When I found out that my buddy David recently relocated from the state of Oregon to the city of Clawson, Michigan to take on a role with the team at Sabbath Coffee Roasters it peaked my interest.
I knew David when he was working for a previous coffee company but being willing to relocate your entire family got me curious to learn more about this coffee roaster, what about them enticed him to move there, and what they were doing to roast and serve incredible coffee in the state of Michigan!
David introduced me to Trevor and Miranda Graham (the husband & wife team behind Sabbath Coffee Roasters.) And they were so kind and enthusiastic to share with me–and you–their story. There is nothing that gets me more excited to then to discover new coffee roasters, especially those who had the guts to launch their roastery & cafe at the onset of a global pandemic. So it was an obvious choice to reach out and invite Sabbath Coffee Roasters to be our Coffee Roaster of the Month for November!
Hey Sabbath Coffee Roasters, so great to get the chance to connect with you! So, tell us a little more about yourself. Like how did this all begin?
Great Question! The genesis, I guess, would have come out of necessity and coffee being a linchpin in Miranda and I’s relationship. When my wife, Miranda and I got married in 2014 we were, let’s just say…broke. A month into our marriage I left the job I was working at and not having money to feed our specialty coffee addiction we decided to try and roast our own. I was a former barista in college, Miranda is a 1/4 Italian, so hey maybe we could figure it out.
We purchased a Behmor 1600 and started burning coffee beans, literally, in our one bedroom apartment. We set off every smoke alarm in our building — multiple times a week. Slowly, through a ton of reading, asking questions and trial and error we started to produce drinkable coffee. I would say over the course of a year we started giving our coffee to friends and family and they kinda urged us to try and sell it. From there, we jumped on the local farmer market train, drove orders to peoples doors and went on a wild ride to ultimately fulfill the dream that we discussed while we were dating – opening a coffee shop. Our doors opened on October 31st 2020! (So by the time this article publishes we’ll have just celebrated our 1-year anniversary the day before!)
So why the name Sabbath Coffee Roasters?
Sabbath, oh boy, we get this question a lot and honestly we just look at the root of the word Sabbath which means rest, pause or respite. When we started to brand the company in 2016 I was working in the auto industry, in a job that I hated but it paid our bills. I was working 60 or more hours a week and Miranda and I barely saw each other except for the little coffee dates we would plan once or twice a month. We wanted to try and offer a place where people could possibly pause and just take a moment to breathe and enjoy a short rest in there busy day.
Can you share more about what equipment you roast on, and tell us about your philosophy when it comes to roasting?
We roast on a 2019 Datgen 12 Kilo. We got it for a killer deal which helped us launch the brick and mortar but once it arrived it required…some work. A few very long nights over beers with an intelligent and dear friend Nicholas Flatoff, who works for Sovda we created a Frankenstein-esque monster that we call – Roasty McRoasterface.
Our philosophy when it comes to roasting is to let the bean tell the story. A lot of the times, we try hard to not force the bean to do anything it doesn’t want to do. We have some percentages that we follow for charge temps and airflow based on bean density and processing and we just kind of let the bean do it’s thing in the roaster. Very rarely, do we try and manipulate them with drum speed or airflow. On the back of our bags we say, a cup for everyone and that’s what we try and produce. We hope whether you’re a novice to specialty coffee or a pro that when you come into the roastery or grab a bag for take home that you find something you enjoy no matter what origin you pick up. Our coffees tend to be pretty versatile in profiles and can suit espresso or filter pretty well.
Your story seems to be like a few others I have heard over the past 24 months. Launching a new coffee business during a pandemic may seem crazy but you’re not along in it. What led you to do that? What lessons have you learned? How has your community shown its support?
Yeah, this past year has been crazy – in many ways. Well, we had been building the space out since 2019 and had full intentions to open the wholesale roasting side during Christmas of 2020 but when Covid hit and the lock downs started happening in March 2020 both Miranda and I lost our jobs, so having kids and a build out in process we laid in bed and decided to speed up the build out and open as fast as we could. Umm, lessons… too many to share here but I think the main one is if you care about people they will care about you. That lesson plays right into community support.
From day one we wanted Sabbath to be a place of rest. How do you do that when you’re to go only? That was the question we had to answer and we found it through hospitality. Both Miranda and I genuinely love people, so we wanted that to shine. We realized that due to Covid we may be a humans only personal interaction that day and we carry that weight with us as a responsibility to honor that interaction.
Our staff is INCREDIBLE and they believe that as well. I think just being human and treating every interaction with intention has allowed us to grow and our community has responded in a way we never could have dreamed.
Looking forward beyond COVID-19 what do you see as some of the emerging trends or new initiatives that will shape the future of specialty coffee?
We are on the Batch Brew Crew train. Hahaha. We have been since the start, I couldn’t imagine running the shop by myself while trying to crank out lattes all while managing proper pour overs. So 4 months before we opened I dove into batch brew theory and every concept of brewing batch brew well. Which, I believe we brew some really killer batch brew.
We use Twin Curtis G4’s with the Litmus UFO brew heads. We are constantly measuring TDS and always trying to improve our filter. Plus, it’s really fun to surprise people with a crazy tasty batch if they are second guessing grabbing a coffee cause, “oh you only do batch brew”. I don’t think we will ever move beyond pour overs but I think people will reinvest some energy into batch brew!
You seem to focus a lot on these two keywords: awake, unwind. What do these mean to you, and how do they influence what you do as a roaster/cafe?
Yeah, they just tie back into Sabbath and coffee. Coffee can be seen as two essential things, a tool to become awake, or kick start you into something or to unwind. Coffee’s really become a social communal aspect in our lives. I think it was Jerry Seinfeld who said, “no one says let’s go grab a lemonade, it’s let’s go get a coffee.”
In your opinion, what’s the specialty coffee community like in the Detroit area? What do you love?
I LOVE THE COMMUNITY IN THE DETROIT AREA. I think it’s more like a family then any enemy relationship – at least that’s how I view it haha. I consider a lot of the people in the industry around here great friends. Shoot, without Nate Hamood of Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters I would have never had a clean espresso machine during our launch weekend because I forgot to buy rinza! Haha. We don’t do enough of them but the throw downs are really fun. There are crazy talents here in the mitten state.
Being from Michigan, we have lots of breweries so there is always a fun coffee beer collab happening. I think the coffee culture is still young and has an amazingly bright future here in the Mitten State so watch out. Our roasters are seriously killer and get over looked quite often, so don’t do that.
So speaking of coffee, what are you drinking/enjoying right now?
Oh shoot, I just finished my third espresso. I have a problem. Currently, I’m in love with our Kenya AB Nyeri offering, insanely syrupy on filter. We only have a little left but boy did it slap.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Drink more Sumatra. Haha, there are some secretly amazing lots that don’t get the love they should.
Find their beans: If you’re looking to get your hands on some beans then definitely check out their web-store for what they’re currently roasting!
I just want to say a huge thank you to the Trevor & Miranda at Sabbath Coffee Roasters for sharing more about themselves and for being such a huge contributor to the coffee culture in Michigan. I’ve had the chance these past few weeks to brew up some of their coffee, and they’ve been tasty! Their Ethiopian Chelchele Gedeb has been my daily espresso ever since my shipment arrived.