What do monster movies and coffee have in common? For Jake Nelson, the two go hand-in-hand. Nelson, owner of Oh Coffee Company in Minneapolis, has spent the last decade building a career in both coffee and special effects make-up in Southern California. Nelson ran and operated a small roasting company next door to the Michael Myers house in South Pasadena for the last two years and is relocating to Minneapolis with a new name: Oh Coffee Company.
“My idea was to have a mobile trailer that served coffee/espresso and roasted beans all in one little dome,” Nelson explains, “If I could keep my cost down on the build-out part I could put more money into sourcing great beans and having good equipment to do it on. So I decided to do the restoration of my 1972 Airstream all on my own, with some help of course from some awesome friends.”
The mobile roasting unit will feature a monster-movie aesthetic that harkens back to Nelson's former life as a special effect make-up artist in Hollywood. “I'm extremely excited for this to be up and running,” Nelson says, “I'll be doing what I love again, being a barista and a roaster with a little creepy on the side.”
As told to Sprudge.com by Jake Nelson.
Can you tell us a bit about your new space?
I was obsessed with looking for an Airstream, when I first made the decision not to go with a brand new stocked concession trailer. Something about those silver domes just seemed right. After months of looking, I lucked out and found a 1972 Airstream Globetrotter. The interior was already gutted, but the bathroom and walls where still intact. I dove into research about Airstreams and quickly became overwhelmed with all the stuff that needed to be done. I reached out to a couple people who restore Airstreams, but their price was way out of my budget.
I came to the realization that I would have to do the majority of the work myself. Then I came to the realization that I would have to do ALL the work myself. I’ve had my brother in law and a close friend come up to help with the flooring and electrical work..which was a huge help. It’s hard work, but it’s fun to dive into something you don’t completely understand, and then figure it out. Which is why I love coffee and the industry so much….always something to learn.
The trailer is 17 feet long and 7 ½ feet wide. The challenging thing is to get all my equipment into such a small space and then make it work. It’s definitely tight but it works.
What's your approach to serving coffee?
With a trained opened mind.
Each bean has it’s own personality, and I can’t control that. I try to equip myself with learned techniques from the Roaster’s Guild, SCAA, trial and error, lots of gadgets, other barista’s, other roasters, books, etc. I try to keep as many tools in my toolbox, so to speak, in order to create the best way that that bean could be expressed. Then prepare it with a combination of friendly showmanship and skill.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
The machine lineup for Oh Coffee Co. is:
Surfer Green Two-Group La Marzocco Strada EE
Everpure MC2 Water Filtration System
Vitamix Quiet One
6 Group Kalita Wave, V60, Aeropress pour over station
Fetco’s new touch screen batch brewer (CBS-2150X)
Mazzer Robur E
Diedrich IR 2.5 Roaster (Maroon & propane)
What's your hopeful target opening month?
I’m looking for a target opening in August 2014.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you'd like to mention?
Adam Robert Haug (freelance graphic design artist and close friend) does all my design work and is a genius. One of the few people I can give something to and then turn around and come up with something so fresh and trend setting it kinda blows my mind. Adam Robert Haug is located in Omaha, NE.
Matthew Daks from Volcafe gave me some really good advice and bounced ideas off him before I moved and started on my new company. I would like to give thanks to him, and for buying lunch.