Todd and Tami Hudalla of What's Your Grind
The business: What's Your Grind Gourmet Coffee Roasters
What they're packin': Fresh roasted coffee beans and brewed coffee
Where you can find them: Pick up a pound or two on Saturdays at Roadrunner Park Farmer's Market from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. or on Sundays at the Ahwatukee Farmer's Market from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Chef Eric Ireland is also selling their coffee from his creme brulee truck, Torched Goodness, or you can purchase WYG beans online.
What you need to know: They have roaster set up in a back of a van -- it doesn't get much fresher than that. And who cares about the cooler weather? You do not want to miss out on their wicked delicious cold brew coffee.
The story: Brother and sister team Todd and Tami Hudalla are spreading caffeinated love all over Phoenix, one pound of coffee bean at a time. For three years, Master Roaster Todd has taken care of bean side of the business while Tami (often with the help of mom) wheels and deals up front. The only snag in their apparently seamless coffee operation? The Hudallas travel two hours one-way every weekend from Marana, Ariz. to sell at Phoenix markets. We got the chance to and get all hopped up on mobile coffee knowledge after the jump.
How do you like your coffee?
Todd: Black, medium roast. But everybody's taste buds are different. Sometimes it's really hard to understand what people are asking for because a lot of people don't know themselves what they want. They say, "I want something strong" but people think with coffee, the darker the roast the more caffeine, but that's not true -- the lighter the roast the more caffeine. They think espresso has more caffeine than a cup of coffee but it's totally the opposite. You get more caffeine out of a cup of drip coffee than a shot of espresso.
Tami: Straight up. As a family, the only roast we don't care for is French. Our Italian roast rocks. But I can't really pick one specifically; I love all of our coffees.
I have a little hand-held coffee grinder at home. How can I take it to the next level and obtain Master Roaster status?
Todd: Classes. When you go to the course, you do all the evaluation of green beans and a lot of cupping. They basically teach you how to roast on the machines and then from there you hone your skills every time you roast. There is an art to it.
Why did you choose to take your operation mobile?
Todd: I couldn't afford a storefront. I didn't want to go out of business in the first year. There was a guy in Tucson that had his roaster in the back of a pick up truck at a farmers market and I said, 'I might want to try that.' But mine is a little classier.
Tami: Even though we say we're feed to death, it still allows us a mobile store and with the right permits you can almost do anything. It allows for flexibility.
How has social networking help get the word out?
Tami: I was born a little too early for all of it, but social networking is key. It's a great way to communicate with people, we just keep getting more friends and followers... the more the merrier. To be honest with you, I'd never thought I'd text, but I moved here and started texting.
How have people responded to the roaster in the van?
Todd: It draws them in. They can't believe I have all that in the back of the van. You don't see it very often -- I might be the only person in Phoenix that has one.
Roaster, meet van.
Tell us about this ridiculous Marana commute every weekend.
Todd: We used to go back and forth every day, and it was a lot of driving. Now we come up on Saturday and stay at the hotel to make it work and cut down on the drive time. But we are actually moving up here. We're hoping to get a little closer and start doing more markets.
Tami: It's crazy. Half the time I wonder why, but we're committed, let me tell you. You just gotta do it. It's not cheap to run your own business -- it's permit, after permit, after permit. We follow the rules and there's only so much we can do.
Why should people come out and try What's Your Grind?
Todd: It's local coffee -- the local little guy. They should keep their money local, not with those big corporations. Plus, my coffee is fresh. I want to stay more into the specialty range of coffee, not big and commercialized.
Tami: People will experience coffee more similar to wine tasting. That's what I like about it. The fun part about stopping by our booth is tasting the different coffees. Our taste buds are amazing, and there's a coffee for every taste bud. When people experience the difference between the Arabica beans and the Robusta beans, and actually taste the flavor of all the different coffees, it's just like wine tasting... but it's a different kind of intoxication.
What's the game plan for the future?
Todd: We're on our second van now that is just waiting for the health department now. There won't be another roaster in that one because of the department requirements, but it will have all the brewing equipment. Hopefully one day we'll do some traveling and work directly with the farmers.
Tami: It's kind of a bummer that we haven't traveled to visit the farmers yet, because you know where the coffee comes from and you learn about it, but to actually touch and feel the beans, I would love to experience that. You would be able to talk about the coffee from very start to finish.
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