Jeff Foster (Bush Hill Coffee Co): Coffee Insurrection Hero Chapter #84

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Jeff Foster (Bush Hill Coffee Co): Coffee Insurrection Hero Chapter #84

Coffee Insurrection
1- Introduce yourself: who are you, where are you from, where do you work and what’s your job.
Hi! My name is Jeff Foster. I am from Archdale, NC. I founded Bush Hill Coffee Co. as a passion project to bring coffee and music together for a different kind of experience. I am a coffee roaster and an artist, so this is an extension of the passions I love.  My coffees feature “album cover” artwork that’s inspired by music groups I love and I select the coffees to fit the vibe of the art.
2- When and why did coffee become important to you?
I’ve been into coffee for almost 30 years, the majority of that time as a consumer and then right at the end of 2019, I decided to get into coffee roasting to better appreciate what I was enjoying from specialty coffee roasters and also to save money roasting myself. Since becoming a roaster, I’ve learned so much about specialty coffee and the opportunities we have to share the stories of the growers, educate people on why specialty coffee is an experience and promote the hospitality of that experience as the last part of that journey that started at the coffee farms.
3- Do you remember the first coffee you had that was more than “just a cup of coffee”?
I want to say it was about 15 years ago, I experienced Ethiopia Harrar from Krankies Coffee in Winston-Salem, NC. That was the first time I vividly recall tasting blueberries in the cup. After that, I was hooked on local roasters and seeking out coffee experiences like that.
4- What’s your favorite thing about going to work in the morning?
I’m going to answer this in a different way as I do not have a physical store and focus instead on pop ups and events. My focus is on 1:1 engagements with people. The thing I love most is in creating an experience that meets people where they are (most are usually new to specialty coffee) and making that memorable. My pop ups touch on all five senses -  Sight: I’ve got banners of my music-inspired coffee artwork up all over my pop up as well as education like the Coffee Flavor Wheel, Smell: I bring ground samples of featured coffees that people can check out, Touch:

I have green coffee samples to let people to pick and up and experience it before roasting (this is always surprising, especially when they smell it and doesn’t smell like a cup of coffee lol), Taste: Always giving out samples and talking to people about what they are experiencing in the cup and Sound: My pop ups have music going of all the bands that inspire the coffees - everything from Rolling Stones to Rage Against The Machine and in between. It’s a lot of fun and it engages people in a unique way because coffee and music are very personal choices people make to experience and love.
5- What’s your favorite brewing method and why?
Pour Overs! There’s so many different ways to brew them and the methods as well. I’m a big fan of the Hario V60 01 and the Orea V3. I also love the Aeropress as well for immersion brewing. I love the science behind pour overs and all the variables that impact the outcomes - the coffee, the water quality, the grind, the coffee to water ratios, the dosing, the water temperature, the pouring recipe. It’s so much fun to experiment and analyze with a refractometer as well.
6- Which is the best coffee you ever tasted?
That’s a hard question to answer because there are so many incredible coffees to choose from and my answer always seems to change. If I have to answer this today,  I guess I’ll have to say Letty Bermudez from Manhattan Coffee Roasters - Colombia Gesha Double Fermentation Thermal Shock. I had over the summer - wow!

Jeff Foster
7- Is there a country of origin that you tend to favor coffee from? Why?
Colombia. I continue to be amazed at the innovation and variety (from traditional to experimental) that’s being produced there from the likes of growers like Sebastian Ramirez, Rodrigo Sanchez, Elkin Guzman and others. I love what I like to describe as ‘experiential’ coffees, those experiences where the producers use processes to bring out something new in coffee that you may not have experienced before such as co-ferments and thermal shock processes. These producers are artists themselves for the creativity they have in developing these incredible coffees that take you to new places in taste.
8- Suggest us a roastery to check (not the one you working at/you use at work).
Black & White Coffee Roasters in Raleigh, NC. They are a major influence on me as a roaster with the way they roast and present an experience with the coffees they offer. Their creativity in blending with The Future series is a lot of fun with releases like Grape Soda. I love everything they do and most importantly, Black & White are great people who build coffee community.
9- What’s the most important things you’ve learnt while working in the business?
Coffee community. There’s a lot of great people in the business who are willing to share knowledge and help you. I also try to return the favor anytime I can.
You do you. Find out what your style and composition is and most importantly your own groove as a coffee roaster. Finding your identity is what makes you stand out.
Be a student. The floor is low to roast and make good coffee better than what’s sold in grocery stores or chains but it’s a never ending journey of learning and humility to roast and make exceptional coffees. There’s always something you can learn and there’s always people who can make you better if you’re willing and open to constructive feedback.
10- How your work and the specialty coffee world are coping with Covid and the new challenges for hospitality?
I can’t say that I’ve really been affected by COVID in regards to my pop ups as I started those well past the time where COVID tended to keep people out of direct contact with others.  That said, I think it’s reached a point now that just like the flu, each person has to make their own personal choices as to what’s best for themselves in how they decide to protect themselves.
11- How do you see the specialty coffee scene in 10 years?
I see so much opportunity for specialty coffee, specifically around education and hospitality. Just like a craft brewery delivers an experience, there’s so much more that can be done to properly introduce people to the world of specialty coffee. That starts with education and meeting people where they are. It means developing people in coffee to become comfortable and confident in what they are representing and growing them as well as coffee professionals. People want to experience something, we have to be the guides and the storytellers to do that.
12- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Enjoying the ride I’m on now as a coffee roaster and artist, continue to meet and be part of the coffee community, grow in my skills. This is my passion project. I love what I do with all of it and my number one objective is to have fun and let it take on adventures and hopefully bring some joy to people along with the sharing my creativity.
13- Any last word? Any tip or suggestion you wanna share with someone that want to start this path?
Don’t be afraid to take the leap of faith if you feel this is a path you want to start on. Whether you’re doing a passion project like I am or wanting to launch a business, if you have the drive and the will, you can find a way to find a way. Be yourself and lean on others in the coffee community to help you grow.

Bush Hill Coffee Co

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