Nov 30, 2021 • 1HR 9M

Roast! - Chris O'Brien Part 1/2

Founder & Head Roaster at Coffee Cycle Roasting

Open in playerListen on);
The Roast! West Coast podcast introduces you to the premier coffee roasters, coffee experts and coffee innovators on the West Coast. Author, entrepreneur, and host Ryan Woldt interviews guests to bring you their origin stories, thoughts on the community of coffee, and coffee education.
Episode details


Chris O’Brien has been the R!WC Coffee Smarter resident expert since this show began, and as I’ve mentioned on the show, my conversations with Chris about coffee are a big reason this show even exists.

Yet somehow, I’ve never sat down to interview him like I have so many other coffee professionals on this show. I’ve just used him for his knowledge, and for that, I apologize. This week we rectify that mistake with a two-part interview.

I didn’t plan on a two-hour interview, but sometimes, Chris and I start blathering on and on, and all of a sudden a pot of coffee has disappeared. We cover a lot of ground on the show, but one thing that came up really stood out to me—the performative aspect of working in hospitality.

A full coffee cart complete with espresso machine being pulled behind a bicycle by a white man with a ponytail wearing a blue tee shirt and black shorts.
That bike weighed about 1200lbs fully loaded!

I’ve spent more than 25 years working in the service industry. I’m not that old! I just started working at my parents supper club really young. Often during the training phase of starting a new service job I’d be given a literal script to use dictating how to talk about food or the business or how to greet a customer walking through the door.

On top of that, the fast-paced, repetitive nature of the business naturally led me to develop go-to phrases or manners of speech to fall back on. Walking that tightrope between full-on phony and truly engaging with the people coming through the door for a coffee or a beer or a sandwich can be really difficult. It doesn’t take much to swing too far one way or the other.

I hope you enjoy part 1 of this interview and look for part 2 to drop on Thursday morning instead of the normal Coffee Smarter episode.

On the show Chris is drinking the Colombia Hacienda El Obraje Colibri Gesha Blend he roasted. Click the link and try it for yourself.


Chris O'Brien, a tall, bearded, white man with glasses and a ponytail wearing a grey t-shirt stands next to a large commercial coffee roasting machine


• Clover Coffee Brewer: This is literally all there is about this brewer available from Starbucks, “The Clover® brewing system is a rare leap forward in coffee brewing technology that lets us craft a single cup of perfectly brewed coffee with exquisite balance, depth of flavor, and aroma.

Innovative Vacuum-Press™ technology and precise control over water temperature and brew time work in conjunction to ensure we can extract the best flavor from the coffee. Since every bean, roast and blend is different, controlling the brew is essential to getting the most out of every cup. We pair the Clover® with our rare, small-lot Starbucks Reserve Coffees to bring them to life in the most extraordinary way.”


Dan Oksnevad of Driven Coffee Roasters out of Minneapolis, Minnesota put together this helpful list of identifying characteristics found in the various waves of coffee. The link takes you to his full article if you’d like even more detail on the various waves, and they have a pretty solid sampler pack deal I’m thinking about gambling on.

First Wave:

  • Artificially or “naturally” flavored beans

  • Language of “premium” or “gourmet”

  • Primarily pre-ground offerings

  • Super dark, bitter coffee

  • The supermarket coffee aisle

Second Wave:

  • Heavy focus on flavored drinks

  • Fairly dark, bitter coffee

  • The supermarket coffee aisle

  • Slight recognition of coffee origin country

  • Baristas who are passionate about the cafe, but not the beans themselves

Third Wave:

  • Specific flavor notes (eg. honey sweetness, rose aromatics, and orange acidity)

  • Lighter roast profiles

  • Latte art

  • Single origin (single farm, estate) beans

  • High degree of origin transparency

  • Manual brewing methods like pour over cones and french presses

  • Freshness transparency by publishing specific roast dates


  • Camp Coffee Company is going Griswold with the holiday drinks!
    Nitro with mulled spice foamed milk of your choice and a dash of cinnamon • Mulled Spice Latte • Candy Cane Mocha • Candy Cane Hot Cocoa •Eggnog Latte • Classic Apple cider • Mulled Spice Apple Cider • Caramel Apple Cider
    All drinks can be made hot or iced!

    A white coffee mug filled to the top. The coffee is covered by a thick layer of whipped cream and topped with crumbled candy canes, and a tall, clear beverage glass filled with hot apple cider and topped with nutmeg is just behind and to the right.
    Follow @wearecampcoffee on Instagram!
  • Go see @FirstLightWhiskey at their new tasting space inside Pacific Coast Spirits in Oceanside, CA this weekend! 750ml Coffee Whiskey bottles will be available for purchase in the tasting room and they're launching a Nitro Cold Brew cocktail in collaboration with Steel Mill Coffee available on draft and in to-go crowler cans. Launch event on 12/5!


The R!WC podcast is always free on your favorite podcast platforms, but as a reminder, paid subscribers are helping us grow this coffee content! Subscriptions really helps to support the ongoing work that goes into this publication in real tangible ways like microphones and acoustic panels and website fees.

Either way, here is a photo of a very regal-looking dog just chilling with their cup of morning coffee.

A brown lab sitting on a white chair in front of a sky blue wall. They are looking straight at the camera and a red coffee mug rests between their legs on the chair.
A dog and their coffee. Photo credit: Lucrezia Carnelos.



Considering all the Starbucks talk today this seemed appropriate, and I low-key really enjoy this film. I used to own it on a VHS tape which I bought used from Blockbuster, because I’m from the last century.

Listen to the show on these platforms!


Connect with @roastwestcoast on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook

Thank you for reading. Roast! West Coast grows through word of mouth. Please consider sharing this post with someone who might appreciate it.

Share Roast! West Coast