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Behind the Scenes with Batdorf and Bronson’s Ren Doughty

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Batdorf and Bronson Coffee Roasters is 30! Ren Doughty invited us to tour the facility and find out what’s kept them successful for three decades.

If you’ve dined at many of the fine restaurants in Atlanta and had coffee, you’ve probably drank Batdorf and Bronson coffee. They source coffee beans from farmers in about 17 countries across the globe. Batdorf and Bronson was started in 1986 by Dick Batdorf and Sharon Bronson. Though they are no longer involved in the business, their core ethos have remained intact.  Batdorf and Bronson continues to produce outstanding quality coffees for restaurants and doing so while treating their employees and vendors (coffee bean farmers) with incredibly high standards.

Interview with Ren Doughty

How did you get into coffee? I grew up in a family that never drank coffee. As I got older I developed an appreciation for coffee. I eventually started working for Starbucks. I worked at Starbucks for years, and was promoted into a job that had me on the road 20 days a month, which I grew tired of. Plus, you can’t have the best quality coffee when you are buying for 200,00 stores. I knew it was time to make a move to a smaller coffee producer.

What’s something most people don’t know about Starbucks? Starbucks original sales strategy was to sell equipment to brew your own tea and coffee at home. It was only in the mid 1980s that they changed their format.

How did you connect with Batdorf and Bronson? I competed in coffee competitions at Batdorf and Bronson. These are comprised of about 50 people who are friends and work for different coffee companies. We are coffee enthusiasts at heart. I would think nothing of helping a colleague come up with a unique coffee blend.

Taste our coffee, meet our people. – Batdorf and Bronson’s Philosophy

Why did you choose to come work there? I really like their philosophy. The marketing philosophy is “Taste our coffee. Meet our people.”  Another slogan that we have around here is “Not every pot is meant to brew Batdorf.” We put people first and want to serve the local restaurants while caring for the environment.

Labeling can be confusing. When buying coffee, should we look for organic?  Not necessarily. Organic labeling can be costly and doesn’t necessarily represent the best coffee. For example, less than one percent of the coffee in Costa Rica is organic. But is is still extremely high quality coffee. Pesticides that must be used to get rid of fungus are NOT bad for the environment. If you can see and hear insects and birds nearby the crop, you know it is healthy. Buy from small roasters that source directly (explanation below).

L: Unroasted beans, R: Elvis oversees coffee production at Batdorf and Bronson
The coffee roasting process at Batdorf and Bronson

Batdorf and Bronson also has a coffee store called Dancing Goats. Where did the name come from? More than 1000 years ago, an Ethiopian goat herder noticed his goats ate berries off a tree and got super hyper. That was when coffee was first discovered. Hence, the name Dancing Goats.

What’s something most people don’t know about you? I love motorcycles! I’m an huge enthusiast of them and I even sold my last one to actor, Ewan McGregor.

Resident latte art experts at Batdorf and Bronson!
Did you know? Latte art is a really serious competition that has world champions?

Gettin’ Schooled on Coffee with Ren:

Single Origin Coffee – All beans came from the same region / farm.

Blend – If the name sounds a little crazy (like Boho), it is most likely a blend. Blend coffees because different coffees have different flavor profiles. They are a combination of single origin, and the final product is more delightful that having them by themselves.

Burr Grinder – If you don’t have a burr grinder at home, then it is better off to grind your beans at the grocery. This is the only grinder that properly ensures the best grind for optimal flavor.

Fair Trade – This refers to the farmers being part of a cooperative of Co-op that charges fees that often times the farmer cannot afford. This negates the entire purpose of Fair Trade.

Direct Trade – The coffee roaster has an agreement with the farmer with no middle man involved. This ensures that they really get a fair price for their work in the coffee farming business.

Degas – Just roasted coffee has a grassy taste. If you wait a couple days the essence goes away. Batdorf and Bronson roasts their beans and only sends them out after one to two days, giving the coffee proper time to degas.

What kind of grind is the best for my coffee? Drip coffee – medium grind, French Press – coarse grind, Espresso – very fine grind. If coffee is too finely ground and used in the wrong kind of process, it makes your coffee bitter. Espresso is only in contact with water for 20-25 seconds. Coffee for French Press is contact with water for about four minutes.

Coffee Storage – Contrary to what many have been told, storing coffee in the fridge is not recommended because it creates condensation which results in inferior tasting coffee. Ideally coffee should be consumed within two weeks of being roasted.

Thanks Batdorf and Bronson for the swag!

Disclosure: My tour and samples were compliments of Batdorf and Bronson Coffee Roasters. But the opinions expressed are my own.