Tinker Coffee Co.
Steve Hall: Co-Founder
Jeff Johnson: Co-Founder
(2:15) How did Tinker Coffee Co get started?
Started at family events when Steve and Jeff kept talking about coffee.
Took the plunge in 2014 to open Tinker Coffee Co.
(4:45) What was the atmosphere like when you first opened?
'Naiveté'. Jumped in head first to learn as much about coffee and roasting as they could.
(8:48) Are you both from Indianapolis? Where did you go to school?
Jeff Johnson - Grew up in Mishawaka and went to Purdue.
Steve Hall - Grew up all over the place, originally from Boston, moved to Atlanta in 4th grade, went to college in upstate New York, moved to Chicago for work where he might his wife, then moved to Cleveland, and eventually found themselves in Indianapolis.
(9:52) As brothers-in-law and business partners, has there even been an argument where you wanted to punch each other in the face?
No! Complimentary skill sets.
Jeff - very analytical and focuses on the roasting process.
Steve - great with people, background in sales and digital marketing.
(10:50) What was the coffee scene like 4 years ago when you first started?
Bee Coffee was the biggest player along with Hubbard and Cravens.
"A rising tide lifts all boats" mentality. However, it is easier to talk industry with other companies when they are in different markets.
(13:40) Do you find yourselves still having to educate the consumer base on what specialty coffee is?
They view the education side of specialty coffee as an opportunity to get to know people.
(15:10) Why is specialty coffee worth the money people are paying for it?
Specialty coffee (Quality): Scoring system for a coffee is 0-100 points. Typically 80 points or higher.
Mainland USA does not grow coffee. Grown between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.
(16:40) THE PROCESS OF SPECIALTY COFFEE
(21:19) What are we drinking right now?
Steve's favorite coffee producing country.
(21:50) How often are you going to farms to source your own coffee?
Not as often as they would like because they are needed in Indianapolis to run the business.
Importers play a very important role in the process of being a roaster.
(24:00) How did you cultivate the relationships between the importers and farmers (direct)?
Nice to find importers who are concentrated in certain countries/regions.
(25:50) How important is marketing of your product?
More important than marketing is the quality of the products themselves.
(28:12) How selective are you on who you choose to sell your coffee too?
The Tinker process is very consultative in the beginning. They work with local baristas and accounts to make sure they are educated to maximize the Tinker product.
(29:55) How often do people show up excited to try coffee at the Tinker Coffee Co Shop... which does not exist?
This is a ROASTERY ONLY, not a coffee shop; however they are happy to give out samples :).
(31:50) What are your hours for retail and coffee bean purchases?
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday: 10am-6pm
Saturday and Sunday: 10am-3pm
Say, "May I please have a sample."
(33:33) Is there a plan to have a coffee shop in your 1 year, 3 year, or 5 year plan?
Focused on the core business of roasting.
(34:35) Who is the man on the street making the sales?
Dylan Morse is the man slinging the coffee to their accounts.
(35:30) Do you have accounts outside of Indiana?
Tinker Coffee Co. provides a subscription service for those in the USA.
(36:16) Where did the idea of Cupping Classes come from?
Cupping Classes: https://www.tinkercoffee.com/cupping-classes
(currently sold out through October)
(39:13) Give us more detail on what a 'cupping' is?
Listen for the detailed process.
(41:46) Steve, explain your background in wine?
(44:25) Tell us about the coffee competition Tinker Coffee did so well at in Chicago?
America's Best Espresso Competition in Chicago
(51:30) Do you see a similar trend in the specialty coffee industry as we do in the craft beer industry with company buy outs from the bigger players?
Stumptown & Intelligentsia - purchased by Peet's Coffee
(55:50) Do you ever take a break from coffee/caffeine to reset your system?
Moderation is key. There is a lot of slurping and spitting when tasting.
Jeff- tries to have one cup of coffee a day, but usually turns into three.
Steve- three cups is the sweet spot. Have a cup at 6am, have one at 11am, and if you are feeling it go for it around 3pm.
(58:50) Tasting Notes for the Kenya- Gikirya AA.
Only 8 bags available so this will be gone in a month or so.
Tropical fruit notes, pineapple, ginger bread notes, citric tartness.
(01:03:30) Tasting Time:
Beer Geek Vanilla Shake - Mikkeller ApS (Denmark): https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/13307/98050/
KBS (Kentucy Breakfast Stout) - Founders Brewing Co: https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/1199/19960/
Dorian Stout - Scarlet Lane: https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/34791/123232/
Prairie Coffee Noir - Prairie Artisan Ales: https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/30356/108802/
(01:11:00) Rapid Fire Questions
Tinker Coffee Co. | 212 E 16th St
Indianapolis, IN 46202
**NOT A COFFEE SHOP, it is a Roastery** (But you can buy product on site)