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Coffee People: Alan Escalante, Twin Lens Coffee

Coffee People: Alan Escalante, Twin Lens Coffee

"What the f@#k is going on?"


Guest: Alan Escalante, Twin Lens Roasters & Film Lab
From: La Puente, CA
Instagram: @twinlensroasters

Alan was making his way as a photographer and getting into events and weddings. I say from experience that wedding photography is INTENSE. Imagine telling a recently married couple that there was a disk error and you lost all the images of the first kiss, and you might get an inkling of the pressure. You’ve only got one chance to get it right. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit, and Alan’s career path became less clear.

I didn’t watch James Hoffman’s excellent coffee videos on Youtube or even know who he was when I got into coffee, but Alan did. He started watching coffee videos beginning with one on the French press and fell down a very long rabbit hole. One in which his love for the tactile experience of film photography was matched by the physicality of roasting coffee.

I was motivated by a more visceral emotion, anger. I was mad at myself for giving up on an opportunity in the industry because I didn’t feel I had the knowledge to succeed. I went searching for coffee education and stumbled right into my coffee sensei Chris O’Brien at Coffee Cycle Roasting.

The point of the comparison is that we all have our own path to knowledge. It’s okay to have your own relationship with something you’re passionate about. The journeys we take, the challenges we face, and the helping hands that propel us forward are variables in the science experiment that is our lives. Mine led me to talk and write about coffee. Alan’s led him to coffee roasting and being a barista. We both ended up here sharing a cup of coffee.

Shop Twin Lens Roasters


  • This show looks insane. A real Ren & Stimpy-vibe for those of an older generation.

  • Film is tactile, as is coffee roasting. There are lots of parallels in the science and timing of developing the final product. In both, the scientist (roaster or developer) is taking something that is partway done—green coffee or shot film and running a science experiment to produce the final product.

  • Being intentional is a key component of shooting film photography and roasting coffee. The greats combine science and art to create something others may not see.

  • Is Twin Lens the side hustle, or is working for the regular paycheck at the coffee shop the side hustle?

  • Alan roasts at the California Roasting Collective in San Marcos to keep the business nimble and without the overhead required to buy equipment as he grows. Many of the roasters who’ve appeared on this show have gotten their start in co-roasting spaces.

  • It took Alan a year of practice before he felt it was time to share his coffee with people. There was a lot of practice and a lot of trial and error. Creating something and offering it to the world–be it roasted coffee or a podcast, ahem, ahem—requires one to be vulnerable and open to critique.

  • Let businesses and/or individuals know when you appreciate what they are doing! Someone on the other side of that interaction will feel it deeply.

  • Alan uses a La Marzocco Linea Mini espresso machine at pop-up events. Despite the name, the Linea Mini is a beast of a portable countertop espresso machine that costs $5,900!

  • This image ©La Marzocco USA

  • There has to be a little bit of dreamer in an entrepreneur.

  • Twin Lens is NOT JUST A COFFEE ROASTER. They are also a film photography lab.

  • Alan wants to use his company platform to teach people about photography and coffee, so they love those arts as much as he does.


In a pure coincidence, one of my creative projects for 2023 has been to photograph my coffee with an instant photograph each day. With the onset of digital photography, I lost some of my passion for taking pictures. If forced to think about it, I’d venture that some of the tension had been lost.

This last month has been the beginning of a reclamation of my love for seeing things in a different way. I’ve been posting on the @roastwestcoast Instagram, and I’ll be sharing monthly galleries right here in the Roast! West Coast coffee newsletter.

A gridded collage of photos displaying instant photos of coffee mugs and coffee drinking.


Drink their coffees and whiskeys. Visit their cafes. Support local coffee shops. You won’t be disappointed.

Zumbar Coffee & Tea • First Light Coffee Whiskey • Steady State Roasting • CAFÉ LaTERRE • Mostra Coffee • Coffee Cycle •  Camp Coffee CompanyIgnite Coffee Company • Ascend Coffee Roasters • Marea Coffee • Cape Horn Coffee Roasters

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Roast! West Coast
R!WC Archive
The Original Show! 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.