As a kid, I remember my Lita (short for abuelita in Spanish which means grandma) drinking coffee that was the color of the khaki pants that I’d wear as part of my junior high uniform. Unlike my dad, she didn’t like her coffee black and bitter. It was sweet and creamy… delicious. So on the rare occasion I had a cup of coffee it had to have cream and sugar, but I could never make it as good as my Lita. This is my first memory of coffee.
Probably the most memorable cup of coffee I’ve had was a morning after backpacking in the high-country mountains of Costa Rica. It was as epic as it sounds. The fog would roll over the mountains and the trees would peak through like a kid trying to look into the neighbor’s yard while a local coffee farmer brewed us some coffee through what looked like a sock. I felt grounded and present. I would later come to realize the power that coffee has to solidify a moment in our history.
A few years later, my adventures took me to work in Northern Ireland for 2 years. As some friends had opened up an award-winning specialty coffee shop I got a chance to work with beans roasted in Ireland, England, Germany and Norway. It was here that I experienced what coffee could offer when it came to flavor. I don’t remember specifically where the coffee was from, but I remember tasting peaches, yes… peaches. And this wasn’t a flavor that had been added to the coffee, it was a natural flavor note of the coffee. Needless to say my mind was blown. This was the moment that I knew I wanted to dive into the world of all things coffee.
“This small bean is so much more complex than I could’ve ever imagined.”
From Ireland I was invited by some friends to move to Colombia to plant a church and create an environment where people felt seen and heard and loved. Our main method to create such a place was to start a coffee shop. Here I had the privilege to help build something from the ground up. In Colombia I discovered how coffee wasn’t just a job to get by, but a way of life for many. Coffee became the binder for friendships that would last a lifetime. In Colombia, I had the chance to meet and work with some of the country’s leading coffee professionals from baristas to coffee roasters who have grown to become producers. I caught a glimpse into a new coffee culture that made me feel welcome regardless of my personal coffee experience, all that was required of me was to bring my authentic self and be present in the moment.
“Coffee became the binder for friendships that would last a lifetime.”
After my year in Colombia I moved back to the states and was given the opportunity to work with youth in a local church. It was here that I met Bob. Bob would often ask me, “Ryan what are your dreams?”. I sat with this question for months and months trying to figure out what it meant for me to dream into my future. Taking my previous experiences I finally came back to Bob and I told him that I wanted to start a coffee roastery. Right then Bob responded with, “Let’s do it!”
I’ve never been someone who was willing to bet on myself. The fear of failure has overwhelmed me at times, but I decided it was time to take that chance. As I embarked on this journey of entrepreneurship with Bob I chose to believe that regardless of the outcome I know that I will learn from my experiences — most likely pondering these experiences over a cup of coffee.
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Robert (Bob) Kembel and I (Ryan Rodriguez) started Selah Coffee Co. in early 2021.
For us, Selah means to pause, to rest, to reflect. As a company, we strive to live in the moment. To slow down and take in what is around us — whether it’s in nature or a moment surrounded by friends. We have a high value for being present with the person that is sitting right in front of us, setting aside distractions, and intentionally being there. There is no moment that is undeserving of our attention. Granted some moments are far more defining than others, but in reality, every moment has something to offer us. For us, many of those moments include coffee.
Our logo is a bird in flight. Selah isn’t simply a sitting still meditative peace kind of company. We realize the reality that in order for things to happen in the world it requires work. So we are moving forward being sure to revel in every moment that is offered in front of us.
We are a SCA (Specialty Coffee Association) certified roastery, but we don’t want Selah Coffee Co. to be known as just another coffee roaster. We love coffee and it is the means by which we create value, but we are more than coffee. We carry a mindset and culture to see others truly enjoy life to the fullest. Everything that we put our hands to, we do it with excellence. Good things take time and intentionality. We are intentional to make sure that quality and consistency are what come through in the coffee that we roast. We are committed to the craft of roasting coffee beans, finding the perfect aroma and flavor that you can associate with many memories to come.
As we believe in something greater than ourselves we want the works of our hands to reflect that. So we want you, the customer, to know that what you’re buying is going towards creating value to restore hope in communities that are having trouble meeting basic needs. It’s not hard these days to feel like you’re being left behind, so we are dreaming into what it looks like to provide hope of a better future and quality of life.
We want to be known for our mission mindset and excellence in coffee. We’re not in it for the money, we’re in it to improve lives. It’s a mission of ours to partner with farmers and producers in strategic locations to help improve the economic status of their surrounding villages and towns to eliminate the need for corruption and any negative commercial trading like drug or human trafficking.
This is a mission that we’ve already been told that it can’t be done, but as Bob likes to say, “We start with no and go from there.”
We are based right in the heart of DFW, but we hope to serve the world. We want to share the value of savoring life with everyone. In a world with so much negativity and hardship and rush we want to offer our coffee as a tool to create your own ‘Selah moment’.