Well friends, here we are. Today’s the first calendar day of summer for the year 2017, and with it, the dawn of another Build-Outs of Summer feature series here on Sprudge. It’s a tradition that dates back to 2012, and there’s nothing else quite like it in the world of food and beverage writing online. These are the sneak peeks, the first looks, the early entries into cafes so new, they aren’t yet open. The hopes and fears, the trials and tribulations of hundreds of small business owners have spilled out on these pages, and we’re just getting started. This year’s Build-Outs series is primed to be the biggest and best ever.
But where to start? Some cutting edge young upstart? A whippersnapper? A coffee n00b? No—we’re starting this year’s season with a seasoned industry professional, someone whose CV goes back to the late 1980s. His name is Paul Gallegos, and he’s getting ready to open an exciting new coffee bar in Duke City—better known as Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Settle in, readers, for the thrill of the build is upon us. It’s gonna be a long, hot summer. Behold the future of coffee as it happens, and welcome to Build-Outs of Summer 2017.
As told to Sprudge by Paul Gallegos.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
I began my career in coffee in 1989, working in the roasting plant at Peet’s Coffee and learning to roast soon thereafter. My schooling took place at the helm of antique Probats and in the cupping room alongside influential and prolific coffee luminaries such as Jim Reynolds, Jerry Baldwin, and Alfred H. Peet. Those were days before the proliferation of Starbucks and years before there was a craft roaster on every street corner in America. To gain knowledge I really had to pay attention, without reliance on videos or books. There was no Roaster’s Guild for quick study. Coffee roasting was a dark and mysterious art. Countless conversations in the Peet’s cupping room provided me invaluable lessons. After over 70 million pounds personally batch roasted and cupped, I moved back to my home town of Albuquerque, New Mexico to apply what I’ve learned to fulfill my dream in Cutbow Coffee Roastology.
There is a saying in the high desert: agua es vida (water is life). The geographic lifeblood of New Mexico is the mighty Rio Grande running the entire length of the state. The name Cutbow refers to a peculiar hybrid fish found in the waters here, a cross between the rainbow trout and the New Mexico state fish Rio Grande cutthroat. Accordingly, our coffee blends will take their names from these rivers and lakes. A portion of proceeds will be donated to the Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance, working to assure quality water for future generations of people and wildlife in northern NM. As we say at Cutbow, Agua es Vida, Café es Amor.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
Cutbow Coffee Roastology will be a roastery/tasting room/coffee bar housed in a traditional northern New Mexico territorial style building. An attached patio will provide outdoor seating.
What’s your approach to coffee?
Customer service is key. There are so many options out there, so I want to ensure my customers enjoy the entire Cutbow experience. Having in-store roasting and cupping will allow customer interaction and present an opportunity for dialogue and a communal atmosphere. I look forward to talking to others about coffee, as well as providing a warm and inviting space to enjoy it.
As a coffee roaster, my goal is always balance. It’s not easy to accentuate body or aftertaste while highlighting aroma or acidity. I don’t like to use terms like light or dark, to me it’s either perfectly developed or it’s not. Generally my roasts will be darker than most third wave roasters, but lighter than a traditional West Coast style. After sampling coffees I will determine not only which to purchase, but how to apply a unique and specific roast profile to each. One of the many lessons I learned from Alfred Peet and Jim Reynolds is that the coffee speaks. I just listen.
Any machines, coffees, or special equipment lined up?
Probat 2 barrel (gas) sample roaster
Giesen W15A roaster
Silver plated cupping spoons
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
Are you working with any craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?