In 2013, Jeremy Harris saw a lack of high-end, single-origin coffee beans in Memphis, TN. Often coffee shops’ beans are blends of different origins. For example: Kenyan and Ethiopian blended and roasted together.
And SO, Reverb was founded! Founded on single-origin beans. Whether it be the same region, or down to the same farmer for batches of beans. Tanzania, Ethiopia, Columbia, and El Salvador are some of the countries they buy from, keeping the beans separate.
Zack Jennings joined the Reverb team in 2017, learning from Jeremy himself. Zack is one of my best friends and invited me to Reverb to meet Jeremy, learn about Reverb, and watch the roasting process. “Reverb has a strict dedication to single origin coffee that are sourced at a certain level of quality. We switch raw coffee providers depending on the quality we get from them. We don’t stay just because it’s easier.”
Zack discovered Reverb through Avenue Coffee, a local Memphis coffee shop located near U of M. He began learning the art of brewing and serving, even entering in the Latte Art Throwdowns around town. He has been a faithful barista ever since.
Z approached Jeremy, asking if he could be of use to Reverb. Zack started working on the coffee truck (used for catering and festivals), as well as packaging the beans in their signature black fold bags. Quickly upon arrival, Zack asked to learn how to roast. Within his first few days, Z was making small batches at home.
“I wasn’t expecting how much of a craft it is, how many different coffees there are, how many different approaches there are to roasting. It isn’t an exact science. You shouldn’t be afraid to play with the variables.”
Those different variables include: heat, developing time, speed of roasting, finishing temp, roast level. How dark, how light. Because Reverb has such a strict policy on how it tastes, that means a true commitment to the quality, the coffee, not just the process. It means continually checking themselves and their product. Not only is the quality important, but allowing the quality to be an attainable raw product. They believe in attainability over huge profit, working on a 2x profit, instead of the 4x that many roasters do. “It is a small roastery. Maybe the smallest in Memphis, but our per bag cost is what makes us count big time.” Reverb roasts once a week, and then delivers to all their clients. They provide beans for Avenue Coffee, The Rev, Downline Ministries, and Mempops to name a few.
I asked Zack how he describes Jeremy, the founder: “Jeremy’s like, well there’s not really a word. He’s kind of like a coffee guru. He knows what he is doing. I have a lot of respect and trust in his ability. Outside of him being a good coffee roaster, he’s not afraid to use what he knows. He does not except slack quality, and that’s really nice to work with.”
Some of the hardest aspects of maintaining Reverb that Jeremy holds to are researching single origin farms, keeping up on the cutting edge of coffee, staying critical of his own work, dedication, and an obvious consistency in effort.
Zack told a story Jeremy told him. At one point, he thought his coffee beans were starting to lack in taste. He panicked and regrouped. In fact, he started roasting beans in a completely different way. It sucked, and he went back to what was truly working. “But that fact that he was willing to change what he was comfortable with and liked doing, just to maintain the level of quality, says what Reverb is all about.”
Zack’s vision for Reverb is to keep roasting quality coffee, to experiment in exotic roasts, maintain the clients, grow in consumers, and continue making profit.
I enjoyed my time in the roasting room with these two. Lots of laughing and chatting. We sipped on coffee and told stories pretty much the whole time. I am so thankful to know Jeremy and Zack. After spending a few hours with them, I am just so stoked for Reverb and all it has become and is growing to be. SO, to my local buddies! LOVE on Reverb, support your local roasters!