Q&A Session 7: Sharif from Modus Coffee
Here at Vancouver Coffee Snob HQ we’re always on the lookout for new and interesting local coffee roasters, so when we saw that Modus Coffee was starting to create a buzz around town we reached out to them to try their coffee. Their Latif Burundi roast was so good I actually vacum packed some and froze it so I didn’t run out too soon.
We caught up with the founder of Modus Coffee Roasters, Sharif Sharifi for a chat.
Who are you and where are you from?
My name’s Sharif Sharifi and have lived in Vancouver since I was 2. I’ve worked in the coffee industry for a good 10 years after ditching my BBA, having started off as a barista, going into management roles, coffee roasting, and whatever else in between.
Tell us about Modus Coffee
Soon after I stepped out of Pallet, I knew that I had to get back into roasting, but Modus is sort of a culmination of unused ideas. Modus is a micro roaster aimed at making mid-range specialty coffee more accessible, geared to only single origin coffee rated 86 and above. I like to do this by offering multiple coffee lines, with each line always showing specific flavours. Also everything is roasted for depth in mind, so you can use the same coffee as espresso, or a filter brew.
What goes into the perfect roast?
So many things, but for me the best answer is the one you can repeat consistently. If you have repeatability, and can get into a rhythm, then you’ve got the hard part down. All that’s left is deciding how you want to show the coffee. You can’t have repeatability if you have no data or record system.
Are there any particular types of coffee that you’re excited for in 2017?
No coffee specifically yet, but I hope to add a third coffee to the menu. Since this one will be the higher scoring of the three I’m holding out for something real different.
Do you have any tips for someone beginning to roast at home?
I think that there’s so many details to roasting that first you’d need to decide if you want to just turn coffee brown or if you really want to make moves. Temperature and time are your map. Take notes, smell your roasts’ progress, taste everything, even your botched roasts. That way when you find nail it, you’ll know what not to do. Like anything else, your product is only as good as what you start with so after you’ve finished countless failed roasts, and you and your roaster are best buds, go splurge on some nice green beans. Lastly, coffee needs time to release co2, I find this takes at least 3 days to mellow out somewhat. A good practice is to taste daily to see how long you need for your roaster. Although this will be hard to determine if you’re roasting on the darker side, you’ll notice some clarity at a certain day.
Tell us about the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had
I think it was at Heart in Portland back in 2012 or so. I’m more of a black coffee guy, but it was the most pleasing espresso. Pretty sure it was their Stereo blend. Aside from a super creamy feel, it just had so many layers to it, and no overpowering acidity or bitterness at all. That might have been what made me want to go in a more approachable direction.
What’s your favorite coffee shop right now?
There’s a lot of good people doing great things, one spot that I think is unique is Push Pull on Hastings near Main. Super modest shop that couples with medium format photography enthusiasts. Besides a minimal menu, they also sell film and allow people to rent out cameras on a daily basis. The best thing about coffee is that it fits with everything, so I always like the idea of concept shops like this.
What would you like to see improved in the Vancouver coffee scene?
From a consumer stand point, not just for coffee, but Vanouverites should give independent businesses a chance and support your local economy. From an industry standpoint, more involvement and events on awareness are always great. Shout out Coffee Potluck, CafeYVR and sites like this for poking the general public and making things happen.
What is your favorite sweet snack to eat with coffee?
Nokhodchi, it’s a bite size Iranian cookie made from chickpea flour, too good.
If you could pick one person dead or alive, real or fictional, to have coffee with, who would it be and why?
Probably Seneca, a stoic philosopher. Mainly because I feel any entrepreneur secretly needs to understand stoicism and accept just a little suffering.