You’ve likely spotted the bright yet soothing colors of Slow Pour Supply’s milk pitchers and Origami drippers as you scroll through your social media. But, did you know that the company’s start was inspired by instrumental learning found in classical music, or that every brewing and latte art tool Slow Pour Supply carries is carefully considered in how it can contribute to furthering the accessibility, diversity, and overall fun of the coffee industry?
We spoke with founder Anita Tam about all of this, as well as how every purchase from Slow Pour Supply gives back, and how she finds daily solace in the company’s on-site brewing room.
First off, can you share with us how Slow Pour Supply came to be?
Sure! Slow Pour Supply is a coffee tools distribution company that launched in 2018. We started our offerings with three types of milk pitchers in different sizes and colors. I was a barista back then and latte art and brewing were things I really enjoyed learning about. I got my AST (Authorized SCA Trainer) in 2018. While teaching some barista and brewing SCA classes, I found that while most baristas have no issues understanding the theories behind the motions of brewing or theories on extraction, latte art has always been one of the more difficult topics.
I have a background in classical music and for many years I have been involved with teaching and performing. In instrumental learning, tools are an integral part of success. It always starts with having the right tool in the right size for the job. I started using the same idea and applied it to the process of learning latte art. It quickly became quite obvious that we didn't change much in the way we pair these tools with their purpose. Tools that we use not only have to look great, they also need to be fitting with the goals we are working to achieve.
Take milk pitchers as an example - the cup sizes we’ve used throughout the last five to six years have changed, but we were still using the traditional 12, 20, or 32 oz size milk pitchers. So I wondered in what ways we could help those learners of coffee – baristas at our classes – to use the most effective tools for the job. In 2017, I came across a 15oz WPM pitcher - a unique size that aligns with this idea. That’s how Slow Pour was born because we can apply this idea to everything we do and having the right tool is the first step to a successful learning experience.
As Slow Pour Supply grew, we expanded our milk pitcher offerings, added a fourth size– a 10 oz pitcher to our 15, 17, and 22 oz WPM milk pitchers. We also worked with WPM to introduce a wider spout shape especially for the US market targeted for slozetta and thick tulip pours. Now we have four sizes and multiple colors and spout shapes in our offering. Through these years, our WPM pitchers, with the specifically designed slanted top, combined with various spout shapes and the taller vessel have proven to be a winning formula for baristas and latte art champions.
In the past two years we have also expanded our portfolio into carrying other popular brands, including manual brewing equipment and drinkware. This kind of goes back full circle. I’m very happy to be able to offer specifically these two types of products, serving both the latte art and brewing communities.
How have you seen your business change over these past couple years with so many more people starting, or building upon, their home brewing endeavors?
Our business has definitely evolved. We have added manual equipment to our offering, including kettles, manual grinders, scales, brewers, cups and other accessories in various sizes, styles and colors. The community is spending more time at home, becoming more curious about brewing coffees themselves, and turning to various online platforms to learn more about specialty coffee. We see customers being more adventurous, trying new brewers and gadgets and being more engaged in discussions. The home brewing market has definitely grown. While our business has evolved, our direction and goal stays the same. We are always looking to work with our suppliers to develop products that are creative and effective, and we are grateful for such a supportive community.
What does your personal morning coffee routine look like, and how do you most like to use Slow Pour Supply tools as part of this routine?
I usually arrive at the office early to make coffee. We have a brewing room where we test run samples and prototypes we receive from our supplier partners with different coffees we receive from our wholesale partners. My morning coffee routine can be quite interesting!
We have several new brewers and my morning brew is always a great opportunity to test out some new products. Our brewing room is a very quiet space, and it is intentionally kept as such. It’s a moment also to center my focus on the process I’m working on.
The aesthetic of many of the products you offer — especially your milk pitchers and ORIGAMI drippers — are colorful and fun, while also being highly functional. How do you choose the brands (and colors) you carry?
There were a couple of primary goals or ideas that I wanted to work on when I started Slow Pour Supply. These goals were sprouted from a couple of questions I had in mind. Apart from the idea of how to promote tools with updated designs to benefit our bar flow, another question was how do we make sure to make these tools accessible.
In competitions, or many of the professional coffee spaces, everything is built with a certain demographic or impression in mind. To me I find most countertops a little too high, and most colors a little too neutral and not fun enough. In the first couple of months, our Instagram demographic analysis showed we were 70 percent identified as male and 30 percent identified as female. As a business owner who identifies as a woman, that bothered me. I want to make sure that our products are appealing to all demographics. Latte art is not only for men. Providing tools that speak for the user’s character and personality is not only providing them with something that is aesthetically pleasing, but that also become mediums of self expression.
The brands we carry are modern, original and functional. They are brands that have successfully turned great ideas into products. We love hearing about their tradition, their stories, and we work together to help develop strategies for our region. It’s a two-way street – they chose to work with us to establish this conversation to elevate their brand, and as a part of the process, elevate the community we serve.
What are some of Slow Pour Supply’s most popular products?
The WPM pitchers with the original slanted tops are definitely our staple products! Slow Pour Supply worked with them to expand from a three-product offering to multiple spout shapes and colors, and the pitchers quickly became a staple for coffee shops and competitions. We also love the various brewers we carry and they have grown to become a large part of Slow Pour Supply. Our shatterproof lines are coming and I can see them being very popular too!
Has the giving back element of Slow Pour Supply always been part of the vision for the brand? How do you choose the organizations you support?
Yes! The giving back element has been part of us from the very beginning. We have successfully met our 10K USD goal this past year with the organizations we serve. We work with communities and like-minded organizations on these donation projects – through these projects we are able to extend ourselves into the community and reach people that are outside of the specialty coffee industry.
Much of Slow Pour Supply’s charitable work supports diversity and inclusion in the coffee industry. What else do you think we can all be doing to further these efforts?
The need for diversity and inclusion is actually closer than we think! We can create projects specifically for underserved communities, events that are focused on these efforts, but the true work comes in every shape and form. Providing donations and products are one way to support, but if you choose to, actions are priceless. The chain reaction of kindness spreads and proves even more-so during uncertain times like these.
We know that every day is unpredictable, but what does this new year of 2022 look like for Slow Pour Supply?
It’s the Year of the Tiger! The Tiger symbolizes courage and wisdom. We are going through a long period of uncertainty, and for our industry there were lots of difficulties and challenges we had to overcome. However, turning these challenges into opportunities, will continue to call for more courage and wisdom. We will continue to navigate together with our community and share our efforts and successes!