Let me tell you a little story behind our November “Coffee Roaster of the Month”.
There’s no denying that the specialty coffee community is a tight-knit one. And I think on top of that it’s amazing how small this coffee community can feel sometimes (in a good way).
Like many of you know, I get down to the Phoenix area quite a bit as I have family that lives down there. So naturally I’ve begun to really get to know the specialty coffee community in the city & suburbs. Over the years I’ve begun to follow quite a few roasters. So, low and behold I was quite shocked a a few months ago my friend Stacey was touring some friends around her neighbourhood in Vancouver. They looked familiar, and it didn’t take long to realize it was Kimhak & Eugenia–the duo behind Pair Cupworks!
So I made sure to send them a DM and let them know of the connection, and that I’d be back down to Phoenix in a few months. And a few weeks ago I was able to connect with Kimhak at Pair Cupworks, and I was so impressed. It was a no-brainer for me to ask him if I could feature Pair as our November “Coffee Roaster of the Month” and I am so thankful that he agreed to it.
I love these connections in specialty coffee. And I am so excited to introduce Pair Cupworks to you today!
Q: So who is the team behind pair.cupworks?
We are Kimhak Em (the coffee guy) and Eugenia Tai (the tea enthusiast). We originally moved to Phoenix from the Bay Area in California to originally open up a coffee shop/bakery.
Q: So what’s your backstory in specialty coffee?
[Kimhak] I’ve had a lifelong background in culinary and the food service industry, and Eugenia has had a past life doing design work. It was a blast to work together and use our strengths to make something new. We eventually parted ways from that first coffee shop, and I found a great job working at Peixoto Coffee and became further immersed in the specialty coffee world while Eugenia continued her engineering career and took up pottery as a creative outlet.
We continued like this for several years, but we always new we would want to start something of our own again because it was SO fun. After a while, Eugenia started selling some pottery and other drink-ware items online. Then, I began roasting at home and decided to hijack her brand to sell his coffee as well. After a year or so, we came across a great opportunity to start doing pop-ups and now we’re looking forward to getting a permanent establishment soon!
Q: So who were some of your early influences in coffee?
Three people/places come to mind as being key influences in our early days up until today:
The guys at Devout Coffee in Fremont, CA
Peixoto Coffee in Chandler, AZ
Tyler at Obsidian Coffee in Tempe , AZ
These people and places have had a profound & lasting impact and we are incredibly thankful for each of them.
Tell us a bit more about the history of pair.cupworks, how did it all begin?
We knew from early on that we always wanted to do some thing on our own. We wanted to have the freedom to create coffee and items that we enjoy.
Q: So what the name pair.cupworks?
Pair can mean a lot of things, for us its because we are a pair. But it is also because we pair our cups with the drink we create.
Q: How long has your pop-up in Mesa been open?
We been doing our pop up for just a few months now. We are located at 31 S. Robson Street in Mesa inside of Cider Corps. You can find us currently on Thursdays to Sundays from 9am to 2pm.
Q: So what equipment do you roast on?
We are still super small, so as of now we are roasting on a Huky 500 (hoping to upgrade to something bigger early next year).
Q: In your opinion, what is the specialty coffee scene like in Phoenix? What do you love?
Well, at the moment we don’t really have many coffee-related events that goes on here in Phoenix, but I hope to change that soon after we are fully open. The coffee culture here is still relatively small, but it is growing every year.
With all the new shops that are about to open by the end of this year, I can see all of us working together to grow our community.
Q: Any exciting collaborations that you’d love to do here in the Phoenix area?
I would love to work with a few other roasters here (Peixoto, Obsidian, Presta, and Mythical). I hope we can make this happen!
Q: So speaking of coffee, what are you drinking right now?
Right now I am drinking our natural Guji, but I have been drinking a lot of TalorMade lastely!
(Tyler) I will say that I had some of the Guji that Kimhak is talking about and it was amazing. He let me take home after visiting the cafe and I loved every bit of it.
You Instagram bio says that you’re not just a micro-roaster but that you also create handmade drink-ware. Can you share a little more about what the inspiration was to do this?
For both of us, we also really enjoy making drink-ware. So we have set up our studio in our backyard to do all of our pottery.
Tell the readers of thebloom.coffee about some of your recent accomplishments. Or any upcoming announcements.
As of right now, I am taking a little brake from competition to focus on Pair. But in previous years I have done the following:
- Competitor in Brewers Cup
- Competitor in Roaster Champ
- 2019 top 16 in LA Coffee Fest “World Latte art championship”
- 2018 – Arizona Aeropress Champ
- 2018 – 2nd place “Coffee in good Spirits” CIGS qualifier
Find their beans:
If you’re looking to get your hands on some beans then definitely check out their web-shop for what they’re currently roasting!
Thank you so much to Kimhak & Eugenia for sharing with us more about Pair Cupworks and for being a key part in the coffee culture in Phoenix! Keep up the great work!
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