Behind the Bean with Richie Young, King Bean’s Head Roaster
February 23, 2018
Each month, I’m hosting a Q & A session here on the blog with a team member at King Bean. First up is my interview with Richie Young, our head coffee roaster at King Bean. Richie grew up in the lowcountry but has been all over the world, including the coffee-growing countries of Costa Rica, Colombian and many other places in Central and South America. He loves to surf on his days off and occasionally rides his motorcycle in to work.
Katie: Hi Richie, let’s introduce you to King Bean customers. Most people don’t realize that you are the man literally behind the bean—as the head roaster, you are in charge of the coffee program at King Bean. Can you tell us about your background and what led you to coffee?
Richie: Well, I’ve been at King Bean for five years now, most of it in the position of head roaster. Coffee roasting was a natural progression for me—I have a background in culinary arts.
Katie: Tell us about that – your culinary arts background and how it relates to coffee roasting.
Richie: I went through the culinary training program at Trident Tech and then worked as a sous chef in kitchens around the lowcountry. I even moved to St. Johns in the Virgin Islands for a year to pursue a culinary opportunity—but soon realized that I like the cost of living in the lowcountry much better.
As for how a culinary background relates to coffee roasting? Well, you really have to have a refined palate to cup coffees and my training as a chef really developed that. Also, this is a multi-tasking job, much like working back-of-the-house in a restaurant. Nothing is more stressful than a kitchen, so I can handle the day-to-day challenges here, no problem.
Katie: Speaking of which, can you tell us about your day? What are some of your day-to-day duties at King Bean?
Richie: It varies, depending on the work that needs to be done. Usually I fire up the roaster first thing and brew a pot of coffee. Do a quick inventory of what we need roast and get started. My team and I take breaks to brew coffee and taste for quality control throughout the day. A few times a week, I sample roast new coffees that we’re considering for the King Bean portfolio and host cupping sessions for the team as well.
Katie: What’s your favorite part of coffee roasting?
Richie: My favorite part is getting to experiment with a lot of different coffees from all over the world and seeing how different they taste from region to region, country to country. Most people think of coffee as a “flavor” but I love roasting to find the flavor notes inside of the coffee—that’s really interesting to me.
Katie: Awesome. Last question. What’s your favorite coffee to drink and your favorite brew method?
Richie: I like pour over and French press equally. As for favorite coffees, I love Ethiopians, Costa Ricans and good ol’ classic Colombians.
Thanks to Richie for his interview and hard work. Stay tuned for more interviews in this series Behind the Bean throughout the year! -Katie
How the Military Helped Launch King Bean
November 8, 2017
You might not realize this, but King Bean is a veteran-owned business.
Yes, our owner, Kurt was enlisted during the first Gulf War.
And actually, we have the military to thank for giving Kurt, the knowledge, drive and discipline to start his own business.
Let me explain:
When Kurt joined the military, he left his corner of the south on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina and headed to the opposite corner of the opposite coast. He was stationed on Whidbey Island, near Seattle, Washington, coffee Mecca at the time. How would he ever have discovered coffee had he not been in the right place at the right time?
Also, while in the Navy Kurt worked in aviation electronics, learning and implementing new skills. His time in the service finessed his knowledge of electronics and machinery—a big part of our business (Hello! our own repair shop!)
After four years of service, he packed up his 1971 Toyota Celica with two espresso machines—one for his parents’ restaurant and one for himself to sell and drove back to his hometown of Hilton Head Island. This was the beginning of King Bean. You can read more about our story here.
So here we are, twenty-three years later, in a place where we never would have been had not Kurt enlisted. Isn’t it interesting how life works out?
We actually have two veterans in our family. Kurt (who is my husband) served during the Gulf War; my father served during Vietnam. In the strange synchronicity of the world, my father was also stationed on Whidbey Island for a time and worked in aviation mechanics in a very similar position as Kurt.
So thank you to Kurt, my father, and all the veterans who sacrificed to defend our country.
Thank you to the military personnel who inspired my husband to take charge, to start his own business and haul espresso machines back to South Carolina.
Thank you for those that continue to serve, at home and abroad. Thank you to their families who also make their own set of sacrifices.
We salute you all.