Behind the Beans: Q&A with Greater Goods Co-founder Khanh Trang
At our Prim and Proper restaurants, we take great pride in sourcing ingredients and vendors that care about their neighborhoods as much as we care about ours. That’s why we partnered with Greater Goods as our regional roaster for Texas.
Local to the Austin area, Greater Goods was founded by married duo, Khanh Trang and Trey Cobb. Both Q-Graders, Khanh and Trey care a lot about sharing their knowledge of coffee, so much so that they have made teaching integral to their identity as a roaster. They offer community classes and team building sessions for anyone who wants to learn more about the coffee world.
Additionally, they thoroughly vet where they source their beans, maintaining a standard of only working with “producers who provide fair wages and utilize sustainable practices to protect the environment.” Greater Goods also partners with 4 local nonprofits to give back to the community they’re in.
We know. We were head-over-heels when we first heard about them, too.
Since we are such big fans of Greater Goods, we decided to catch up with Khanh Trang and ask her some questions about coffee and roasting and, of course, the heart behind Greater Goods.
Khanh Trang, Co-founder of Greater Goods
Craft Coffee 101
If you’ve ever stepped into a coffee shop and been immediately overwhelmed by all of the different roasts and brewing gadgets, you're not alone. Khanh gave us a bit of a crash course in craft coffee basics.
Get ready to impress your local barista bro.
How would you explain the basics of origins to a craft coffee newcomer?
“Origin is where the coffee comes from. Coffee is very similar to wine where the tasting notes are not only a reflection of the roasting process, but are heavily influenced by it’s terroir (soil, topography, climate) and variety.”
What does “Q-Grader" mean?
“Q-Grader is a title given to an individual who is certified to grade coffee utilizing standards developed by the Quality Coffee Institute. The course consists of 22 tests that the individual needs to pass. The individual needs to be able to identify and score the coffees accurately and consistently.”
Which is your favorite coffee for this season?
“My favorite coffee this season is anything fruity. We’re into some hot weather here in Texas, so I tend to lean more towards the lighter to medium roasted coffees. My favorite right now is our new washed processed Sumatra. The process is newer to Sumatra as they’ve traditionally wet hulled their coffees. The coffee itself has some beautiful pomegranate and black cherry undertones with a nice clean herbaceous finish. It’s a nice change from the traditional earthy tones of Indonesian coffees we’re used to.”
Often in this industry, from roasting to extraction methods to tasting notes, the more you learn about coffee, the more you have yet to learn. What is the simple, foundational element that reminds you of when you first fell in love with coffee?
“I knew that I stumbled upon something special when I sat down at a coffee shop for my very first cup of coffee from a specialty coffee shop. The barista brewed me a cup of Peru from a syphon brewer. We had a great conversation about coffee and what I would be tasting from the cup. It was my first experience drinking coffee and actually enjoying it without having to mix any extras into it. I honestly can’t remember the taste, but I do vividly remember my wonderful experience. That is precisely what I wish for our guests at our cafes.”
Speaking of the Greater Goods cafes, we dived into their mission and what makes it stand out in Austin, a city entrenched in coffee culture.
How did the idea of Greater Goods come to be and what was the thought process behind the name?
“Our name came to be from the idea that we wanted to make great coffee while doing good with our community. We wanted to create a business that supports local needs not only by serving coffee to our community, but also by offering public coffee classes, and giving back to the community.”
Greater Goods has become a staple of many Austinites’ daily routine, how does the way you conduct business mimic the community you are surrounded by?
“We wanted to integrate our cafe into the daily routine of our community. We felt the only way to do that successfully was to make sure we really get to know our guests and make sure they feel at home, like they are our neighbors. There is a sense of joyful belongingness (especially early in the morning) when you can step into a coffee shop, and the barista behind the bar is already making your “usual”. It’s a nice feeling to wake up to.”
How has your perspective on the world been shaped by the farmers and baristas you’ve met through Greater Goods?
“Our perspective changed tremendously after our first trip to origin. We got to meet coffee farmers and learn their history. Some inherited the farms, some chose to become a producer. We got to see first hand the effects of climate change on coffee production and understand how coffee pricing affects their livelihood. We need to pay more for coffee at the ground level and at the cafes. Specialty coffee to us means paying higher prices to the producers, so they in turn can afford to keep their coffee farms and not have to sell it off to land developers. Of course, finding really yummy coffee is a plus.
As for our baristas, we’ve learned a lot about their life in the service industry. They expend a tremendous amount of emotional labor for an industry they love. Most of our team of baristas are with us, because they choose to be a professional barista or would like to have a career in coffee. They’re incredibly passionate about the field and choose to further their knowledge in this area.”
Why did you decide to weave a giveback aspect into every bag of coffee?
“This idea was a no brainer for us. I'm a first generation Vietnamese American who was fortunate enough to escape a war torn country with my family in the 70’s to be able to start over and live the American dream. Trey grew up with a lot of hardship and understands what it’s like to be raised in a single parent household barely making ends meet. We give back, because it’s our community. We live here, we give here!”
Each bag of coffee supports one of the four local nonprofits that Greater Goods gives back to and you can tell which cause you’re supporting by the label on the bag.
Central Texas Food Bank - 1 bag = 3 meals
Autism Society of Central Texas - 1 bag = $1 donated
Boys & Girls Club of the Austin Area - 1 bag = 1 club day
Austin Pets Alive! - 1 bag = 1 day of support
You can buy some Greater Goods coffee online here or grab a cup to-go from our Prim and Proper locations in Austin and Plano.