What is the first thing you do in the morning? After you turn off the alarm, stretch, yawn and shuffle into the kitchen… Put on a pot of coffee. No matter the brew method, pour over, press pot, stove top, or conventional drip, the morning doesn’t feel complete until the rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee fills the air. I, personally, crave that scent; it comforts me.
Adam Foster feels much the same (as I do) about coffee and the way in which it interacts with our lives. For me it is a great love, for him however, it is so much more.
Adam is the cofounder and creative director of Regular Coffee Co. on top of being a co-owner and cofounder of It’s Just Nice, a unique and innovative branding collective in Grand Rapids Mi. This guy has chops to say the least. He not only knows good coffee, but good design and understood from the get go what Regular Coffee could be.
Regular Coffee, is a delicious roast (currently from Guatemala) of simply divine home brew that is shipped directly to your door! Each month you will receive a 1.5 lb tube of deliciousness in the mail. Sounds to good to be true doesn’t it?! If you don’t believe me, check this video out!
Adam knew he had a gem of an idea and he ran with it even though he wasn’t quite sure how it would (logistically) work out at first. I, for one, am thrilled that he chose to help turn this coffee shop dream into a reality. I just don’t know what my mornings would look like without Regular in my life (and believe me, we don’t want to find out).
Without further adue, Adam Foster.
Q. When did Regular Coffee Co. get its start?
A. Regular Coffee started as a running joke inside of Rowster New American Coffee over a year ago. The more amazing coffees we were sourcing and roasting the more we realized that even our more “average” or “regular” coffees (to us) were eons more flavorful and interesting than 99% of what the consumer world is drinking.
Q. How did you get connected with the project?
A. Having a drug-addict like addiction to Rowster Coffee was probably where it began for me. Also living in the branding and design world for the past few years made jumping on this project a little easier. I came on when the concept had been fleshed out enough by the two owners of Rowster Coffee to be thinking about a Kickstarter campaign. I jumped in on the project and started to help shape and manage the brand voice and day to day operations as well as working directly with a web developer on getting the website created. I then became a part owner and creative director.
Q. What was the inspiration behind Regular Coffee?
A. Regular Coffee finds it’s inspiration in old-word craftsman and artisan goods. We live in a world where products (especially coffee) can be anything you want them to be via the packaging and brand aesthetic. How good the coffee is is almost ancillary at this point. We find that more time and attention spent inside the package is really the only thing that matters. Our goal was to bring a very high-quality micro-roasted coffee to as many people as we could in a way that was extremely simple. Our simple, kraft-paper tube pays homage to a simpler time when artisans and craftspeople took pride in their work. Our package is stylish, yet not boastful, beautiful yet not high-maintenance. We designed the 1½ pounds can or “tube,” to support and convey the quantity, price, value, flavor and delicious experience that we stand behind. Never to overshadow and over-promise, which is sadly the case with so many grocery store roasters.
Q. What is your dream for it?
A. A tube on every counter! No, but we would love to be an alternative to the extremely generic coffees people are buying out there at the grocery stores because of price and convenience. We can bring people coffee that is much fresher (hasn’t been on a shelf for months), sourced more responsibly, roasted to bring out the beans specific traits, and is much easier to purchase and keep in constant supply as it just shows up at your house every month.
Q. Do you only provide coffee in the Grand Rapids area or do you ship nationally/internationally?
A. We ship nationally currently and have subscriptions in almost all 50 states also. In Grand Rapids (where we are located) we are launching our bike delivery service in the next week or two. We are working on finding a good way to ship internationally right now, but unfortunately it is not financially viable to our subscription model yet. It wouldn’t be such a bummer if we weren’t getting emails weekly asking us if and when we will be able to ship to the Netherlands or Japan or Iceland. I want those people to be able to try our coffee more than anything.
Q. What was it like having your coffee featured/used on a Cabin Time trip?
A. Absolutely amazing. I was fortunate enough to be able to go on the second Cabin Time trip in Grand Marais, Minnesota (Bogus Lake) and shoot and edit the video for the trip. For me it was a life-changing experience as it was a few weeks after recovering from having surgery to remove a tumor which I found out was cancerous only afterward (which laid me up in bed for a few weeks). I was well just in time to be able to attend and with a new lease on life and fresh eyes it was quite the re-birth. What Geoff and Ryan started is an amazing link between our dependence on nature and the creative process. Looking toward the source of life to reflect on that reality through creative expression. I was thrilled that they wanted to use our coffee for Cabin Time and even more thrilled that I got to build a camp coffee kit (something I’ve always wanted to do). I’m looking forward to keeping those guys properly caffeinated and the creative juices flowing for many more trips in the future.
Q. What are your hobbies/passions outside of coffee?
A. Haha. There is stuff other than coffee to do with your time? Well being a part of the creative and video industry for the past few years I helped start a small branding studio / art gallery called It’s just nice. with my friend Dylan Gunnett (itsjustnice.com). I work on an organic farm outside of Grand Rapids for trade for my part of the CSA a couple days a week for the last 2 years. I have a recently discovered love for farming and find it to be one of the most rewarding things to do with my time. When doing none of those things I’m probably hiking or camping with my wife somewhere or going antiquing (because I am 70 years old apparently).
