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Blank Slate Coffee

23 Oct

Blank Slate Coffee Trailer gahanna

Blank Slate Coffee
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169 Mill Street (near intersection of Mill & Carpenter)
Gahanna, Ohio

The Mill Street strip in downtown Gahanna is filled with plenty of restaurant and entertainment options just a stone throw away on the fringe of the area a beautiful airstrean trailer caught my eye. I was excited to see a mobile food option in the neighborhood. After a nice visit for an Italian Soda and chat with the guys, I figured our readers would want to know more. So here you go, my Q and A with Blank Slate.

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1) Tell me about the Team on Blank Slate (who and what you do).

The Blank Slate team consists of the owner/operator Matt Roberson, as well as three other baristas. Working in such close quarters demands that each barista be able to “run the show” by themselves, or in pairs. We rarely have a 3rd person on the trailer.

2) When did Blank Slate Open?

Blank Slate has existed for almost a year and half, though for the first year, we only did booth events. We’ve only been running full ours from the Airstream since June 6th of this year.

3) How did you pick your spot?

My wife and I live in Gahanna and are dedicated to a community-centric business model. We’re asking the community to support us, so we should be working to support the community. Gahanna is our community, so it was a no-brainer. We’re consistently parked on a commuter route that a good portion of New Albany and Gahanna uses. Morning commuter traffic is essential for us.

4) Where did you find your trailer and how long did it take to build out.

The Airstream was in Indianapolis when we found it. A woman who owned a couple of bakeries was looking for a mobile outlet, and had started the process to turn the Airstream into that. She ended up going a different way, and we ended up with a partially restored Airstream! The exterior had been buffed, floors and interior walls updated, and partial electric. Building out everything needed for a coffee vendor took around two months.

5) What is your background in / passion for coffee?

I actually came into coffee culture through a different door than most. As an artist and musician, I had the opportunity to put together art and music events for various coffee shops. My sister had owned a coffee shop when I was younger, and it has always been an atmosphere that was naturally comfortable for me. From working with various pour over methods at home, to using our basement to restore the antique espresso machine that we use, I definitely have a DIY approach when it comes to coffee. Our roaster, Mission Coffee Co, has been an amazing resource for us, as well as Kenny Sipes, the owner of Roosevelt Coffee.

6) You source a lot of local ingredients and locally made products on your trailer, what inspired that for you?

We’re local and we ask people to support us because we’re local. Supporting local is common sense when you step back and look at it. It’s better for you health wise, better for the environment, and better for your local economy. If we push these ideals as individuals, we should strive to live them out in our business practices as well. Using Ohio products makes a lot of sense to us, and finding businesses that we can support that are good for our health, environment, and economy has made it a practical choice for us.

7) Anything else to add that you want to make sure people know or understand about Blank Slate.

We’re collaborative people. We’ve worked hard to build connections with city hall, our visitors bureau, parks and rec, etc. We see a lot of potential in Gahanna, and if there’s other people who are interested in making something out here work, we’d be happy to get together and see what we can come up with.

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Early Bird

15 Jun

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Early Bird
2141 Indianola Ave (corner of Norwich) by Tree of Life Church, parking in rear lot
Thursday-Friday 7am-1pm, Saturday 8am-1pm

Facebook: EarlyBird
Website: Fourandtwentybakeshop
Phone: (614) 715-0906

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Perched just north of OSU Campus, Early Bird Food Truck serves beignets (regular and filled), donuts, hand pies (they go quick), One Line Coffee and in the near future, perhaps a French style ham and cheese sandwich. The beignets can be dusted with powdered or cinnamon sugar. Fillings include custard, nutella, peanut butter and more. The menu is small, the concept is simple and for early risers, that simplicity can make the early morning rise that much easier. Owner Libby Glover is an accomplished and trained baker who managed the bakery at Hills Market in the past and has been a frequent farmers market purveyor.

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One my survey run I tried a variety of beignets. They were great – fresh with great flavor, just take the first bite of a filled beignet very carefully – or you may lose some filling. You can enjoy your food on site at a few tables under a tree or take them to go and see how long you can go before you start to eat your goodies in the car.

Hemisphere Coffee Roasters

16 Sep

HCR Trailer
3825 Indianola Ave.
Clintonville (south of Cooke Rd)
Tentative Hours: 6:45 am to 10 am
Twitter: @HCRTrailer
Facebook: Hemispherecoffeeroasters
614.427.3457

Consider this readers, of the 100 plus mobile vendors in Columbus, none of them do coffee. A few set up lame coffee in a pot to serve for special occasions but not on a daily or weekly basis. There is a coffee trike on the way but not out on the streets yet. The missing link in mobile vending is coffee. Almost every morning or evening event I have been to (herding mobile vendors) has been missing one product that 100’s of people were looking for: coffee. It could have been bad coffee and people would have bought gallons of it. But, imagine if you will, what if someone took good coffee to the masses? Hemisphere Coffee Roasters have been at it for a week now and I wish them well and I think they are going to do well in there spot (and any other location they can find to set up a serve).

