Day in the Life of Coffee Roaster Matt Adams of Backyard Beans Coffee Company

Day in the Life of Coffee Roaster Matt Adams of Backyard Beans Coffee Company

Some businesses start in basements, others in garages. In the case of Matt Adams, the inception for Backyard Beans took place in his—you guessed it!—backyard, specifically with a drum roller over a propane grill.

When this longtime coffee-roasting enthusiast and his wife, Laura, noticed a lack of coffee vendors at local farmers’ markets, they decided to fill the void by selling their own roasts (you’ve probably seen their tent at the Emmaus Farmers’ Market). It didn’t take long for Backyard Beans to build up an enthusiastic clientele and make the leap to a commercial roasting facility and storefront café in Lansdale in 2017, with a second location currently making its debut in Bethlehem. Here, we invite you to get buzzed and spend a day following in Adams’ footsteps.

FUN FACT:  Earlier this year, Food & Wine gave Backyard Beans the nod as one of the two best places for coffee in Pennsylvania.

7:30 A.M.

When Adams arrives on a weekday morning, the café is already buzzing and tantalizing aromas waft through the bright contemporary space. “A lot of locals meet here in the morning to chat,” he says. “The shop is quieter in the afternoon, it’s more of the working crowd.” After ensuring that the baristas have everything they need for service, he pauses to talk with customers before heading to the roastery in the rear of the building. Interior windows invite customers to observe the caffeinated magic as it happens.

8:00 A.M.

The production team members, who work fairly autonomously, make sure the equipment is clean and the weight-and-fill machinery is ready to go. A state-of-the-art Loring roaster is used to roast the beans, which Adams describes as the Tesla of coffee roasters. “It’s run by a computer, but the computer is run by a person, so there’s a heart to it.” He also fills in his staff about any new orders that may have arrived and coordinates with them on inbound deliveries and pick-up orders for the day. Since hiring experienced roasters, Adams no longer has to be hands-on with that process, though he still enjoys helping with canning runs of their acclaimed nitro cold brew: Punch in the Face, a dark roast Honduran coffee with a creamy head. (Think of it as the Guinness of the coffee world.)

9:00 A.M.

During a meeting with the coffee shop manager, Adams reviews feedback from customers, and discusses new drinks for the menu and training programs for baristas. He also ensures that the shop is well stocked. In addition to varied coffee drinks, beer from Round Guys Brewing Co., wine from Stone & Key Cellars, and mixed drinks using Board Room Spirits are served after 2 pm. The baristas are cross-trained to fill any beverage order. Locally made baked goods and grab-and-go foods are also available.

10:00 A.M.

Focusing now on account relations, Adams makes a few phone calls and heads out the door to visit a few clients. Backyard Beans supplies some of the top restaurants in the Lehigh Valley as well as major retailers, including Whole Foods.

12:00 P.M.

Although Adams says he generally does not eat lunch, he does pause to call home to check how Laura is doing. Since the birth of their second daughter six months ago, she’s been working part-time in the business to devote more of her energy to the family.

1:00 P.M.

Returning to the roasting facility, Adams checks in on production, offering to lend a hand where needed. He and several other team members then conduct a cupping session. “That’s for quality control,” he explains. They sample small quantities of current and potential new beans for taste, aroma, and body, and make purchasing decisions on new offerings. Their current responsibly sourced, sustainably grown selection arrives from Guatemala, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Sumatra.

3:00 P.M.

Adams settles in for a long stretch at the computer, checking and responding to emails, placing orders for supplies, and scheduling meetings with other local businesses. “It’s the boring stuff that every business has to do,” he says. As a former business and technology consultant, he’s well attuned to needs of his growing vocation. Adams also checks in on progress at the new Bethlehem location, smoothing out any wrinkles that may arise.

6:30 P.M.

Although done with his work for the day, he’ll often hang out at the café until it closes at 7 p.m. “I don’t like our afternoon baristas feeling like they’re alone,” he says. With the lights out and door locked, Adams has to content himself with merely thinking about coffee until stepping back into action the next morning.

Backyard Beans Coffee Company

408 W Main St, Lansdale

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