After engineering, Mike and his brother Steve sailed a little boat from New York to Key West. That became the jump off point for many adventures. Mike drank his first cup of coffee on a bus to Latvia. In Nicaragua, he learned how to make a cappuccino. In Tacoma, WA, he was indoctrinated into the religion of specialty coffee.
Back in Key West, he found friends at a donut shop who made the best coffee in town. The owner, Jon, made a deal with him: learn how to roast and we’ll start a company. He started studying in Honduras and bought roasting lessons in Guatemala while working in cafes for half a year. Then Jon, his wife Megan and Mike started Red Buoy Coffee.
After 18 months, he left them the roast designs and went to Colombia to learn about terroir. The next year was spent traveling Australia and learning what a latte could be. They are the milk champions, no question. As far as black coffee goes, you have to go to the origin of coffee, East Africa.
Mike found a Q-grader class in Kenya, the equivalent of a wine sommelier, but for arabica beans. The coffee world opened up to sparkling acidity and the ever growing myriad of flavors and aromas. There’s much more to learn. The beginning of the next adventure starts here in Key West.