Q. Why Grand Rapids?
A. Serendipity. I happened to be born here, grew up on the water in Grand Haven. Spent every weekend in GR since I was like 14 because of the music scene. Playing in bands, going to shows and just being a teenage hoodlum. When I was old enough to move out I had friends out in GR doing cool things already. It was a place that represented progressive opportunity to accomplish something for someone who grew up in a dutch tourist town. It was the “big” city. I scored a payed internship at a production company through a friend and lived in his bike shop that he started on Division and that is when and where I fell in love with this place. My first night here I was sleeping in a tent in my bosses apartment (which was partially underground) and a guy got shot in the head and was holding his head and screaming at 3am at eye-level on the street outside our window. He ended up being fine, but that was quite an introduction to life outside of a sleepy vacation town. Now being here for the past 4 years and getting the know the city and creative community, I find it the perfect incubator for small start-ups like ours. We are just big enough to have a chance to make something happen but still small enough as a city to make great connections and be nimble. Grand Rapids is like no place else right now.
Q. Favorite places in GR to eat/shop/play?
A. My favorite place by far to eat in Grand Rapids is Trillium Haven (trilliumhavenrestaurant.com) It is a farm to table restaurant that is named after the farm they source the food from which is about 20 minutes from downtown and absolutely gorgeous. Menu is changing constantly and the interior is spot on. My favorite place to shop currently is Buckley and Douglas. It’s an antique furniture place that is almost solely industrial. They just opened about a month ago but are already one of my favorite places to go poke around. It helps that the owner lets me explore some of their off-limits storage areas and warehouses for hidden treasure. It’s located in an old furniture factory (like many things in GR) right near Founders. For play I generally look just outside of GR. We are fortunate to have so many wonderful parks full of trails and rivers to go hike and explore within 30 minutes of downtown (or less). Also the miles and miles of Lake Michigan beach to enjoy. And if you have some time, heading anywhere north and camping is incredible. We truly live in a crazy beautiful and diverse state.
Q. Where does regular source most of its beans from?
A. Right now all of our beans are sourced from a co-op of small-scale producers at about 1700 masl (or 5500 feet above sea level) in La Libertad, San Pedro Necta, and La Democracia in the Huehuetenango region of Guatemala.
Q. Best piece of advice you have ever received?
A. “Ideas not coupled with action never become bigger than the brain cells they occupied” – Arnold H. Glasow
I guess technically I think I heard this in a fortune cookie. Oh well, it is still relevant.
Q. Goal, personal or professional for 2013-
A. Professionally I’d love for Regular to get to a point where we are sustainable enough to hire and maintain a small staff of dedicated to people and we can get our own roasting facility with a slightly bigger roaster. As it stands we do everything based out of Rowster New American Coffee and it can get hectic as the space isn’t designed specifically for doing a lot of packaging and shipping and we sometimes feel like we get in the way of the day to day cafe atmosphere. We have been very lucky to be based out of and spun off from such a successful roasting facility and cafe and it would not have been possible to do without having Rowster to back it up.
Personally if I could pay off my hospital bills this year I would be beyond stoked. Not having great insurance and having cancer are a real bummer when trying to do a small startup company. Haha. Also if I could successfully get an avocado pit to sprout and grow even a tiny plant I would be happy. Have tried it like a thousand times in the past year. Extremely random, but I just can’t seem to grow one despite every pointer I’ve been given.
Q. When/how did you fall in love with coffee?
A. I don’t know if I could pinpoint an exact moment. I could run down a timeline of the progression though. It probably started as a necessity in high school. Staying up late and long-boarding around Grand Haven I’d find myself in the only 24 hour diner in town and I’d have to order something. Coffee was cheap and it helped keep me up later and later. I was a crazy night owl. Staying up and skating around town til 3 or 4 am was a normal night for me. It was peaceful being in an empty town and enjoying it while everyone slept. After that I started to need coffee on a day to day basis just to feel normal (I think it’s called addiction at this point) and I’d start to go to other places and try other things. Starbucks became a normal stop in my day to day. Then I started buying my own beans and grinding it at home with the help of sweetmarias.com and my newly acquired french press. Then I needed a Chemex. Then a Buono kettle. Then when I moved to Grand Rapids I tried Rowster coffee for the first time and it tasted unlike any coffee I had ever had in my life. It wasn’t black and bitter. It was subtle and flavorful with a completely silky body. It wasn’t coffee in the sense I was used to. It’s all been uphill since then. More brew methods, more studying and practicing, trips to origin to learn all about the growing and processing techniques. It’s in my blood now. The whole process is intriguing to me.
Q. What would the perfect day in GR be?
A. Waking up late and making myself some Regular Coffee (obviously), Trillium Haven for brunch (with a Man-mosa), hop on a bike and ride along to river and through all the parks, do some hiking, sushi at Maru, night ride around Reed’s Lake and then a night-cap at Bar Divani.
There you have it. A man that truly embodies the idea of this whole series; living life fully, with absolute intention.
Adam, thank you for your candor, your passion, and creativity. Also, thank you to Rowster New American Coffee for supporting the dream of Regular, best of luck to you both!