Coffee that tastes good and does good
Pittsburgh — Jordan Tomb is a musician and visual artist who grew up wanting to make music videos. And for a while, that's exactly what the Indiana, Pennsylvania, native did at AltarTV and Deeplocal after earning his degree in videography and film at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 2012.
Over the last decade, the 31-year-old vegetarian has created videos for hundreds of bands and musicians ranging from unsigned cafe singers to Grammy winners Imagine Dragons and Snoop Dogg. He's also filmed and edited video content for companies as disparate as National Geographic, Google and Netflix while playing lead guitar in a band
Yet the older he got, the more the Bellevue, Pennsylvania, resident wanted to do something that combined his entrepreneurial, artistic spirit with doing good. He ended up in coffee.
It's made with beans from countries like Honduras, Costa Rica, Ethiopia and Guatemala that are not just certified organic, but also ethically sourced and certified fair trade — a designation that assures producers are getting a fare wage for their wares along with safer working conditions.
In January, Tomb and business partner Tim Gaichas launched Jordan Tomb's coffee and tea company after two years of planning.
Making a difference in the lives of others actually runs in the family. In 2017, his wife, Erin, started The Garment Project, a nonprofit that provides new, sizeless clothing to people in recovery from eating disorders.
Coffee seemed like a good bet, Tomb said, because Pittsburgh has become known as a coffee city. It's also a product that's meant to be relished and enjoyed, and could be promoted as fine art.
"Coffee is having its moment, but it's an art thing, too," he said.
As for the goodness part, that's in how it's produced.
In addition to being certified organic and free trade, the coffee's packaging is 100% compostable and shipped in reusable or biodegradable containers. "Even the tape is compostable," he said.
You also won't see any plastic in the company's roasting area, a former hair salon on Bellevue's main drag. All the equipment for roasting coffee and packaging the tea is NSF-certified stainless steel.
And as a Pennsylvania benefit corporation, it aims to use its profits and growth to do good.
"We're held to a higher standard," Tomb said. "People know we're not a company that keeps money at the top."
He chose to set up shop in Bellevue because of the borough's welcoming vibe. "There's an unparalleled sense of community here that I wanted to be part of, plus it's beautiful."
The green coffee beans arrive in 130- to 150-pound bags, and everything is roasted in-house in a giant, gas-fueled San Franciscan drum coffee roaster. Roasting, Tomb said, is both an art and a science. It's the roaster's job to bring out the flavor profile of each country's beans.
He roasts in small batches, 5-10 pounds at a time, twice a week.
Tomb currently offers seven coffees, including a decaf from Guatemala, that range in price from $14.40 to $16.70 for a 250-gram bag. Each features a rockin' cat logo specifically designed to make you feel the way you do when you are enjoying a really terrific cup of coffee.
"We wanted a logo that was cheeky, smile-inducing, fun, cool and very memorable," he said, while also conveying the company's standards, beliefs and quality.
He also has a wide range of organic loose leaf teas in 100-gram bags — everything from Japanese matcha to Marsala chai to Darjeeling — and plans on adding five new coffees later this year.
Mexico Chiapas is the best seller right now, but coffee preferences, he said, are always changing.
Most of Jordan Tomb's coffee is sold online on the company's website (jordantombs.com), along with coffee and tea brewing gear, apparel and items to make music and art.
Tomb is happy to give you his pitch about what the company supports, along with a sample. "I'll tell you the whole deal," he said.
His eventual goal is to open a small shop serving light fare and beverages in his storefront. To promote artists and creative types of all stripes, he'll also sell art and music supplies.
"And we'll have lots of cool music on speakers," he said, perhaps even his own. He's currently a member of The Emo Band, an interactive emo and pop punk-themed karaoke and cover band.
The first six months he was open, Tomb said, he was trying to get things started.
"Now I'm just trying to keep up," he said, with customers as far away as California.