It’s no secret that all of us on the team at WAC have a huge coffee-crush on the king of green coffee importing, Cafe Imports. The Minneapolis, Minnesota U.S.A. company has seen specialty coffee through its many waves, and is clearly holding its spot as a market leader as we coast into the neu wave.
We’re excited to be partnering with them again for 2016, and met up recently with Noah Namowicz. (Just look at his pretty mug!) We thought you should know a few things about Noah. He’s a brilliant man. With a midwestern work ethic. And he can deadlift 535lbs.
Noah has been with Cafe Imports for nearly 7 years. After being introduced to the specialty coffee subculture as a college student, doing his studies at a progressive Twin Cities coffeeshop called Kopplin’s, Noah applied to work with Cafe Imports on a whim. His start at Cafe Imports was straight after college graduation (having studied Entrepreneurship), and his first positions involved doing miscellaneous admin work and helping with sample roasting. Today he conducts the symphony that is the Cafe Imports sales team on 3 continents (U.S., Europe, and Australia). But when we asked Noah about what his job entails, the focus wasn’t just on sales: “My biggest job is to continually work on providing the most nurturing possible environment for our people to be successful and grow within,” he said. “[Company] culture is a big passion of mine, and really that starts with people. We are extremely thorough about whom we hire, because we are in the camp that our team has to first believe in what we are doing before aptitude.” Noah expressed that he would much rather work alongside someone who is passionate about the company’s direction rather than “someone who’s a whiz in some very narrow and specific skill.”
Last April, the 2015 World AeroPress Championship was fortunate to showcase La Perla del Cafe — a Kenyan variety SL28, planted and harvested in Costa Rica. We joined forces with Elm Coffee Roasters in Seattle to roast this delightful coffee, which was then pressed by 36 competitors & slurped by 10 judges all-night-long. Everyone had a lovely time, and that lovely time revolved around this very special coffee.
We had such a nice time on our first date with Cafe Imports, we decided to take it to the next level and go for that elusive second date. (They said yes!) We asked Noah about how the 2015 coffee was selected, and his plans for the coming 2016 WAC season. “Every year we’ve done this, I lean heavily on our amazing buying team. I want them to be able to highlight a coffee or project they know has exquisite coffee and a great story, because it is a physical representation of the development work they have done,” he said. Noah reports that his team is still considering coffees for the 2016 season. “We need to wait to see what’s popping in May.”
Noah also had a few things to say about AeroPress competitions. “One thing I always appreciate as a student of Entrepreneurship, is the ability to be agile. I love that where I work, we can make decisions quickly and be innovative. The AeroPress Championship is the same way, which is why I’ve always been drawn to it,” he tells us. “AeroPress competitions are fun. They aren’t stuck in the quicksand of large corporate nonsense, and the competition is extremely inclusive. This gets harder as any event or organization grows, but [Team WAC, that’s us!] have done a great job keeping the integrity of the competition alive. [AeroPress] is fun to support, fun to watch, and fun to collaborate with. I love it.”
“[AeroPress] is fun to support, fun to watch, and fun to collaborate with. I love it.”
Aside from his work with Cafe Imports, we’ve noticed Noah (and everyone else we know at CI) seems to have a wide range of interests beyond coffee. “I really encourage everyone here to be good to themselves, so that cycle of good can keep expanding to colleagues, customers, suppliers, et cetera.” Noah told us. “A big part of being good to yourself is doing things that make you happy and allow you to grow. Joe likes cooking, Ben plants hops, Dan builds furniture, Matt Brown plays music. Joey T does rock-climbing, Adrienne keeps uncovering new things uniquely Wisconsin, Meister writes, and Sally spends time out on the water — these are things that make them more engaged and happier colleagues. I want to be a big advocate for keeping those passions alive on our team.”
Outside of coffee, Noah himself does Crossfit. “I’m a Crossfit coach at Timberwolf Crossfit in St. Paul, Minnesota and it has become a family affair. My wife teaches yoga there, my kids play there, and many of our closest friends are there. In addition to the physical and emotional benefits of it, I love the community aspect of it. It parallels coffee in that way.” He reported that his deadlift PR (Personal Record) is 535lbs (~240kgs…that’s almost 3.5 bags of green coffee!)
His response to why so many coffee people also lift weights or do Crossfit? “Probably because you can geek out about technique for Olympic lifting and gymnastic skills in the same way that you can geek out about coffee ratios, extraction, and processing,” he laughed. “Crossfit is hard. Coffee is hard. Neither ever seems ‘perfect’ and both take a lot of practice. They both bring together groups of people that would normally not mix. I love that.”
Stay tuned, as we’ll soon be working with Noah and his team in Europe for the 2016 WAC competition coffee!