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Get to Know Portrait Coffee

A story in every mug.

by Randy Miller | May 13, 2021

For Portrait Coffee, every moment is an opportunity for celebration. Finding joy in small accomplishements and big ones alike, this roaster is "pouring a new narrative" direct from its Southwest Atlanta community to your home. We sat down with Portait to see just how they do it.

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What is Portrait's approach to sourcing?

"When we’re sourcing coffees we keep an eye out for a few things: authenticity, unorthodox origins, and supporting small and large producers alike.

We have a vetting process for importers - making sure producers are getting their fair share in the supply chain and ensuring that we align with importers socially and morally alike. We’ve had the most joy in building relationships with producers in origins like Uganda, Congo, and Mexico."

Tell us about your team.

"Our entire team is residents of Southwest Atlanta, who are deeply invested in seeing the Historic West End continue to flourish. We’re a diverse team with unique experiences in business operations, marketing, communications, design, and community development.

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A core value we try to live out is celebration - no moment is too small to cherish a win. We make sure to take time to reflect and rejoice throughout the day-to-day of slinging coffee."

How did you decide on the name Portrait?

"Our name comes from a desire to reimagine the picture that comes to mind when folks think of specialty coffee. We want to project a picture inclusive of black people.

Coffee, as a product, was first discovered by Africans. In discovering coffee, they had no clue this drink would become the most consumed beverage — other than water —  globally. On the flip side, they also had no clue that their faces would be forgotten even though the pigment of the drink mirrored their own."

How does Portrait name its blends?

"Our Toni coffee is an ode to Toni Morrison — a favorite of the team. Morrison did so much to shape not just Black folks, but also the picture that comes to mind when people think of Black culture. We’re grateful for her unapologetic Blackness. The coffee is savory, smooth, and unapologetically chocolate.

Another fan favorite is Barry. It’s named after Barry Jenkins, director of the Oscar-winning film Moonlight, my favorite filmmaker. If you look on our Instagram, he ended up buying the coffee and reposting it. I love the creativity and detail he brings to filmmaking, and that’s how I like to think about business and life. The notes are berry, juicy, and well-balanced."

Tell us about your new look.

"Our new design is aimed at representing the soul of Black culture wherever our coffee finds itself. Like the taste of its content, and the people we represent, we want our visual presentation to be memorable, brilliant, and reminiscent of joy—Black joy.

We’ve been inspired by the labels that commercialized Black music. Portrait fashions itself as the “Motown of Coffee.” Bold color and iconic type choices combine to carry a visual appeal as large as the voices that revolutionized Black music.

We are pouring a new narrative by celebrating the legacy of Black folks in coffee and inviting everyone to enjoy our heritage as much as we do."

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What are you most excited about right now?

"As a team, we’re obsessed with some of the Brazilian coffees we’re cupping this year. Our latest from producer Ariovaldo Bonfim, blew us away with a beautiful syrupy body with notes of apricot, honey, and red wine. We’re interested in further exploring the unique coffees out of this country."

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Tell us about your local community.

"Man! We have BUZZ Coffee and Winehouse (the first specialty shop to open in SWAT) about three miles down the road from us. They serve Stumptown and do an awesome job with serving the community.

There’s plenty of spots on the East side of Atlanta (our friends at Chrome Yellow Trading Co. and Spiller Park) but we’re hoping to bring more coffee joy to the neighborhood!"

— Aaron Fender, Co-Founder and CEO, Portrait Coffee | Atlanta, Georgia