MCP#009: Janine Cundy

ROASTER: Janine Cundy

YEARS ROASTING: 3 years

COMPANY: Joe Bean, Rochester NY

 

At Matchbook, we try to express the spirit of our roasters through words. And we’d like to think we have fun with this and try different formats. In the past, these formats have included interviews, infographics, words from friends and loved ones.

We’ve gotten to know so many amazing roasters and have had the pleasure of
sharing their stories and communicating their vision to you—the folks who support
our vision and make Matchbook possible. And when we sit down and brainstorm
ways to share the stories of our roasters, we try to be evocative; that doesn’t
necessarily mean we want to shock, but we want you to feel the passion and essence
of these people. Our roasters are special people, and we want you to feel how we
feel about them.

When we first reached out to Janine Cundy of Joe Bean Roasters in Rochester, New
York, we were a little unsure of what to do. She’s our November featured roaster,
and we did what we usually do—we sent her an email and asked her to share her
story. As we read her response back, we felt…speechless. Perhaps even a little
overwhelmed. We read her story, her recounting of her life and how she got into
coffee and roasting, and it felt like we were reading a Choose Your Own Adventure
story. It’s dynamic, it takes twists and turns, and yet feels uniquely like every choice
she made led her to this moment, this career, this expression of her talent and
interests. There is simply no other way Janine’s story could have gone.
“My background in coffee is a little convoluted,” Janine shares. Her coffee origins
story is a mixture of the typical—she enters a coffee shop, falls in love with the
culture, you know the rest—and a spattering of the unexpected. A broke student in
Seattle, Wash., she decided to pick up stunt jobs because of her background in
parkour. “I took absolutely any opportunity to make a buck I could. I’d been training
parkour for a long time, so when the opportunities came to do things other people
didn’t want to do for money, I said yes to a stunt career.” She used the money she
got from working stunts to put herself through school at the University of
Washington with an intention of studying biology but was drawn into chemistry. “I
took a ton of extra chemistry courses along the way because I found them
mesmerizing.”

Divergent and convergent pathways, differing ideas, stories that almost didn’t
happen and yet here we are. This seems to be a theme in Janine’s life. During college,
Janine worked as a barista, but it wasn’t until she serendipitously met her husband
on a trip to Rochester to visit friends, moved across the country to be with him,
walked into a Joe Bean and then waited a year before she was even allowed to work
a shift on bar that solidified her love of coffee. “When I moved here, I had like a
couple hundred bucks in my bank account and no plan. I walked into Joe Bean one
day and felt like I was seeing a side of coffee I’d never experienced before. It was
geeky and beautiful and approachable. I wanted in. I sent emails and basically
bugged the heck out of the staff here for about a year before my first bar shift.”
That first shift is something Janine can still recollect. “That shift changed my life.
Suddenly coffee wasn’t just an ‘in between job.’ At Joe Bean, it was treated with
weight, and respected, like this is a thing grown-ups can pour their intention into for
their working lives. Boom! I’d never thought of that before, but from that day I’ve
known this is what I wanted to spend my life doing.” And Janine also acknowledges
for however crazy and moment-by- moment her coffee career was, there’s no other
way it could have ended up, really. “Even though it wasn’t what I had in mind when I
was pursuing my degree, I feel like all of my life experiences lend themselves to
making me better in this field, especially roasting.” Everything had to fall into place
just so because everything was leading up to this. It feels like this is a story that
almost didn’t happen, but somehow had to happen and couldn’t have unfolded in
any other way.

Janine describes herself as a scientific roaster. She has her day planned out and her
routines down. “A typical day starts with cupping new profiles and any outliers. I
then organize the roasting day, and then warm up the roaster. By that point, I’ve
probably brewed myself whatever my favorite coffee from the cupping table was,
and gotten some tunes blasting. There must always be music.” She also tries to stay
organized, and makes room for cataloging new information. “I swing by the bar out
front and see how everything is pulling…and add whatever the new espresso
parameters the baristas are loving to my Rolodex of recipes. I love this Rolodex, it’s
a new thing, but it’s a reference for our bar and our wholesale clients to use that give
ratios and ideas for every age of every coffee we roast.”
Again, Janine’s coffee story splits into two—the expected and the unexpected. Like
many roasters, chemistry plays into the way Janine roasts coffee, but she also found
her interest in picking locks helpful. “I’d pick locks for a hobby throughout my
youth. This attraction for mechanical thinking has helped me a ton in my roasting,
when doing maintenance or troubleshooting problems.” Although Janine relies a lot
on her past experiences, she’s also dedicated to learning new information and
adapts her style based on what she discovers and cites her mentor, Wade Reed, as a source of knowledge and inspiration. “I guess my mission with roasting is to be genuine with my approach and to never hang on to a piece of my theory from ego
or pride. If I learn new information, I will ditch whatever isn’t working and adapt.”

Janine’s life is dynamic, varied, and encompasses myriad experiences.

There are some constants—Janine has an amazing support team that she works with at Joe Bean along with her young son, Wilder, who you can see in some of our arguably favorite photos on our Instagram account. What does a life like this do to a person? It’s hard to say. I try to imagine that Choose Your Own Adventure story for Janine, and instead of the choices and experiences that she’s taken, I try to imagine the opposite and think, would she still be here? Instead of moving to Rochester, what would have happened if she stayed in Seattle? What if she had taken a different job during the year she waited to work that bar shift at Joe Bean? Would she still be who she is? I’m not sure.

I think about this because of one thing Janine wrote in her story. In describing her
time in stunt work, she says, “It was a blast, I wrecked my body, made a buck, and a
ton of friends. I think it made me scrappy, or maybe I was born that way.” We at
Matchbook aren’t exactly sure, either. Regardless, we’re thrilled to serve her coffee,
and we hope this coffee finds you at the exact moment, the exact place, you need to
be.