Meet David Pohl, Farmer Brothers Director of R&D/Roastmaster

September 20, 2013

newFrom far-flung plantations to the cup on your table, many people are involved in crafting Farmer Brothers’ industry-leading teas and coffees. These individuals – and their individual palates – each bring something unique to the process and allow us to offer so many exciting blends and flavors.

We posed a few questions to David Pohl, Director of R&D / Roastmaster, to get his perspective on how great coffees are developed and how best to enjoy them.

What drew you to roasting coffee?

I was very much drawn to the origins of coffee, specifically to the countries where coffee is grown. Having spent my life traveling the world and studying history and culture, coffee was the perfect vocation. There is nothing more gratifying than spending time with the farmers who grow our coffees and learning about their experiences, then turning around and roasting their coffees to express those experiences year after year. Also, I love to cook and have always found a strong culinary element in blending and roasting coffee.

Describe the process of developing blends at Farmer Brothers.

We strive to find the perfect balance between quality, value and sustainability. Whatever the blend, there is a specific character we are looking to highlight, be it mild, bold, straight forward, or exotic. In general there are three key elements to blending:

1) Considering the needs and expectations of our customers
2) Choosing beans that complement each other while offering different sensory experiences
3) Envisioning a story, so that the finished blend reflects the twisting and turning journey coffee takes before it reaches our cup

What do you look for in a good cup of coffee?

Authenticity. There are lots of great coffees out there, and many that are underappreciated, so for me a good cup of coffee is authentic, not trying to be more than it is. If I am in a diner and get served a well-presented, freshly brewed cup of coffee, even if it isn’t the world’s most exotic blend, I am happy. Coffee that is straightforward, well presented, and a good value is hard to beat.

Give us one quick tip for operators who want to improve their coffee service.

Brew fresh coffee every 30 minutes.

What is your favorite food to enjoy with coffee?

My father is Swedish-American and I grew up with my parents and grandparents making things like cardamom coffee bread, always accompanied by coffee. Scandinavian pastries are still my favorite to this day.

What is your favorite coffee region and why?

I am fascinated by them all, but forced to pick one, I would have to say Ethiopia because it is the birthplace of coffee and also a place where “coffee culture” is in people’s blood. There are hundreds, if not thousands of amazing coffee varietals in Ethiopia and there is no place on earth where the “coffee break” plays a more central role in everyday life. People gather at least three times a day to roast, grind, and brew fresh coffee while discussing the news of the day and catching up.