Q & A with Dave Forman

  • Photo by Meghan Ralston
By Columbus Alive
From the November 29, 2012 edition

Dave Forman has spent the last 10 years learning everything he can about coffee. He started by partnering with his father at the River Road Coffeehouses in Granville and Newark, and after finding the joys in roasting, Forman opened One Line Coffee in the Short North earlier this year. One Line Coffee roasts their beans using only crops from around the world that must pass certain rules regarding ethical and environmental procedures. Forman is also excited to educate Columbus about all the wonderful coffees out there — and not buying the stuff at the grocery store.

One Line Coffee is a coffee roaster first and foremost. Our focus is wholesale. We opened this café as a way to be a showcase for the industry. It gives us the chance to develop a public face — a place where we can display our coffees in the best possible light with the best equipment.

Being roasters, at the end of the chain, our goal isn’t so much to shape these coffees as it is to determine what they’re good at and maximum those inherent qualities. Because of that, all of the coffees we keep are single-origin and most of them are from single farms. We want to make sure that the people growing them are given credit.

What I’m looking for in coffees to buy is a farm that’s beneficial to the farmer, the workers and the environment. I want something that’s going to be there 20 years down the road. The farmer is making enough money to earn a living and support his family, not just enough to make it to next year. The workers are getting paid enough to provide for themselves and their family. And they’re doing it in such a manner that they’re not destroying the environment.

A cupping is a structured coffee tasting. It’s a standardized way to taste coffee that allows us to taste coffee and come to the same conclusions. The idea by everybody using a standardized set of parameters, we can talk about coffee in a very objective way. We’re going to have regular public cuppings on Saturdays. We can handle about six to eight people for each one.

We don’t do drip coffee here, everything is hand-made. It’s really awesome because our average customer interaction time is three or four minutes … and talk a little bit about what we’re doing and what they’re looking for. We’re also sensitive that some people just want coffee. If you want it, we’ll give you the full experience. If you just want a cup of coffee, we’ll just say, “How’s it going?”

If you want something that’s out there, definitely the Ethiopia that we’re doing here. It’s really unique and super fruity with just tons of flavor. Another coffee, for people who aren’t quite sure what to get, definitely do the Berundi Kayanza Gatare. If you’re brewing for a group of people, for a dinner party or something, it’s a crowd pleaser because it spans so many different palettes.

There are a couple of rules of thumb. Fresh is always great. You always want to have coffee that’s anywhere from two to maybe 18 days out of a roast. Anything over that time is just stale. You have to buy a grinder. Once you grind coffee, it’s stale in about 10 minutes. So don’t grind your coffee ahead. Always buy whole bean, and don’t buy from your super market.