Cleveland-based Rising Star Coffee Roasters
has hired Brandon Riggs as its new Coffee Director. He replaces the outgoing John Johnson, who has been with the growing organization since the earliest days. As Coffee Director, Riggs is responsible for all coffee buying decisions for the company. In addition, it is his job to manage coffee quality in all aspects of the system, from buying to roasting to packaging.
Riggs got his start at The Roasterie in Kansas City, where he worked alongside pioneering founder Danny O’Neill. It was there that he acquired his skills in quality control, cupping and buying. He later moved to Raleigh, to become Roastmaster and Coffee Buyer at Stockton Graham & Co., where he continued to work for 14 years while solidifying relationships with farmers and importers. He created a series of training programs at the roasting facility that covered cupping protocol, blend and roast development and blending science with sensory tools to evaluate and maintain quality.
“He has a history of melding technology with his hands-on skills to produce consistent high-quality results,” says General Manager Robert Stockham.
Brandon co-founded the SERC (South Eastern Roaster Consortium) and is a member of MARRG (Mid-Atlantic Regional Roaster Group), both of which were created for regional roasters to come together to hone their skills, talk about roasting, and discuss industry challenges.
Since his start in specialty coffee, Riggs has witnessed many changes in the profession, from roast level preferences to increased consumer education. His desire and purpose is to show respect to each coffee varietal, by choosing carefully how it is bought and roasted, but also show respect to his clientele.
“By bringing out the best of each bean, and listening to and educating customers, we show respect to the individuals who produced the coffee at origin, and this is the most rewarding part of what I do," Riggs explains.