Matt López (FVC Gallery): Coffee Insurrection Hero Chapter #80

Supported By Barista Hustle
Coffee Insurrection
Go to content

Matt López (FVC Gallery): Coffee Insurrection Hero Chapter #80

Coffee Insurrection
1- Introduce yourself: who are you, where are you from, where do you work and what’s your job.

My name is Matt López. I currently live in Walla Walla, Washington though I was born in Albuquerque NM and have roots in Northern California.

I am part owner of FVC Gallery (+frequent visitor café) with my wife Lonna López. At he moment I do a bit of everything–barista, retailer, curator, event coordinator etc. In addition to a café, we rotate art exhibitions, host performance and film screenings as well as sell new and vintage clothing, house plants and home goods.

2- When and why did coffee become important to you?

In my teens and early 20’s I lived in Santa Cruz, and had access to a lot of good (90’s good that is!) coffee. When I first moved to New York City in 2002, good coffee was hard to find. I realized that I had taken coffee for granted and it was then that it became really important to me (shout out to though for being an exception!).

Good coffee(well sourced/roasted/prepared) is a luxury that should never be taken for granted!

3- Do you remember the first coffee you had that was more than “just a cup of coffee”?

I think first experiencing early Blue Bottle Coffee (Oakland, California) in the mid-late 00’s was a revelation–getting to taste distinctly good coffee in many variations and from many different origins felt very special, and all in a beautiful and elevated environment. I learned a lot during the early Blue Bottle days, and really fell in love with single-origin pour over coffee.

4- What’s your favorite thing about going to work in the morning?

I often say that FVC Gallery is a creative space–it is meant to engage the senses, inspire creative exploration and dialog. I am an artist first and foremost and to me hosting people in our space is a creative act. Everyone who comes in our door, from retired folks to workers to college students to tourists, contribute to this creative space and because of that they are part of the “artwork” that is FVC Gallery.

My favorite thing about going to work in the morning is preparing for and hosting guests. You never know who’s going to come in your doors and I love all the unexpected interactions and conversations! This form of human connection, most often fueled by good coffee or tea, is so important to who we are and how we creatively contribute to the world. It is a true honor to host people at FVC and to help weave together the fabric of community and creative dialog.

5- What’s your favorite brewing method and why?

Though I rarely do it, my absolute favorite brewing method is Japanese-style flannel filter pour over. It is an extremely tedious and finicky brew method that often has strange recipes that include lower water temperature, super slow pours, older post roast-date coffee and higher coffee-to-water ratios.

It is difficult but when done correctly a flannel-filter coffee is sublime and worth all the effort! It produces a cup that is truly unique and unlike any I’ve had–a super smooth and sweet coffee that has a viscous/velvety body and mouth feel, with a depth of flavor that just goes on and on…A wonderful and memorable experience!

6- Which is the best coffee you ever tasted?

Hmmm…too many! One that stands out in my memory was a natural processed Columbian coffee from in Rotterdam, Netherlands. I think that at the time that I tried it, I had never tasted a coffee quite like it–super sweet and Jam-like fruity but very balanced and just a joy to drink. To me drinking this coffee compared on every level to having a delicious and complex glass of wine.

Fav Gallery

7- Is there a country of origin that you tend to favor coffee from? Why?

This may be stereotypical but I tend to really love coffees from Columbia. There is quite often a depth and intensity of flavor that is sweet and earthy, pronounced and balanced. Colombian coffees are often my go to when trying coffee from new roasters.

8- Suggest us a roastery to check (not the one you working at/you use at work).

We’re so lucky in the Pacific Northwest to have so many fantastic coffee roasters on so many different levels!

Two micro-roasters not in the PNW that I love are Flowerchild Coffee in Oakland, California and Luminous Coffee in Las Vegas, Nevada.

They both offer extremely unique and delicious coffees in kind of different styles. On the one hand, Flowerchild sources outstanding coffees and perfectly roasts them to highlight clarity of flavor and the unique terroir of the coffee’s origin.

Luminous on the other hand are really pushing things forward with producer/ roaster relationships and unique processing methods on the growers side–Koji spore and fruit ferments that when properly roasted produce coffees that are just bonkers good and have to be tried! Plus Luminous Coffee’s packaging (gorgeously printed boxes like chinese take out with an instant coffee, Third wave water pack and fortune cookie) and weekly drop purchasing structure is so unique and cool.

9- What’s the most important things you’ve learnt while working in the business?

I think that while sourcing and properly preparing consistently good coffee is super important, creating a unique space, vibe and overall hospitality is equally important. At FVC we’re lucky to have a naturally lit space where our tropical plants that not only grow beautifully well but also contribute to the healthy air-quality and over all lush and sensious environment. Adding on to that, Lonna creates, mixes and hand pours organic candles made with 100% essential oil fragrances. The different candle scents are meant to combine with the air quality of plant life and the smell of coffee to create an ambiance and enhance the experience of visitors. Good coffee can now be easily purchased and made at home, but having a cup of coffee or tea in a unique and engaging space is still an experience that we and others value.

10- How your work and the specialty coffee world are coping with Covid and the new
challenges for hospitality?

We have only been open just over a year now and luckily opened post Covid-19 craziness. I think that while there is definitely a focus on respecting people’s different comfort levels with comingling, there is also hunger and a need to gather together, to connect and to consciously cultivate a healthy community. The extreme isolation and circumstances around the pandemic highlighted this need for humans and for that we
should be thankful. We get inspiration from human connection everyday!

11- How do you see the specialty coffee scene in 10 years?

In 10 years the climate of our planet will no doubt be different and will present challenges to the coffee scene on all levels. It is more commonly acknowledged now that current coffee cultivars grown in specific countries will most likely not be possible. I think it will be super interesting to see how we adapt to these changes–how previously ignored coffee varietals might hold potential, how different experimental processing techniques can aid in producing good coffees.

We live in a wine producing region of Washington that is still experimenting and continuing to grow; coffee production is very similar in some respects and perhaps the industries can learn from each other in the future. Also on a cafe/hospitality level, coffee prepared with other ingredients, like roasted chicory or cardamom, can help make lesser quality coffees more interesting. Let us not forget that the espresso machine was invented in part to help make a mediocre coffee more interesting and delicious!

12- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Where will the world be in 10 years?! In 10 years I will most likely be existing and creating in one way or another. Nothing is certain but the possibilities are infinite!

13- Any last word? Any tip or suggestion you wanna share with someone that want to
start this path?

For people interested in working in coffee or creating a café, I have these
thoughts to keep in mind:

● Though coffee is now fairly common, and especially now that the specialty coffee scene is flourishing in small town communities and across the planet, I think it is very important to acknowledge and remember that coffee is a luxury product and that we are lucky to have it. Please keep this in mind when working with coffee or cafe service–it is a special gift from our planet that may not always exist and should not be taken for granted.

● Coffee is a delicious drug that can be a creative facilitator and help drive the imagination, thought and innovation.

● A good café is a social space that engages the senses and encourages human connection, creative dialog and community building.

● Hosting people in a space is a creative act. As a host, you are an artist and the social experience of hosting is an “artwork”. As a host it is important to keep your intentions grounded and pure.

                              Matt Lopez

Back to content