Before opening Fuel, you were a barista for 17 years. What's kept you around coffee for so long?
I just love it. It's such a trite answer, but it's true. I started as a barista at a very young age, and ever since then I've had a coffee job. I've actually been a barista for closer to 18 years. Jesus Christ.
You're also responsible for the book Tall Skinny Bitter: Notes from the Center of Coffee Culture, about all the different coffeehouses in the Northwest. Did it ever feel like a conflict of interest to write flattering profiles of your rivals?
No. Although I work seven days a week, in my spare time I'm usually checking out new coffee shops. We're not so much rivals since we're all passionate about coffee. I think we can learn a lot from each other.
What's the most impressive thing you've accomplished under the influence of caffeine?
Getting up at 4:30 every morning to run four businesses, including a pie company. I might be a night person, but these days I don't really have the time to find out.
What do you think of the McDonald's advertising campaign that makes people who care about their coffee look pretentious and boring?
My diplomatic answer is that it's very in line with their advertising strategy. They've built an incredibly successful empire by appealing to the everyman. But people who are looking for something else should come to Fuel.
Which of your pies would you most enjoy throwing in someone's face?
The Cherry Almond Crunch, because the cherries are round, small, and juicy enough to get a good splat and there are slivered almonds in there, too, which could really cut someone up.