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Q&A with Jarrett Johnson of Lineage Coffee

Q&A with Jarrett Johnson of Lineage Coffee

How does your coffee make it from bean to cup? Have you ever wondered? Jarrett Johnson of Orlando’s über-popular Lineage Coffee Roasting, will present ‘Farm-to-Cup Coffee: How the Bean Becomes the Beverage’ at our Herndon Branch on Saturday, March 30. Johnson will share how he and his team pick the perfect bean, carefully roast them to optimum color, and selects the ideal brewing method. Seating is limited for this class, so register now.

To whet your palate for the class, Johnson was kind enough to answer some questions about coffee, being a small business owner, and his thoughts on instant coffee drinkers.

Scottie Campbell: What sparked your interest in coffee?

Jarrett Johnson: I actually started in beer brewing and that was where I fell in love with the science of food and beverage. I just didn’t know at the time how much there is chemically going on in coffee.  It’s so naturally complex and there are so many dynamics that affect it. It’s fun to chase something I never will perfect.

SC: How did Lineage come about?

JJ: Like all great American businesses, it started in the garage with an idea to serve the best coffee in the world to Orlando (which at the time was my new “hometown”).  I moved here in 2012 when I got out of the Air Force and immediately fell in love with this community and the drive of all the people living here to make this the greatest city in the country. That felt like something we wanted to play a part in.

SC: Where did the name Lineage come from?

JJ: My grandad owned a fruit stand back in the 1950s here in Florida. He would fly to lots of the islands surrounding the state to find and buy some of the great fruits growing there. I felt like we came from a ‘Lineage’ of sourcing the highest quality stuff. We also wanted to develop a company that was worth putting on the timeline or ‘Lineage’ of coffee so in decades, as they talk about how coffee has changed and developed, we would be known as innovative and standing for quality.

SC: In your ‘About’ statement on the Lineage website, you mention community and telling stories. What are some ways you think local businesses can better engage in their community and elevate untold stories?

JJ: This is a tough one, but for Lineage we take the goal to be the best coffee roaster in the world seriously and yet treat every customer like they are family and welcome them into a comfortable environment. That’s the best way I can think to do this.

SC: When we contacted you to do this class, what made you say yes?

JJ: My goal has always been to be Orlando’s coffee roaster. The education hub of a city should be the library so I thought it doesn’t matter if I’m speaking to two or twenty people, this is an opportunity that I would kill for.  What a great environment to meet new people and teach them about coffee.

SC: What is the number one piece of advice you would give to anyone who is thinking about opening a coffee shop?

JJ: I think lots of people want to start coffee shops and I always encourage people to go for your dreams.  It’s lots of work but as long as there is a vision I think great things can happen.

SC: What will people learn in your Farm-to-Cup class?

JJ: I hope people can learn about coffee growing, roasting, and brewing but I want to come prepared to answer literally any question in the world about coffee.

SC: Does learning more about the bean’s journey to the cup make the coffee more enjoyable?

JJ: Yes, it totally did for me, and I think with the lighter roasted coffees that Lineage does, they can be unique to the point that they take some education to really experience the depth of flavors that can be there.

SC: We love sharing library success stories, so we’re hoping there will be future Lineage baristas in your class – do you think that’s possible?

JJ: Yes, for sure! I’m actually in communication with a friend that I met at the last class I did downtown.

SC: What are your thoughts on Orlando’s coffee scene right now?

JJ: It’s growing fast! I think Orlando is changing so rapidly, which is incredible to be a part of. I love that there are so many different types of coffee companies here, which makes it fun for everyone to have their place and their people that know just the way they like it. A rising tide floats all boats as it pertains to local coffee shops, I say: keep going with the growth.

SC: Could you recommend any books you think people should read about the coffee?

JJ: The first book I read on coffee was the The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee by James Freeman of Blue Bottle. This is a really great one to start. Also, The World Atlas of Coffee by James Hoffman.

SC: My dad’s coffee of choice is instant. Thoughts?

JJ: They’re actually trying to make some good instant coffees now. I still think it’s got a long way to make it a truly great coffee. I’ve become a lot less pretentious about things than I used to be.  If the enjoyment and comfort your dad – my dad – or anyone gets from dark roast or instant coffee brings them more joy than a good, quality cup of high scoring washed Ethiopia Kochere, then whatever. I like a McDonald’s burger sometimes, but I do think there is a difference between enjoyment and quality. Just because I like a McDonald’s burger does not by any stretch of the imagination make it a quality burger. At Lineage, we only focus on the high-quality stuff and hopefully people like it.

To learn more about Lineage, visit lineageroasting.com.