NAME: Jacob Mingle
YEARS ROASTING: 3.5 Years roasting, 15 years in coffee
COMPANY: Totem Coffee, Placerville, Ca
When you’re on a path, you’re generally always looking forward. You have to. You want to build momentum and sometimes stopping for a moment means killing that momentum. Especially in the beginning of things, when starting can be so difficult and uncertain that all you can do is push forward and hope for the best.
But then there are the moments you can slow down and take a step back and evaluate where you are and how you got there. It’s in these moments that we can separate the difference between growth and movement.
One phrase came up over and over when we talked to Jacob Mingle, Matchbook’s featured roaster for June. Jacob, who is the owner of Totem Coffee Roasters in Placerville, California, kept mentioning his principles; when he discussed roasting, or his store, or the way he lives his life. Jacob saw this project as a moment to step back and reevaluate his place in coffee. “This whole project has been so much more profound than I ever thought it would be,” he says.
We hope that being a part of Matchbook is fun for everyone. We want our roasters to share awesome coffees, and we want our customers to enjoy coffees from roasters they might not know. But working with Jacob sort of a mirrored a moment we’re also having on the Matchbook team—we’ve been hitting the ground running for almost a year, and talking to someone like Jacob makes you stop and think what’s important to us as a team and as individuals. Likewise, Jacob shared thoughts about his life, his career, and his relationship to coffee in a way that can sometimes be forgotten when you’re moving forward. Working with Jacob was a grounding moment for us, and we hope that, drinking his coffee and reading his story, you take a moment that is truly for yourself and identify what is important to you.
Jacob highlights one of the biggest goals we have here at Matchbook: to give people a forum to express themselves outside of their coffeeshops or roasters. “As a café owner, I have created this enigma, and then I’ve attached myself and my identity to this space. If I go out and am recognized, I am recognized as the owner of Totem,” and throughout working with Matchbook, Jacob has had a chance to evaluate his approach to coffee separate from his business—at least just for a moment. “This project reminded me of who I am and what I believe in. When you own a business you sort of have to play it safe.”
You might not know Jacob unless you live in Placerville. He’s not on social media. He just got a phone—and it’s a flip phone. But he’s loved in his town and has been in coffee longer than most of us. When he moved back to Placerville, his hometown, in 2003, he picked up a part-time job at a neighborhood cafe. “This place was the place—it was the place to hang out and meet people and I formed bands there.” He worked there on and off for years until an opportunity to buy the space came up, which him and his wife, Alisa, jumped at. “Maybe we were naïve, or maybe we were just blessed,” he shares of his time with Cozmic, which he owned for five years. “Part of it was being in the right place in the right time.”
However, Jacob and Alisa wanted to own something that felt right to them and encompassed their values and ideas. They opened Totem as, “An expression of our principles and what we believe in and to support our family.” Now, Jacob is kind of a jack-of-all-trades—he roasts, he runs the café, and he can sort of be found everywhere, helping out his staff or solving an issue in the store. But he wouldn’t have it any other way. “The café was always my connection to the community, and that’s something I always wanted to maintain. I didn’t ever want a job where I would lose that connection.”
So what are those principles Jacob was talking about? We asked Jacob and here’s the list he came up with:
-Exploring the exciting world of coffee.
-Influencing our town and the world in what we see as a positive way.
-Holding space, fostering and building community and giving people a place to gather and meet one another over a cup of coffee or fresh healthy food.
-Providing fresh healthy food, food that we eat and make at home, food that we feed our children.
-Having our business be a reflection and extension of our lifestyle.
-Considering the impacts of our actions as both individual people and as a business and the effects it has on our earth, our soil, our environment, and other human lives. -Trying to consider and respect all life forms on this planet.
-Not exploiting people, or the land for our own personal gain.
-Contributing to our local economy, by providing jobs for people we eventually get to know and love, by seeing our dollars spent going to positive things locally and worldwide.
-Being open and honest people, being proud of what we do. If our community is strong and healthy than we will be strong and healthy.
For Jacob, owning a café is much more than just selling coffee to folks in the neighborhood. It’s a full expression of self, and sometimes that can be easy to miss until you take a second and really look at what you’ve created. The cafés that have been part of Jacob’s life, from the beginnings at Cozmic to Totem as it stands today, have been centers of communication, community, and expression for Jacob for over 15 years, and we truly believe Jacob’s release will be like an extension of Jacob himself. Not only are you getting delicious coffee, but you’ll be getting treats and swag that are personal and interwoven into Jacob’s identity (we left you a hint in this write up but we don’t want to give it away).
Like we mentioned, working with Jacob at this moment is interesting for us at Matchbook—like Jacob, we’re also looking inwards and questioning who we are as a group and how best to support the roasters we work with. At best, we hope folks have an experience like Jacob’s. “It's been fun, exciting, intimidating, uncomfortable and scary at times, but all in all it's been worth it and there is a sense of pride in seeing what you've created and the path that you've laid out.”
We hope you drink Jacob’s coffee, a blend called New Meditation, and feel inspired to question what’s important to you and how to actively live these ideas. We pick people that are not only talented roasters, but are innovative, inspiring, and push us to think differently not just about coffee, but also about ourselves. Every time we work with someone new, we learn something helpful; something interesting, and something that makes us look back at the way we operate. Jacob is no exception.