5 Questions With Adam Pobiner – Director of Training and Product Development

Tell us a little bit about your job responsibilities as the Director of Training and Product Development.

My role is heavily focused on the customer experience with our products. It starts with drink development where I work to ensure that our recipes not only taste great, but are easy to execute in the café so customers get a consistent drink each and every time. During product development, we also spend a great deal of time making sure that our coffee tastes delicious when brewing with different types of equipment.  These days, many coffee brewers are more like computers and require a good deal of programming in order to make our coffee stand out. This process entails hours of coffee brewing and tasting. There have been days when we’ve brewed over 50 gallons of coffee as we work to perfect our recipes!

After we have the product and final recipes developed, work begins on training materials. Our products are used in many different cafe environments ranging from college campuses to hospitals and business dining. It’s important that our training materials are easy for cafe staff to understand and execute. It’s rewarding when a product that we’ve worked on for years is released to the market and the customers love it! We really enjoy getting feedback from customers and seeing their love for ecoGrounds in social media posts.

Part of your job is creating featured drink recipes for ecoGrounds cafes, where do you get your inspiration? Any recipes that never made it?

Inspiration comes from many places. I travel frequently and enjoy learning from other cultures. I often pick up new ideas when I’m in a new part of the world and find a favorite local recipe that would work well back home. New ideas also come from our wholesale customers and guests who come up with products that are truly outside of the box. Despite our enthusiasm internally, there are some ideas that never get released. A personal favorite of mine was a jelly bean Javalanche. Although it tasted great, it was a bit “out there” and it now rests in the flavor graveyard.

ecoGrounds is committed to providing “consciously great coffee.” What does that mean to you as the Director of Training and Product Development?

For me, ecoGrounds is a tremendous opportunity to make a significant impact in farmer’s lives around the world. Many companies purchase certified coffees, but few are able to show how their purchases directly impact lives in origin countries. Our guests really relate to our transparency and appreciate the fact that their purchases go towards making a difference.

As ecoGrounds has grown, we’ve also been able to expand the reach of sustainability in our non-coffee products. We now offer a full organic tea line, our Chai Lattes are made with Fair Trade tea and sugar, Javalanche and iced coffee are made using Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee and all of our mochas and hot chocolates are made using Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa. Going forward, we’ve made it our goal to make our products as impactful as possible for both our guests and our producing partners.

What are the most important aspects of coffee preparation to ensure a tasty cup?

I tend to geek out when coffee brewing, but it really doesn’t need to be that complex. The most important aspects are:

  •  Freshness – store your beans in an airtight container and try to use the coffee within 7 – 10 days after opening the bag.  Keep your coffee away from light, moisture and air.
  •  Quantity – start with 2 tablespoons (10 grams) of ground coffee for every 6 fl. oz. of water.
  •  Grind –  use the right grind for your brewer and always grind your coffee fresh for each cup. Never pre-grind coffee as it begins to lose its freshness immediately after grinding.
  •  Water – always start with cold, filtered water, then heat until it’s just off boil.

If you were reincarnated into a Javalanche which one would it be and why?

I would come back as a Cocoa Bean Javalanche because who doesn’t love chocolate? This Javalanche uses roasted cocoa nibs that we caramelize and then roll in cocoa powder. The end result is an exotic, raw cocoa bean flavor that pairs nicely with the coffee and vanilla flavors in Javalanche.