A Conversation with Prelude Coffee roaster, Hallie McCartney
At Equity, we love to collaborate. And we especially love to collaborate with local women working in male dominated industries (like us!). Learn about our partnership with Prelude Coffee Roasters and their roaster, Hallie, below!
When and why did you become interested in working with coffee?
My coffee career started in September of 2019. I have always loved coffee, and I love learning how things work so it only made sense that someday I would explore the world of my favorite caffeinated beverage. I started by becoming a barista, which was fun and insightful, but I knew deep down I wanted to get closer to the source of what makes coffee so amazing, and that next step would be roasting.
How did you become interested specifically in roasting coffee?
The roasting side of coffee requires a lot of time and experience to master and those are the kind of challenges I find very satisfying. I also enjoy it because there is a balance of natural skill and learned protocol.
What is it like being a female coffee roaster in a heavily male dominated industry?
In my short experience, I find that the coffee culture is open and accepting but needs more examples of women and minorities in roasting positions to encourage more interest. I have not run into much I have been unable to do. That being said, I am also not afraid to learn from others' experiences to deepen my own understanding.
What advice would you give to other women interested in learning more about coffee roasting and the science behind coffee?
My advice to other women would simply be if you are interested, reach out and see what possibilities are out there. It may be cliche, but you never know if you don't try. Putting in the effort of finding what you can do can go a long way in earning respect.
The coffee industry is notorious for having issues in equity and sustainability in the way coffee beans are harvested and distributed around the world. How do you acknowledge and combat these issues as a local coffee shop?
Unfortunately, there is a large disconnect between the average coffee consumer and how the coffee they are drinking is grown, harvested, sourced, and distributed. As a small company the most powerful tool we have is doing our research and educating our customers one cup at a time. We also try to work closely with trusted companies and build relationships that support the changes that need to be made to correct these issues. We don't have the power to make sweeping changes the way some larger companies can but no matter how big or small there's always things that can be done that we actively try to do; from giving away our burlap and chaf to local beekeepers and farmers, to making wise purchasing decisions when it comes to the coffees we source, to having simple conversations with our customers about the coffee value chain as a whole.
Any specific thoughts about coffee being used in beer?
I am a sucker for the classic combo of beer and coffee. Beer is a perfect complement to coffee. They balance each other's naturally sweet, and roast-y bitter notes with hints of acidity.
Can you talk a little bit about the coffee Prelude is supplying Equity for our coffee stout?
Currently we are using our Golden Year Blend which is one of our most popular blends and my personal favorite. Blends tend to bring a little bit of everything to the cup, making them a great addition to beer and stouts in particular. However, we are excited to be sampling new coffees from woman owned farms to use in the future.
What is your favorite kind of coffee?
Honestly, I just love to try coffee from everywhere! My go-to's change constantly, but if I had to pick one for forever it would probably be coffees from Brazil. They are typically very balanced and are easy drinking for any occasion.
How has working as a roaster changed your relationship to coffee and the way you prepare it for yourself?
Being a roaster definitely makes me question and be more aware of the coffee I am drinking. I would say my most common brew method is a v60 for its ease in use, but also allowing the use of different parameters to bring out different flavors in the same coffee.
What is your favorite thing about working in coffee or about coffee itself?
I love coffee because it is so versatile and has so much to offer. And no matter how much we have learned about coffee, there is always more to learn, discover and explore! I find it fascinating that we are still learning new things about something that has been around for so long in human history.
Thank you Hallie for talking with us, and we look forward to a great partnership with Prelude Coffee!