Growing up I never was a coffee drinker. I was drawn to the terrible energy drinks like Red Bull. Yikes. After moving to California I met a wonderful group of humans who taught me how to drink coffee. Today I am big big fan of the wonderfully magic beverage known as Cold Brew! Yummmmm. Something else also happened over the last ten years. I met some amazingly talented people who inspire me to always stay dreaming. They consists of photographers, artists, writers, actors, musicians and beautiful souls who make this world go round doing what they do! Today I want to mention a couple of musicians that I have always admired. When Chris Guglielmo and Nick Ghanbarian are not on the road with their band, Bayside you will find them roasting coffee in Orange County, California for their very own company called Legal Speed.
*for the record…that is by far the coolest name for a coffee brand EVER*
I was honored to interview Chris himself about the adventure they are on with Legal Speed and I am excited to share it with you! Enjoy!
First of all I love the story of how the story of Legal Speed began. The tattoos, the bike rides. It’s an amazing journey!
“We spend most of our time as touring musicians, while on tour we felt the constant need to burrow into each city in search of local food and finely crafted coffee. The preferred mode of transportation has always been by bike; finding the finest local coffee roasters in each city became a sport, and our passion for the dark coffee arts was born. The name Legal Speed came about on a morning bike ride to a coffee shop in the summer of 2016. That trip quickly turned into a stop at a friend’s tattoo studio where founders Chris & Nick adorned their bodies with the first Legal Speed Tattoos. On the ride back we quickly hashed out the idea behind Legal Speed, and within weeks we had our coffee roaster set up in Southern California and started working on our craft. We look to help build and caffeinate a community that embraces positivity, creativity, delicious coffee and exploring the world via bike. Legal Speed Coffee is for everyone, and we hope it becomes a part of your daily routine. Stay Fast, Stay Caffeinated.” (via Legal Speed)
You and Nick have tried so many blends of coffee from shops and roasters from all over the world while touring with Bayside. When did you know that you both wanted to pursue roasting coffee for your very own company?
I think we decided to pursue this coffee project once we realized how much we have always loved coffee. We both really enjoy cycling and coffee, so once the idea came up and we were serious about it, we pretty much just rolled with it.
With the rise of small coffee companies, what would you say makes Legal Speed stand out from other roasters?
I always tell people “coffee is like wine.” Pinot Noir and a Merlot are both types of red wine. They both taste like overall like “wine,” but they both have their own special characteristics that differentiate one from the other. Now take just Pinot Noir and think of all the different wineries that produce this type of wine. All of these Pinot Noirs will taste different from one to another based on the grape crop and process of making the wine. Now take one single winery that produces a Pinot Noir from one specific crop of grapes. That wine will have it’s own unique characteristics. Once that crop is gone and a fresh crop grows in, this fresh crop will produce a similar grape BUT! depending on the weather, nutrients in the soil and all the other endless variables the finished product will end up tasting a little or significantly different than the year before.
My point is, coffee is always changing just like wine and each Roaster or Vintner will put their little twist on how they want their coffee/wine to taste. What makes our coffee different is what countries and farms we buy it from and how we choose to roast it to enhance certain flavor profiles.
It is known that you roast on Mondays and ship on Tuesdays. Can you tell us a bit about Monday in the world of Legal Speed?
Yes we roast on Mondays and ship on Tuesdays so we can get our coffee out fresh to our customers and before the weekend. That being said, Monday is absolute chaos (the good kind). We usually get into the shop around 9am and turn the roaster on, which takes about an hour and twenty minutes to warm up. During that time we make coffee and start planning out the roasts for the day. An individual roast takes around 12 minutes total from when we charge (put the coffee in the roaster) until we open the door and drop the coffee into the cooling tray. In between batches we have to keep our eye’s on the roaster to make sure it stays at the proper temperature. It is super important to not let the roaster get too hot or too cool. A lot of roasting is basically babysitting the machine and making sure the temperature stays stable. Throughout the day we have friends come visit and grab a cup of coffee. Depending on what coffee we are roasting we spend a lot of the time either enjoying the process or cursing at the coffee and the roaster. Certain coffee beans are a lot trickier to roast than others.
