Exclusive interview with Regent alumni and Prescription Coffee Lab CEO, Blake Osborn. Blake transforms a hobby into a profession- all while serving the community he loves.
When did you realize you wanted to open up a roastery?
The dream started at the end of 2014. I had come back here from living in Georgia. I got married during that time and came back for my wife’s job. I was looking for what I wanted to do next. I wanted to figure out something that I loved doing and there was a market for. There really was not many coffee roasters in the area. That was really when the idea sparked. From then on I was starting to put ideas together and learn the craft. I got a roaster certification in 2015. From then, I developed a business plan and figured out ways to get funded. I was hoping to launch at the start of 2017 but it got pushed back a bit. However, here we are in the summer and opened for business.
Where did your passion for high-quality coffee come from?
It was working as a barista. The first time I tried specialty coffee compared to the bargain brand was working at a coffee shop. Higher quality coffee really unlocked flavors that I had never had before in a beverage; it showed me how complex a cup of coffee could become. That Christmas, I was able to get my own espresso machine. From there, I explored, experimented, and developed a passion for this industry.
What is the hardest part about running a coffee roastery, opposed to opening a coffee shop?
When you start a coffee shop, there is a product that is sold ready to go for the consumer. With a roastery, you have to sell a product that is not fully developed. Because of this, many cafes see the immediate benefit of focusing on a more direct customer service approach. This is not the case in a roastery. In my business, I need to focus the majority of my time on what I am actually producing, opposed to customer service tactics that may not work on a larger scale. Also, with a coffee shop, a good day is being able to sell a cup of coffee to 100 people. For a roastery, a good day can be selling 100 bags to one client. This key difference has shaped the way I sell my coffee.
Where do you see prescription coffee in the next decade?
One of the coolest things about the coffee industry is that it has become more localized. That seems to be going in reverse to what a lot of industries are doing because of the big push towards franchising and chains. However, coffee roasting is following a lot of craft industries in the idea of buying fresh and supporting the local community. Because of this, the bar is being raised.
Really for me, the goal for Prescription is to serve the region. Being a national company would be awesome, but I would rather someone in Arizona buys coffee from the Arizona area. I would love to sell to Va, Maryland, NC, I have even sent samples as far a Atlanta. Staying on the East Coast and developing the coffee scene over here is a big priority for me.
Coffee roasting is an artform. It takes both time and dedication, as well as a level of passion, to not only roast coffee but develop the brand. Prescription Coffee Lab is a unique blend of experience and zeal. While PxCL has not even been open for an entire year, there is so much depth to this local roastery. Blake crafts each batch of coffee with an immense amount of detail and time. This approach to roasting has given PxCL’s coffee extraordinary flavor.
Ethiopia Limu Nigusse Lemma: This coffee has flavor notes of mixed berries, soft spice, and cocoa. This Ethiopian is naturally processed, a heirloom variety, and grown in 2000 meters of elevation.
Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Idido: This coffee has flavor notes of Mixed Berries, Soft Spice, and Cocoa. This coffee is also naturally processed, grown at about 2000 meters of elevation, and a heirloom variety.
Costa Rica Cumbers del Poas Perla Negra: This Costa Rican coffee has flavor notes of plum, apricot, and honey. The coffee was grown at about 1400 meters of elevation, naturally processed, and a caturra variety.
Whether you love the sound of these three coffee’s, trust Prescription Coffee Lab’s mission, or are just intrigued by specialty coffee in general, check out prescriptioncoffee.com and help cure the common coffee.
Abraham Moreno-Riano is the Senior Editor of The Daily Runner.