Image by CoffeeKansasCity
It has been a treat to serve a fantastic Colombian coffee, Las Palmas, from Kansas City-based Oddly Correct this month. If you thought you loved the name, design, and delicious coffee, just wait until you get to know Oddly Correct more closely in this Q&A with Michael Schroeder. Needless to say, we're big fans.
Who makes up the team behind Oddly Correct?
We are 10 people... Gregory, Mike (myself), Gage, Luke, Cassidy, Madi, Kyle, Lauryl, Asia and Danielle. Our goal is to be a small group of well-resourced and hard-working individuals, accomplishing more than what you might expect of a team our size.
Origin story: How/when/why did Oddly get started?
Gregory started Oddly Correct back in 2008... he had been in coffee for years but had a hard time finding a company with a culture he agreed with (proper work-life balance, focus on quality vs quantity). After finding a used 2 kilo Ambex roaster, he began roasting in a friends basement for a few small wholesale accounts and home deliveries. Slowly growing for 3 years, he finally opened a physical location in the summer of 2011 and that's when Mike came on from North Carolina to help shoulder the load. We've been working to create measured, sustainable growth since then and added a full-service tasting room in addition to the original(ish) roasting space.
You have such a quirky, creative brand from your name to your design. We obviously love it. What inspires that and how did you land on "Oddly Correct" as your name?
Gregory is an illustrator and artist by nature, and"Oddly Correct" was actually a name he had thought up for a line of greeting cards he dreamed of during younger years. They were off-kilter, but accurate in their sentiment. In the early stages we had a 20 minute roast cycle (the Ambex couldn't cool coffee and roast at the same time). So in those down moments, Gregory would sketch on people's bags as a way to pass the time and add a touch of whimsy to each delivery. This eventually evolved into Gregory finding a printing press and learning to letterpress print each bag as the quantities grew. That's still how we do it to this day... Gregory creates a digital image, and we have a magnesium plate made that we then print ourselves for each coffee on every bag using a turn of the century Chandler and Price press. The name Oddly Correct came back to the coffee business along with the marriage of art, quality and service and our unique approach to these things. The basic idea being that what we do might not be right for everyone, but it is Oddly Correct for us (and maybe you too).
How does that brand vibe influence the way you source, roast, and present your coffees?
For us, it now presents as a mindset to find ways to bring people into the (sometimes confusing or intimidating) world of specialty coffee by sourcing and roasting coffees across a wide range of prices and (perceived) accessibility that can all stand on their own as delicious beverages, and presenting them with a dose of whimsy to try and defuse some of the trepidation in trying something new. A mantra we have adopted over the past year or two is "low-brow, high-quality," meaning we are striving to do a few simple things, but do them very well. For our roasting, this means taking the time to refine coffee selection and roast profile so that even the least expensive coffee or (gasp) decaf can qualify as an experience of appreciating something beautiful and exotic in the everyday.
What do you find most rewarding about running a specialty coffee roastery? The most challenging?
It makes sense that the most challenging things are actually also the most rewarding (when they come to fruition.) We love when people discover how great black coffee can be for the first time, or convert someone who has never liked coffee their whole life... this takes a lot of kind interaction on our part and a willingness to step towards something new because of that from the customer, but when it happens we all celebrate. Also, creating a context for our employees to find what they are skilled at and passionate about and how that aligns with the needs of Oddly is very rewarding. That's part of why we're doing things like commiting to a decent living wage for all employees (currently at least $18 / hr) and providing other benefits like paid sick leave and vacation time, or options for travel to coffee-producing countries (hopefully to resume once the current public health crisis subsides!)... when people feel seen and heard and cared for, they actually have the space to do great work wherever their responsibility lies.
We're stoked to be serving your Colombia Las Palmas this month. Tell us more about what makes this coffee so special!
This coffee comes from the mill at La Palma y El Tucan
in Cundinamarca, Colombia. We've been working with them since 2014, and wowed every year by their continued pursuit of excellence and innovation. Their neighbors and crops program focuses on resourcing surrounding small-holding farmers to grow and harvest exceptional coffee, while paying far more than they would receive if selling through the traditional Colombian Coffee Federation. They then take those coffees and apply a highly scientific approach to processing... this particular coffee from the neighboring farm "Las Palmas" utilizes their lactic fermentation method. In short, conditions are manipulated to encourage a particular type of anaerobic fermentation while the coffee is still in cherry. Through maintaining high temperature, low pH and a low oxygen environment, the bacteria lactobacillus are allowed to be prominently present. As they eat the sugars in the coffee cherries, they produce lactic acid as a byproduct. This has a unique effect on the profile of the cup, adding tropical fruit characteristics and a creamy mouthfeel. The quality of the coffees produced, along with the impact they have on the well-being of their neighbors and additional focus on sustainable farming practices makes us very proud to partner with La Palma y El Tucan year after year.