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Coffee People
Coffee People: Sprudge

Coffee People: Sprudge

A new challenge for the co-founders of Sprudge.


Guest: Zachary Carlsen, Jordan Michelman
Role: Co-founders of, Co-Authors of But First, Coffee
Based: Portland, OR sometimes.
What they order:
Zachary: Drip coffee and an espresso.
Jordan: If it is hot, an espresso and an iced tea, but…it varies.

Partnerships are a funny thing. When they work, magic. Think Hall & Oates. When they don’t, chaos. Also, think Hall & Oates. If we’re being honest as entrepreneurs, sometimes it is chaos when a partnership works, too. The duo behind Sprudge have been collaborating on this project—their words—for a minute. Together, they’ve created a community of coffeeheads who are more educated, more aware, and more engaged in the pursuit of good coffee.

By embracing each other’s natural skills and letting themselves be challenged by their differences, they’ve created something more significant than they could have reasonably done alone. It is natural that as they grow, they begin seeking out more challenges.

If their first book, The New Rules of Coffee, explained specialty coffee, But First, Coffee is their effort to teach the rest of us all the cool stuff we can do with it. Beyond brewing a tasty cup, they delve into creating cocktails, ice cream, and BBQ rubs.

Writing a first book is hard. Writing a second one is more challenging because you know how hard it will be. You’ve already been through the struggle. You can never again go back to that wonderfully ignorant moment when, for the first time, you thought, you know what would be fun? Writing a book!

It helps to have some support. Jordan and Zachary have been able to lean on each other as business partners for 14 years and as friends for much longer than that.

In this podcast we cover their journeys into specialty coffee, why they think the partnership works, where they think coffee might be headed, and why there isn’t a Sprudge cafe (or chain of franchised cafes)…yet.

A two-page spread from the inside of a recipe book with a cold brew recipe on the left and a tall cold brew with milk mingling in the coffee on the right.
From inside But First, Coffee.


  • Zachary and Jordan’s partnership works because they have different brains that, when combined, make a sort of collaborative magic. They have different skills, different pursuits, and aptitudes that, when combined, enable them to create on a bigger scale.

  • Their friendship has helped them succeed, first with Sprudge and now as authors. When one needs support, the other is there to lift them up.

  • It has never been easier to find a great cup of coffee or a great local coffee roaster. The goal of writing But First, Coffee is to teach us what we can do with that coffee.

  • Die Hard is a holiday movie. Perhaps the best holiday movie. Full stop.

  • A VHS (Video Home System) is how people of a certain age refer to video cassette tapes that once played movies and films. The rectangular tapes were played in VCRs or Video Cassette Recorders, which, when used in a recording…You know what, just look it up.

  • Read about what the film Elf can teach us about coffee on

  • The Book:

    Left: Zachary Carlsen. Right: Jordan Michelman.

    Order But First, Coffee

    The book includes:

    • 40 recipes, expert instructions for more than two-dozen brewing methods for coffee and espresso, sections on how to build a mug collection and how to find the best coffee beans, and tips and guidance on the gear you need to create a home coffee experience that’s right for you

  • Sometimes you go outside the box because it is fun. Coffee ice cubes, anyone?

  • I had to look up a word Jordan used during the show.

    neologism /nē-ŏl′ə-jĭz″əm/ (noun)

    • A new word, expression, or usage.

    • The creation or use of new words or senses.

    • The invention of new words regarded as a symptom of certain psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia.
    (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition)


If you have questions for our Coffee Smarter Pro experts, please send them to:


From Joe’s (right) recent trips to Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Meet Joe Bettinger. He is a green coffee importer with Cape Horn Coffee Importers. He's constantly in motion, finding great green coffees and sharing them with roasters around the country.

If you're a coffee roaster looking for the green, seeking out origin opportunities, or needing advice on sourcing, reach out to Joe. He'll treat you right.

Connect with Joe directly at:

Joe (center) joins a cupping at a farm in Nicaragua.

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Roast! West Coast
Coffee People
The new Roast! West Coast Coffee People thread. The same interviews with inspiring coffee people with a new name.