Magpie Coffee Roasters' java is served at popular local businesses like Reno Provisions, Cafe DeLuxe, Chapel Tavern, 40 Mile Saloon, Reno Public House, and Chez Louie in the Nevada Museum of Art. The business' partners, Mark Hirose and Matt Sewell, recently opened a brick-and-mortar coffee shop at 1715 S. Wells Ave. Hirose manages day-to-day operations of the shop, which serves coffee drinks in mugs made by local ceramicist Casey Clark. The shop's grand opening is Aug. 21. For more information, call 393-9442 or visit www.magpieroasters.com.
We should start with a little history of Magpie. You’ve been around for about five years now, right?
We’ve been around since mid-2011. At that point we were just roasting out of Matt’s garage, handing out coffee to our friends. Roasting small batches, like 12-ounce bags at a time, handing them out to friends and family, seeing if they liked them or not, and we progressed from there. … We slowly starting gaining some wholesale accounts with some bars in town—Chapel, 40 Mile. Public House is carrying our coffee now. One of our first big wholesale accounts was Cafe DeLuxe.
Sounds like mostly bars at first.
At first, it was just Chapel. For a while, that was our one customer. How did we even make any money? It was more like an expensive hobby. … We did a lot of events for, like, Holland Project or Cuddle Works before it was called Cuddle Works. We were based in Cuddle Works for a minute, and then we had like a little cart in the Discovery Museum for six or seven months there.
How did you decide on this location? How long have you been open here?
We’ve been open here for every day—this is going on our second month. We rounded out our first month as of last weekend. Prior to that, we were doing just weekends—Friday, Saturday, Sunday—and decided we needed to be open every day to let our presence be known. We decided on this location just because it’s just far enough away removed that it’s almost a destination but still close enough that it’s not inconvenient to get to. And we also knew that had Cafe Deluxe across the street, which did have some draw with the clientele we would like to see coming down this way. …
How does it change things when you go from primarily having been a roaster for four or five years to having a shop?
It changes dramatically. We’re not just roasting—which we still are. We roast here on site. But there’s so many more factors involved. Now we have employees, and we have to order milk and cups and lids and straws and stir sticks and sugar. It’s a bigger undertaking than I was anticipating, I guess, but it’s fine. I’m enjoying it. I’m passionate about it.
What makes a good cup of coffee?
Careful consideration all the way through the supply chain from who’s growing it, how they’re growing it, what farming practices they’re using. The guy that’s finding this coffee—how is he finding it? Is he being sustainable as far as, “I found this awesome coffee, I’m going to exploit this farmer, undercut him, charge him a dollar a pound and then go over here and charge six or seven, eight dollars a pound.” It’s all about transparency through the supply chain. We try to represent the coffees we bring in to that bean’s best attributes as well as that farmer. We want to respect them and show respect for what they’ve done ….
Tell me about where some of your coffees come from.
Right now we’ve got coffees from all over. Ethiopia. We just got new crop coffees from Colombia. We were working on getting one in from Nicaragua. … That will be our first direct trade, so the check that we write goes right to that farm.