Archived Interview: Compelling & Rich Coffee

I first met Kian Abedini, the founder of Compelling & Rich Coffee a few months back at The Iron Barista. He was on one of the teams that competed that night in a much cooler version of Iron Chef. The event was sponsored by Demitasse, hosted at Chimney Coffee and MC’d by the crazy cats from The LA Coffee Club. Unfortunately for me, I had never seen Iron Chef so it took a minute to comprehend why the teams were given ingredients like thai curry, bay leaf and strawberry pocky to use in their coffee based drinks. But once the competition began and I saw how they implemented the ingredients in both the drinks and the presentation I was impressed with the culinary skills that took to accomplish.

We met briefly that evening and he gave me two samples of his coffee. One was a Geisha and the other had a note of Cogniac from the natural Yirg in the blend. It was appropriately called, the Cat’s Pajamas because it was the freakin’ jam.

We kept in touch after the competition and a few weeks ago we met up at Awesome Coffee to talk about his three year journey from restaurant consultant, to roaster, to founder of Compelling & Rich. And how in that short period, his determination to ‘advance coffee’ has led to him receiving multiple 90+ ratings of his roasts by Coffee Review.

Everything I do confuses a lot of people, like promoting other roasters, saying they’re awesome. Not growing my company in a way that’s going to make money and be lucrative. It’s all with the goal of getting people excited about exceptional coffee.

In the quest to get people excited about coffee, he’s constantly trying out new coffee, up to 300 different types a year. With the bulk of those being LA coffee roasters. Yet, with so many Los Angeles spots offering the big, out of town names of the coffee world, it’s hard for local roasters to get their beans behind the bar.

…You go to some place like Portland, you go to Seattle and who do they have behind the bar? Portland roasters, Seattle roasters. You bring your coffee out there and they say, “Oh no, we only serve local”. Come to LA, see how many local roasters you have behind the bar. And Im not knocking the coffee, it’s exceptional. But at the same time if you think that you can come here from out of town and you cannot support anything local going on then you’re out of your mind.

He see’s Klatch as a clear role model and example of a roaster that he feels consistently produces the best coffee in LA. But not to be too SoCal biased, he also considers Wrecking Ball, a San Francisco based roaster another role model.

I dig that mindset. He clearly has his loyalties, and wants to grow and support local roasters, yet at the same time he’s respectful to other roasters that are doing their thing. No matter where they’re located. I admire his stance, taking pride in his roasts, yet humble enough to recognize the talent and skills of others.

And in that push to further his craft, he’s now working closely with a speciality farm in Puerto Rico on this first direct-trade lot. They’re using a traditional Kenyan double-fermentation method to fine tune the process. It will be cool to see what that yields and I look forward to enjoying a cup.

His roasts can currently be found in 14 shops around the LA area as well as TX and NY. And hopefully next year we’ll be seeing Compelling & Rich in a more permanent boutique space of their own making his footprint in the LA coffee scene even more firm.

Special thanks to Awesome Coffee for allowing us to use their location for this photo shoot.