Long Beach Coffee Club
Matthew Torres, Nam Nguyen and Anthony Coppa loved to nerd about coffee. And they wanted a place to be able to do that with their community. So along came Long Beach Coffee Club.
Q: How did Long Beach Coffee Club first get started?
Matthew: Me and Anthony first met through geeking out about our love of coffee. We were both at a church community event and Anthony was talking about roasting coffee. It sounded really cool and I just invited myself over to see his process. We were both just getting into coffee at the time. Then Anthony was on his way to being a first-time dad and he had to focus all his attention on that. And I was like who am gonna hang out with? So I built my own coffee meet-up. For me, the meet-up was like if I get one coffee nerd, that’s cool. I just want to talk to somebody about coffee.
Anthony: Yes, Matt needed a place to connect with people and coffee and learn more about it. He found meet-up to be the best platform. And when I got back into it, Matt had already had this growing meet-up group and had been doing events. Then we met Nam at a coffee event (CoffeeCon LA) and he started coming to our meet-ups and we all became good friends. Nam is THE espresso expert.
Q: What role do you think Long Beach Coffee Club fills in the community?
Matthew: I found that there wasn’t a place for consumers to have a community around coffee education. You would think it would be naturally a coffee shop, but most people there are meeting other people, or studying, etc. Not everybody there inherently wants to be super nerdy about coffee.
And I thought - we have all these consumers at different level. Now we need to get experts to educate us. So we brought in baristas and people from the industry. Long Beach Coffee Club is essentially a place where you can go and nerd out with other people over your love of coffee. We just want the educational process to be an approachable thing for a consumer. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the way anyone likes to drink their coffee. But there’s value proposition for the coffee shop if their consumer understands the value of a good cup of coffee and how the whole process works.
Q: What do you love about coffee?
Matthew: For me, it’s two things. First is the relational aspect coffee provides. I’m Latino and I grew up around coffee in my family. Anytime someone would come visit, my grandma would always have Pon Dulce (Mexican sweetbread) on the table and offer them some coffee. The other biggest thing is the culture around coffee. It’s fascinating. You think, why do Cubans drink Café Con Leche? Why is there a coffee ceremony in Ethiopia? Why does Senegal brew Touba coffee?
Nam: I’m just amazed by how this little coffee bean is just a little treasure chest that holds so much and is so dense and imagine how much effort people put throughout the whole process in trying to extract all the wonderfulness that can come of the bean.
Anthony: For me, it’s a very accessible hobby for all ages – the roasting, the brewing is all something you can do at home with relatively low costs. I also think coffee is a conduit that carries the community aspect. For example, you go to coffee shops and you can to talk people and have a warm drink. A lot of times it’s not even about the coffee but about the friendships that are made through it. Our friendship with Nam for example, grew out of him attending a lot of our meet-ups after we first met at a conference.
Q: What are some of the first events you guys hosted?
Matthew: We started with meet-ups where we’d go to a coffee shop and just talk coffee. We did a coffee crawl and got on bikes and rode around to shops. Then we started with field trips to cafes, like to Blue Bottle and they would give us a roastery tour. Caffe Luxxe hosted a coffee and chocolate pairing event - which they talked about the similarities between single origin chocolates and coffee there.
Q: What is your aspiration and biggest takeaway from what you’re building here?
Matthew: We just want to tell the coffee industry in general that we all need to focus on the community we have and help educate them.
Through our journey, we’ve learned how important coffee community is. And the coffee community can grow from coffee shops. We also feel like the coffee community can start their own coffee clubs and do something similar to us like what we’re doing in Long Beach. I would encourage people to think about doing it themselves and if you have questions, we’ll help empower you.