Posted below is an interview with Hans who owns and runs the trailer with his wife Joelle.

A little history first… My wife’s parent’s founded Hemisphere Coffee Roasters ten years ago after learning about the plight of a coffee farmer in Nicaragua. Paul Kurtz, my father-in-law, traveled to Nicaragua often because of his position at a Christian Missions agency. He began importing small lots of coffee and selling the roasted beans as a hobby. As the business grew, Diego Chavarria, the coffee farmer in Nicaragua, advised him that to really make a difference, he needed to buy a whole container (37,500 lbs) of coffee. Paul found investors and imported that first container in 2007. Since then, we have imported seven containers, with more in the works. These purchases have allowed Diego to employ workers full-time, make improvements to the farm, support local churches and pay off his loans to the bank and own his farm outright. In return, this Direct-Trade relationship insures quality coffee. We travel to Nicaragua frequently, see the coffee that is being prepared for us and spend time getting to know Diego and his family, soaking up their incomparable hospitality. This is better than Fair Trade, because we know the exact farmer our coffee comes from, what he is getting paid and what processes he is using to cultivate the beans. He shares with us his financial needs, we provide micro-loans and financing, and are granted premium coffee in return. Since meeting Diego, we have connected with other companies and non-profits who are doing the same thing we are, helping a specific farm. We offer six to eleven Direct-Trade coffees (depending on availability) and showcase these at the HCR Trailer. HCR supplies businesses, cafes, restaurants, churches, markets and gift shops.

My wife Joelle and I got involved in the company about 4 years ago. My wife does a lot of book work, customer relations, and filling and shipping orders. I roast most of the coffee, and work on flavor profiling, following trends in the coffee world, and really anything that needs done around the shop. Our Roastery is located in Mechanicsburg, Ohio about 25 miles Northwest of Columbus. We live in and love Columbus and have been dreaming for years about how to mesh our coffee life in Mechanicsburg and our home life in Columbus. Plus, we love coffee! The more I research, read, and learn about coffee, the more I fall in love with this versatile commodity. I had been working part-time for HCR and part-time for a remodeling company, but found myself dreaming about coffee; Perfecting a roast, sampling new Direct-Trade offerings, getting my latte art down pat. In August, I quit my remodeling job and went full-time with HCR. This trailer allows us to bring Direct-Trade coffees to Columbus, something we are passionate about! I still roast in Mechanicsburg, and those demands can vary week to week. The trailer allows flexibility in schedule and location. We had a great reception at the Ohio Food Truck and Cart Festival a few weeks ago and have several other festivals slated. The trailer also allows us to test out locations without the upfront costs of rent and utilities. It’s a low-risk way to start a business, even though it feels like a high-risk to quit my steady job and support my wife an daughter in this way.

Where did you’re passion and knowledge come from?

I think I first fell in love with people. I loved the coffee shop atmosphere and wondered what was behind it. I learned about HCR while in college, and became curious about the roasting aspect. I grew up in rural Ontario, CA (4 hours from a Wal Mart!), and spent my high school years in small town Kalona, IA. I moved to Columbus after Paul offered to take me under his wing. I got in way over my head, marrying his daughter, but this is good. 🙂 I learned to roast and read anything I could get my hands on about coffee. I’ve attended events, workshops, and meetings about how to offer quality coffee with compassion in mind, how to help farmers without being a charity. This is at the heart of HCR. Coffee is very subjective it’s up to each individual to decide if they like it or not! But there are industry standards and we strive to be at the cutting edge of those standards. Whether it’s Direct-Trade brokerage, pour-over techniques, or fourth-wave espresso blends. I’ve traveled to Nicaragua and Costa Rica to see coffee at it’s roots. It’s easy to fall in love with coffee once you’ve seen how it’s grown, harvested, processed, and how it affects the individual farmer. We want to do this Direct-Trade coffee justice and treat it with the respect it deserves!

What types of jobs and food service training did you have before opening the HCR trailer?

I’ve worked in the food service industry and my wife was a manager at a coffee shop for a few years. HCR has a small cafe we both work at. We’ve gotten a good sense of what people are looking for and always strive to make them happy. You can have the best coffee in the world, sourced form the most sustainable farm, but if no one likes it, who cares! We want to please people and offer education. I remember thinking, “what’s this latte thing?” We want to present the best latte possible, and don’t look down on people just getting in to coffee. There’s something for everyone in the coffee world, and it’s an exciting industry to be apart of.

What are your plans for additional food or baked goods?

We would love to offer more food options. My wife makes granola bars that will make you swoon. We also have vegan, gluten-free hot cereals form Earnest Eats that will fill you up. We are just getting started and trying to feel out the needs of our customers, but we’d love to partner with local food businesses. Expanding our menu is a work in progress.

Anything else you want people to know about HCR and the trailer?

We’ve learned of the hospitable benefits of coffee, a beverage that brings people together. We are just one small trailer, but we’re backed by our company that is excellent in providing coffee to businesses and organizations. If you need coffee, let us know! We have competitive pricing and you can know that your purchase is benefiting coffee farmers around the globe.