I guess it would be handy for readers to understand what your role and day to day responsibilities are at the Whiskey Barrel Coffee?
I am involved in every aspect of production at Whiskey Barrel Coffee. I created Whiskey Barrel Coffee for myself and now it is enjoyed by people around the world. What hasn’t changed in the growth process is the attention to detail. I personally ensure that the high standard is met in every bottle and it is the same standard that I initially demanded when I created it for myself.
Can you give GreatDrams readers an overview of your career journey to date and what lead you to creating Whiskey Barrel Coffee?
Tal: My career journey has taken me through the various facets of the coffee industry. I originally started out installing coffee roasters which in time led me to become a Master Roaster. Through roasting I began to realize that even the best coffee will be ruined by an improperly tuned espresso machine and so my next venture of servicing espresso equipment began and eventually this led me back to roasting. When I roast, I produce a product that I would want to give to a guest in my home. In sitting with guests after a good meal, we always serve dessert, coffee and exceptional bourbon – this is where the idea for Whiskey Barrel Coffee was born. I began to think of a way to combine the two, without having to pour my whiskey into my coffee and so it began…
What makes Whiskey Barrel Coffee stand out from other brands? What is it trying to achieve
Tal: Whiskey Barrel Coffee stands out from other brands because we have mastered the art of creating our product to perfection, over and over again. We are the innovators of barrel aged coffee and our company was the first to produce and sell barrel aged coffee. Whiskey Barrel Coffee is our main product and our focus is on it at all times. What we are trying to achieve is the perfect experience of whiskey and coffee.
Our customers know that when they purchase our product they are getting “The Best”. We don’t cut corners and our entire process is “hands on” from start to finish. Our logo design and packaging are unlike any other and we take great pride in providing our customers with such a unique product. We have had numerous customers order an extra bottle of our coffee just so that they can have an unopened bottle as a “piece of art”.
Can you please talk about what Whiskey Barrel Coffee means to you and what you think it means to your customers?
Tal: Whiskey Barrel Coffee is my baby. It was created out of my love for good coffee and fine bourbon. It brings me great joy to share it with the world and to have our customers enjoy it every bit as much as I do. Whiskey Barrel Coffee allows our customers to sit back and truly enjoy the experience.
What of your work with Whiskey Barrel Coffee are you most proud of and why?
Tal: I am really proud of my persistence and patience in the 2 years it took to perfect the product. I can’t say that there is any one aspect of Whiskey Barrel Coffee that I am more proud of than another. When I look at the finished product today I am still in awe of it’s beauty!
How important is packaging in consumers’ decision making? I love the look and feel of your products… what was the thinking behind it?
Tal:The packaging is the first impression our consumers get. You know the saying “you only get one chance to make a good first impression”, I believe that we knocked that one out of the park! The thinking behind the packaging was to create something unique that would give our customers the same feel of holding an exception bottle of bourbon in your hand.
Where do you see the parallels between the whisky industry and the coffee industry and how they have evolved over the last few years?
Tal: The whiskey industry and coffee industry are very similar. They are both age old products that have existed and have seen a rebirth. You have roasters and distillers popping up out of the woodwork and they are both extremely competitive markets. Coffee and whiskey are pleasure items that consumers are willing to spend on. They have almost become status symbols in various circles. People are willing to spend less on other items in their life, but when it comes to bourbon and coffee, they want to feel that they are getting the best.
What are the biggest challenges you’re facing at the minute in getting your message out?
Tal: We have always been a “word of mouth” company, so it has taken us time for people to know and learn about our product. I would say that brand awareness is our biggest challenge right now.
Finally, what would be your top three whiskies? Does it differ by occasion?
Tal: My whiskey preference differs by occasion. After a good meal I like the complexity of Bookers Uncut & Unfiltered, Angels Envy and Elijah Craig. I also love a good Ardbeg, or Kilchoman Coull Point at a barbecue, that smokiness just fits right in with the flavors of a great steak. For an everyday drink, I like the subtle finish of anything in the Balvenie Doublewood range.