What has been your personal favorite roast that you have created? Are you more of a hot coffee or cold coffee fan?
I would say personally my favorite coffee that we have roasted is our Honduras La Paz. I would definitely consider myself to be more of a hot coffee drinker. If I have a cold drink i’ll finish it in about five seconds, so the hot coffee helps me enjoy it longer. For all of you coffee people out there, here is a fun fact: a cup of coffee will taste like completely different drinks from when it’s hot and on it’s way to room temperature. It is a journey to be enjoyed. Nick is more of an iced pour over/cold brew guy. I like the fact that one of us drinks hot and one drinks cold. We can cover both ends of the spectrum as far as taste.
What do you love most of team Legal Speed? What is it that makes ya’ll work so well?
I love that we all work well together and have the same goals. We take ourselves seriously and we understand there is no room for elitist bullshit. At the end of the day we want to “succeed”, but we also want to do so while having as much fun as we can. We want to enjoy great tasting coffee, truly educate people without the pretentious attitudes that can be found in the industry and learn more about our craft. Oh and also ride bikes everyday.
How does being a full time musician prepare and add to this coffee adventure you have embarked upon?
Ok, so the positives most certainly outweigh the negatives. We get to travel all over the world and taste coffee!!!! Not only is that fun for us but it has helped us realize what we really like about certain regions and what we like about different styles of roasts. The negative is not being able to roast full time when we leave for tours. That will hopefully be fixed fairly soon by potentially introducing a 4th person to the L$ family. Who wants to roast coffee!?!?
You guys have had a couple of Coffee Pop-Ups in Southern California. What would you say has been the most rewarding part of sharing your coffee in various shops?
I think the most rewarding thing is getting to interact with people and educating them about good quality coffee and small business. We also have had pop-ups at bike shops where we get to talk to fellow cyclists as well as at skate shops when shows are going on. This way we can have coffee shop talk while mingling with fellow musicians and their fans. It’s recognized that most of us like delicious food as well as good beer and wine from all over the world. The next step is to get everybody drinking excellent coffee!
For those who do not live in Southern California and cannot make it to one of these fun pop-ups…how do they go about buying a bag of their very own?
Thats easy!! They can just go to www.LegalSpeedSupply.com and check out what coffee and gear we have at the time.
You guys are also known for your fun merch! What can ya tell us about that?
So we ordered our first shirt a while back and when we received the finished project we thought the color of the design looked like a glow in the dark color. This was an accident so we just decided to name the shirt the “Glows in the Dark, Sike!” shirt. You know you can’t get stressed when mistakes happen, you just gotta roll with it. We have a lot of exciting merch coming out very soon as well as some that came out for the holidays. We just did a mug with a really rad company called The Created Co. and we will be doing some cycling gear like water bottles, kits, socks and caps in the spring. There is also a fun little patch we just got made that went up for sale when we released the mug.
What would be your ultimate dream for your coffee company?
Ultimate dream would be to have a bicycle/coffee shop with our roaster in it, some tasty Aussie style snacks like Vegemite toast, avocado toast, Anzac cookies and sell some cycling apparel and cycling nutrition. We want to have a shop that encourages creativity, a healthy active lifestyle, a place where people can come fuel up pre/mid/post ride, or just come in for the hang and maybe get some work done. We want to create an environment that welcomes anybody and everybody. . . and depending on health code BS – hopefully their dogs as well.
What is up next in the Legal Speed world?
Coming up next are some Bayside shows in Europe, a special sneaky Legal Speed project and some fun new coffee gear that is up for sale for the Holidays. Then there is the obvious ones. . . continue to learn more about the coffee world, educate others, enjoy good coffee and get faster on the bike.
I want to thank Chris for taking the time from his busy fun life to chat with me! I also want to thank the readers and offer a fun little giveaway! I am giving away a bag of Legal Speed coffee to a lucky winner!
There are two way to win!
A. Leave a comment below about what you love most about what Legal Speed is about or share a word of encouragement to Chris and Nick!
B. Share this image on your Instagram with a comment below about what you love most about what Legal Speed is about or share a word of encouragement to Chris and Nick! Be sure and tag @legalspeedsupply AND @christiegee!!!