
Can you explain Kuva’s philosophy on small-batch roasting from single origins?
Since Kuva started in 2003, single-origin focus has always been the name of the game. Let’s find one great varietal. Develop a roast profile specific to that bean’s flavors. And let it stand alone.
Roasting in small batches on the incredible machines we have allows me greater control to keep every variety roasting and tasting consistent day in and day out.
What’s your favorite Kuva Coffee?
Honestly, as silly as it sounds, they’re a little like children to me. I worked with each one for a while to understand what makes it different than the others. I respect what each one brings to the table flavor-wise and am constantly cycling through our lot depending on my mood/the day.
Our Peru Chilchos is nearly unbeatable though. It’s a bean we work with the Botanical Gardens to import directly from the farmer in the Peruvian rainforest. It’s taking “fair trade” to the next level and we’re the only roaster in the United States with it. So that one’s definitely got a special place in my heart.
How do you take your coffee?
I got an Aeropress for Christmas and have really been enjoying using that but I’m not picky. Usually, I just want to be grateful to the person making me a cup and at least appreciate the way it brings us together if nothing else. Some of the best coffee breaks I’ve ever had have been at truck stops or in the backcountry where maybe the quality wasn’t all there, but that wasn’t the point.
Hard pass on syrupy blended drinks though.