Jake Easton

Who is Jake Easton?

This seems to be a fairly fantastic question which poses to no end of possible answers… Who are any of us: “electrified stardust and intestinal bugs”, “Fathers Mothers Sons Daughters Orphans”, “Brothers in Arms”, “Roaster Barista Trainer Scientific enthusiast”…

The data on me is easy, I’m an over 40 divorced American/Canadian father of two boys who started my journey in coffee penniless. 1 year later I started tribe with 20kg’s of Espresso Blend and R40.

Who am I? A roaster. A barista. A trainer. Me.

What does this question mean in a non-sequential collection of observed information kind-of-way… Well, I guess others see me as quite talkative and knowledgeable when it comes to roasting and free thought within the coffee world, some find me hard to deal with, others think I can be kind of arrogant, some tell me that I’m silly and willing to mock myself, some say I’m actually a nice guy, others say I’m like an onion… but I tend to follow the advice of Ernest Hemingway on praise or pillory (paraphrasing here because why use Google and sound smarter than I am), “Believe one and you have to believe the other”.

Who is Jake Easton as one of the owners of Tribe Coffee Roasting? Passionate Roaster, Data Driven Cupper, Scientific Barista, Happy Trainer, Café Designer, Silly Tool, Curious Man, Loving Father.

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What is your best childhood memory?

This is a hard one. So deep are these memories buried I doubt that I’m recalling the true memory and not just the sentiment of the memories moment.

Most of my top memories involve laughter and dancing at the Lepore house. Some time long ago, while doing the dishes and re-setting the table, ‘The Commodores’ came on and we (Greg Lepore, myself, my brother Terence, Rick Lepore and Lisa Lepore) all started to dance (because who can really work when “Brick House” starts to play). In one of the those thumping bass beats one of us froze (I think the first one was Greg, the eldest) then the rest of us put pots n pans (clean) on his “froze” body and carried on dancing around him. We thought it was hilarious and kept it up every time one of us had done enough dishes and the beat was right.

Or, it could have been playing Cribbage with my Grandmother for the first time. She was a savage wit and filled any room with as many words as could possibly be looked up in a dictionary. We had to practice playing Cribbage for months before we were good enough to even sit at the table. She always won. She was the best Cribbage player in all of Ontario… well, so she said, every time she pegged you off the board.

If you had a chance for a “do-over” in life, what would you do differently?

I would have carried on studying medicine.

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What do you feel most proud of?

I think “what I am most proud of” is still to come. The things in motion currently are fiducially interesting… but, it is in my children, the Tribe team and who we are as people (myself included) in whom I am imbuing this sense of “future” pride.

If I were to be pithy and trite I could say its my sense of accomplishment at creating Tribe from R40 and 20kg of Espresso Blend (technically I was in debt to the bank to the tune of R2000)… But I didn’t have a choice there, it was survive or become a street person.

If I said my sons, I’d sound ridiculous as their accomplishments are their own. I have little or nothing to do in their magical journey through life… I am, as Kahlil Gibran said, “the bow” which must watch the flight of the arrow (the arrow which is their lives).

So, what am I most proud of, the people around me and this industry of coffee people who are willing to learn grow and evolve… sure. But, really, I think the things I will be most proud of are still to come.

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If you could only keep three possessions, what would they be and why?

Answering the question I realised that you may be intimating that I get to keep my clothing as a “given”.

If that is the case: 1. Bertha, 2. My Laptop, 3. My phone. Bertha is our UG22 Probat from the 1950’s which is the heart of Tribe. My laptop because I could process orders and create new clients as required and Tribe can keep going. My phone because its how I talk to my kids, my friends, my family and look at silly hedgehog videos on youtube.

If clothing is not a given…

As I have had my house robbed (twice) and lost all of the really fun things I used to own and all of my clothing (twice…grumblegrumblecurseccurse), the list is relatively easy:

  1. A strong pair of work boots. These are important because you can wear em: to business meetings and no one will object, to a concert, with shorts (not very elegant), to parties, to work and, on an air plane.
  2. One pair of really good blue jeans. You need pants.
  3. A dark polo/golf shirt.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

Fuck me, what a fantastic life. I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you and thank you for such a wonderful time. Thank you.

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What is Tribe Coffee?

Tribe Coffee Roasting is a wonderful group of coffee professionals. We love the stuff. I mean it saved my life, Bradley’s life (my business partner), Chris’s life (Roaster and Café madman), Ken’s life (lead Barista), Romeo’s life (coffee Trainer), Millicent’s life (Office fundi), Elijah’s life (Machine technician)… hell it saved the lives of most of us at Tribe and we owe quite a lot to the science of coffee and its difficulties.

We recently paired up with Nandi Jordaan in Namibia to open Tribe Coffee Roasting Namibia… she had a hell of a story in her life before she met coffee. After 6 months spent at cupping stations in Rwanda and Tanzania she got her Q-Grader in Seattle in 2016 and of the 20+ people she was top in her class and 1 of 3 to have passed. Now she’s one of the best in the world and we’re lucky to have her linked with Tribe.

So what is Tribe? It is all of us… a collection of professional mistfit passionate lovers of the science of roasting, extraction, grinding and cupping.

What’s your favorite kind of coffee?

Hell right now I love a single espresso. If you cannot make an amazing single…keep trying and don’t give up. My favourite brew method has been the same for the past 20+ years, a pour over. You can coax anything you want out of a pour over. My favourite coffee of origin changes from season to season. Last year it was a single farm Ethiopian from Raku in Yirgacheffe (this year’s version is not the same no matter how we roast the bad boys). I am hoping we get to sample some Geisha from Satemwa in Malawi or, some 90+ from Panama or, get my anti-Trump hands on a grade 1 Yirg. Though I do love Cuban coffee also cannot get enough of that blue Indonesian. Oh and please do not forget the orange blossom Colombian or the pineapple Kenyan from Mt Kenya…

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In which coffee shops are we likely to bump into you?

I’m headed to visit Origin tomorrow if you’re free?

What does a perfect day look like?

I think the perfect day looks a lot like a normal day but with more laughter, more sharing, even better coffee, my kids nearby, a surf in glassy head high waves, dancing, my friends visiting, no war, heaps of peace, 100,000 people set free from prisons worldwide, boarders being abolished, personal income taxes being removed, Gross Domestic Happiness being created for every country, oxygen being found on a nearby planet and water being created from automobiles… oh, and free doughnuts for every person.

Photography by Francis Gersbach, GreatGrampops Photography

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