They say of the month of March, "In like a lion, out like a lamb." Well, March 2020 has experienced the opposite evolution. One bright spot in this turbulent time has been serving an incredible coffee from Little Amps in Harrisburg, PA all month.
If you're sheltering in place, pour yourself a cup of coffee (ideally the Little Amps natural Burundi) and learn more about these wonderful people in this Q&A with Peter Leonard.
Who makes up the team behind Little Amps Coffee Roasters?Myself, Peter Leonard, new owner, but also the most tenured Amper, our Director of Retail, Zac, our store managers and baristas, a roasting and production team.
Origin story: How/when/why did Little Amps get started?
In the mid-to-late aughts, Aaron was touring the country, stopping for whatever coffee could be found, mainly because it meant a bathroom and some internet access. When settling in the Bay Area for bit, we he saw companies like Ritual, Sightglass and Blue Bottle pop up, serving coffee that was actually good. Upon moving back home to Central PA and seeing a lack of tasty beans, he took on himself to set up a roasting operation. That was 2010. The first store opened in the fall of 2011 and the rest, as they say, is history!!
What do you find most rewarding about running a specialty coffee roastery? The most challenging?
I view the challenges dovetailing with the rewards. The constant pursuit of tasty coffee is never ending. Each new green coffee we source presents a learning opportunity for our roasting team. Once the profiles are locked in it's up to our education and retail teams to make it taste the best they can on bar, and this is something we work on every single day. I'm always excited to drink our coffee, and more often than not am quite impressed!!!
In addition to roasting and brewing some of the world’s best coffee, you guys are serious music aficionados. How/why does music play such a big role in your brand?
Little Amps is truly rooted in indie rock. We all love music, and it's super fun to integrate a little record store into our retail experience, and to turn our shops into venues for local and touring musicians of all genres. Sort of like coffee, the discovery of new music is never ending!
What’s one of your favorite records of all time, and what are you spinning right now?
This answer totally depends on the day, but we recently put a "top 5" out to our staff, and here were mine:
- London Calling
- Super Fly
- Literally spinning in our house on repeat right now is Blood Orange's "Angel's Pulse"
What are your go-to coffee shops in the Harrisburg area?
In Harrisburg, I'm obviously hitting a Little Amps! Lately I've been spending the most time around our 133 State store, but that sort of depends on the season. If I'm getting out of town but staying in the 717, I'm heading down to Lancaster to see my friends at Passenger.
Sightsee is all about travel and adventure -- any travel plans for 2020? Where/why?
We're hoping to be in Portland, OR for SCA when it's rescheduled, and we're planning an origin trip to Santa Barbara, Honduras, my favorite coffee growing region!!