Matthew Bussard is a true coffee artisan. You've likely seen his mobile cart : Azul Coffee Bar at several events across the Flathead Valley.
I recently had the opportunity to photograph his setup and interview him on his craft.
I’ve been involved with the preparation and crafting of specialty coffee for over 10 years now. As soon as I had my first taste of well made coffee, I was hooked. I have been pursuing that perfect coffee experience ever since. I love the meeting of science, art, gadgetry, global commerce all in one final product.
What led you to build the cart and become an entrepreneur?
I’ve always dreamt of owning my own cafe. In fact, recently I was in Ohio visiting my parents, and I was searching through some old school papers. I found an essay I’d written in 7th grade about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to have a small cafe! In the essay I went as far as to describe the type of menu and cafe it would be. I had long forgotten about that essay, and when I read it I realized I was pretty darn close to what I’d written about all those years ago. Azul Coffee Bar is the next step in pursuing that dream. I enjoy the “mobility” of the mobile cart - bringing the product to the client, and doing it in remote areas and venues that you might not expect to fine a bomber cup of coffee.
What sets you apart from other mobile coffee?
The cart is custom designed and hand built. It’s also quite small, allowing me to operate in small spaces where you wouldn’t normally be able to fit a large cart or mobile trailer. Also, I focus primarily on the coffee itself and make sure to do my best to knock it out of the park. My years of training, plus the equipment, and the freshest coffee create a great experience in the cup.
What’s your favorite beverage?
Espresso+Milk. It’s also called a Cortado or a Gibraltar. It’s a very basic espresso drink - 2 shots of espresso and about 2-3 oz of steamed milk. Not too hot. It’s meant to be consumed in 3-4 sips.
What’s your favorite bean/roast?
Bean: My favorite coffee changes because there are always new and exciting things to try. Many producing regions and countries are stepping up their coffee programs, so quality is just top notch in many areas. But as a general rule, Ethiopia and Kenya will always be a good pick. Central American countries have some of the best small lots that you’ll find anywhere on the planet. And new comers Rwanda and Burundi are coming into the specialty coffee scene and wowing the world with their selections. Azul Coffee Bar uses a blend of Ethiopia Yirgacheffe and Sumatra Takengon.
Roast: I’m a light roast guy. I like the character of the coffee to come through, not the roast. If it’s a good coffee from a good roaster, who’s sourced it well, you should get great character with it - no matter how it’s brewed.
What are you future goals?
I’m not quitting any of my day jobs just yet, so this will continue as a side business for now. Maybe figure out a more permanent location for the cart and espresso machine to operate from.