Matt Pipinich, a partner in the new MoAV Coffee soon to open on Montana Avenue, doesn’t mind being called a coffee geek. In fact, he embraces the term as if it’s a title bestowed by royalty.
Pipinich and partners Adam Feldner and Jeff Hosa are the creative force behind MoAV, which will occupy the site of the former Carlin Martini Bar at 2501 Montana Ave.
Billings has no shortage of both locally-owned and corporate coffee shops. But Pipinich says MoAV aims to elevate the local coffee culture by featuring premium beans, sustainably sourced, roasted to perfection and using a variety of brewing methods.
MoAV’s Facebook page and its website, www.moavcoffee.com, mentions that the business is staging its opening over a few weeks as the owners deal with remodeling. The roaster has been purchased, and roasting operations were to begin in January. The coffee bar and food service are scheduled to open by spring.
In an interview, Pipinich discusses his evolving love for coffee and the partners’ vision for where the local coffee scene is headed.
Q: How did you get started in coffee?
A: In 2003 I got a part-time job at Gap Inc. After a while I was offered a full-time job and got into the company’s sustainability efforts. I found that a lot of the areas where their clothing is made is also where coffee comes from. As part of that effort, we were looking at ways to partner with coffee producers to improve those areas. My store manager pushed me to leave working in stores and work in the sustainability program. I found that to work in that area I needed more experience and more education. But that led me into coffee.
I started out at City Brew, and I really appreciated them. They brought good coffee to Billings and they’re great coffee people. I worked there a year or so, and that led to some new opportunities working with the folks at Friendship House. I also worked at Rock Creek Roasters, and all of these experiences started me thinking about how coffee should be.
What do you mean by elevating coffee culture to new levels?
Coffee should taste how it smells. I love the science behind it: roasting, grinding, different brewing methods, the distribution and the supply chain. For centuries, coffee has been one of the most traded commodities. It’s a sustainable industry. That’s why I tend to stay up late at night reading blogs and watching videos.
You have mentioned a third wave for coffee culture. What do you mean by that?
It's all based on relationships, getting to know your coffee shop, but even the growers.
What strengths do the partners bring to this business?
I’m the numbers guy and people guy, and I’m into the supply chain. As a barista, on a scale of one to 10, I’m a six or seven. Jeff, on the other hand, will be a 10 behind the bar. He’s amazing at the presentation.
Adam’s specialty is the atmosphere. He can design a space that works physically and socially. Architecturally, he’s pushing the boundaries quite a bit.
It appears that microbrews and coffee businesses have evolved along similar lines. Your thoughts?
They’re pretty similar. When it comes down to it, you’re dealing with local farmers and adding value to their products.