The Future is Female. But what if instead of the future being female, it was also the here-and-now?! For decades, coffee roasting was an industry dominated by men. But in recent years the specialty coffee community, and especially in the area of coffee roasting, has begun to see a significant shift away from this once lopsided reality. I am fortunate to know of numerous female-owned coffee cafes, and coffee roasters who are truly inspiring to not only me, but to many other aspiring women who see a future for themselves in coffee.
It was a few months ago where I first heard about Future Proof Coffee Roasters, a woman-owned business based out of Los Angeles, California. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a few bags of their coffee, and between the great brews I experienced, and the great story that they are writing in the coffee community, it only seemed right to further share what they’re doing with you as one of my Coffee Roaster’s of the Month on this site. So a huge thank you to Mary and the team at Future Proof for giving me have the chance to connect up and ask them some questions.
Hey Future Proof, so great to get the chance to connect with you! So, tell us a little more about yourself.
Coffee has always been a present aspect in my life since I was a child. My parents would always make a pit stop at a bakery to get their Vietnamese coffee before dropping me off for school. When I would visit my relatives they would always share a hot cup of coffee using the phin with the original coffee mate creamer.
It wasn’t until college that I would consume coffee more seriously due to studies and part-time jobs. Before I knew it, I had one too many brewing devices and there was no going back. During the heart of the pandemic, life started to slow down and gave me time to start on something new. My friends suggested that I start roasting coffee to sell and I hopped on the idea!
So how did you come up with the name Future Proof?
The name Future Proof means to build upon what we have today and make it better for tomorrow. We believe coffee and the culture behind it is ever changing. Many roasters and consumers are becoming more aware of the work climate farmers face which is awesome. Many coffee growing countries are slowly receiving the recognition they deserve. At Future Proof we believe in being a helping hand in all of these factors through uniting and working together for the future of coffee as a whole.
When did you first begin roasting coffee?
When the pandemic happened, I finally had the time to dive into curating that perfect cup at home. I invested in espresso gear and started watching a bunch of YouTube. That’s when the coffee rabbit hole began. I finally did it! I was more than content with what I was brewing at home, but how about roasting coffee now? So I purchased an air roaster and began roasting my beans. There was a much larger learning curve to roasting coffee, but it was a joy to know I served family/friends with my roasted coffee.
Speaking of roasting coffee, can you share more about what equipment you roast on, and tell us about your philosophy and approach when it comes to roasting?
I roast at a roastery called Bravado Roasting Company on a Probat 12kg. The owner, Cole, is kind enough to rent his equipment out to smaller roasters like me to use.
Honestly, I am still figuring out my roasting philosophy. However, after sharing some of my coffee with the owner over at Apostle Brew, he commented on an Ethiopian he had tried and said it was darker than what he’s used to but still tasty. We spoke a bit about everyone’s preconception about roast levels for certain beans and where I stood in that. He left me with words of advice along the lines of “stick to what you like and don’t just roast to fit into the box,” and it’s stuck to me since then.
As a woman-owned business has there been other coffee professionals or coffee roasters that have inspired you in this venture? What would you say to other women who are aspiring for a future in specialty coffee?
Most definitely! Not only did woman-owned roasters inspire me but small roasters who roast out of their homes did as well. I am always amazed by the individuals I meet who go through leaps and bounds to live out their passions. The main women in the coffee industry that has inspired me to follow this journey is Sarah over at Nguyen’s coffee, Jenny at Cosmic Dust Roasters, and Meg at Blkcity Coffee.
To any women who are contemplating on opening up a coffee business whether it be a cafe or a roastery my advice is to just do it. Starting anything is scary and confusing, but you will never know until you give it your all. There are a ton of helpful roasters out there who will provide a helping hand because they’re just in love with coffee as much as you are.
In your opinion, what’s the specialty coffee community like in Los Angeles? What do you love?
In Los Angeles and Orange County, the coffee community is exponential. There are always small pop-ups at different coffee shops each week. We have the upcoming LA Coffee Festival in February 2022. There is a lot of coffee presence in the Southern California region but what is new is I have been noticing more specialty Vietnamese coffee shops opening up. These cafes are bringing popular coffee drinks from Vietnam to their shops here in California, and it’s been fantastic to see the rise in popularity for a new take on specialty coffee.
I see on your site a coffee that is certainly a unique offering. You are roasting a Washed Catimor Varietal from Vietnam. Seeing as most Vietnamese coffee is Robusta, how did you discover this coffee? Can you share more about that process/experience?
I discovered the Vietnam Arabica from reaching out to green suppliers and coffee roasters in the area. As mentioned earlier, the coffee community is excellent, and all one has to do is reach out. I knew that it was a big goal to find quality Vietnamese coffee and carry it at the store. Many sources pointed me in multiple directions to purchase the Vietnam.
Ultimately, we decided to buy the Vietnam from Bodhi Leaf Coffee Traders as they are local to us, and we are still roasting at a small scale. The crop is grown on a small farm in Da Lat, and since the size of the farm is smaller than most, they take they make the extra effort to pick only ripe cherries. More and more great arabica beans are coming from Vietnam, and we plan on carrying different varietals soon.
So speaking of coffee, what are you drinking/enjoying right now?
I am always trying out new coffee, whether to sample future offerings or enjoy a coffee from our selection. Believe it or not, I’ll always have a decaf on the bar to help balance out the coffee cuppings and samples. I am currently enjoying Corvus Coffee’s decaf and its fire!
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?
Since COVID-19, I have noticed roasters across the world support one another, and I see that as something that’s here to stay, which is so cool! I’ve had multiple roasters reach out to us to do coffee swaps, lend out helping hands from afar, and so much more.
I have also noticed more and more coffee subscription businesses that offer coffee from rotating roasters. The subscriptions will give consumers a chance to try new roasters they may have never even heard of through these outlets.
Is there anything you would love to see change as it pertains to specialty coffee?
We absolutely hope to see more coffee from Asia and other countries get more light.
Anything else you’d love to share with our audience?
Coffee is subjective, and as long as you enjoy what’s in your cup, that is all that matters!
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 Mary and the entire team at Future Proof for sharing more about themselves and for being such a huge contributor to the coffee culture in Los Angeles.
And for those of you who have read this entire article…thank you! As a reward you’re the first to know that tomorrow (January 2nd) the team at Future Proof and I will be teaming up to give away some of their coffee! How great is that?!