Santa Monica’s goodboybob brings the art of barista-style brewing home
By Phoenix Tso
Back when I relied on cafes for my coffee fix, I wondered if I could brew the same coffee at home, and have it taste just as good.
I learned from Ryan Fisher, the director of operations and chief roaster at goodboybob, a cafe based in Santa Monica, that a good brew comes down to two basic steps: grinding fresh for the most dynamic — or freshest — flavor, and brewing at a fixed ratio of water to coffee for the best extraction from the coffee beans into the water, where the sweetness, acidity and bitterness are all balanced. Fisher in particular recommends a 16-to-1 ratio of water to coffee.
All of this adds up to the best flavor, no matter what brew method you use.
“You’re going to get the best out of the coffee rather than sort of guessing,” Fisher said.
Anyone can put those tips to the test with goodboybob’s coffees during this unprecedented era of social distancing. Although the cafe’s doors are currently closed for dine-in customers, the company is offering subscription boxes of their small-batch specialty coffee beans, sourced from all over the world, and roasted in- house by Fisher himself.
Starting at $15 per bag, goodboybob’s classic subscription can be ordered every two weeks or once a month. It includes up to four bags of coffee, including the roaster’s house blend and three single origin offerings from Tanzania, Honduras and Ecuador. Fisher expressed excitement particularly for the Ecuadoran variety, known as Cidra (similar in flavor to an Ethiopian coffee) with floral and tea-like notes.
For $130, customers can also purchase the rare subscription box, featuring a rotation of coffee varieties that are usually unavailable in the United States. June’s box features coffee beans from Costa Rican farmer Don Dario (with tastes of red grape, cherry and cacao), Colombian farmer Linaroc Ospina (imagine mango, banana and molasses flavors) and Guatemalan farmer Mario Rene Alarcon, which exude blackberry, strawberry and jasmine notes.
Erich Joiner, the founder of the Tool of North America video production company, started goodboybob three years ago with the goal of offering “the finest coffee served in the least pretentious way.” Fisher himself started working in coffee while he was in grad school, and became fascinated with the industry. After finishing his PhD almost a decade ago, he purchased a coffee shop with a couple of friends in Denver. He saw goodboybob as an opportunity to have hands-on experience building a brand and company in Los Angeles, considered one of the best coffee markets in the world.
Before COVID-19, Fisher would travel extensively to find the best quality coffee. This crisis has put sourcing and new orders on hold. Despite this setback, goodboybob is putting together a plan on how purchasing will happen going forward. In the meantime, the roaster will still release new coffee varieties to customers.
“Soon we’ll be releasing a new Ethiopian coffee that’s just arriving now in the U.S., and then we’ve got two coffees from Colombia that are on a boat arriving to us,” Fisher said.
From a retail perspective, COVID-19 “has almost killed business.” To adapt, goodboybob has pivoted to delivering their regular products, as well as selling market provisions. They deliver freshly roasted blends Monday through Friday and offer the mix for iced lattes in bulk. The cafe ships throughout the country, and devotes Tuesdays and Fridays to delivering market provisions to customers in LA. These provisions include pre-made meal kits and grocery products like almond milk, eggs, avocado, and bread from popular local breadmaker Bub and Grandma’s. Their beer and wine selection, made up mainly of local, natural and organic brands, is available for delivery as well. These operations allow goodboybob to keep on as many employees as possible during this time.
Goodboybob is also hosting virtual dinners and happy hours for local companies, preparing and delivering meal kits for those as well. For one recent happy hour, the cafe sent a selection of wines and food pairings to a company’s employees. Goodboybob’s sommeliers led everyone through a wine tasting, while their chefs talked attendees through meat and cheese pairings. Starting on May 13, the coffeeshop will host short wine discussion sessions on its Instagram Live feed.
The cafe’s Santa Monica location is on a creative campus on Broadway, so the roaster has been keeping connected to them through delivery and happy hours. “Our business was mostly regulars, and it’s what drives the enjoyment of our work,” Fisher said. “We’re just trying to find creative ways to keep our people together.”
As for me, I am still getting used to my home brewing experience. But with LA County’s stay at home order expected to persist at least through July as of press time, I’ll have plenty of time to practice. Once social distancing is over, I look forward to enjoying a cup at the cafe itself.
Visit goodboybob.com to learn more about their coffee subscription boxes and beer, food and wine delivery.
GOODBOYBOB COFFEE POUR OVER RECIPE
What you need: water kettle, grinder/ground coffee, scale, pour-over device, filters, brew vessel and timer.
25g of medium ground coffee
400g of total water at 200° or hotter
Rinse filter and dump water.
Pour coffee in and gently shake level.
Bloom: Start timer and pour 50g of water gently to saturate entire bed of coffee.
At 30 seconds, pour 75g of water evenly and gently.
At one minute, pour 75g of water evenly and gently.
At 1m 30s, pour 75g water evenly and gently.
At 2 minutes, pour 75g water evenly and gently.
At 2m 30s, pour 50g water evenly and gently.
Let drain with the goal to have it finished between 3 minutes and 3 minutes and 30 seconds.
If faster, use a finer grind next time. If slower, use a courser grind next time. But taste is always key, so only adjust if you don’t like the taste.